分享成为游戏美术师的要求及途径

作者:Jonathan Hau Yoon

在你投身于游戏美术设计的伟大工作以前,你必须具备以下三个条件:

第一,你必须有艺术家的眼光。这直接影响你的作品质量,因为这关系到你能不能客观地看待自己的作品和别人的作品,并发现如何使作品更完美。这也会影响其他美设计人员对你的评判,甚至直接、重大地影响你的作品集——这是你找工作的王牌!精通艺术理论、扩大见识面和自己创作可以让你保持敏锐的艺术家眼光。

分享成为游戏美术师的要求及途径I Want To Be A Game Artist(from devmag.org.za)

第二,你必须能够按游戏要求约束自己的作品。也就是,你必须从技术层面上考虑你的作品能否与游戏融合。作为游戏美术设计师,你的工作必须在游戏引擎中使用,并在引擎中实时显示。知道如何根据游戏优化你的作品意味着,腾出资源用于制作更多美术、特效等。

第三,你必须大量玩游戏、研究游戏世界。你必须考虑如何通过设计以及你的作品改进游戏体验。

艺术家的眼光

创作经验可以打磨你的艺术家眼光。你的创作类型、创作工具并不重要,因为所有艺术创作都会提升你的艺术家眼光。然而,有些活动会给你带来额外的好处。最基本和最强大的一个就是绘画。绘画能够教会你许多美术的基本原理,这对积累创作经验是非常重要的。绘画训练的内容包括(但不限于):姿势、值(明暗对比)、材质、体积感(描绘你在现实、3D世界、2D画布上看到的东西,并且使用光影表现对象)和构成(所有元素如何组合在一起)。

最好能学习油画,因为它能训练以上所有方面,而且还增加了色彩概念:如何将各种颜色组合在一起,如何(在光照的条件下)影响游戏体现的情感基调。

摄影也是一门强大的技术,但很少受到重视。我们是通过光才看到世间万物,学习光的表现、如何根据场景使用不同的光、如何用光体现重要的对象、以及如何在构成中使用光,这些对场景绘制是非常重要的。

雕塑也是了不起的技能,特别是如果你想做的是游戏的3D美工的话。

虽然你可能迫不及待地想学习软件,但你最好能先单独学习美术之后,再学习软件。学习软件可能是一件打击自信信的事,会影响你积累美术经验。你可能会花更多时间研究如何使用数字媒体,而不是磨练你的艺术家眼光,这导致你的作品看起来很粗糙,而且连你自己都不知道为什么。虽然在训练的过程中你可能必须学习一些软件,但不要让学习软件占用太多精力。传统绘画更能磨练你的艺术家眼光。

最后,你要扩大见识面。这意味着你要多看设计文件、多读书、带着兴趣观察你周围的世界。这就相当于举一反三,你可以把你学习到的知识运用到你的创作中。如果你熟知二战时期的武器,那么你做出来的枪就会非常逼真。见识面广意味着你不必经常搜索参考图(因为你的脑中已经有图了),创作时你的灵感会源源不绝。

数字软件

你学习的软件应该与你求职的工作室或团队一样。在南非,绝大多数的电影和广告的3D工作室都是使用Softimage(注:这是一款知名三维绘图软件,也叫XSI)。在游戏美术工作不多(尽管不断成长,但我们的行业规模仍然很小)的时候,这款软件可以轻松地改做渲染工作(一般来说,从游戏转行做其他3D工作是非常容易的,因为其他3D行业的约束条件较少;从3D转游戏就要困难一些,当然也有例外)。 3ds Max广泛运用于视觉化工作。Maya越来越流行,因为它的工具组强大,角色动画扩展性好,但本地的工作室使用它的还不多。Blender是免费的,并且功能也够用。 ZBrush 和Mudbox普遍运用于塑形和材质制作。在制作3D物品的材质时,你还要使用2D软件。

对于2D,Photoshop目前还是主导软件。然而,大多数2D软件也可以处理PS文件,2D软件的兼容性问题比3D软件的少得多。你大概可以选择使用任何你习惯的软件。

