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Today we will be talking with Dekogon Studio’s Owner and Art Direction, Clinton Crumpler as well as some of the talented artist working on Dekogon’s Kollab project. Well get some insight as to how the studio works and what kind of work they are creating.
Hello Clinton! Can you give up a brief introduction about who you are and what role you play at Dekogon Studios? Hows does the studio operate?
Sure! My name is Clinton Crumpler and I am the owner and art director at Dekogon Studios. I’ve been working in the gaming industry for quite sometime now. The last project I worked on was Gears of War 4. It was while working at The Coalition on Gears of War that I plotted out the initial ideas for the Dekogon with fellow artist Kurt Kupser. After I established the Studio we began working with Microsoft as a vendor. This lead to a few ideas of how we could expand the studio to become something more.
Dekogon Artist: Ryan Spinney
During my time working at Microsoft and in the last couple years in general, I have met and worked with so many talented artists. I wanted to find a way to continue developing those relationships as well as establish new ones with up and coming like-minded artists. Although producing art alone can be fun, the feats and quality you can achieve with a group of artists can be a awesome experience. You’ll find that you will often learn a lot throughout the process — not only about your craft but about yourself and workflows.
Seeing a niche for myself and these artists to work together on something collaboratively lead to the main directive of Dekogon, establish a collaborative experience that creates opportunities for passionate artists. Dekogon’s artists are gathered from all parts of the globe, and together we profit share by working with developers to create environments and assets based on each artists individual contribution. This method allows each artist to get back directly from the work they put in, work with multiple studios on multiple projects, bolster their portfolios, and develop strong ties to talented artists worldwide. This also ties us together as we find greater strength in our combined effects to take on contracts. Each artist was hand picked based on their existing portfolios, talent set, and knowledge of the craft. This makes for a very robust but refined group of talented individuals working together knowing that each artist has a direct impact with the work they make.
Dekogon Artist: Karolis ”Kyle” Rakickas
Personally, I act as the art director and company head, it’s my duty to the rest of the group to give feedback throughout the creation of all the assets to hit the right quality bar, look, and overall optimization to maintain consistency throughout all the work we do. I also work with studios, game devs, and online marketplaces to see where Dekogon can provide the most support and provide the best content. Even with that being my primary role, I still haven’t given up what I love doing and that is making art. I still continue to work with all the artists and contribute my own work to the mix as well. So far the experience has been really rewarding and the content the artists are providing is really jaw dropping. I’m lucky to be able to work with so many talented people. Often times artists will submit work from review and I am in awe of the attention to detail and overall refinement in their work. It really is a humbling experience to work with such industry talent.
The artists that work for Dekogon, can you tell us more about them?
All the artists at Dekogon are remote, located across the globe. Each artist chooses the project for which they would desired to contribute. In order to maintain maximum quality during production, it’s vital to stay inspired and engaged in any project you are working, so this is very important.
Each artist also determines how much work they can or willing to commit to the project before they begin so that we can make sure to fulfill each project we work on but not wear the team out or stretch any one person too thin. It’s set up to try and be a process that the artist will typically work on in their spare time so it shouldn’t be so demanding they feel like they can’t still have a social life! Each of the artists were hand picked and range in years of experience. Most artists are industry veterans and have worked on tons of AAA titles. Our artists backlog of work consist of games such as Metal Gear Solid, Horizon Zero Dawn, Call of Duty, Final Fantasy, God of War, and many more. Some artist are super talented beginners that would blow you away on how talented they are and how of a firm understanding of the craft they already possess. It’s good to have a mix as some specialize in particular asset construction methods over others and we lean into those strengths to produce high quality work.
Dekogon Artist: Tomer Meltser
What is Dekogon working on now? What’s the future roadmap look like for Dekogon?
