do you prefer working from concept or designing your own creations?

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sziada polycounter lvl 5
I was curious to know how many of you guys work from concept or do you prefer gathering a variety of references and trying to design something uniquely your own using the variety of influences that come from your reference Library.

my question comes as I when I started 3D I was working off other artist's 3D model renders and replicating them and then I moved on to 2D concepts. Recent I have started to try and come up with my own original pieces utilizing my forever growing reference library.  The only reason I bring this up is because I think it can make an interesting discussion on how everyone in the 3D modelling industry prefers to work. strictly from concept or do you like to let loose and design something completely on your own. 

another question of mine is if you enjoying designing your own piece where do you start when it comes to your reference.

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  • Joopson
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    Joopson Polycount Sponsor
    Both have their positives. But I will say, I work faster if I have a concept from somebody. If it's all up to me, though, I sometimes go crazy with all the possibilities, and progress halts.
  • JordanN
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    JordanN polycounter lvl 5

    As far as trying to design things yourself when you are still learning to model, it's prob a bad idea and it will be overwhelming. Not to mention things will turn out poor. Reminds me of the artists who try to learn to animate, sculpt, model, texture all at the same time. You end up with mediocre art at best. 
    I have to disagree with this part. When I was in school, it was actually expected of us to learn all these things. I still saw many artists who came out at the top of the class. 

    I believe if you take each field seriously, you wont lose out on quality. An example is drawing. Someone who had a background in painting doesn't suddenly lose those skills when they start to 3D model. 

  • sziada
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    sziada polycounter lvl 5
    JordanN said:

    As far as trying to design things yourself when you are still learning to model, it's prob a bad idea and it will be overwhelming. Not to mention things will turn out poor. Reminds me of the artists who try to learn to animate, sculpt, model, texture all at the same time. You end up with mediocre art at best. 
    I have to disagree with this part. When I was in school, it was actually expected of us to learn all these things. I still saw many artists who came out at the top of the class. 

    I believe if you take each field seriously, you wont lose out on quality. An example is drawing. Someone who had a background in painting doesn't suddenly lose those skills when they start to 3D model. 

    I do agree with this point, I think it benefits to have experience in different areas as you can take it into your main specialty. I have a few friend that take their other art skills into their work and it has made a great impact on their workflow. I have even started seeing it with some of the work I am doing at this point in time. For me animation, I only learned to animate a little while ago and now when I model I think about how this would work for animator. I used to draw and design my own stuff when I was younger and now I really want to incorporate that into my 3D work so I can start to create more interesting and original pieces that stand out. 

  • Biomag
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    Biomag polycounter lvl 3
    It's one thing to learn the other parts of the pipeline and that should be one of the main things to take away from your school if nothing else. I guess its the biggest advantage from going there. They teach you the basics of everything that is part of the process so that you understand it and get the big picture.

    BUT being on top of the class != being good.

    A beginner can't be a good generalist compared to the market. How do you want to manage that? Where do you get the thousands of hours from to compete with the top talent for each field? I can't remember a single good student from my class that went that path and is anywhere near industry standard at this point. I do know riggers, animators and environment artists from our class that made it to AAA though. They all had overall good grades and understood the process, but none of them though of himself as a generalist.


    For the actual topic at hand - it can be fun to go with your own thing, but not on a tight schedule. There is a reason why company split the work up. Even if the 3D artist was as good as concept artist at designing things, the second will get his time to work out the ideas, while working on the game model and high poly you should rather spend your focus on the execution not the idea behind it all. The more complex the model gets the harder it is to think all things through and keep everything in mind - and additionally to that having to worry about technical side doesn't help the design.


  • JordanN
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    JordanN polycounter lvl 5
    I agree that when it comes to a job, someone who specializes in one field is more desirable than someone who generalize but I believe it's for another reason,
    Biomag said:
    A beginner can't be a good generalist compared to the market. How do you want to manage that? Where do you get the thousands of hours from to compete with the top talent for each field? 

    You could apply this reasoning to all beginner modelers,animators,riggers etc. The same experience gap exists whether or not someone specializes. How they over come this is by putting in the work into creating art that reaches a professional level.

    Someone who wants to be a good at multiple fields and still put out something good, is what I believe is not impossible. The same learning material and tutorials exist out there to master these things.  Doing this is not for everyone,  so I say it's for people who have their own motive  to attempt these things.

