Portfolio and hiring: does the toolbelt matter?

polycounter lvl 7
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armagon polycounter lvl 7
Most artists that i know use Max or Maya. They are successful environment artists that have good jobs in nice companies and this is something that i've been looking for myself. I've been a programmer and now i'm aiming for technical artist positions. I want to make a change in my carrer. Those artists that i known have recommended me either Max or Maya, as well a Digital Tutors subscription and a great "Just do it".

So far, so great. But i've been hating Max and Maya. The workflow seems cumbersome and repetitive. And it does not free you creatively. Being a programmer, i get headaches just about thinking on repetitive tasks. For example, creating a weapon can be fun, but 60% of the job of modelling that gun is a shitload of repetitive tasks and just plain boring "connect the dots".

Being a programmer, i have searched for a tool that allowed me to be more dynamic and, also for being a programmer, i'm passionate about open-source software. I have decided to start with Blender and Sculptris. Blender API is great: i can automate most boring stuff with Python and it's much more powerful than the maxscript. It's also better documented. I'm also playing with Houdini, which is not open-source, but it's great for creating "programmable" art. I'm falling in love with it.

However, i don't see many people using those tools in the industry. Most Blender guys are from archviz or CG. Houdini as well. So, my dilemma:
  • Should i create a portfolio with my work, and showcase my work with those tools?
  • Won't that "block" me from working in the industry?
  • Should i just drop Blender, learn MaxScript and keep going with it to make sure i get a job?


  • sprunghunt
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    sprunghunt polycounter lvl 13
    If you want to be a technical artist you should learn Maya first. It helps to know both max and Maya but in my experience most tech art jobs will be using Maya. There's python scripting for Maya so you should be able to pick it up pretty quickly based off your blender experience. A lot of packages use python for scripting. Modo and substance designer also use python.


    As a bonus most tech artists for film and TV use maya.

    Also if you want to be a tech artist you should learn to use the technical features of at least one game engine (eg: unreal or unity) And you should probably learn CG or HLSL (for shaders).
  • Zephiris
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    Zephiris polygon
    You might find some newer/smaller/indie studios using Blender.

    It's not terribly popular with the big companies, because most of them have used Max/Maya in the past and have established their workflows/toolchains around them.

    So Max/Maya would definitely give you better chances for a job.

    If you like working with blender and you're making something that a ton of people find useful, you could try your luck selling it as an addon on https://cgcookiemarkets.com/blender/ , though that likely won't replace a job.
  • pior
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    pior hero character
    - If your main goal is art (and art quality is indeed what gets you hired for art positions), then you are free to completely ignore even the most established workflows and just focus on what gives you the best results, with as little headaches/blockers/frustration as possible.

    - If your main goal is to get hired as a tech artist at a game studio, then indeed you'll have to get deeply into the inner workings of Max and Maya ... regardless of how inefficient you find them to be.

    In other words, go for whatever you enjoy doing the most with the tools that you find the most powerful and practical. I am a firm believer that this is the best way to create fantastic results, and thus be noticed/hired. One of the most well-known CG artists, Vitaly Bulgarov, is an XSI user even though this program is now defunct on top of being niche, and that doesn't prevent him from being highly successful. (Now of course acquiring a license for the program nowadays is bound to be a bit of an issue, but that's another topic altogether :) )

    One last thing to keep in mind is that while many people like to dabble in both art and tech in their free time, on the job these are two completely separate fields which almost never overlap, only with some exceptions in smaller studios/indies.

    Good luck !
  • DanglinBob
    Yeah in short, you have to use what the studio is using, since you'll end up having to work collaboratively with other artists. Doesn't matter how good you are if you can't use the tools that the guy next to you needs you to be using :)
  • RaptorCWS
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    RaptorCWS polycounter lvl 5
    I got an internship at a studio that uses max and they knew my whole portfolio was done in maya prior to the interview stage. I picked up max in a few days. Pretty much pick one and set up short cut keys to make some of the repetitive tasks way quicker.
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