Hong Chan Lim shared his insight into building a 3D Artist career, Real-Time game characters, and studying at CG Spectrum.
Hi, everyone. My name is Hong Chan Lim, and I am currently working as a Senior Character Artist on Overwatch at Blizzard Entertainment. My career in the industry started back in 2004 as a 3D generalist which was my first internship experience. I participated in other games as a 3D/2D artist; I worked on concepts, characters, props, and also environments. Officially, I got my first title as Senior Character Artist at Carbine Studios/NCsoft Corp. while working on WILDSTAR. This is where I got to work on my first creature. Ever since that moment I have focused working on characters and creatures which ultimately led me to join the Overwatch team at Blizzard.
Building a Career
Becoming a Senior Character Artist is not easy, but I would say that I was fortunate enough to meet great artists with amazing talents along the way who helped me to be where I am now. Whether successful or not, collaborating with each other definitely helped us learn and grow together to become skillful artists.
Moreover, what I think really helps to rise higher in career is to always be prepared to work for the company you want to join and be willing to improve. This is not easily attained. I personally strive to become a better artist; I am still in the progress of becoming a better artist every moment through every work I do.
I can’t say I am here solely due to all the work I have done but I am where I am because of all my team members. A priceless trait as an artist is to know how to be a team player. Also, it is very useful to remember that it is not always easy to accept different opinions or feedback on your work. Nevertheless, by listening to others’ opinions you will gain insights that will help you improve.
Flexibility, knowledge in many areas, team management skills, and experience are all very important traits but don’t forget that artists need to set their art standards very high. Above all, you need to be ready to show high-quality artwork.
Real-Time Game Characters
Game engines are becoming better and faster with improved performance. Polycounts have risen so much compared to a few years ago. Depending on games, High polys models and digital sculptures for games are becoming nearly as good as for CG models in terms of modeling side. The key factor for a real-time character is how you execute the look with lower polygon budget characters.
For a real-time character, you need to know the limitations of the engine or game that you are creating, such as polycounts, texture sizes, etc. Also, translating high poly to your low poly bake is one of the most important things.
One of the biggest challenges is to make a good topology. Having good topology for animation but at the same time making the topology to flow well with your high poly sculpt is challenging yet important.
Studying at CG Spectrum
CG Spectrum is a good source to learn 3D art online. You get to learn from mentors who are experienced and have been in the industry and receive intensive feedback from them on your work. This is such a great opportunity since it is something I never got to experience back in the early 2000s when I was still a college student. Back then, it was not easy to get in touch with experienced artists and to get an idea of what the industry is like or the standards.
Hong Chan Lim will be teaching the Advanced 3D Modeling course at CG Spectrum. Here’s what Jeremy Chinn, Head of the 3D Modeling Department, is saying about the course:
“The Advanced 3D Modeling course is a collection of project-based instructions designed to give a new artist the set of skills necessary to successfully enter the workforce in an intern or junior modeling role. While the course covers the majority of popular software and techniques including ZBrush, Maya, and Marvelous Designer, there is a real emphasis put on problem-solving techniques, artistic development, and learning what is needed to successfully integrate into a studio setting or take on freelance projects.
The course covers a number of different types of modeling including character, creature, hard-surface, and environment to really give the student a broad knowledge needed to work in film, games, or cinematics. While the importance of character and hard surface sections can be more obvious, the environment section of the course is also well integrated and is an area important to the overall base of knowledge.
Many film positions begin working with the environment as a way to get juniors up to speed and can be an entire focused discipline in the game industry. To stay true to our purpose of teaching students the real-world skills they will need, the environment modeling becomes an important part as that will most likely be where they start.”
As I mentioned previously, it is very important to target the company’s vision and its art style. It is helpful to have your best work at the beginning of your portfolio and make sure that each work matches the company’s art style. It will be difficult for reviewers to understand your skillset if your portfolio is full of stylized character artwork when they are actually looking for an artist who can build realistic characters. Familiarize with the company’s style you are applying for, and if you have not built your portfolio yet, pick companies where you believe your art style matches the most.
Definitely be active on CG community websites. Also, interact with other artists on social media to obtain different knowledge and share yours as well.
My last little piece of advice is to remember that it is not easy to find the perfect job. One thing that kept me going was to never give up and actually learn from my previous failures. I understand everyone is going through different situations however companies usually pick interview candidates mostly by looking at their artwork. Make sure to prepare and research before an interview. Be your true self when preparing for the interview and it will help you answer all interview questions smoothly and ultimately leave a good impression.
I hope this article was helpful and I wish the best for all of you.
Hong Chan Lim, Senior Character Artist on Overwatch at Blizzard Entertainment
Interview conducted by Daria Loginova