Join Rob Garrott for an in-depth discussion in this video Full movie, part of Artists and Their Work: Conversations about Mograph, VFX, and Digital Art.
I've constantly thrown myself to the sharks, so to speak, putting myself in situations that are uncomfortable and that are beyond my reach, in terms of skill set, and what do you do? You adapt. You learn those skills, and then eventually, years down the road, those become your strong points if you've been doing them long enough. -So, show me a little bit about what you've been working on. -Well, this is the piece that I've done for Sea Graph this year up here in Vancouver, and I basically like to show a new process that I've been learning the last few years, and you know, it's really fun to do it because so much has changed in concept art since I started working.
About ten years ago, in 2004, the way we worked and what we were learning at that time was just completely different than the way people work now, and a lot of it is just the tools at your fingertips that you have. You know, we were learning traditional drawing and painting skills and design skills, believe it or not, I used to go through the suffering of painting this all, every single bit of it, because that's really all you had back then. Obviously, there was 3D, but as it turns out, I learned years later that the map painting pipeline from that era is pretty much the pipeline that concept artists are expected to use now, which is either really cool or sad, I don't know the reflection on us, but you know, it has evolved that much where the amount of technical program usage that they were using is now kind of what we do, and they've evolved into another animal as well.
-Where did you study at? -Art Center. College of Design. Pasadena. And fortunately, the school is a very good industrial design school. Very good. You know, has a lot of technical stuff at its disposal, so we had the most at our fingertips to learn with, but just the education was nowhere. If it would've been anywhere, I feel like it would've been there, but it wasn't such a staple of concept art then. -Right. -So the guys that were using 3D, they were already map painters, and they were sort of integrating it into their pipeline, so now, it's become sort of expected, and I'm all for it, I mean, it just takes those traditional foundational skills that we learn in design and foundation and then it just makes it amplify that, and makes you able to do whole new things that you could never do.
Obviously, you could paint this, but it's very painstaking to do that. -So is that your background, in illustration and art? -Yeah. You know, I guess illustration was what we studied, but truthfully, at that time, it was right before the kick off of what is known as entertainment design now, so, you know, we learned illustration and industrial design. There was no entertainment design, which is basically a merge of the two together, so that's what we learned, is just illustration skills and then learning how stuff is built, put together, you know, ergonomics and aerodynamics and the basic industrial design stuff.
-What led you into that field? Did you always love sci fi and spaceships and the future and everything else? -You know, just like any kid growing up in the 80s, Star Wars was a huge thing, and Transformers, and all that kind of stuff that was appealing. I've talked to kids years later or guys that I know who are my age, and when they were kids, for some reason, they weren't drawn to that, but I was very drawn to, you know, Space Odyssey, at least visually, and visually Star Wars and all that kind of stuff.
It was just, it was, for some reason on that level, just seemed fun. -Sure. A lot of folks that also are, you know, at the level of work that you do, also have art in their family as well. Did you have a lot of art in your family? Your mom and dad, or? -Yeah. Yeah, my dad works in films. He's a musician in films since I don't even know exactly when he started. Probably, I think, about 40ish years, and my mom's a designer as well. Different kinds of design, but she, you know, I had the support, there was no question of whether or not this existed as a job.
I knew that it existed. I just didn't know exactly what form I would fit into the equation. So it was, you know, I was really, I think, if I really look back to the source, it's sort of because I knew of them, that I was drawn to that, because I saw that it existed, you know, I got to see that it was cool to work in that field, so, and then obviously games, as they started, you know, from the 80s on, started just exploding into a whole new thing, and it's a huge industry now, so it seems like a logical place to go.
-Nice. So let's take a look at this piece, and maybe you can break it down for us. -Sure. Just to show you where it always starts, or, I mean, I like to start the conversation by showing the finish because it just shows where we're going to end up, and then I like to go back and show where it started from, but you know, I did a very quick sketch to start this off, nothing that is meant to be shown to anybody except myself, but it helps me figure out a lot of essentials for where I want to go with it, and that's just a 2D quick painting that I do in an hour, and then from there, I will go into Moto in 3D and start modeling, lighting and adding some different kinds of lights and procedural sort of basic textures, and from a technical standpoint, it's very, very simple.
