RFP Artists on Ways to Improve Skills and Dream Jobs

We've talked to our RFP artists and asked them about dream jobs, ways they work on their skills, and how they see their career path in the industry.

About Dream Job

My dream job would allow me to make a positive impact on people every day.
I would love to work for a company that makes time-saving and life-enriching work.
I would love to be part of a team that finds innovative ways to make work more efficient and effective.
I have always been a positive person, which translates to my work as well. Even when working on a challenging project, I find it essential to stay positive about it.
My dream job would be a leadership position where the other team members are active participants and communication happens daily. I love seeing a project through to the end and celebrating everyone’s hard work.

About Career’s Perspective

My goal for many years was to become a 3D artist. I achieved that last year.
In the short term, I plan to continue developing my artistic skills.
Ideally, I aspire to be exposed to a broad set of skills that help me learn how to be a good artist.
And aim to have been part of highly collaborative environments which developed me as a professional and person.

Ways to Get Better Skills

The best way to improve skills is practicing daily, which helps me to improve my skills and finding out where I am lacking and missing.
Yes, I do a lot of stuff in my free time, after I come home from work. I do learn new software, plugins that are new and ongoing in the production industry, which keeps me up to date with the production.
I prefer taking online tutorials (courses), given by good artists around the world, which helps me to expand my skills and also helps me improve my knowledge regarding software and tools.

Three Favorite Pieces of Software

3 software would be Maya, Mari, and Nuke.

Maya is evolving in today’s world and how demanding it is in the upcoming years. It is a very handy software, especially for beginners. Easy to understand and learn fast. It also has so many plugins and tools like quad draw, which make retopology faster.
It has been used by many studios all over the world.

The Foundry's MARI is also an extremely powerful texture painting package used in every corner of the computer graphics industry. It has an array of brushes and nondestructive tools, which mimics real-life model painting.
Using Mari, artists can change the final look of their assets at any point in time. The new node-based workflow had made it fast and easy-to-understand.

The Foundry's nuke gets the job done. From stereo to deep compositing, and the node-based compositing keeps the workflow clean and fast. It also supports the requirement of the industry by providing industry standards like ocio and alembic.
In short, it makes all short of 2d to 3d work done in a single file, with less consumption of machine memory and less storage.  

About Dream Job

I'm a big fan of verisimilitude and I've always loved the creative side of creating worlds and how to make good use of resources to help tell a story in places where the viewer/player feels immersed and what they are really seeing or experiencing is something that could exist, has existed, or will exist.
I could name many great companies that have done spectacular work in that aspect and they would also be valid options for what I consider ideal, but in a particular case, Rockstar has been responsible for taking the western genre beyond the video games industry, and it has thrilled me a lot in the last few years. So, I'd like to say that my dream job right now would be to one day work for them as an Environment Artist.

For now, I believe it is important to specialize in something and follow that path for a while, maintaining a focus. Later, I might get to switch to another specialty. Some fields like programming also catch my attention, I think it could be a very good addition to my career
in the future. For the moment, I feel that I want to learn, to have new challenges, and to try out what all these different projects will bring to me.

About Career’s Perspective

I usually alternate between personal projects and studies. Whenever I study and (very important) have time, I try to repeat from scratch the times that it takes a task to get to the point where I am happy with my work, instead of just fixing something that is poorly focused. Once I am satisfied, I try to apply the knowledge acquired in personal projects.

I try to set dates that are affordable and give me enough time to improve the content I create but don't let it take me forever to finish it either. I usually divide large projects into weeks and assign tasks as I go along.

Three Favorite Pieces of Software

I must say that I love playing with nodes. Substance Designer is that program in which I can spend 8, 10, or 12 hours in a row without even blinking and diving into the possibilities it offers.
It is an excellent program for creating a variety of textures in a non-destructive way.

Maya I think is a good option for modeling, UVs, and setting up a scene. Besides being an industry standard, it adapts perfectly,
serving both as a generator of video game content as well as for animations or VFX. It offers many possibilities. I consider it a very versatile program, it is visually pleasing, comfortable to use, and customize.

ZBrush speaks for itself. It is a top tool and indispensable for organic modeling in high poly. Super easy to use, maybe is not the most intuitive at first, but it is very comfortable, offers a multitude of brushes, tools, and customization. It is clear that it is unique in its kind.

I love to work on these 3 pieces of software although I am always trying to keep an eye on the latest news and looking at the possibilities that other programs of similar quality have to offer. Obviously, there are other very good options, but I'll stick with these.

About Dream Job  

I think a dream job for me would be to be in a place in which I feel a sense of belonging and also that it still challenges me enough to keep improving myself. In addition, I would like to be part of a team that allows me to make decisions that really matter in the bigger picture and that it shares a common purpose.

About Career’s Perspective

The perspective that I have in 3d art is that even though it requires a lot of patience and hard work, it is still a journey in which you understand that growth will come with time if you are determined enough and learn from your mistakes.

Ways to Improve Skills

What works best for me when I want to improve my skills, is that I always seek how other artists approach different tasks. Even if you already know how to sculpt a rock, or create a wood texture, you always learn something new by watching somebody else´s approach. Also getting involved in different projects and talking to new people always helps in improving your work and understanding different areas in general. Also, a lot of practice even if it is only small daily tasks.

