Art Tests : How much time to spend?

polycounter lvl 14
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capone polycounter lvl 14
Recently I was in a thread regarding jobs and the art director of studio X sent me a PM saying that my work was good but wasn't sure about my ability to create large environment scenes since this was not evident in my portfolio. I do have experience on with the previous game I was working on but it's still not released so have nothing to show.

Anyway, let's get to the point. They have given me a standard studio art test that is basically the following...

- create city block of 40m
- no poly/texture limit
- no specific concept/ref supplied
- 2 weeks

I'm really getting into it and am well on the way but am finding myself spending several hours a day at least. To do it to the standard I want is going to take roughly anywhere between 60-130 hours. Have a feeling they want something much more basic and rough which I could do in about 10-20 hours but then it's not going to be a great portfolio piece. My way of thinking is that at least if I make it look nice it is still of great value if I don't get the job.

So at the moment, I'm just concentrating on the modeling of the city as it is this they were unsure about. If I don't get round to texturing it I can explain my situation in the post written document that is to be sent with the finished art test. My main worry with that is they will say I can't stick to project guidelines. I just wish they gave more restrictions otherwise my ambition is going to kill me.

Any advise on this?

Replies

  • AlecMoody
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    AlecMoody ngon master
    is the art test under NDA when its finished? If not then throw all the time you can at it so its something good for you portfolio. That way if you don't get the job you haven't wasted your time.
  • Autocon
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    Autocon polycounter lvl 11
    There is nothing wrong with asking them to specify a little more what they want. I would personally ask them for a frame of reference for the detail level/texture level they are after for the test. I would be suprised if they dont tell you as that seems ridiculous. Also I would look at there previous games and use that as a good basis for the quality level they want you to achieve.

    I would try to avoid at all costs turning in a half finished scene, actually I would never do that. It will only hurt you even if you explain you were trying to get the most modeling detail you could. If they cant see a good example of your modeling/texturing work all in one scene then you more then likely wont get the job.


    Dont focus at all as if the test will be a good folio peice even if you dont get the job, strike that from your mind right now. Expect to just throw away the test after you are done with it and make the best test to turn in you can. If you have that mind set it will make it so much easier to focus on creating something that will land you the job.

    Also as for art tests in folios thats a very grey area. Personally I feel that if you work on an art test and dont get the job, even if it is the best new thing in your folio, dont use it. It only shows that you did an art test and failed. I would only put in an art test that got you the job and really only then if it is extremely good/rounds out your folio.

    You have a lot of great stuff in your folio so you shouldn't worry about adding some art test, especially if you dont get the job. Make up a large scale environment on your own time. Art tests are meant to stress you out and see what your capable of in a short amount of time with wishy-washy direction. Spend the time to create a great environment where your not rushed to finish it by a deadline.


    For time you have to factor in whether you have a job or not. If you dont then you should be able to put in 80hours or more on the test no problem as there is nothing more important for you to be doing.

    Good luck on the test :)
  • PixelMasher
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    PixelMasher high dynamic range
    I think the question is: how badly do you want the job?

    every art test I have taken I have pretty much worked on it non stop up till the deadline, anywhere from a 2 day test to a full week one.

    during my week long art test it was my birthday and I ignored it, I decided to celebrate if the week after, my car was broken into and needed the window replaced etc. it was the week from hell. I put about 12-14 hours a day into that test and it nabbed me my 1st game job.

    there is no point in half-assing things even if you think thats what they are expecting. chances are there are 5 other people doing the same test so you want to turn in the most fucking awesome piece of art possible in that time frame.

    if you blow they away and make them think you are a super artist you will have a much better position when negotiating salary and stuff like that because they will really want you.

    so my advice would be to giv'er and make it the best you possibly can, I would even consider calling in sick a couple days if you are super interested in the job.
  • Jeff Parrott
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    Jeff Parrott polycounter lvl 15
    Anthony raises some good points. A portfolio of failed art tests is just FAIL. That said if you got an interview out of it I think it's acceptable to use it in your portfolio. If you're just starting out then maybe use it. I tend to take it on a case by base basis. Use your friends and family. Ask them to rank your portfolio pieces and dump out the ones that average the lower numbers. It's always nice to have extra pieces available when companies ask (and most do ask for more samples).

    Also it is better to email close to the deadline and say 'I wasn't able to finish the test this week. Here is a shot of my progress and I will email when I finish it.' or something to that effect. Just keep them in the loop. You would be surprised how many people do not actually finish art tests.

