The GDC clip is basically him talking on others people work completely unrelated to what he's supposed to sell. High five!
Andrew Averkin is an experienced environment artist from Ukraine, who worked on a number of d ifferent projects for some of the biggest game studios in the world. Being a constant contributor to Blur Studio, he managed to build environments for Dark Souls, Halo Anniversary, FarCry 4, Rainbow Six Siege and Fallout 4. He also builds detailed personal projects, which have powerful looks and amazing design. In his exclusive talk with 80.lv, Andrew discussed his approach to environment design and talked about his most favorite tools.
Hi! My name is Andrew and I’m an environment artist. I’m 29 and I’m originally from Odessa, Ukraine. I was always amazed by the way modern technology works. As kid I used to watch Hollywood movies and wondered how do they create all these visual wonders. In school I started working with some 3d software, namely 3DS Max. There was no Internet access back then and I had to study by the old books or just by practicing the hell out of it.
A lot has changes since then. I’ve been working as a 3d artist for over 6 years now. I mostly do contract work now. I did a whole bunch of different projects. Probably some of the most memorable work was done for Blur Studio. Together we’ve worked on Dark Souls, Halo Anniversary, Far Cry 4, Rainbow Six Siege, Fallout 4 and so many other great games. I was lucky enough to work with Gavriil Klimov – a good friend of mine and a great artist as well.
Building 3d Environments
Building powerful 3d scene is a very intricate work and it requires a lot of patience. I would say patience is the most important thing in the production of big 3d scenes. A lot of very experienced artists lack patience. I’m always very patient with my work and don’t try to rush things.
I draw inspirations from the surrounding objects and images. I also enjoy studying new ideas in the work of other artists and spend a lot of time mastering new tools and teqniques.
Usually the technical part of the work starts with figuring out the right composition, setting up the primary lighting and placing the camera. Then I move to the creation of the basic big objects in the scene. Blocking out the scene is probably the most difficult process for me, but it’s necessary for building great scenes.
After that I’m just working on filling the scene with details and polishing all the assets. Usually I try not to mess with big objects in the scene. I can just change some smaller models if necessary.
I ground my work in reality. I draw a lot of inspiration from the my environment. Even if I’m making something futuristic like a robot, I still add some objects from the world that surrounds us. Usually I start with the small forms and gradually move to bigger ones, which have more complicated mechanics. I always try to analyze how all these objects are going to work together. This gives me an idea how all these objects should be united into one product.
The Perfect Look
Even the coolest and the most detailed object could be spoiled by bad textures, bad lighting and unusual composition. I believe to build a perfect image, you need to take into consideration all these points. So don’t fogrget about light, composition and good materials when you’re building an image. While adding textures to the object I usually use the standard Box, Cylinder, Sphere or Planar maps. I use VRay as my main render. It’s a great and very fast tool. It’s got very flexible material set up, which gives you a lot of freedom to work.
Realism is great, but sometimes doing things too realistically, you can lose the artistic quality of the image. If the image is too realistic it can become a photo. It’s still art, but a lot different from the things I try to do.
The balance between stylization and realism also depends on the type of work you’re doing. So if you’re building some architectural visualization or doing some product design it’s important to create a realistic image, which has a lot of photorealistic qualities. However, if you are building something artistic, you don’t necessarily have to follow the realistic design pattern.
Working with the lighting, I try to increase the depth of the image to create the atmosphere of the scene. Usually I avoid adding realistic natural lighting to the scene. Instead I try to use softer and warmer lights. Dawn and sunrise are the best times with the most interesting lighting. I often use VRayDomeLight & DirectLight to build the light in my scenes.
The importance of Concept Art
I usually already have a detailed concept before the production begins. Having a general outline greatly helps with the production. Of course, I’m still free to use my imagination, my feeling of proportions to fill in the image with objects where necessary. I enjoy adding smaller details to those places, where they work best. It’s great that i have a large experience working on architectural visualization.
Do not Overdo Post Effects
I try to make the BeautyPass as near as possible to the final render. I do as little post-production as possible. However, you can’t do without it so far. I do add some color correction, add additional effects like Glow, Bloom or Depth of Field. I also play around with brightness and contrast. Sometimes post production can drastically change the image. It’s important to keep this balance and not to overdo the effects.
Tools of Trade
Every artist picks up the kind of tool, he’s most comfortable working with. I enjoy 3DS Max, which is the main tool for my production. I also work with a lot of different plugins and scripts. VRay is great for rendering, Mudbox is my choice for texturing. QuixelSuite is also a nice addition to the mix. ZBrush is perfect for sculpting. AfterEffects & Photoshop are important for post production. however, it’s not really the software that makes all the difference. It’s important to keep everything as convenient as possible and get great results in the end.
Personality in Design
Design is a very unusual area of work. There are some rules and techniques, but on a larger scale everything is very personal. Good design is a result of thorough cooperation of various factors: camera, composition, lighting, color and so much more. To achieve good results you need to keep your eyes open and admire the world around us. I can’t stress this enough. You can always find real inspiration in the world. Look for the small details, study the references, be inspired by other artists. This is very important to be successful in this career.