So, you can see there's the base render, for the most part, and if you look at that compared to where it ended up, it's really not extremely far off, which is, I think what I sort of wanted to show, those are extras, what I was sort of trying to show was that, there's my whole fleet of ships on top. -I love that layer named Armada. -Yeah, it was just kind of something I've been using lately. I was thinking of doing a series of like, these epic sort of spaceship type of scenes, very much in the vein of some kind of crazy Star Wars stuff meets Space Odyssey meets Transformers, Unicron type of crazy stuff, but yeah, that's basically where it sort of started out, is just in Moto.
Basically, I keep it as simple as possible, and I cover a little bit of my tracks. I start flattening things down, mainly because I don't like having too many layers. If you go in, you can see in my groups, there are not a ton of layers in there. There in my textures is probably the most, but I keep a couple little extras just for a rainy day in case I need to go back, but it's really very simple, and I keep flattening stuff down because I know I'm never going to go back to that stuff, so, that's pretty much the way I like it organized, and I, in terms of step by step process, you know, you can see the background and all that stuff was resolved sort of early on because as, you know, something that I've learned along the way is that the sky and the environment sort of determines the lighting everywhere else, so if you don't resolve that, at least sort of, the base values that you're dealing with, when you go back to the finish, things might not quite feel the way you thought, and you have to, you know, retrace your steps, so I like to resolve that in the beginning.
-And one thing I noticed is, you have your textures as a separate layer set. If you turn them off and on again a couple of times, I would've thought you would've done that in Moto, or is that coming from Moto and you just have it separated out? -No, this is merging the two, kind of the two programs doing what they do best. So, texturing in Moto looks amazing, of course, but it also takes a certain amount of, you know, you have to UV, you have to do a bit of planning in order to get them to line up right on the model, and my model is not, let's say, strictly clean.
It's a little bit quick and dirty because that's what we do. We need to make it quick, and we need to make it as, you know, I want to say editable, not that a clean model is very editable, of course, but the whole point is just batching it together and getting it to look good, and it's clean. It's not like there's holes in the mesh, but it's not as efficiently modeled as a production model would make it, so the texturing side of it is getting into a more technical, more tedious, sort of the process than I'm willing to do, so Photoshop, I can overlay those textures very quickly and make it look, you know, as finished as it would've been in 3D.
-So all of the, like, the greebling that you've got going on down in these areas right here. Is that, all of that is hand painted? -Most of it, yeah. If you look at, yeah, if I turn it off, you can see the, sorry, if you turn it off you can see the base model there. There's a little bit of painting on top that I use. The main thing that I do is, you can see stuff like this happening right here. The main thing that separates out the model from the finished product is breaking up those edges, because you can see those razor sharp 3D edges, and you say, "Oh, it just looks like a render," but it takes a surprisingly very little amount of opaque painting on top to break up those edges and make it feel a little bit more custom.
If you were to do that in 3D, it would take a really long time. -Could you zoom back in and turn that off and on again? -Yep. So there's the textures. Right? So you can see the paneling. It's just some kind of aircraft carrier industrial paneling, and you know, you need to make sure the scale feels about right, so they're fairly large panels, obviously, but it's, you know, if it's too small, then you kind of won't see it, but if I go and show you the, let's see, the opaques, so there you can see, if I turn off textures and that, you can sort of see that.
It's such a small amount that breaks it up, but the 3D does most of the heavy lifting in terms of the rendering aspect of it. -It also adds a fair amount of scale to the image as well. You know, you get, there's these little details, especially along that edge that give you a sense of how big this structure is. -Yeah. I mean, the benefit to 3D is its actual, physical, real scale, so you know the dimensions, you know exactly how many kilometers this ship is long or the distances that you're dealing with, so it's very easy to fine tune all those aspects and make sure that the scale of the distant objects are right, you know, these aren't five miles across, these are the right size compared to this, so.