    Either way if you're not prepared to do the work or workload asked of you in the test be honest and up front. You'll hate the gig if they want you to make a whole city in 120 hours of work a week and get paid for only 40 hours. Just my 2 cents on that.

    Best of luck though.
  • PredatorGSR
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    PredatorGSR polycounter lvl 7
    The naughty dog art test is infamous for being like that, plus it's under NDA so you can't even show it at the end. Of course ND is in a position to have that kind of requirement, but that is a lot of ask for most studios, and many artists don't have that kind of time to devote to an art test.

    Think about how you'd tackle something like that in production. Realistically you would concentrate most of your time and energy at a POI (point of interest) and key assets, and reuse assets and have less detail in the less important areas. Only spend resources on the most important areas and reuse them in other areas, and everything else is an afterthought, you can flesh it out if you have time. That is why they want to see you work on a big scene, to see if you can plan your resources appropriately.

    In production, modeling only and no textures would never fly, you can't ship a half completed scene. You can ship with an awesome centerpiece and some bland alleys around the corner that most people won't even see. That's the kind of mindset you need to be able to finish a scene.
  • Autocon
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    Autocon polycounter lvl 11
    The Naughty Dog art test isnt actually under NDA. They just expect people who take the test to realize that its a large part of there testing process and it dosnt help you if you post it because if it was good you would have the job. Also if its good and you got the job posting it only hurts the company as people can then take unfair amounts of time to study your test/practice for the test/even cheat by making assets ahead of time. It also dosnt help the people who do try these things as no test is perfect and copying things one person did could hurt you in the end.

    Epic is another studio that dose these "insane" art tests as one thread on these forums once complained about. But it really comes down to this. How bad do you want the job? That should make it pretty easy to decide how much time to dedicate too it.

    As for me, I personally spent 200 hours, + or - another 10/20 hours on my Naughty Dog art test. I wanted the job more then anyone else and more then any other job so I made sure I would get it. Fortunately it all paid off. It would have sucked hardcore to spend all that time working on something just to fail but if you want something awesome you have to be willing to take a huge leap of faith and realize you could land right on your face.


    Also PredatorGSR, your last comment about production work there is actually incorrect. Naughty Dog themselves actually have there environment artists just modeling, no texturing, save for plant foliage as that gose hand and hand. There texture artists do all the texture/UV work.

    A few other companys do this too, not super common but some do. Epic dose this with a lot of there HP stuff as I am lead to believe. They have hard surface artists who work pretty much just on HP stuff.
  • chrisradsby
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    chrisradsby polycounter lvl 10
    Don't really get why it wouldn't be okay to show int he portfolio, considering that they didn't give you any specific reference/concepts. And I also believe that you should spend as much time as you can on it, even though it's for an arttest it's still something you can learn from.
  • capone
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    capone polycounter lvl 14
    Thanks for all the advise, will just pour my life into this for 2 weeks since it's a studio I really want to join. Another dilemma I have is that there are no texture restrictions in the brief so

    1) Should I just concentrate on making it look as good as possible, use loads of unique 1K textures?

    or

    2) Give it a much lower budget so it's more in line with the games they make?

    If I go with the first option I risk them thinking I can't do low budget work and if I go with second option the final piece doesn't look as strong both in my submission and as a portfolio piece.

    Any thoughts of this?
  • Eric Chadwick
    Well I would say tailor it to them as much as you can, always keep their instructions & style in mind when making decisions. Make it something they would be proud of adding to their game.
  • disanski
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    disanski polycounter lvl 10
    Perhaps you should just forget about your portfolio for a second and think about the art test as your future :) . I guess that they would not mind answering some of your questions regarding the textures size and so on so instead of guessing just drop them a line.
  • perna
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    perna quad damage
    Autocon wrote: »
    Also as for art tests in folios thats a very grey area. Personally I feel that if you work on an art test and dont get the job, even if it is the best new thing in your folio, dont use it. It only shows that you did an art test and failed. I would only put in an art test that got you the job and really only then if it is extremely good/rounds out your folio.

