Environment / Props – Ideas and Research

So I came across this tutorial which has got me all interested in wanting to create a tiled mosaic that could fit into the palace environment I am thinking of creating. It goes through the process of how to create a tillable texture consisting of tiles….basically, but I love the idea of creating my own image for the mosaic in photoshop to use for the pattern. From here I have looked into tiles and came across an amazing artist called John Moyr… dot dot dot

John Moyr Smith’s Tiles

I found his work in an article by someone who goes by the name ‘the gentle author’ and I was hooked. I think the reason I got so involved was reading of the authors reasons for going out and trying to find the entire collection of smith’s beautiful tiles so that he could build them around his fireplace. Really beautiful designs that have a somewhat comedic yet authentic feel to them. I also love the narratives he portrays, some being based around the stories of the Bible whilst others depict scenes from Shakespeare writing. (Find the article with the tiles posted here.)

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I am going to follow the tutorial I have found that goes into the details of how to create these tiles and also design a pattern/image which could be used maybe on the walls of a certain palace room or the floor. I will post some design ideas and the process if I get to that point, in another blog post.

The rookies have great tutorial content, I came across this tutorial which explains how to create a stone wall texture. Although I may not be creating a stone wall texture it is good to get familiar with the workflow as I haven’t a clue at this point. (tutorial here)

The video below really helped me understand baking a normal map into a texture map! it all makes more sense now. It basically shows you how to simply bake the normal map to texture in order to create texture quality without hindering the performance (within a game engine)…love it.

 

Environment/Game Artists

I love the work of Jason Godbey! The feel of his 3D environments is breathtaking and oozes authenticity. Godbey typically works on AAA titles as a lighting and environment artist. What a job! Some of his work is shown below.

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Image Courtesy – Jason Godbey

Artstation have published an online guide titles ‘Everything You Need to Know to Become  a Game Environment Artist’.

Environment game artist Robert Hodri explains the in’s and outs of becoming a game artist and what it is they are looking for in portfolios etc. The following is from the article which I thought I needed to save in this post for future reading;

“An important step in getting a job in this industry is an online portfolio, showcasing your art and focus on a style.  Making environments can take a lot of time. At the beginning of your career, you normally won’t be working on a whole level or environment where you have to do everything on your own. At least that’s how it is when you’re working on bigger AAA games. Usually you’re assigned to work on smaller props. That’s why I think it’s important to have at least a couple of high quality props and textures in your portfolio. That can be anything from crates, rocks to weapons and vehicles. Just show that you can create good game art and are familiar with the whole process. Making high poly meshes and baking them down on a low poly is something that every 3D artist needs to know and your portfolio should show that.”

From an art content perspective, your portfolio should show that you’re able to do all tasks that are required to work on a game environment: modeling, texturing, composition, level beautification colors, lighting. Those are the main things you’ll be responsible for as an environment artist. Concept art that show your drawing skills are a plus but not necessarily needed. 

If you’re aiming for an environment art position only, you don’t need to have characters, animations or VFX stuff in your portfolio. It’s a plus but as a beginner you want to focus your portfolio because mastering a discipline can take years and your art samples should have a consistent quality. You don’t want to have a portfolio with amazing environment scenes and props but bad character animations next to it.

You also need to know where you want to work and land your first job and your portfolio should represent that. It’s not wrong to have a wide range of different styles because it shows you’re flexible and can adapt to different art styles easily. However, a studio normally looks to fill in the open positions with people that have the same art style as the project they work on so you need to show that you can replicate their style.

Competition is hard and you have to stick out from the mass of artists trying to get their first job. Creativity and unique art samples help you do that. Metal barrels, wooden crates, concrete or brick textures are not exactly assets that will blow anybody away anymore. Try to come up with something refreshing and unique when building props or an environment. Let’s say you want to do a chair prop. Instead of making a simple wooden one with easy shapes, try to do something more complicated like a baroque chair that has a lot of details and ornaments. Of course, those props take way longer to finish but it’s better to have three amazing assets in your portfolio than nine mediocre ones.

A great portfolio where your art is easy accessible is important. When you don’t have any industry experience, I’d say your resume isn’t that decisive to get you the first job. Just keep it simple and when possible under one page. Show finished work and try to avoid having too many work in progress pieces in your portfolio. A portfolio that only consists of unfinished pieces makes it look like you won’t be able to finish any given tasks on time.

In my opinion, demo reels are not needed for environment artists. They take a long time to do and are outdated very fast. Screenshots of your props and environments from different angles are all you need. Spend some time on how you present your art and do some beauty shots. Sometimes even the most generic prop can look amazing with a great presentation. It’s hard to impress anyone with a viewport screengrab of your asset with flat lighting in it. Spend some time on nice lighting and rendering setups, tweak your materials and maybe add some subtle post-processing effects to give it a final touch. But don’t overdo it! You still want to be able to see the art.

It’s also great to have breakdowns of your high poly, low poly and final meshes, modular kit pieces, wireframes and texture flats. Whatever you can add to showcase your workflow and how you achieved the final prop or environment.” – Artstation.com

Clinton Crumpler has an amazing website showcasing his environmental artwork, PBR textures and effects. Crumpler has his PBR textures on display which I think is a great idea. I took a quick screenshot of them.

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Image Courtesy – Clinton Crumpler (Link to site here)

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Crumpler renders most of his scenes for his portfolio in Unreal. I love how he presents his work as it looks very professional and clean. Looking at his work ha inspired me to try and settle on one thing at a time and create some interesting props and do them well instead of leaving them to the side. I have put some of hie environment assets he has made for Gears of War 4 below in a slideshow. So pretty! Crumpler also has his CV uploaded to his site so that is also another great reference point to refer back to when/if I get around to writing one up.

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Ok I am so excited to start modelling some props. If I am going to do a palace scene/ indoor outdoor or model some props for it I wanted to have a look into some artists responsible for the prop designs in Assassins Creed Origins. That game is simply breathtaking. I found an environment/prop artist named Valentin Oana and have posted his work below in a slideshow. I especially love the statues he has created for the game, just amazing. When looking at his art station it seems that he uses mainly Zbrush, 3DsMax and Substance Designer.

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Image Courtesy – Valentin Oana

 

References

Jasongodbey.com. (2018). The Art of Jason Godbey | Game Developer | Digital 3D Environment | Lighting | Visualization Artist – Digital 3d Art, Indie Games. [online] Available at: http://www.jasongodbey.com/#about-me [Accessed 19 Feb. 2018].

Mon, S. and Mon, S. (2018). Everything You Need to Know to Become a Game Environment Artist. [online] ArtStation Magazine. Available at: https://magazine.artstation.com/2017/03/game-environment-artist/ [Accessed 20 Feb. 2018].

http://www.clintoncrumpler.com

 

 

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