    Using myself as an example, I really want to specialize in modeling. But for recreational/hobby purposes I also want to make my own drawings/concept art. I've made it an effort to seek out professional learning material and practice it daily so it feels second nature to me.
  • DavidCruz
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    DavidCruz polycounter lvl 4
    Just take parts from things you like and mash them together that fit the same theme, seems to be what I've noticed lately.
    Go find popular artwork somewhere then find a similar theme, recycle it and boom new amazing art. gl hf.
    Good idea for a title.
  • sziada
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    sziada polycounter lvl 5
    Biomag said:
    It's one thing to learn the other parts of the pipeline and that should be one of the main things to take away from your school if nothing else. I guess its the biggest advantage from going there. They teach you the basics of everything that is part of the process so that you understand it and get the big picture.

    BUT being on top of the class != being good.

    A beginner can't be a good generalist compared to the market. How do you want to manage that? Where do you get the thousands of hours from to compete with the top talent for each field? I can't remember a single good student from my class that went that path and is anywhere near industry standard at this point. I do know riggers, animators and environment artists from our class that made it to AAA though. They all had overall good grades and understood the process, but none of them though of himself as a generalist.


    For the actual topic at hand - it can be fun to go with your own thing, but not on a tight schedule. There is a reason why company split the work up. Even if the 3D artist was as good as concept artist at designing things, the second will get his time to work out the ideas, while working on the game model and high poly you should rather spend your focus on the execution not the idea behind it all. The more complex the model gets the harder it is to think all things through and keep everything in mind - and additionally to that having to worry about technical side doesn't help the design.



    I am not trying to say you should try and tackle everything all at once, but I do believe to some extent, you shouldn't be shy to try other things as you might develop a new passion somewhere you never thought to try.  what I'm getting at is that design skills are not always essential to our jobs as 3D artists as there are dedicated concept artists, but those skills can be a welcomed asset. I know quite a few studios who have their employees who are 3D guys concept and sketch out ideas.
    The way I see it if it makes the game look better why not. At  the end of the day your job is create the best visual experience possible for your studio's audience.
  • Biomag
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    Biomag polycounter lvl 3
    Don't get me wrong, I am all for people learning as much as possible of the other fields. At work I spent time with programmers just to understand how they approach things and I will never ever write a line of code myself. This is just beneficiary. What I am just saying is that being top of the class at school has nothing to do with how close people are to make it into the industry. Good grades are just good grades, nothing else. That's why I was never in my life asked about grades in at any interview no matter what industry.
  • joshschmitt
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    joshschmitt polycounter lvl 4
    Here is the thing, if you're trying to get a job in games focus on the Modeling, Baking, Texturing and Rendering aspect. Don't make a concept or design something and call yourself a 'concept designer / artist' as that will only hurt yourself in the future.

    Designing things takes practice and skill to make a good design, starting with drawing does not hurt, however if you are designing and then modeling that design it will most likely be mediocre and do you no good in your portfolio.

    The amount of time it takes to make a design, modeling/baking/texturing that design and realizing it's bad or doesn't work will hinder your portfolio.

    Its better to stick to concepts that are already done so you can focus on the more important parts in the industry. As previously stated you will most likely have a concept to work off of when you're in a studio.
  • CreativeHD
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    CreativeHD polycounter lvl 4

    @sziada You need to figure out what your end goal is and focus on it. If your goal is to be a modeler focus on mastering those skills. If your goal is to be a concept artist/designer focus on mastering those skills. You can’t become an expert on both. Having exposure to both is not a bad thing though to understand the different processes of production, but you can’t be a jack of all trades. My suggestion is to figure out what your goals are and how to achieve them.

  • xvampire
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    xvampire polycounter lvl 10
    for those who are interested to do more than one thing 
    all said above is right, you wont be the best in the field.  ( best animator, or modeler ) 
    or at least it might takes twice or 3 times longer than people who focus on one discipline to master the field.
    .but ..

    in my personal opinion,
    if you don't aim  to be the one, then , feel free to do it, design and execute your concept into 3d  :)
    in my case,
    I never aim to be best modeler in the field. or hit the CG website top row /editor picks. (  I take that as bonus/jackpot when i got one ) 

    my goal is to  be able to express ideas into art .  regardless the team size. 


  • Melazee
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    Melazee polycounter lvl 5
    Honestly, it depends how I'm feeling. In my personal work I'll either want to focus on simply modelling, or creating my own character. If it's the latter, then I will concept my own :) Perhaps I'll sort of mix the two as well (such as when I modelled my own version of Daxter). He was a character that already existed, but I did a lot of sketches to "redesign" him in a sense.

    I will say that the ability to design characters will probably deepen your ability to understand shape language as you will then understand why things are drawn the way they are, and thus be able to transfer them to 3D a bit easier.
  • Alemja
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    Alemja interpolator
    So the problem I tend to see with beginner artists who make their own concepts and even plagued me is that because there is a gap in knowledge (anatomical, design etc) I creates errors in your work that will follow you the entire way through, leading to a weaker piece overall. When you take a piece that a concept artist created a lot of that leg work is already done for you and there is a bar you have to challenge yourself to hit (does it look like the concept Y/N?) There is a pretty good chance you are going to be making a model based on concept art in studio anyway, so it's a good skill to have.