    That's over-thinking it.
    Logical: If the work looks good, include it in the portfolio. End of story.
  • catstyle
    capone if I was you, I would be generous with the texture sizes and poly limits, but still do it all as efficiently as possible, as if you could downsize everything and itd still hold up nicely. that way you can make something awesome, but still show you have the necessary technical/planning skills
  • aesir
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    aesir polycounter lvl 13
    freakin game artists are crazy
  • Lee3dee
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    Lee3dee polycounter lvl 12
    I worked 12 hours a day for 4 days on a Naughty Dog FX test last year, because I knew the company wanted the best possible and I was unfamiliar with doing FX in Maya. If you really want to work at a company, put as much time in as you can.
  • maze
    Art Tests : How much time to spend? on


    "...enough to get hired!!!!!!!!!" I also agree with you perna.
  • Rick Stirling
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    Rick Stirling polycounter lvl 14
    Realistically, 2 weeks of 9-5 = 40hours per week x 2 = 80 hours.

    If you got the job you'd be expected to produce the same amount of work to the same quality in two weeks.
  • JasonLavoie
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    JasonLavoie polycounter lvl 12
    Lee3dee wrote: »
    \ If you really want to work at a company, put as much time in as you can.

    Yus. As much as it sucks to spend so much time on something and going through these crazy art test hoops, the bottom line is if you really want to work at this company, then spend as MUCH time on the test as you can, I think the payoff is worth it :)

    Good luck buddy!
  • PredatorGSR
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    PredatorGSR polycounter lvl 7
    Autocon wrote: »
    The Naughty Dog art test isnt actually under NDA. They just expect people who take the test to realize that its a large part of there testing process and it dosnt help you if you post it because if it was good you would have the job. Also if its good and you got the job posting it only hurts the company as people can then take unfair amounts of time to study your test/practice for the test/even cheat by making assets ahead of time. It also dosnt help the people who do try these things as no test is perfect and copying things one person did could hurt you in the end.

    The test instructions include the phrase "Permission from Naughty Dog is needed to share or publish material.", and a buddy of mine did ask for permission and was denied. It might not be under a legally enforceable NDA, but the end result is that you can't really post the work if you were so inclined.
    Also PredatorGSR, your last comment about production work there is actually incorrect. Naughty Dog themselves actually have there environment artists just modeling, no texturing, save for plant foliage as that gose hand and hand. There texture artists do all the texture/UV work.

    A few other companys do this too, not super common but some do. Epic dose this with a lot of there HP stuff as I am lead to believe. They have hard surface artists who work pretty much just on HP stuff.
    Sorry if I wasn't clear, I didn't mean that companies don't have split jobs, just that if the test requirements include both modeling and texturing, you aren't going to be helping yourself by submitted a bunch of untextured assets because you didn't plan your time accordingly. You might be a kickass modeler, but if you don't show you can texture to a production standard you won't be hired at a studio where artists are expected to do both.

    I've heard of unreasonable tests from less well regarded companies, I guess the only point I was making is that if the test requires that much time you need to be sure you really want to work there because that is a lot of art time to throw away.
  • Geezus
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    Geezus mod
    I'm always confused about these sort of posts.

    They gave you 2 weeks, an idea of what they want from you, and an unlimited vert count and texture res budget.

    You say you really want to work for them. If that's the case then you should know what style they would typically be looking for....so there's your inspiration. You should have played most, if not all, of their games in the past. So, load them up, take a look at the texture res and average vert usage, and be smart about what and how you create.

    As far as the time is concerned...every spare moment you have. I know for me, this is my life, games/art...I've always poured everything into anything I'm tasked with; art tests and work alike.

    You've already been contacted about how they enjoyed your work, so you're farther along than most. Just get to it and kick ass. :)

    Side note; I've yet to see or hear of any insane art tests.

    edit: Also, shame on your previous company for not allowing you to show the work you've done. Personally, I think if you left on good terms, you should always be allowed to show the work you did; maybe not publicly, but at least to potential employers.
  • Sage
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    Sage polycounter lvl 15
    Put as much time as you need to do a great job. If they gave you two weeks I suggest you use it.
  • Wrath
    If you've got relevant work from a game you were working on, completed or not, released or not, NDA or not...put it in your portfolio. Don't put screenshots up on your website, but there's nothing wrong with putting them into a password-protected zip file and giving them a direct link to it.

    If they gave you two weeks then very likely that they're expecting you to put in a solid week of work on it and are padding the time so you don't kill yourself. Do what you can in 1 week, then evaluate it. Decide what parts need the most work, what's most important to show, what you can hide with the camera placement or field of view. Spend your remaining time polishing those parts.
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