-Let's take a look at the underlying structure, maybe in Moto, and see how it's built. -Yeah. So I always start off, very basic polygon modeling, little bit of, you can see a little bit of subdivisions in the object that I wanted closer to us just to get, have a little bit more control over those clean, smoother edges, and see stuff like that in subdivisions. The only reason why most of it is not in subdivisions is because it's just a little bit more time consuming to make sure that those control loops are all there, and it's cleanly done so that it holds its shape well.
Takes a little bit more work to do that, but where it's needed, and where you want that to happen, like, to really control those edge weights and stuff, I use it in a few key locations, unless you have a form that is super, you know, soft, and a lot of soft edges, in which case, you can't get around that, you're going to use a lot of subdivisions, so, a lot of it is just basic pieces that you can see I'm repeating over and over and over again, but that is what is so user friendly about this, is that you can make the entire thing feel unified.
It makes it easier to have a consistent shape language when you're literally reusing pieces over and over and over. Each bridge is physically made up of the same components. I just kind of configured them a little differently to make them feel different, but it's identical, and then, obviously scale. You can see that mesh back there is the same as the one up here, and it's just duplicated in the distance, so the scale is mathematically correct, which is nice to be able to know how to do by hand, but you really don't need to anymore. -Right. I'd love to know, like, how you decided to set this up.
So it's obviously in low orbit. You're looking at it from the underside, and perhaps we're a ship flying in to dock with it or something like that, and you know, I'd love to know your thought process in deciding, you know, where the angles are and where the light's coming from and that sort of thing. -I guess that's just kind of like specific to the artist. I just saw something in my head, and I just started sketching, and that just turned into what it is, you know, I look at a lot of the old 70s and 80s sci fi art, you know, John Burkey is probably my biggest favorite. Just one of the best sci fi illustrators, like, in the history of humans painting spaceships, you know, which actually doesn't go back that far, but he's my favorite.
I mean, he has a very unique sort of vision, and also a very, something I learned, is a very good way to humanize these kind of things. A lot of the time, they can get very abstract. A way to humanize it is to incorporate some of the shape language, just like 30% of it that we sort of, that we identify with as humans, so something from aircraft carriers. Something, you know, some of the genius designs out there, they incorporate kit bash pieces from real objects, sherman tanks and apache helicopters and things like that, but you tweak it a certain amount where it feels alien and unfamiliar, but that little percentage of what we recognize is what makes it feel like that it was somehow built by some kind of life form we can relate with.
-Yeah. I definitely notice that in the armada ships as well. If you look at that. Zoom in on one of those guys up close. I mean, that feels very attack helicopter. Like something we've seen on the news before. -Yeah, it's definitely inspired by that a little bit, and definitely, I don't know, it's got a little bit of everything kind of mixed together with it, but these kind of wheel well looking shapes, you know, you'll see in older kind of cars and things like that. Definitely some attack helicopter stuff. Some harrier jet influence, but it's all, they're all very, I did those after, so I sort of wanted those to feel like they were built in the same vein as this giant space station here, so that was kind of, I was just trying to keep the shapes in line in something that felt like it was built by them, so you can see one docked inside the little, that port in there, but yeah, so that's the way I do the modeling aspect of it.
Nothing technically amazing. Very, very simple, and that's actually the point is that we want to be able to just throw this together quickly, save the presets out and reuse and reuse and keep it consistent at the same time. As far as lighting goes, that's also a very user friendly aspect of this, because when I go into the render window here, so that's the preview render that we get in Moto. A fantastic feature just to show a slightly lower rez version of what your final render is going to be, but it does it in real time, so when I want to play around with camera angles, you can see that we are moving through the space in real time, and it shows in the environment fog that I have set up here is real time as well, so it's all just extremely tailor made for iteration.
You have a director standing over your shoulder, you want to lower the camera angle, you want to increase the density of the fog, you want to change the color of the fog, et cetera, et cetera, and it's just very easy to do that way, so you can see, I have several different meshes here, but they're all grouped by what they're doing for me, so I have these bridges in the background grouped together. I have the main body of the thing in one mesh, and then I have, maybe I can go back into the modeling mode and show that a little easier, so you can see, I have a layer of detail on top that is the tertiary level of detail.