Right now we are focused on a few different fronts. On one side we are working with some smaller studios for environment construction, level layout, and other general environment tasks. Most of these are still work in progress and can’t be discussed too much yet. Our most outward facing and accessible content is the asset packs we have and will continue to release each month. Each content pack includes around 40-100 different assets based on a various topic or themes. In talking to different studios and devs we aim these themes are what are most needed and/or currently trending in the game development. Our first two sets we released since the new year were a 1980’s retro theme and a construction site themed set of props have been very well received. It was fun to work on both and the variety of assets allows for good flexibility of use across multiple types of games. Coming out with new themes keeps the content fresh and also allows for a lot of learning experiences for working on different types of assets with all of our artists.
We want to make sure our work can be easily accessible to any studio or game dev regardless of size or budget to allow maximum flexibility to choose what purchase method fits their needs and situation. We sell these assets in both grouped pack formats (Currently for Unreal, Unity and others coming soon) as well as independent asset sales. The unreal versions of the packs have a master material and a bunch of features and controls to allow for tweaks within the engine as well. We generally aim for AAA quality work with 2k textures on all our assets but these are easily scaled down depending on the product for different types of usage. Right now our assets aim for realism and are strictly environment work but we are looking to potentially diversifying and working on stylized assets in the future as well as branching out into weapons and vehicles. Overall I think this year will be a very interesting year for Dekogon and I’m excited to see how the studio evolves to fill an important part in the ever changing game dev market.
Can you buy Dekogon’s content for any game? Where can I purchase it?
Yes you certainly can. The content packs and the individual asset sales are all available now for sale on multiple storefronts. We have stores open with Unreal Marketplace, Unity, Gumroad, Cubebrush, CGTrader, Turbosquid, Renderhub, and Sketchfab. We also have a few more stores on the way in the coming months.
We always suggest to studios and independent game devs, if you have a good idea for a set or pack that we haven’t made or have planned we would love to hear it! We are always open to new ideas and ways to serve the game dev community.
Dekogon Construction Set: Vol 2
You’ve suggested that talking to your artists directly is one of the best ways to understand what Dekogon does and the culture you are trying to cultivate. Can you tell us more about this?
As I have discussed I want Dekogon to be represented by its artist and for the group to feel empowered to each be a representative of Dekogon Studios. While there are many artist working with us at Dekogon, I emailed a few to get their direct feedback about their experience so far working with Dekogon and about working freelance and I’d like to introduce a few and relay their responses.
Who are you and what is your background in environment art? Where can I find your portfolio?
Taylor Brandenburger – I’m a 3D Artist who’s been doing freelance work for half a year now. Dekogon is my second gig so I’m relatively new when it comes to the industry. Because of that I don’t have much of a work background as a environment artist apart from my portfolio.
Dekogon Artist: Taylor Brandenburger
Andrii Mykhailov – I’m vehicle/environment artist from Kyiv, Ukraine. I worked on different 3D-related freelance projects for 4 years before getting my first onsite job in 2015. It was a local outsource company. We helped to release such titles as Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered, Call of Duty: WW2. Currently i work for ‘4A Games’ on our upcoming title Metro: Exodus.
Eddie Ataberk – I started CG art with modding games. Since I created my Artstation profile it was quite successful. Last year passed 1k followers in Artstation and released my first Indie game. This year i’m aimed to pass the 2000 mark on Artstation and looking forward to work for bigger productions in the future.
You can find my portfolio at http://www.cg-king.com or https://www.artstation.com/cg-king.
Dekogon Artist: Ryan Spinney
Wahyu Nugraha – I’m a 3D environment/ hard-surface artist based in Malaysia. I’ve been in the game industry for the past 7 years or so, currently working for an outsource company full time beside the collaboration project with Dekogon.
Ryan Spinney – I’m self-taught 3D Artist, based in the UK. I got started in my career by working as Level Designer on a Wolfenstein title, before moving to Amsterdam to work at Guerrilla Games for 5 years as an Environment Artist. While there I had the pleasure of working on the Killzone franchise as well as Horizon: Zero Dawn.
What challenges do you find working as a freelance usually?
