Becoming a Great VFX Artist

A VFX Artist from Rebelway Urban Bradesko talked about becoming a VFX Artist, core skills that are needed, and where to find inspiration.

Introduction

Heyo folks! My name is Urban Bradesko and I'm an artist by heart. I have worked on projects for Magic the Gathering, Gears of War 5, Days Gone, Love Death+Robots, Deathloop, and many more.

I currently spend my time with Rebelway as Vice President and Creative Director. I also have the pleasure of mentoring our students. The Rebelway team is the best and includes, Saber Jlassi, Igor Zanic, Caleb Ward, and Eva Maganja.

We also have quite a few amazing Instructors and technical assistants. You can see the full team on Rebelway.

What is Rebelway you ask? We are a high-end online school for FX and CG. We try our best to empower anyone who has the passion to become a first-rate FX artist working on big games, movies, become a senior FX artist, or whatever your VFX goals are.

All of our courses show you how to create something awesome. So in addition to learning important techniques, you will also take away a visually stunning project that will enhance your reel and make your friends say "wow".

Stylized FX For Games Course

I'll try not to sound like a used-car salesman here. Many of our students get inspired by video games like League of Legends or Overwatch, so we decided to partner up with extremely talented real-time FX artists to create a magical stylized FX for games.

The course is a new workshop that we just rolled out. Sjors De Laat and Ge Lush (both amazing FX artists) did the majority of the FX and assets for it and I helped a bit with the direction.

In the course, we double down on teaching the importance of good animation, colors, shapes, and the "pew pew pew" aspects of real-time FX.

t's a beginner-friendly course but also good for anyone who wants to sharpen their skills. The majority of the workshop is in Unreal Engine, but we also dive into Substance Designer for texture work and some Houdini and blender for modeling and texturing.

We have a ton of other workshops on our website. Our enrolment for the spring sessions is ending on May 7th so hurry up if you want to catch it. We open our sessions 4 times per year.

Stylized Effects in Games

I look at FX inspiration every day. I try to carefully observe them and try to deduce what makes them amazing. The most important thing with FX is the animation and timing. That will get you a long way even with simple grey geometry.

The second most important thing to remember is to have a goal for your FX work. What are you aiming for? Without a goal, it's hard to create a compelling effect. Make the FX fit your character and make sure there is a good reason for the FX to exist. If you nail all of that you have a good FX on your hands.

One of the most memorizing FX work that I've seen in gaming was in Diablo 3. The FX was so simple, yet they yield amazing visual interest and work beautifully with the gameplay. Ori and the Blind Forest is great as well. It showcases seamless FX integration with the gameplay along with beautiful color pallets and art design. Control also made a big splash in my brain. It features realistic environment destruction mixed with supernatural smoke FX. The game was a perfect mix of the technical & artistic elements of FX.

Lastly, I love all the League of Legends FX. They keep updating them and making them better and better. The hand-drawn textures have beautiful animation. The list is long. Hit me up on Twitter and we can talk more about amazing games!

One of my favorite tips for learning FX is to study anime FX. I just watched the Demon Slayer movie and the last boss fight is a work of art. I can't wait to study it further and perhaps integrate some of the things I learned into my work.

Peculiarities of Working on Stylized FX for Games

The challenges of working with Stylized FX are very similar to making more realistic FX. However, with stylized FX you need to be more skilled in the artistic elements — color, shapes, textures, and design. You still need to consider all of those for realistic explosions, but just not as much. 2D skills are a big plus when working on FX for games.

Making a Nice-Looking Spell

The steps to creating great stylized real-time FX are as follows:

  1. Know the Character
  2. Determine the Story of the Effect
  3. Perfect the Timing
  4. Create Build Up
  5. Execute the Main Effect
  6. Create Aftermath or Linger FX

Usually, if it's a spell there will be someone casting it. So we will start with how the character design looks like. Is he Evil? Good? That will influence the spell quite a lot. FX for gameplay will bring on even more questions. Is it a basic attack, or game-changing FX?

Once you have your goal for the FX and you know what it has to do. The next step to make it looks good is to focus on timing. Think about the anticipation, climax, and release. This all falls back to the 12 principles of animation. The FX also needs some sort of build-up. It could be as simple as a small spark before the big electricity appears.

Once you have the build-up set up, it's time to focus on the main execution/climax of the spell. You also want to have some sort of aftermath or lingering FX. This secondary motion can be anything from smoke dissipation to sparks lingering in the air. If you hit all these stages you should have great FX on your hands. Again, all of this comes down to timing and animation.

Core Skills

I definitely recommend learning about animation and timing. I know I sound like a broken record here, but it's really that important.

It really doesn't matter how technical you are and how well you know the workflow, if your animation and timing are off, the FX just isn't going to hit. Controlling all of the artistic elements will make you an FX Magician who controls the elements of nature!

Conclusion

I started learning 3D about 10 years ago. I was self-motivated and driven and I turned over every rock on the internet for knowledge. Back then you had to dig a bit deeper than today. It was when Video Copilot was just starting to become a thing.

We had a 3D program in our high school. Learning After Effects and 3ds Max. The teaching was old, far from inspiring, and in many cases wrong. The teacher was not an artist. So he was given an impossible job – to show how to work as an artist in the industry. Many students found the class boring or they thought that after completing it they were equipped with enough knowledge to get a job. That's simply not true.

For many people, a brick and mortar education system has failed them and wasted their time. Schools should be responsible for providing people with the necessary knowledge to push them in the right direction. Simply put, most brick and mortar schools do not provide this service and they are expensive. So not only schools waste your money, but they waste your most important resource... time.

I want to help others avoid these same mistakes, that's why I love the work I do at Rebelway. At Rebelway we try to push for real-life experiences and studio-proven workflows that will get you on the right track. I can't promise anything, but if you are passionate and willing to learn we will get you to where you want to go.

I'm happy to be a part of this new wave of learning with Rebelway and trying to break down the status quo with online VFX education.

It's not just us doing this, but other platforms like School of Motion, Greyscalegorilla, VFX Apprentice are leading the way as well. Together, we are all pioneering a new generation of visual education.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. I wish you well. I would be happy to connect with like-minded artists, so please don't hesitate to write to me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Stay Awesome!

Urban Bradesko, VFX Artist at Rebelway

Interview conducted by Arti Sergeev

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Comments 1

  • Tokarev Kyrylo

    I had no idea Matthew McConaughey was doing VFX! Way to go, Matthew!

    0

    Tokarev Kyrylo

    ·a month ago·

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