I've got some bridges on their own, on their own layer. This blocker is actually a fake piece of geometry that isn't part of the scene, but that gives me that nice shadow overlapping cast over, so something that I wanted to do, I decided in the sketches, I wanted to have this big, looming shadow cast over the space station as if there's a really, a much bigger form off camera, right? Just a little bit of a hint of that, so in order to do that, when I put the directional light in, I realized I was going to need to create some kind of a shadow blocker, so I modeled it to a specific shape just to tailor that exact shape the way it falls onto the environment, and you can play around with these things so easily in this tab moving that object over in the scene and seeing exactly what it's doing to the render in real time, or you can also do that by having the preview window, preview render, open in a separate tab and working on the model in another, you know, I'll have dual monitors set up at home, or in the studio, having the preview render on a separate monitor, and just constantly looking over at those updates for those minute changes, and you can get it just right.
In terms of lighting, I knew that this was going to be in fairly low orbit, and getting a little bit of atmosphere, that's why I added the environment fog, so I, when I was doing the lighting, I wanted to turn down the radiance, the power of the light, just a little bit, just so that it wasn't just blasting it with light, the way you get that really crisp, white light in outer space, there's zero oxygen, there's zero atmosphere. I wanted to somewhere meet in the middle, so it felt like very strong light source, like in outer space, but a little bit of particle in the air, yeah, so you can see that that shadow's been nicely softened, just a tiny bit, and the way I do that is by going into your actual light itself.
I have two different directional lights. One, two different options of how the lighting would be. You can see that's feeling a little bit more Darth Vader, a little more sinister, the glowing red eyes and a silhouette, and I wanted to go a little bit more rebel lions, if you want Star Wars metaphors, I don't know if you do, but I'm giving them anyway, so very convenient to be able to play around with the lights that easily, especially the light material, being able to change the color of the light and the nature of the shadow color and all the different ways to control the color in the environment.
The other element here that I wanted to show is the use of replicators. So when you look in my 3D model, the polygon modeling mode, you see these messy little rectangles everywhere, which seem like they're not doing anything, and that's because they're actually not doing anything in the view port. They're not adding to my GL. They're not adding to my actual geometry in the scene, so it doesn't slow down performance, even though those replicators are representing hundreds of these ships being duplicated into the environment, so you can see how they're all kind of bent and twisted in different ways, and that is because they are populated by this mesh that you can see.
That super messy, choppy triangular mesh is a mesh that I made and cut holes out of and basically populated that. Each vertex is populated with a ship, so I moved that out of the way. That's why it up there now. -So that mesh is controlling the ship location. -Yes sir. Yes it is. So if I go back into the render tab and I show you this scene here, and I turn back on that replicator mesh, you can see it go back on and off in the environment. -Oh yeah, there you go.
That's where it is existing in the environment, but that's sort of irrelevant because you're using it as a source for where the replicators are going to appear, and you can do that and then also, in the actual replicator itself, you can control these transformations, these different offsets, so you can move them, you can twist them. There's a whole bunch of different, and you can adjust how they're instancing. So this right here is controlling the ship itself, one of these, that's the mesh that is the prototype mesh, and the point source, the replicator mesh, which is the mesh I was showing, is what's controlling their movement, and that is, it's literally infinite, the possibilities of being able to populate a scene because it's literally, you know, your mind is the only limit of what it can do.
It can do anything you want in terms of duplicating a very geometrically complex mesh in an environment, and any possible pattern that you can come up with, it can do it, and it's, that's the beautiful thing, it's a concept artist's dream, because it's something that you would have to do by hand ten years ago. Psychotic. You know? And now, you can do these kinds of things. You can populate a field of grass. You can have a little mushroom forest with thousands of little mushrooms varying in their individual sizes because of those transformations, and you can populate any shape that you want.
So even a human body. You could have a human body populated in armor shapes all over it, or just about anything, so I realize that if I actually tried to do it with a raise, and physically having ships in this environment, it wouldn't be able to withstand that level of geometry and rendering of the flat materials that I've got in there and the fog, as well, starting to calculate a lot of stuff, so when you go back to the render, you can see that those are all showing up, and they are being affected by the fog, as well, and being affected by the light, but they're not real geometry.