Dekogon Artist: Gary Do
Taylor Brandenburger – The biggest challenge for being a freelancer is the setting. I’m a very social person so I enjoy all the interactions that come with an onsite job. Sure it’s nice to work from home but I do want to eventually relocate if something were to come up.
Andrii Mykhailov – Biggest challenge in freelance for a guy with full time job and family with kids is time efficiency. When you have 1-2 free hours at maximum per day you need to be super productive and concentrated to get anything done.
Tomer Meltser – The greatest challenge for doing any kind of freelance work is finding the drive to be as productive and motivated as possible – wherein with a on-site position the exposure to other professional fuels a productive mindset and helps get in the flow faster.
However, I do feel that working freelance allows for greater freedom and might be something I’d consider doing full-time later in the future.
Dekogon Artist: Eric Correia
Eddie Ataberk – It’s nice to work in pajamas but working alone at home often becoming quite boring for me. I’m more productive at social environments. Another problem is work/life balance. The concept of “working at home” might sound pleasant but it turns into “living in work” overtime. Planning to work at an on-site job in near future.
Wahyu Nugraha – The biggest challenge for me is to find that extra time to squeeze at night to push the productivity further even though it’s just a small task like placing the bolts or unwrapping small portion of the mesh as long as there’s a progress for the day, which often I’m still struggling with, but with Dekogon flexibility it comes out quite effective.
Ryan Spinney – For me the biggest challenge with remote work is the isolation; I’m a sociable person and really enjoying being around co-workers. I find it much easier to discuss ideas and give and receive feedback during a face to face conversation rather than over Skype or text.
What is your favorite part of art production / asset creation?
Dekogon Artist: Wahyu Nugraha
Taylor Brandenburger – I like the texturing phases because that’s when the model really pops out. The overall feeling that you can portray in the textures alone is super powerful especially if you understand and know how to take advantage of the PBR workflow.
Andrii Mykhailov – If i answered this question 1-2 years ago i’d probably said it is texturing. Now I say it is learning. You learn from every asset. You improve your knowledge of design, composition, mechanics if you if you really try to see and understand how each asset works in real life. On every asset you may find something you didnt know or didn’t notice before.
Tomer Meltser – It changes from asset to asset, sometimes I find joy in finding the blockout and shapes of my object while other times I might find more enjoyment out of texturing.
In the end, the greatest thrill is seeing all the hard work come together to form the final result and learning through the process via all the mistakes and obstacles along the way.
Eddie Ataberk – It would be problem solving for me. In this day of age we have so many software that allows artists to make great stuff. However when we reach the limits of the software it’s my time to shine. I’m really enjoying to create new workflows, plugins and tools and push through those limits.
Wahyu Nugraha – Favorite part for me always on the final stage of getting back and forth between Substance Painter and UE4/ Toolbag just to push that quality further and seeing it all comes together nicely!
Dekogon Artist: Mario Dalla Bona
Ryan Spinney – At the moment I’m most enjoying the high poly modelling stage of production. I love the workflow of creating the shapes inside Maya and then exporting to UE4 to preview them with lighting.
Another pleasure is when I switch between Substance Painter and UE4 to see my textures in final quality. The rendering in UE4 just seems to bring out the best in my work and really makes it shine.
What do you like about working with Dekogon?
Taylor Brandenburger – I like the whole idea of giving “new” artist a platform to where they can work on AAA assets alongside other AAA artist. It’s hard to stand out in the industry when you don’t have anything to go off of besides portfolio pieces that get only a couple views. So giving new artist exposure for their hard work and talent is something I’ll always appreciate.
Andrii Mykhailov – It is like free-lance but no one is pushing you. Everything is mandatory. You take objects which you are interested in. You join sets you like. Everything is upon your self-organization.
Tomer Meltser – I like the fact that it is basically just one big collaboration of artists, there is a lot of potential in Dekogon and I’d be very excited to continue working with his group for years to come. Furthermore, the freedom of doing the sets at your own pace means it is easier to integrate the work with a full-time job or other obligations.