以上提到的软件中有许多都有教育版(有些是免费的)。如果没有,也可以学习免费开源资源。一旦你掌握其中一种软件,再学习其他软件就不太费时间了。

但是,如果你的艺术家眼光磨练得不够,无论你使用什么软件,你的作品都不可能出色。尽管团队可能会定制自己的专用游戏工具,但那只是为了提高工作效率—-绝对不能让你的作品变好。能熟悉几种软件自然是好事,但最好能精通至少一种。当你对一种软件已经相当得心应手后,再学习其他软件。

学习

在申请在线3D/美术课程时,你应该考虑到以下几点:第一,(根据我的经验)没有学校能教你所有工作中会用到的东西。根据自己的需要寻找相应的学校。学位重要吗?(对工作签证和移民有帮助,但与作品集相比,学位的意义就很小了。当然,有总比没有好)你想学习软件?你想磨练你的艺术家眼光?(大多数3D课程似乎更专注于软件,不过也有一些课程确实强调手绘的重要性)。从课程的详介中了解课程要求。

第二,看课程是谁教的。虽然没有行业经验的人也可能让你受益不浅,但我认为有实战经验、但不太会讲课的人也许会教你更多东西。你必须付出更多努力才能掌握所有你想要的东西,但至少学习到一些已经被尝试和测试过的经验。如果课程描述没有提到讲师,那么你就要小心了。

第三,看看往届学员的作品,然后想想他们的作品是否比你通过自学做得好。了解往届学员在行业中的就业情况(注:如果你获知学员的姓名和他们就业工作室,最好能询问课程的详情)。如果能直接对话往届学员,最好问问他们从学校提供的课程中学习到多少知识,需要自学的东西有多少。

第四,寻找实习机会。一个从事游戏美术多年的好工作室,只要每天看他们的成员工作15分钟,你就能知道数之不尽的提高制作速度的方法、如何使用以前不太注意的工具、软件的变通方法、美工和程序员如何沟通、如何适应游戏 开发环境,等等,这些都是你在学校环境无法学习到的。

最后,你绝对是有可能不花钱自学成才的(如果你花一些时间实习的话)。在网上商店你可以买到各种全球知名行业专家写的教程和软件训练教材。(The Gnomon Workshop和Eat3D的不错,如果你是十足的新手,推荐DigitalTutors)。最重要的是,每天磨练艺术家眼光应该成为你乐意做的事(你必须画画!)。

行业资深人士的反馈也很重要。(我严重推荐你看看Polycount上的人的作品,其中有不少是专家,而且提倡诚实批评)即使你确实报了学校,自学工具也会帮助你,所以我还是强烈推荐。

应该说,学校的好处体现在:学员可以互相交流、有助于培养纪律性的作业截止日期、传统的美术课(如果有开这门课的话)、逼你做一些你平时不太愿意做的事,有助于你成为全面发展的美术师。如果你追求艺术,有自己的“风格”自然是好事。但如果你因为做不来其他风格而形成自己的风格,也会极大地限制你作为美术师的作用。好的美术学校不会允许你找“那是我自己的风格”这样的借口。如果你走的是自学路线,你应该意识到自学的劣势,然后想法弥补。

找工作

你需要作品集!你必须向雇用者,无论是独立团队还是大集团,证明你能够做出他们想要的作品。确保你的作品集与求职工作室的风格一致,无论是像素画还是数码绘还是3D。如何做一份合适的作品集:

1、包含你最好的作品。一件精品胜过多件平庸的作品。

2、如果你已经有明确的求职工作室,那就确保你的作品与他们相关。你应该让你的作品适用于他们的某一款游戏。客观地评判你的作品是否能够与游戏相融合。

3、质疑你的作品。(你可以对着作品问自己:这个人是否理解了光的原理?这个人熟悉解剖吗?这个人能够在时间紧迫的情况下做出好作品吗?这个人知道如何根据游戏引擎约束自己的作品吗?这些问题的答案分别涉及环境、解剖学、效率和渲染。根据你想成为哪一类美术师决定这些问题的优先级。)