That is something I use a lot. -Let's talk about the passes that you're taking out of the render to bring back into Photoshop. -Now are you just doing just basically -Sure. a base mesh or are you bringing in separate, you know, an ambien inclusion layer, you know, a GI layer, and that sort of thing? -Yeah, on this particular one, the three that I typically use is normal alpha, which is this, being able to just select all the positive from the negative objects from the sky, and the second is a service ID render, which allows you to select all the different objects separately from each other, and the third is a depth render pass.
Depth render pass is phenomenal because it creates an alpha mask of exactly the distance from the camera for every object, which is, you know, mathematically perfect, so for example, depth of field. You want to have things moving away from the camera. You select them based on the depth render pass, and then you give it a gaussian blur, some kind of blur that blurs it mathematically according to that distance. I didn't use it in this case because I have this nice environment fog in the scene, so I don't really need to affect any of the stuff in the distance, it's already being knocked back for me, and I knew I was going to paint over it.
-So did you find that with the changes in tool, the ease of adjustment, for example, when you have an art director standing over your shoulder like that or a client, do you find that it's now a little more hectic to work with them, where you know, as before, you had a little more time, as you say, "Well, come back this "afternoon and this will be done." Do you lament those times? -That's an interesting point. I haven't thought about it quite that way, at least in awhile. It is true because now everyone's aware of the speed at which you can do things, but there's nothing bad about that.
It is, most art directors understand it takes some certain amount of time, and each artist tasks a certain amount of time for different things that they're doing, our art director is great, you know, our art director is actually, you know, an amazing concept artist, Rob Drupal is his name, so he's very aware of how we work and the amount of time that it takes to do things, so there's really no guess work about, like, someone coming by that maybe like, a producer or someone that's not maybe a painter, asking for something at a deadline that isn't exactly possible or you aren't going to get the best result, Rob knows exactly what needs to be done and the speed that it needs to be done at.
-So, at Naughty Dog then, how much of your, describe a typical day. -A typical day is, you know, when you're in production you have multiple things going on at once, so we obviously don't have enough concept artists to be on each particular set that's being built, you know, for every single one, so a lot of times, you'll be bouncing around between three to four different, totally different design processes and so, it's usually attacking small tasks as quickly as possible and kind of trying to manage those different things all at once.
Occasionally, in the beginning part of the process, you know, when you're in preproduction, that you have more time to really kind of give the love that one piece needs and really kind of see a vision all the way through, but our role sort of changes as we move forward, so that's usually in the beginning, when we have or are coming up with our interesting ideas, the what ifs, the what could it be things, the blue sky, as we call it, and that's super fun, and spending, so a typical day during that period is come to work, look at some cool art that you really like for a few minutes, check your emails, get everything going, talk to everyone to sort of figure out the game plan, and just start painting, and just go and make cool images, taking the amount of time you need to get that vision done, and that sounds like a perfect world, right, but things change very quickly, you know, once the engine gets going and it's just moving, our job is to try and stay ahead of everyone else, you know, so a typical day during that production part of the process is very different, because that's, we are generating as much imagery and helping the art direction process as much as we can in every possible way, so we are jumping around, going to the 3D modelers, going over the lighters, going over to check on stuff and giving them support, sketches and paintings and quick call out sheets, you know, just like little art direction sheets that sort of show photos and basic sketches of what we're doing.
It's maybe not the most glamorous part of being an artist but it's the stuff that makes our product look as good as it does. It's the stuff that makes all the loose ends get tied up, and makes sure that things don't feel rough around the edges, as much as we possibly can. So the typical day, you're totally out of your mind for the bulk of the production, and then, towards the end, it's more of like, a putting out fires sort of thing. You're just trying to help. You're not doing any original pieces anymore.
You're just trying to help everyone else just supporting what they're doing, so the typical day is going around to everybody, saying like, "You need anything? You need anything? "You need anything?" Really trying to be available at all times and to be communicative about every idea that we have, make sure we share those so people have enough time to implement them, and to be able to catch things. If something seems off, doesn't seem like it's in line with what we were doing originally, to try and catch that, to figure out, how can we solve this? How can we put that fire out? -So, correct me if I'm wrong, Naughty Dog is primarily a game studio, right? -Yep.
