How important is your 2D skill if you want to become a Character Artist

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1.What are the most important Workflow Steps for a Character Artist?
2.How important is it to draw your own "professional" Concept of your characters?
3.Are Rough Sketches and solid Character Backgrounds enough?

as a 3D Game Artists in Training, i am thankful for opinions and advices

Replies

  • Aydhe
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    Aydhe triangle
    Genuine rule of thumb is, good to know because 2d concepting is a lot faster than concept sculpting. Which means, it's a lot easier to get out of trouble when stuck 
  • kanga
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    kanga greentooth
    1. Depending on the size of the studio or client you are working for this will vary. The smaller the outfit the more complete your product will need to be. That dictates the number of stages or hoops you will need to jump through to get the required product. So really every part of the process is important. The web (including this site) is full of useful info on that.
    2. Depends on your mileage.
    3. Rough sketches are definitely enough, for some situations, not needed for others, and absolutely crucial depending on what you are delivering.

    I was an illustrator before computers became affordable. I don't know if I was a particularly good one but I believe drawing is definitely a great help where character art is concerned. My favorite game character artists are also extremely talented 2D artists. Whether that is a coincidence or an essential component of success I cant be sure.
  • Brian "Panda" Choi
    2. Depends.  You can always specifically qualify what you can do to clients/bosses and let them decide.
    3. They can be enough,yes.  I do that sometimes for my work at InXile.
  • Solid_Otter
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    Solid_Otter polycounter lvl 2
    I've always thought that becoming a stronger 2d artist helps with 3d and vice versa. That's just my opinion, though.
  • Torch
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    Torch polycounter lvl 8
    The general consensus seems to be a solid background in traditional art won't hurt. You can definitely tell when an artist working on an asset has a solid understanding of art fundamentals, i.e. Rick Baker on his first experiments with Zbrush.

    It doesn't mean you won't get work if you haven't got a solid background in traditional art, there are always exceptions to this, people who can't draw well at all but are sculpting badasses :smiley: ....But I think it will really help you in your career to have an understanding of appealing design aesthetic, form, proportion, etc. Ma Two cents!
  • LukeASClark
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    LukeASClark polycounter lvl 5
    Although its good to have, don't put 2D stuff in your portfolio. I've been turned down from internships and placements because It made me look undecided.  
  • BIGTIMEMASTER
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    BIGTIMEMASTER interpolator
    If I was going to learn 2d solely for the sake of improving my 3d, I would still stick with digital, like learning painting in photoshop. The principles of art remain the same, but some or maybe a lot of those technical skills you pick up along the way can directly transfer back into your 3d work. Like being proficient in photoshop may help you make custom alpha's, textures, etc. 

    Also, digital art is like 1000x more convenient than traditional. With photoshop, you have a tool that effectively mimics like, every style of traditional art ever, and its all in one cheap package. Also, everything is fast. You make a mistake, undo. No problem. Want to try something crazy? Save and duplicate. No big deal. Traditional art is more like building a house. If you make a small mistake early on, the entire project can become essentially fucked. Other than for one's own enjoyment, I can't think of a good reason to practice traditional 2d over digital 2d.
  • PixelMasher
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    PixelMasher quad damage
    unless you are a majorly talented baller concept artist, having 2d sketches in your portfolio is probably going to hurt you rather than help. 

    characters are usually designed by narrative and concept teams, and the character artists execute, not waste a ton of time coming up with stuff, they might iterate on concept designs but they almost always have some sort of starting point handed to them, atleast all the ones I have worked with at a bunch of different studios.
     
    can learning to sketch help you improve certain aspects of things like learning anatomy and weight/form etc? yes.....but so can just building more 3d characters. If you want to be a 3d character artist, spend all of your energy and time executing in that medium, producing the end result that will get you hired. Spending 40 hours learning to sketch form and gesture drawings is 40 hours not spent bringing another character to completion. I would say even doing 3d quick anatomy sculpts would be more beneficial to your end goal.

    this is coming from an environment artist who has never/cant draw a single enviro concept in my entire 10+ year career. Different lens, same mindset.
  • Aydhe
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    Aydhe triangle
    Pros of drawing is that its easy to come up with stuff, while in production you're provided with concept art, there are situations when character you receive will only get 3/4 shot, or environment concept may have objects which can be hard to read. In these situations its definitely useful to go into photoshop and great what you need to iterate on some design ideas quickly.