还要注意的是,大多数人是通过推荐和口碑找到工作的。如果能加入游戏社区、经常发布作品、得到专业的反馈和批评意见(无论意见多么尖锐)那就再好不过了;因为只有这样,当有职位空出时,人们才容易想到你。不要太脱离大众了,否则谁知道你想要一份工作呢?((转自游戏邦)

I Want to Be a Game Artist!

by Jonathan Hau Yoon

That’s great! You’ll be flinging digital paint and shooting vertices, and making the game art world more beautiful as you go! But wait — a word of advice before you jump on the realtime rendering railway: you need three pieces of essential kit!

Firstly, you need Artist Goggles. These art-tinted lenses directly affect the quality of your work by allowing you to look at your own and other people’s work and see what could make it more beautiful. They are also what all other artists will judge you by, and have a direct and overwhelming influence on your art portfolio — the key to getting yourself a job in the front lines! A sound knowledge of art principles, a great visual library, and having a thousand pieces of art to your name will keep your Goggles crystal clear.

You’ll also need the Map of Contraints. This map allows you to check whether your art can fit into a game on a technical level. As a game artist, your work needs to run in a game engine where lots of things need to be shown in real-time. Knowing how to optimize your art for games means freeing up resources that can be used for even more art, special effects, and other eyegasmic goodness.

Lastly, you’ll need Design Slippers, gained from the experiences of playing, studying and building game worlds. You’ll want to have thought about design, and how your art can help to craft great game experiences.

I want me those Art Goggles!

You upgrade your Art Goggles by gaining Art XP, which you earn by making art. It doesn’t really matter what kind of art you’re making, in any medium, as all art will improve your Art Goggles. However, some activities will earn you an XP BOOST. The most basic and most powerful one is drawing. Drawing teaches many art fundamentals that are vital to your XP growth, including (but not limited to!): gesture (the energy!), value (contrasts of light and dark), texture (what materials things are made of), form (describing things you’ve observed in the real, 3D world, on a 2D canvas, and using lighting and shading to get things looking good) and composition (how these all tie together).

Painting‘s also a great thing to learn, as it requires all of the above, but adds the concept of colour: how they work together, and how they (together with lighting) control the mood of your game.

Photography‘s also a great skill, often undervalued. Everything we see is made up of light, so studying how light behaves, different light setups for different situations and for bringing out the best of your subject matter, and how lighting can be used in composition are especially vital for environment work.

Sculpting is also a great skill, particularly if you’re interested in being a 3D game artist.

While you may want to jump right into learning software, it’s a good idea to learn art independently to (and before) learning software. Learning software can be frustrating and slow your Art XP growth. You may find yourself spending more time trying to figure out how to do things using digital media than polishing your Art Goggles, so your work may end up looking shoddy, and you may not know why. While you’ll probably need to learn some software somewhere along the line, it shouldn’t be the focus of your efforts. Traditional media provide a more direct way of upgrading your Art Goggles.

Lastly, you’ll also want to grow your visual library. This means watching documentaries, reading books and being interested in the world around you. These are akin to allowing your Goggles to see a wider spectrum of colours. If you’ve studied anatomy, you can use that knowledge in your characters. If you’re a fan of WW2 weapons, you’ll make much more convincing guns. Having a great visual library means you don’t need to search for reference images as often (because you’ve got them in your head), and you’ll have lots of ideas to draw from (lolpun) when you’re making your game art.

I want to make digital work!

The software you learn should match the studios or teams you wish to join. In South Africa, Softimage (also called XSI) has a massive hold in the vast majority of 3D studios in film and advertising. If there isn’t enough game art work (our industry is still small, although growing) it will be really easy to transition to offline rendering jobs. (It’s generally quite easy to move from games to another 3D industry, because you’re working with fewer constraints; it’s generally harder to move the other way around. There are exceptions.) 3ds Max is very popular in the visualization industry (product viz, arch viz). Maya has rapidly grown into an immensely popular package overseas because of it’s great toolset and extensibility in character animation, but only a handful of studios use it locally. Blender is free, and competent. ZBrush and Mudbox are widely used for sculpting and texture painting. You’ll also need a 2D app for painting textures for your 3D assets.