-So, you guys are, it's a little bit different than a pre vis artist, or concept artist would be for a feature film where you have a studio to deal with and a director that may have not been associated with your group before. You guys are generating new content internally as your own entity. You guys are the studio. -Yeah. -So, you know, that's got to be, in some ways, a little bit liberating because all of your stakeholders are right there inside the company. -Yeah. I think it's beneficial that we are a part of Sony, and that Sony gives us the freedom to do what we do.
Of course we have deadlines, as everyone else does, but I feel fortunate at the studio that we're given the leeway and the time to develop an original idea, such as the last of us, you know, we're given a good amount of time. I've definitely been elsewhere before, at other studios and knowing that the task at hand is going to be difficult, at any rate, any kind of pace that you set is going to be, "Whoa, this is a lot to ask for "in a very little amount of time and the quality "level that we want to deliver." So, I feel like it is fortunate to be part of the publisher, I mean, we are the publisher, we're owned by Sony, so we're given the proper time and a generous amount of time to develop stuff, as well, and not try to force what we're developing now.
We've definitely been given a fair amount of time to do it, it seems like, and we are, you know, trucking towards that date, just working away, trying to get as much done as possible. -So, with your, so do you focus on primarily environment stuff, or do you do character as well? Do you guys have special, do you subdivide the team into character and environment? Can you describe that a little bit? -Sure. In the past, I've always done both, but at Naughty Dog it's specialized, so we have a character department and we have an environment department in terms of the concept art.
We actually have a fairly decent amount of concept artists for that reason. Because we do have a lot of, we are very story centric kind of studio, the story is very important, and I think why people like our stuff, well, obviously the game playing, all that stuff, but I think the story is a very big part of it, so naturally, the characters need to be very well developed, so if we were all doing environments and characters, it would be a little bit harder to really get into the motivations and the development of those characters' personalities and their look and everything, so I think it's nice, and usually I would say, "Man, I want to do characters, too." But in this, you know, and I always have, but in this particular case, I think it's nice that you have people that that is their primary focus, and that they're working with the creative director and the writers and figuring out all those things, because they really do work it out.
They go through countless, countless variations, more than I've ever seen before, in order to get it just right and make sure those characters ring true in terms of their look and how their personality is conveyed. -I think that's the big advantage that video games have over film as a medium is that the depth of character development that you're able to get into, you know, from my own experience and from talking to a lot of folks is that that what draws you into a game, when you play it for hours and hours, you spend so much more time with that "person", that thing that you're interacting with, than you would with a film when you're just sitting there for an hour and a half and then you're out again.
-Yeah. I would almost compare it with an episodic TV show that goes on for quite awhile. You get to really develop the character in a bunch of different scenarios over quite a long time, you know, if your game is 12 hours long, you're talking about 24, 30 minute episodes, so that's a full season of character developing, you know, if you really think of it that way, and depending on, there's a lot of characters. Our stuff usually has quite a few characters. Even the main characters should be, it's not just one or two, there's usually several, and it takes a lot of work to do that and a lot of time, so our, you know, our games tend to be longer than some, and I know the last one was, and, you know, I think it worked out.
Just a lot of character development. It's something we're trying to do a lot. -I think that's a really good thing. You know, again, you're playing off those advantages you have over other mediums. Do you play games yourself? -Yeah, yeah, for sure. I grew up playing games. I've always played a certain amount of games. You know, obviously these days, you get really busy and don't get as much time to do that as you'd like, but I certainly like to keep up with what's being done and what's out there to see what's the bench mark for excellence in the games industry, and obviously that's our job, you know, so that's important to do, and I just love to see what the nuclear arms race, so to speak, of technology and what everyone's showcasing, what they're able to do with their engines, because a big part of what we're able to accomplish is because of our limitations or our accomplishments in our engine, so I would like to see what other people are doing with certain things, and maybe the public wouldn't notice it because they're seeing it as this final presentation package, but as developers, we tend to look at very small details, and we're thinking, like, something like, how do they get their trees looking just like that? Like, how is that actually being made, and what's the technology behind it, and can we accomplish something like that in our engine, or materials, you know, reflectivity, or all these different kinds of things, depending on what engine you're working in.
