Study Advice for an aspiring Game Character Artist


I’m trying to build a portfolio and skillset to work with character design in games, and I’ve been watching talks and reading articles about which kinds of skills and knowledge I should have.
I already have some basic handpainted skills, but I still do it in quite the crude manner. I actually open the OBJ in Photoshop and open its diffuse map on a separate window to paint directly on it, following the changes in-model on the other window. (used to do it for CSGO skins)
This is my first character, or textured object whatsoever, and was entirely made like this, but as you can imagine, this workflow is a mess and photoshop can really make your life hell when working on both a huge image and a 3d model open, specially when it updates.
I learned about Substance Designer/Painter, 3D Coat and Quixel, and as I’m trying to organize my studies for this year I don’t know what exactly matches my needs.
Which software/pipeline could help me do this kind of stylized art, and stil be able to take advantage of smart materials and better painting/texturing workflow?
I’m willing to do anything from simple diffuse-only to something more advanced, blending PBR and substances with handpainted.
(examples: /
Thanks in advance.


If you want to be a character artist you need to learn Zbrush
After that, I think it’s probably very useful to learn Substance, it’s becoming much more ubiquitous in game development these days and it’ll give you an edge.


So, each and every possible character work, even low poly handpainted, uses sculpting?
Also, which “Substance”? Aren’t Designer and Painter intended for very different purposes?
How about the original question?


Will upload some feedback here in a few minutes to answer some of these questions and invite a few others to help.

No, not every position requires zbrush.


If you’re doing low-poly stuff, like for a mobile game then you probably wouldn’t need to sculpt, but that would be very limiting if you wanted to be a character artist.

You probably wouldn’t ever use Designer, since that’s more for general textures (environment design) so it would be Substance Painter that you’d want to learn.


Thanks, I’m looking forward to it.


What I’ve heard of Substance Painter is that it doesnt create materials, nor does it allow for robust painting, just basic applying and masking already made materials.
If I wanted to create stylized substances and then use them when texturing, along with traditional handpainting, would it be useful? Doesn’t 3D Coat cover the basic of what SPainter does, along while providing better painting and texturing capabilities?


In painter you have material layers, so you can have like a rust layer on top of a metal layer, and then the mask for the rust layer would define where the rust goes. The big advantage is that it can automatically create weathering effects like scratches and edge wear or dirt in the corners. It also stores everything you do as an action so that if you want to change the resolution of your textures later it can basically repeat everything you’ve done. So besides painting stuff like you would in Photoshop or 3D Coat, it can do some more automatic stuff. It even has a particle paint tool that uses particles that you can spray on the surface to do weathering effects.
3D Coat is probably easier to get into, but doesn’t have a lot of the advanced features like weathering.