    Concept drawing of anything 5-20 minutes
    Concept sculpt 30 minutes +


    But, there's a lot of 3D artist that are absolutely horrible at 2D so it's definitely not a must.
  • Andreicus
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    Andreicus triangle
    unless you are a majorly talented baller concept artist, having 2d sketches in your portfolio is probably going to hurt you rather than help. 

    characters are usually designed by narrative and concept teams, and the character artists execute, not waste a ton of time coming up with stuff, they might iterate on concept designs but they almost always have some sort of starting point handed to them, atleast all the ones I have worked with at a bunch of different studios.
     
    can learning to sketch help you improve certain aspects of things like learning anatomy and weight/form etc? yes.....but so can just building more 3d characters. If you want to be a 3d character artist, spend all of your energy and time executing in that medium, producing the end result that will get you hired. Spending 40 hours learning to sketch form and gesture drawings is 40 hours not spent bringing another character to completion. I would say even doing 3d quick anatomy sculpts would be more beneficial to your end goal.

    this is coming from an environment artist who has never/cant draw a single enviro concept in my entire 10+ year career. Different lens, same mindset.
    What about original artworks ? If you have both environments made by following a concept and other ones completely original is it considered a plus because you show creativity or not ? 
  • PixelMasher
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    PixelMasher quad damage
    @Andreicus
    I think for more senior artists this is a viable option...but for those looking to snag their first junior position not so much, for a couple of reasons.

    when you are trying to land an entry level job, your skillset in areas like design and concept is probably nowhere near as developed in terms of having an eye for what looks good. a lot of times I see juniors come up with a concept but they dont have the skills to design something visually pleasing, usually because they try  and make something that just looks cool vs using a ton of reference and having that design and concept ability developed to a strong enough point where it will outshine working from a pro concept artists work.

    also, most junior/entry level positions there isn't much leeway to "get creative" and you almost always have reference or a concept to work from and trying to show creativity by deviating from it can lead to bad results, because once again, that eye for what works hasn't been developed over 5-10 years of production experience. often times the juniors that stick heavily to concept and reference are the ones that shine because their work tends to look the best/closest to the art direction and goal. I used to have the same issue when I was a junior, I would go with what I thought would look cool or how I thought something should look and my leads would always end up bringing me back around to using reference. Being able to demonstrate you can take another artist's concept and translate it to a 3d scene/asset/character is a fantastic way to show you can function in a team environment, because it mimics how production actually works.

    so if you want to get an entry level position, I would say focus 100% on the skills you will be using day to day, and work from existing concepts. Not only can you reach out and build relationships with the concept artist when you msg them to ask if you can take a crack at their design, but it eases the mental fatigue of trying to have to think of everything and you can execute with more confidence and focus your time and energy on relevant skills.

    if you just enjoy making art and want to taste everything, then absolutely go ahead and spend the time and have fun doing whatever you want. If you are intent wanting to get into the industry as quickly as possible, then focus your time and energy on the most relevant skillset, and you will get there much faster. 
  • Andreicus
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    Andreicus triangle
    @Andreicus
    I think for more senior artists this is a viable option...but for those looking to snag their first junior position not so much, for a couple of reasons.

    when you are trying to land an entry level job, your skillset in areas like design and concept is probably nowhere near as developed in terms of having an eye for what looks good. a lot of times I see juniors come up with a concept but they dont have the skills to design something visually pleasing, usually because they try  and make something that just looks cool vs using a ton of reference and having that design and concept ability developed to a strong enough point where it will outshine working from a pro concept artists work.

    also, most junior/entry level positions there isn't much leeway to "get creative" and you almost always have reference or a concept to work from and trying to show creativity by deviating from it can lead to bad results, because once again, that eye for what works hasn't been developed over 5-10 years of production experience. often times the juniors that stick heavily to concept and reference are the ones that shine because their work tends to look the best/closest to the art direction and goal. I used to have the same issue when I was a junior, I would go with what I thought would look cool or how I thought something should look and my leads would always end up bringing me back around to using reference. Being able to demonstrate you can take another artist's concept and translate it to a 3d scene/asset/character is a fantastic way to show you can function in a team environment, because it mimics how production actually works.

    so if you want to get an entry level position, I would say focus 100% on the skills you will be using day to day, and work from existing concepts. Not only can you reach out and build relationships with the concept artist when you msg them to ask if you can take a crack at their design, but it eases the mental fatigue of trying to have to think of everything and you can execute with more confidence and focus your time and energy on relevant skills.

    if you just enjoy making art and want to taste everything, then absolutely go ahead and spend the time and have fun doing whatever you want. If you are intent wanting to get into the industry as quickly as possible, then focus your time and energy on the most relevant skillset, and you will get there much faster. 
    Thanks for the detailed answer.

    If you don't mind, I have a few more questions:

    What do you think about having multiples styles in your portfolio ? For example, i like making environments with different styles from realistic to sci fi to anime.
    If all your works are equally good in all the styles that you choose to make, do you think that it would be a good thing ? Or companies want people that focus only on one particular style ?

    Are fanarts of films and games ( props and/or environments ) acceptable in a portfolio ?

    Aside from the traditional stuff i also like proceduralism especially with Houdini that it is an awesome software in my opinion, i use it mainly for terrains but sometimes i make "abstract" things like fractals, L system, random splines generation that creates some sort of shapes and so on.
    I know that you said that it is better to follow a concept to land a job "quickly" but in this particular case where all the stuff is procedurally generated with a quite complex software that can also do a lot of other things if used properly ( like terrains or procedural placement of assets in the game world ) do you think that i should put the artworks made with Houdini and rendered in real time ( obviously ) in the portfolio even if they are "abstract" shapes ? Or it doesn't make sense in an environment portfolio.
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