Top Three Favorite Pieces of Software

I would use 3Ds Max as my main 3D modeling software of choice since I am very familiar with it and I find the tools it offers for production are very strong. Also, you can create your blockouts and game ready meshes here. 
For my sculpts I would use ZBrush, in combination with the blockout made in Max, you can get a very smooth workflow for your high polys and getting them ready to bake the details into your low poly. For the bakes from the high poly sometimes I like using 3Ds Max because it can get pretty clean results using color ids, or setting them up in Substance Painter is also another option since this is my third software of choice in which I like to finish the textures. I find that Substance is very flexible, and you can get very good quality results within just a few hours and get your asset ready for different lighting scenarios. 

About Dream Job

Well, I think like a lot of artists who grew up on The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, The Jungle Book, Finding Nemo, Tangled, Up, Moana... I definitely always dreamed about working at Disney and Pixar (especially in their books department). With a medical degree and no formal art schooling though, it’s almost impossible not to view my career perspectives through the lens of my work as a doctor - in truth my dream job would be to combine art and medicine full time. 

Whether that’s through working with charities like MediCinema to get a film into hospitals, writing and illustrating children’s books about visiting the doctor or creating therapeutic games in virtual reality. I’ve been involved in some really cool work on the use of VR in the rehabilitation of children with cerebral palsy, and the prevention of blindness in children with a ‘lazy eye’ - VR has incredible potential to change kids’ engagement with therapy, and that’s awesome. (It works for kids over 18, too!) Working in Children’s Emergency Medicine has also made me truly appreciate the role of our Play Specialists, and I’d love to work with them creating resources to help keep kids distracted and happy in the hospital. 

Ways to Improve Skills

In my spare time, I’m almost constantly on Udemy, CGCookie, or YouTube - I use Blender as my main CGI software, and the community built around it is incredible - it inspires teachers everywhere! You can essentially Google how to do anything in Blender, and someone will have posted about it. I love that. I also recently discovered Domestika, which is an amazing resource (although it definitely makes me wish I’d learned Spanish at school!). I absolutely love watching tutorials, even learning one new trick is usually enough to send me off on another project.

Learning and re-learning fundamental art principles and the ways we can execute them in 3D space is totally invaluable, particularly when they’re delivered in different ways by different teachers. Andrew Price, Julien Deville, Kent Trammell, Rob Tuytel, and Albert Valls are just a few of the teachers I’ve been lucky enough to learn from, but they’ve all helped me progress as a CG artist. I also watch tutorials about interior design, fine arts, gardening… You’d be surprised how often you can apply a concept from one area into a totally different one, and the result is usually pretty unique.

There’s a cool principle in neuroscience called ‘action observation’ - the basic idea is that watching someone perform an action activates the same areas of your brain as if you were actually executing the same action - it’s like practicing without practicing... I use that to help justify my spending on art courses.  

To keep up my skills I do a mixture of ‘studies’ and original artworks. I love spending time trying to recreate beautiful scenes from movies or photos as accurately as I can, and usually, the things I learn - how to create a certain lighting effect, how to model or texture a certain thing, or how to use color and composition to hit an emotional note - end up inspiring a new, original piece of art. I’m also a bit of a Pinterest addict - whenever I have a spare minute I’m saving references - if I don’t have time to start a new project, I scroll through those images and imagine all the things I could start next. It keeps me going until I have a chance to get Blender open again! 

Top Three Favorite Pieces of Software

Blender is my go-to software. I absolutely adore it - the program itself and the ethos around it. Because it’s open-source, it’s created this community culture of free education or pay-what-you-can-afford - a welcome change in the world of profit-driven incentives.

My journey into digital art started with Photoshop though, and I owe Matt Kohr - the Ctrl+Paint guy - for quite literally changing my life by suggesting at the end of his (amazing) Photoshop/digital painting course to check out Blender. I still couldn’t do most of my work without some post-production in Photoshop.

Finally, Substance Painter has been a massive game-changer for me - the workflow is still a little cumbersome with Blender but it’s 100% worth it. It has taken my texturing to a whole new level. I’ve tried dipping my toe into the world of Substance Designer, but that’s gonna take a whole lotta tutorial to get off the ground.

About Dream Job

A dream job is usually described as being a part of a particular studio or project. But personally, I would prefer being part of a talented and enthusiastic team, that is keen on knowledge sharing and delivering outstanding artwork. You'll never get bored while working in a collaborative environment and your skill level will improve as well. 
For now, I'm mainly focused on hard-surface/props and working on my skills as an environment artist.  

Ways to Improve Skills

In this ever-growing industry, we have to keep ourselves updated with the current practices being followed worldwide. I usually read articles/breakdowns of artists as there are a lot of useful tips and tricks shared. 
Lastly, working on your personal stuff is the best way to get your skills higher. I always try to get out of my comfort zone and start with a project that will enhance my skills.

Top Three Favorite Pieces of Software

It's a very difficult one to point out just 3 software, as it depends a lot on the type of project/work you are doing. 
For modeling, I always prefer 3ds Max. It's the first 3d program I got introduced to. I've been using it for 8 years now and one of its best features is the modifiers. 
For texturing, Substance Painter is the obvious choice. Its non-destructive workflow is very helpful along with the presence of smart materials and filters.
For rendering, I use Marmoset Toolbag. Its user-friendly interface will make even first time users feel at home. Besides rendering, it's my go-to software for baking as well. Baking time is very fast and real-time tweaking is the best feature which saves a lot of time while checking for any errors.   
For personal work, I don't limit myself to a particular set of software. But in a studio environment, it usually comes down to project requirements so that all artists are on the same page.

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