    I think once you've done enough of other people's concepts and real life things you have better knowledge on how to create your own designs.
  • WaYWO
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    WaYWO polycounter lvl 3
    I personally prefer to copy concepts , I'm not that confident to make a design, copying just shows that you're as good as the person who did the concept if you're succeeding , that's how it works for me.
  • Simplejay
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    Simplejay triangle
    I think it ends up more as a gradient, rather than a one or the other.  I see my job as a concept artist is to take an idea from 1 dimension to 2 dimensions, and view the 3dartists as effectively the same, 2d to 3d.  The amount of thought, design and consideration for 1d->2d and 2d->3d being about the same, just focused in different areas.
  • sziada
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    sziada polycounter lvl 5
    slosh said:
    I think when people say it's generally a bad idea to concept stuff you want to model as a beginner, it's with the assumption that you still lack experience to do a sufficient job in creating a compelling concept.  Other people who have spent their whole careers concepting will naturally design far more interesting ideas.  That's not to say you should never do it.  My advice is whatever you do, compare it to industry professionals you aspire to and if you're not coming close to that bar, focus on what you need to....at least early on in your career.  If you want to be a modeler, focus on that.  If you want to be a concept artist, focus on that.  You can always pick up concepting once you have become fairly industry capable as a modeler.
    that was kinda how I planned to take it on, I'm currently working my first fulltime job and now doing freelance on the side.  I feel like I can translate most concepts I'm given nowadays to 3D. I just wanted to try and see if I can go ahead and create pieces which are my own ideas.  Because concept art is about communicating your ideas visually to others, The way I see it is I don't think anyone would be able to understand a concept as well as the person who created the concept.

    I know what you are saying about quality of the work not being up to scratch and how it can be more time consuming to produce something of higher quality. I wouldn't  be trying to design for any professional work I'm producing. I want to break out of my comfort zone and start tackling bigger challenges.

    I don't want to be limited to here is a concept, now photocopy it in 3D. I think there is versatility when it comes to knowing design and what you're creating. for instance smaller details on a model and knowing where optimal placement to make it pop, if the concept you receive is vague and there is no fine details on the concept sometime artist can feel stranded and don't know what they would do for the third read. 

    I realize what you are saying about focus, but I have fair bit of knowledge in modelling, but I want to start learning new area to take it into my work. for instance, I think modelers who have work in other areas, like architecture vfx and adverting will have a different approach to thinking and modelling compared to someone who has only worked in games. Not to say there is anything wrong with that. but all those industries use the same tools but in different ways. 

    I'm expanding on my current knowledge base to produce higher quality work.
  • PyrZern
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    PyrZern polycounter lvl 5
    Say, if I design something myself; then I only have my own approval of it. 

    But if I take someone's else concept art; then at the very least there are 2 people who agree that this piece is good. If the concept is shared online many times before it reaches me, then there are that many people who likes it.

    One day my own concept will not suck. But today is not that day yet.
  • sziada
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    sziada polycounter lvl 5
    PyrZern said:
    Say, if I design something myself; then I only have my own approval of it. 

    But if I take someone's else concept art; then at the very least there are 2 people who agree that this piece is good. If the concept is shared online many times before it reaches me, then there are that many people who likes it.

    One day my own concept will not suck. But today is not that day yet.
    Generally there are certain things you have to look at when you are concepting, I think learning the rules is the first step and once you can work with them and create cool shit, that is when it becomes epic!
  • AtticusMars
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    AtticusMars greentooth
    PyrZern said:
    Say, if I design something myself; then I only have my own approval of it. 

    But if I take someone's else concept art; then at the very least there are 2 people who agree that this piece is good. If the concept is shared online many times before it reaches me, then there are that many people who likes it.
    I like my concepts and my mom thinks they are great, that's two people.
  • Chimp
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    Chimp greentooth
    I actually really love working as a duo: myself and my brother brew our ideas together and I think our output is way better than anything either of us have done individually or for anyone else as we've developed a good flow, we're on the same wavelength but we are different enough and brutally honest enough with each other that it seems to work. It's also a nice dynamic because he's got 20 years on me experience-wise so the difference in our ways of thinking in those terms can often take us to new places. And obviously our age gap. He also has a massive technical experience (in addition to art) whereas I am purely an artist at this point (though I'm picking up new things and developing workflows that are increasingly technical just as a product of experience) so we can divide our focus where it makes sense and meet in the middle where needed. Nothing to show for it right now as we've been brewing a few things for a few years totally quietly and full time, the first few games will come soon :)
  • PhoenixWolf
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    PhoenixWolf polycounter lvl 5
    **I'm replying out of work context and just for personal benefit**

    This decision is based off what avenue you are trying to pursue. You can be a artist who models from concept only but the con to that is you don't fully develop all artistic skills. Some of these skills are color theory, flow, shape contrast, silhouette/ form, balance in complexity vs simplicity, layout, etc. Using concepts only forces you to rely solely on someone else to be a solid foundation for you.

