Rookie moves you've corrected over time

quad damage
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TeriyakiStyle quad damage

It might be useful to catalog stories of improvement that have to do with more common personal mistakes or bad habits while making game art.  It could help to save other peoples time if they are making the same mistakes.  How Embarrassing!

I used to: get the scale settings wrong between zbrush/maya/UE4 so I had to correct the scale every time I imported from one to another, for the entire project!
Now I: double check and test my scale settings early on and happily transfer meshes quickly with no problems.

I used to: Use Red Wax for all my zbrush sculpts
Now I: Use my favorite handful of matcaps

I used to: Paint out bad stuff in my normal maps in photoshop
Now I: Set up my bakes properly by exploding, using cages etc.

I know I have a ton more.  Interested to see what other people might say.  Maybe I still have some of the bad habits you've already grown out of.


  • JordanN
  • RyanB
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    RyanB Polycount Sponsor
    Most of my mistakes were communication style.  Coming from a trades/construction environment, it took me about five years to figure out that I couldn't communicate with game industry people the way I did in my previous career.  And vice versa.
  • Sunray
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    Sunray triangle
    Jesus dude "I used to: Use Red Wax for all my zbrush sculpts" That's terrible, I used to use MAH_Shiny. 
  • beefaroni
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    beefaroni greentooth
    I used to: Lay out my UVs sloppy for maximum texel density
    I now: Lay out my UVs for easy hand edits in Photoshop and other directional texture work.

  • TeriyakiStyle
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    TeriyakiStyle quad damage
    Oh man UVs I have committed some crimes.  I used to lay out belts like this:

    Now it's like this:

  • throttlekitty
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    throttlekitty interpolator
    I used to: Position my camera and selectively camera map my UVs across entire models. Then manually move and stitch.

    Now I: Use an appropriate mapping if needed, seam marking, and actually use the unfold tools. I am now verysmart.

    I had organization impressed on me long before 3d, so it wasn't really a rookie mistake for me, but I see it all the damn time. Seriously, keep your scenes clean, organized and name everything while you work or at the end of sessions; especially if you're going to be working with other people.
  • Kwramm
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    Kwramm polycounter lvl 7
    I used to: have a black background for my normal maps, causing errors in the MIP maps
    Now I: use neutral normal map color

    I used to: be bad at note taking. My bosses were also bad at it. At review time nobody knew what should have been fixed and what's going on.
    Now: I always carry mote notebook

    I used to: save .mb files
    Now: I use .ma - there's at least a remote chance of restoring stuff

    I used to: ...think that all that's required of me is great art
    Now: I realize that there are also technical things which my job description says I need to take care of. I ensure that all scenes are well laid out, that the settings are correct, that models are technically solid (merged verys, freeze transform/reset xform, etc) and that I better QA my own stuff before the next person in the pipeline gets angry at me.

    Actually I don't work as artist any more, but those are some things I learned in my career.  

  • Stinger88
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    Stinger88 polycounter lvl 9
    Burn and Dodge.
    Press the merge verts hotkey in Maya before remembering to save. Roll the crash dice!
    Collect 1000's of photoshop and ZBrush brushes/textures/materials only to find the defaults works just fine :P
  • Anchang-Style
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    Anchang-Style polycounter lvl 5
    Trying to model everything into one mesh
    I don't know what that was about. I guess the fear, that shit start to flicker or look weird when two meshes just merge without a clear visible cue (soldering line or something).
  • thomasp
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    thomasp greentooth
    haha, burn and dodge indeed! don't use that.
    also starting without proper reference and working with different reference per angle.
    micro detail in the sculpt, taking endlessly long to create and causing huge file sizes when it can also be done as a simple overlay in the texture.
  • TeriyakiStyle
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    TeriyakiStyle quad damage
    @Stinger88 - I am probably still guilty of being a hoarder of stuff I never really use.  Knowing that download links might go down someday I feel I have to download and catalog everything on my external and web drive.  And I really only use 3-4 brushes... :|

    @thomasp - I feel I've only recently embraced the concept that the end product of game art isn't the high res sculpt - but a lower poly asset.  Keeping that in mind has helped me employ all manner of tricks to make that asset a better product.  I used to focus all my attention on making the sculpt great then end up with a lesser LP character.  Now I think "how is sculpting this going to help my end result?"

