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Senior VFX Artist on How To Get Started With Unreal Engine

Loic Cayuela has shared his personal story with Unreal Engine, discussed the engine's advantages for VFX, and explained how to get started with it.


Hi, I'm Loic Cayuela, living in Montreal, Canada. I've been working in the industry for eleven years now, and I started as a generalist programmer with Unity. I gained a lot of experience in shaders and VFX, and I slowly moved to become a tech artist and now VFX Artist in the last five years. I worked for ten years at iLLOGIKA studios, and I'm now working at Reflector Entertainment as a Senior VFX Artist.

Getting Started With Unreal Engine

When Epic released UE4, it was a game changer for the indie industry, opening its doors to everyone. Back then, I only checked it quickly, but I sensed that this engine would increase my skill and knowledge in the tech art domain, and some projects at my previous job gave me the opportunity to learn it. I have to say that in the tech art aspect, this was a flawless transition from Unity, almost identical in many points and better in others, it was like I knew Unreal Engine forever!

The thing I really love about Unreal Engine is that it feels sturdy and well-designed to make large-scale games. Also, they always want to set the visual standard in the industry, it's a luxury to have access to all of those next-gen features in such an easy way (like Nanite, Lumen, etc.).

Thoughts on the Engine's Features

I would say that if the feature you want to access is implemented in the engine, it's super easy to use it to make very cool things from it, and Unreal has a ton of tools and features! I think we also underestimate the power of some tools, like Niagara, which is capable of implementing very complex behaviors, resulting in stunning VFX.

Shaders are also very accessible, with all the new tools Epic is adding to it, like Shader Layers and Substrate, it will become easier for artists to use them even without a lot of technical knowledge. Also, with some expertise in the engine, you can always extend the possibilities by adding custom rendering passes to get a more unique visual style to your game.

Reasons to Learn Unreal Engine

First and foremost is the community. You have access to a large amount of content online, from YouTube to ArtStation, 80 Level, RealtimeVFX, etc. This will give you a ton of ways to learn it from scratch. Plus, today, Unreal Engine is so widely used in the industry that whenever you want to get a job in PC/console games, there is a high chance that the studio is using Unreal Engine. For me, it's a no-brainer to learn it if you want to stay competitive for job opportunities.

Also, Epic wants more people to use their engine, so every major update introduces easier access to their features, thus making it easier to learn.


You have to be a bit careful with Blueprints. I won't deny it's a very good way to program your first logic bits in your project, allowing non-technical users to be able to be more autonomous on features, especially integration. It's also a good alternative to learning C++, and you can almost do the same with BPs.

But it's not as easy as you might think, in the end, you still have to learn how to program, and the logic is still up to you. Just as you can make a bad program, you can also make a bad BPs. So, more accessible, yes, but you still need to learn it the proper way if you don't want to end up with performance issues or bugs.

Advice For Beginners

I would recommend two very useful YouTube channels. The first one is Prismatica, a very good introduction to all main systems in Unreal Engine, it will give you most of the necessary information you need. The second is Ghislain Girardot, a more advanced channel talking about how to manipulate some systems to create awesome VFX.

You can follow me mainly on Twitter and ArtStation as well, where I usually post more details about my work.

Loic Cayuela, Senior VFX Artist

Interview conducted by Arti Burton

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