    You should ask yourself what is your goal? what type of career do you wish to have? what role do you wish to play in a production setting? what is most beneficial for you to achieve these goals?

    Also i would like to add in my experience i have worked at studios that supply concept for every asset and i have worked at studios that provide no concept and i had to design everything myself. If you learn both it will definitely be beneficial and make you a stronger candidate for employment due to the fact you don't need hand holding for every thing you may or may not be tasked to make. Having both skills provides you with more freedom as an artist. Learn what you want to learn and what interest you. 


  • Kevin Albers
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    Kevin Albers polycounter lvl 12
    Both approaches can be enjoyable and effective, but in general coming up with my own design is a bit more fun. Working from a provided concept is great if the concept is inspiring, but if it's not a great design, it's very uninspiring to not be coming up with something better. 

    The reality is that for AAA games, you are going to HAVE TO work from a provided concept more often than not, at most studios. Teams and games are so big that everyone is a bit of a cog in a big machine.
  • Ruz
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    Ruz polycounter lvl 13
    don't be a proper artist lol, it's too much hard work
  • xvampire
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    xvampire polycounter lvl 10
    Ruz said:
    don't be a proper artist lol, it's too much hard work
    I love this !
  • Zocky
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    Zocky polycounter lvl 6
    Well, i personally think while it depands on what you are aiming for, it is good to do both.

    But i guess it depands whether you work for large companies like ubisoft, or tiny indie studios.
    If you work for small company, 10-15 people, maybe 20, there's a really huge chance that while you will work from concept art, concept art guys won't have time to do just every single item for you, characters, assets, environment art, lighting  mood, everything.

    And i think that especially goes for environment artists.
    You need to know how to work from concept art, but in such companies,  a lot of times, you still have to rely on your own as well. In such cases, it really is good if you can do good on your own do. You can still talk with concept art guy if you ahve some problems but, for the most part, you will have to rely on yourself.

    And besides that, i know it annoys the shit out of me, when sometimes, i get kinda "frozen" because i have problems doing some personal art, and have problems with concepting.

    So..yeah, i think while doing your own concepts, you will learn more about color theory, sillhouette, shapes, etc....i think for artists, those are important to understand either way. You might wanna check your priorities, sure, but if you have some time for at least some private, personal work, sure,i think you should do some of non-concept based art as well.

     
  • Mathew O
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    Mathew O greentooth
    Yeah, I totally agree with @seth. ... If you're aim is to model something, improve your modelling, show off your modelling or add to your modelling portfolio then there's no need to spend 50% of your energy on trying to make sure the concept is great. If you're already good at modelling and your focus has moved on to design / concept then feel free to start modelling your own designs. I feel like it's it's pretty in-efficient to try and become good at both simultaneously through 3d when you could just spend 50% of your time on a cool asset and 50% of your time drawing.

    Edit: Do what you enjoy though, there's no better motivator than having some fun with your personal work :)
  • Tidal Blast
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    Tidal Blast polycounter lvl 3
    Anyone who aspires to become a great 3D artist should first learn and master how to work from concept arts. It's a great way to quickly develop technical skills. But once the artist can successfully work from concept arts, the next step should definitely be to learn how to create his/her own designs. The point is, it's not that the 3D artist should also be a badass concept artist, it's more that the 3D artist should still be able to get the job done at a decent level of quality (design-wise) without the help of a concept artist if required. Simply put, to me that's just the difference between a beginner and a more advanced ''artist''. On a production, the concept artist should just be there to save you time, that person isn't there to replace a skillset that would be lacking. Because if that concept artist is busy, what then?
  • Millenia
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    Millenia Polycount Sponsor
    I do quite like the approach we took at work, where we got a few initial super high quality concept pieces from freelancers to establish the style, then took those designs and build things based off that ourselves. It's purely for a cost reason but I do enjoy it & have ended up learning a fair bit through it.
  • Tomiajayi
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    Tomiajayi triangle
    Nothing more satisfying than designing your own from scratch.
    But it's an absolutely crucial skill to be able to replicate someone elses concept art. So i'd say that is more important.
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