    I used to: Bump up my sculpting resolution insanely high early in the process because looking at faceted geo bothered me
    Now I: Step up like a good boy from around 100k to millions gradually only after the forms feel right.
  • Jonas Ronnegard
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    Jonas Ronnegard Polycount Sponsor
    Not being an asshole,
  • Spoon
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    Spoon Polycount Sponsor
    I used to: Be too cool to use Red Wax for my zbrush sculpts
    Now I: Use it 

    Fixed :D
  • throttlekitty
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    throttlekitty interpolator
    @Stinger88 - I am probably still guilty of being a hoarder of stuff I never really use.  Knowing that download links might go down someday I feel I have to download and catalog everything on my external and web drive.  And I really only use 3-4 brushes... :|
    Also guilty. Actually this kind of goes back to organization here. I used to hoard maya scripts in some big random folder. You know, the "go on a download spree and check things out later" deal, and use like none of them. Later, I'd find a thread with a cool trick for doing a particular thing using a particular script, and get that overwrite prompt. Hell, I could have been using this neat little trinket the whole time?

    So last year, I went and organized the whole thing, riced up my Maya install and spent some serious time evaluating my workflows and marking menus. I've been thinking about packing it up for others in some big post if there's any interest in it.
  • Spiffy
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    Spiffy polycounter lvl 6
    I used to: Use the Photoshop/Nvidia normal filters on everything.

    Now: Bake or create with nDo/Substance normal maps if needed.

    That was when I was really just discovering texturing. Didn't even know what baking was or how normal maps worked, just knew those mysterious purple pink textures make things look detailed.
  • Ruz
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    Ruz polycounter lvl 12
    keeping old/working on old files is my bug bear and not focusing on the overall picture when sculpting etc
    hey I still use dodge and burn :)
  • Prime8
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    Prime8 polycounter lvl 2
    I used to: not use and tris or ngons when modelling high-poly using subdivision surfaces.
    Now: I use them as long as the result is what I want
    (I know this has been discussed to death but should be in this list)

    I used to: never change the focal length of the camera when looking at my models in perspective mode
    Now: change between the settings to get a better feeling of the result

    I used to: think that stuff rendered in green wireframes looks super futuristic.
    Now: I think it looks classic
  • Lazerus Reborn
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    Lazerus Reborn polycounter lvl 8
    I used to: Throw out a quote without really working it out properly
    Now: Consider that I need to eat and work out realistic quotes (not just 3D!)

    I used to: Spend my times in forums and look busy, even Polycount
    Now: I make sure I keep busy!
  • TeriyakiStyle
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    TeriyakiStyle quad damage
    I used to: say yes to art favors for friends.
    Now I: say noooo too busy.
  • Chimp
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    Chimp greentooth
    Just cos I can technically do it, doesn't mean I necessarily should. If you go full-retard visuals on one area, you have to do that everywhere else too, which can be unsustainable/unfeasible/bad tbh. Work smart not hard, make the right decision for the project, not your artistic ego.
  • Scizz
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    Scizz polycounter lvl 6
    I used to: Try and do as much with my normal map as possible. Even when it was probably better to model that hole, or those buttons.
    Now I: Stopped being so damn stingy with my polys. If it helps the silhouette, and doesn't take an unnecessary amount of time to model in, I should model it. The asset will turn out much better. 
  • Mark Dygert
    I used to: Automatic unwrap and then stitch all of the fractured islands together.
    Now: I use all of the UV tools...
  • GrevSev
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    GrevSev polycounter lvl 4
    I use to: Spend more time Studying WHY I suck instead of getting to the grind. 

    Now: I just keep shitting out work and I grow. No slow growth because I work smart. Thanks to the lovely Artstation plugin for chrome I'm randomly given something cool to work on so no need to ever decide or ponder on projects. 

    I use to upload work. Now on top of working another job and project output I just dont care to pump out images.