Certain ones have benefits and have disadvantages. -Now, how did you go about getting the gig there, I mean, had you already, you know, known folks that were working there or did you just walk in the door and say, "Hey guys, here I am." -No, I knew one person that I had worked with previously, and had just been talking to them and online, you know, just chatting, saying, "How is everything going up in LA?" You know, I was down in San Diego at the time, and he said, "Oh, you know, coincidentally, "we just had one of our senior level concept "artists leave and we're looking for like, "another senior level artist with similar level "of experience to sort of replace that spot." And so, the way it's always done, is taking tests, you have to take a concept test, which is fairly demanding amount of time, but I figured, you know, nothing ventured, nothing gained, so I did the test, and they liked it.
-What did the test look like? Did they present you with an idea and have you come up with it? -It's the same as it would be anywhere. Just for concept artists, it would be a very basic bit of block mesh geometry. Here's a rough, super rough environment, and now, come up with what it is, you know, make it, and that's what so cool, is it's so open, so whereas in the studio, you get a fair amount of instruction of what things need to specifically be and even to the level of, this piece of cover cannot be more than one meter, because if it is, then that breaks the collision rule, you know, there's all these very specific rules, none of that, they don't bother with that with the test.
They want to see what you bring to the table, so it's all 100%, this is how this person thinks, this is how they react with this little bit of information that's given, you know, and there's a lot of things that are, I don't want to give any tips or tricks of taking a Naughty Dog test, but there are certain things that are looked at as very important, and things that people tend to overlook a lot, so that's all I can say about that. Basically, you see what someone's made out of when you give them no information and then you say, "Alright, do something." -Well, they're building a culture and they're bringing you into that culture, so I would imagine they have some pretty strict rules for that sort of thing. -Yeah.
-They make those with any organization, really, so, you mentioned before that you had a friend that had worked there, how big a world is the online community playing, you know, someone that you've known from the forums, like, how much time do you spend in the forums, and where do you go? -Forums, I'm not really so privy to that to exactly how that's done. I think mostly in entertainment these days it's personal connections through people, and, you know, you have online social media which is taking over everything, really, and that's pretty much the only way to do it, I mean, you know, I always tell to my students, or when I'm giving any kind of talk to a group of people aspiring to be artists, is just that you're your own best advocate for your career.
You have to, you know, it doesn't really take that much work to go out there and say, "I want to work at this studio and this studio "and this studio." Okay, well, go find who works there, look at their portfolios, look at what they're looking for. Look at their level of experience. Look at their level of their body of work. What they've done. The broadness of their skill set. It's really as simple as that. Just do that. And then putting yourself out there. Constantly being active on social media, and being in contact with people on a regular basis is the only way because there's so many people out there trying to get jobs, and I don't feel that there are few jobs, I think there are a lot of jobs, actually, in the industry, considering what the economy is right now, I think there's actually a ton of work and the industry is actually doing very well, so it's not that there aren't a lot of jobs, it's just that there are a ton of people out there, right, so you have to be vocal, and you have to be present, and you have to be known, and the only way you can get yourself known is by putting stuff out there and just directly contacting people, even if you don't know them, most people that I know, you know, they have online fans or people that like their artwork.
They always respond to the emails. If someone says, "Hey, I really love your work. "Blah blah blah. "What does it take to be a concept artist?" People always get a response, you know? Information's all out there. That's why I say, I think, if anything, I try to tell people it's really inspiring doing this right now because everything that is available for people's education and for people's outreach to professionals in the industry is at its absolute peak. Ten years ago, there was none of this. There was no Facebook, link ups between every single artist that's on the internet, period, you know? There was no Lynda.com that was available for learning any programming you want to pretty much learn or that you'd want to learn, and all this other stuff that's out there.
There's a billion different, even just YouTube videos, I mean, there's a lot of different ways to learn, I think that it's as good of a time as any, to be honest.
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