Eddie Ataberk – Dekogon taking care of the business side of things like publishing, marketing, advertising etc. and that allow me to focus on the do the improve the quality of the work only. The constructive feedback that comes from Dekogon community is also extremely helpful in that token. Because it’s a collaborated project it’s everyone’s best interest that every assets in the packs being as good as possible.
Dekogon Artist: Bartosz Nowak
Wahyu Nugraha – Dekogon gives us the artists a flexibility to choose what asset(s) to work on and any number of it. And most importantly the whole idea of collaboration, each of us are willingly help each other for a greater profit for all!
Ryan Spinney – The community Clinton has assembled is wonderful. It’s an extremely talented and positive group of people who are more than willing to provide help and advice to one another.
Regarding the organisation; I like the ability to pick and choose the amount of work I want to take on, as well as the corresponding difficulty / compensation level. The submission process for assets is also very well organised and clearly defined, which helps me to just focus on making great artwork!
Dekogon Artist: Andrii Mykhailov
What Dekogon sets are you currently working on and what kind of work are you looking forward to making in the future with Dekogon?
Taylor Brandenburger – I’ve got multiple packs lined up at the moment, I plan to help out in all of them eventually. And for the follow up question I’m looking forward to working on the bigger projects Dekogon has planned in the future.
Andrii Mykhailov – For now I have Retro-futurism set in my backlog. I took few pieces of home electronics because I liked design.
Tomer Meltser – I am currently focusing on 3 different sets, Art Deco and several assets on Retro Futurism and Arcade. I do hope to work on more texture-related sets in the future and improve on my workflows with Substance Designer following this.
Eddie Ataberk – I’m working on core parts of the Dive Bar set right now. It’s a theme I really enjoy. After that I’m looking forward to work for Retro futuristic assets that I can use my imagination.
Wahyu Nugraha – I’ve completed my first set for Dekogon, the Dive Bar and Restaurant Props set and currently working on the Attic Props set. Next there will be a Hospital Props. Stay tuned for more!
Ryan Spinney – I’ve signed up to work on multiple assets across all the sets currently under development. In particular I’m looking to forward to doing some Zbrush sculpting on my aged assets for the Attic set, as I’m keen to improve my skills in this area.
Dekogon Artist: Wahyu Nugraha
What has been your favorite asset you have made for Dekogon so far and why?
Taylor Brandenburger – I’m a big fan of the fireplace model on the camping and outdoor asset pack. It was tough to choose between that and the letter box but the fireplace stands out to me since I don’t have any stone pieces on my portfolio.
Andrii Mykhailov – Concrete mixer was nice. I took it for one purpose – try to make dry concrete look real. And it turned quite fine.
Tomer Meltser – The Camcorder was very fun to work on, there were a few challenges which helped me progress and refine my workflow and the entire process went relatively smooth.
I usually find it difficult to be fully satisfied with my own work but I believe the Camcorder asset has reached a level where I could feel very comfortable with it.
Eddie Ataberk – Hard to pick a single favorite. Modular Bar system is very nice because it’s versatility. Liquor Cabinet is something I would like to see in my home. Enjoyed making Chandelier due to new way of making low poly chains I came up with.
Wahyu Nugraha – My favorite asset so far is the Cash Register for the Dive Bar set. It has an interesting shape and design that picked up my interest the first time I saw the reference image. And it also has lots of space to put stickers, I love placing a torn stickers/ posters on my asset whenever possible!
Ryan Spinney – The cattle skull for the Dive Bar has been the most challenging and rewarding asset I’ve worked on so far. The process of sculpting the high poly mesh gave me a great opportunity to improve my Zbrush knowledge and I’m really proud of the finished piece.
Dekogon Artist: Ryan Spinney
Thanks to Clinton and all the artists for taking the time out say of few works on what Dekogon is up to!
Of course! Thanks for having us!
Or on Artstation
Also keep a look out for our artists posting their work Feb 2nd for a #DekogonDay release of some of the work they have been creating!