  • Mstankow
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    Mstankow polycounter lvl 7
    Some of these rookie things people are mentioning are more like professional things that existed cause the tools to do better didn't really exist but now they do.

    NDO/Nvidia filter normals were super common until fairly recent. Substance Painter/Designer/Quixel as well photogrammetry made that process obsolete.
  • TeriyakiStyle
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    TeriyakiStyle quad damage
    @Mstankow - I agree with what you're saying.  But I still see people out there in the wild using crazybump and really old tools even now.  Seeing the info here might get them to explore newer stuff.

    Tool stagnation can be a rookie move too.
  • Ruflse
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    Ruflse triangle
    I used to: Model using almost only extrusions and some bevels due to fear of having bad topology, avoiding triangles and ngons like plague.
    Now: I use chamfers, booleans, bevels and every tool and modifier I know to break the shape, prioritizing form over topology and making my life a lot easier when unwrapping.

    I used to: Try to unwrap every piece with one Unwrap UVW modifier applied to diferent objects, making 3ds Max lag a lot and having a harder time finding which UV shell belongs to which piece.
    Now: I unwrap every piece separately and then merge them into one object to pack them, then explode the mesh for baking.

    I used to: Use Red Wax too.
    Now: I stopped using it a week ago after realizing I couldn't see shit with it (it's really bad)

    I used to: Unwrap using planar, cubical and cylindrical projections in 3ds Max (and without shortcuts).
    Now: I use Flatten Mapping to break the mesh and stitch the pieces selecting the edges in the viewport and make seams manually. I also now use Quick Planar Map to reproject the pieces I have stitched together and relax or peel them. I use a lot of shortcuts I have in a paper in case I forget them. I also straighten shells that could lay flat but have some distortion, so I relax them and straighten manually the borders so the interior of the shells stays with less distortion.

    I used to: Look at the distorsion checkers all the time when unwraping, lagging 3ds Max and ending with distortion anyways during packing (not sure why tho)
    Now: I think I'm gonna start using texture checkers more instead of realing that much into distorsion checkers.

    I used to: Try to clean hard surface in Zbrush in one subtool.
    Now: I mask parts after having ended sketching, separate them into different subtools and retopo them.

    I used to: Use obj. with Optimize options on, which sometimes gave me a bad export.
    Now: I stopped using them.

    I used to: Model things like small holes into the low poly that will give a lot of problems with the cage overlapping itself due to the normals of the superior and inferior part of the hole.
    Now: I bake those holes, use floaters or use Substance Painter to bake without a cage.

    I used to: Sculpt in Zbrush without worring about shape.
    Now: I separate primary, secondary and terciary shapes and sculpt them by order.

    I used to: Rotate shells with straight borders trying to make the straight border lay horizontal or vertically.
    Now: I select that edge and use the align option in Textools (blessed be Textools).

    I used to: Didn't give a fuck about smoothing groups.
    Now: I set them manually or use also the "Smoothing groups by UV shells" option in Textools after packing.

    I used to: Use only support edge loops to make the HP with TurboSmooth.
    Now: I use the modifier Chamfer in Quad Chamfer with "Smoothing edges" and "All edges" and set smoothing groups with a shortcut in AutoSmooth to then apply a Turbosmooth, or use Opensubdiv and Crease Set to set creases by angle.

    I used to: Forget removing the edge loop that appears after using Symmetry in Max.
    Now: I remove it if needed.

    I used to: Paint a lot of the things in Substance Painter manually.
    Now: I try to make a more inteligent use of masks and use an ID map to help me appliying materials.

    I used to: Use a lot of shader presets without even knowing what they really do.
    Now: I try to categorize a lot of elements by shaders, like Hair -> Anisotropic, Skin ->SSS, etc.

    I used to: Get lost in Twitter while baking or rendering something instead of making a better use of my time setting up shaders, lights, materials...
    Now: Still working on it.

    I was to say more but I forgot. I really hope this saves someone some frustation, because I think this could be an amazingly useful thread if some pros put some time on giving some tips here.
  • vertex_
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    vertex_ triangle
    Used to orbit in 3ds Max with the cube gizmo as opposed to holding ALT + left mouse
  • Mithdia
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    Mithdia polycounter lvl 5
    GrevSev said:
    I use to: Spend more time Studying WHY I suck instead of getting to the grind. 

    Now: I just keep shitting out work and I grow. No slow growth because I work smart. Thanks to the lovely Artstation plugin for chrome I'm randomly given something cool to work on so no need to ever decide or ponder on projects. 

    I use to upload work. Now on top of working another job and project output I just dont care to pump out images.

    I feel this so much.. Still need to learn this properly.
  • Vertisea
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    Vertisea vertex
    I realize I'm a little late, but I just had to share my experience.

    What's funny is that so far, I haven't really had any bad habits in terms of modeling. Not even in Zbrush. I skipped most of them and taught myself everything I know so far correctly from the start. Although when I started with high poly to low poly baking, what I did at first was insert a ton of edge loops, making the whole mesh way too dense, because nobody told me about the Crease tool. Thankfully I corrected that very mistake very quickly before exploding from frustration.

    When it comes to what's inside my head though, "bad habit" is my middle name.
    GrevSev said:
    I use to: Spend more time Studying WHY I suck instead of getting to the grind. 

    Now: I just keep shitting out work and I grow. No slow growth because I work smart. Thanks to the lovely Artstation plugin for chrome I'm randomly given something cool to work on so no need to ever decide or ponder on projects. 

    I use to upload work. Now on top of working another job and project output I just dont care to pump out images.

    This feeling is very real to me too. I ponder way too much and get frustrated and depressed over regrets from the past and how I'm not good enough for my own standards, even though I know it takes time and effort. So instead of actually doing something about the bad feelings I experience, I end up pondering and getting depressed.

    Slowly improving though!

  • PixelMasher
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    PixelMasher polycounter lvl 8
    not touching the bar to my chest when benching.....

    oh you mean art wise.

    the biggest one and one so many people struggle with: not constantly using reference throughout the entire asset/scene production. Modeling stuff from memory or how you think it should look is one of the worst causes of half cooked art out there.
  • claydough
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    claydough polycounter lvl 8
    JordanN said:
    A billion edge loops. 

    use to: The same! In the mid 90's!
    ( but with my first attempts at character modeling in "NURBS" which I was told was for organic modeling. This left hand looks just like my first attempt figuring out a head )

    Avid editors retreat licking their wounds and
    settle for gitn' their fix modeling flying logos instead. :)

    I made 800 dupes of my media Composer reel So I would be covered forever!
    On 3/4 inch and Betacam SP.
    ( anyone in the market for an Apple Quadra 950 with AVID Media Suite Pro System )
    I use to do work for hardware or software licenses that I perceived were worth more than the cash I was getting.
    ( SGI 02 R500... The slow one. Anyone? Actually it's the only nic my copy of Mirai will run on. So probably wouldn't part with it )

    Speaking of Mirai...
    That was also evidence of my business acumen:
    As I picked the $7000 lic deal over less cash,
    on the Software investment that I was absolutely sure was going to take over the industry!
    F*ckin' Industry...
    What da hell dju all know!

    Now: I am old, defeated  n retired but still painfully pretty.
  • chrisradsby
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    chrisradsby polycounter lvl 7
    As a wannabe artist I remember that I used to have a crippling fear of doing thing wrong.
    Example: "Meshes shouldn't clip into each other, they need to  be properly welded onto each other with good topology"

    This fear really made trees with lots of branches a big pain in the butt back then haha xD
  • Macebo
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    Macebo polycounter lvl 2
    I used to: blindly trust the "ignore backfaces" checkbox when selecting sub objects and realising, 50 saves later, that i messed up the entire other side of the model.
    Now i: never trust it -- consequently, never use it.
  • Jakob Gavelli
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    Jakob Gavelli polycounter lvl 4
    I used to: Start sculpting on a highly subdivided sphere or go up in subdivs or too high resolution dynamesh in Zbrush.
    Now I: Start low and try to stay as low as possible until I'm satisfied and have clean shapes!
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