For 2D, Photoshop is by far the dominant software. However, most 2D programs can also handle Photoshop files, and there are far fewer issues with file compatibility in 2D than there is in 3D programs. You can probably get away with using whatever you’re comfortable with.

Many of the above software have educational versions (some of which are free) if you’re registered at a recognized school. If not, the free, open source stuff is great for learning, and once you’ve mastered them, switching to one of the others only takes a couple of weeks.

However, realize that if your Art Goggles are poorly maintained, your work will suffer tremendously regardless of what software you use. Although teams may build their own tools specific to the games they’re working on, there are only ever “magic buttons” for working faster — there are none that will make your art look better. It’s a good thing to be familiar with several packages, but it’s a great thing to be a specialist with at least one. Learning another package when one is already highly proficient with one already is a breeze.

I want to study!

There are a few things you should think about before signing up to any ol’ 3D/art course. Firstly, realize that no school (to my knowledge) will teach you everything you’ll need to know when you’re working. It’s important to take an honest look at yourself, and see what you really want to get help with, and then look at what it is each school offers. Is it important to have a degree? (While this helps with work visas and emigration, the degree itself matters very little compared to your portfolio. Having options is nice though.) Are you looking for software training? Are you looking for help with upgrading your Goggles? (Most 3D courses seem to focus on the former, although a handful of courses do emphasize the importance of drawing.) Look at breakdowns of courses and see which needs they’re meeting.

Look at who’s lecturing the course. While you can get some mileage out of someone who’s really good at lecturing but has no real industry experience, I believe you can get much more out of someone who’s got industry experience but is a poor lecturer. You’ll have to work harder to get all the information you want, but at least the answers you’re getting are tried and tested. If a course description doesn’t mention who the lecturer is, that should be a big red flag.

Look for past students’ work, and consider whether their work is better than you could do on your own. Ask about past students finding work in the game industry. (If you’re given names and names of studios, think about tracking down their details and asking them about the course.) Ask them, out of interest, how much of what they know came from the content the school covered, and how much they had to teach themselves.

Look for opportunities to intern. If it’s a good studio with artists that have been making game art for a few years, simply watching them work for 15 minutes a day will teach you countless methods of making assets faster, using not-so-obvious tools you may not have noticed before, workarounds to problematic software problems, how artists and programmers interact and how you would fit in in a game dev environment, and many other gems that you’re extremely unlikely to learn about in a school environment.

Finally, it definitely is possible to teach yourself everything you need to know without spending a fortune (if you spend some  time interning too). Tutorials and software training given by globally respected industry pros can be purchased from many online stores. (Some good ones include The Gnomon Workshop, Eat3D and, if you’re an absolute beginner, DigitalTutors.) Realize that polishing your Goggles daily should be something you crave (I must draaaaw! Something like the MakeGamesSA Sketch group may encourage you).

Feedback from industry veterans is also vital. (I highly recommend getting feedback and seeing what other people do on Polycount, where large number of members are working professionals, and there’s a culture of honest critique.) Even if you do attend a school, all of these self-teaching tools will help to push you even further, and are highly recommended.

That said, schools are useful though, for networking, for having deadlines that encourage discipline, for traditional art classes (if they offer this), and for being pushed to do things you wouldn’t normally be comfortable with that ultimately improve your versatility as an artist (mileage also varies per school). Having your own “style” is great if you’re pursuing fine art. However, having your own style because you can’t do anything else limits your usefulness as a production artist enormously. Good art schools don’t allow you to make the “but that’s my style” excuse. If you’re going the self-taught route, recognize these weaknesses and find ways to make up for them.

I want a game art job!

You nee a portfolio! Every employer, whether they’re an indie group or a giant corporation needs to see evidence that you can pull off the work that they’ll need you to be able to do. Make sure your portfolio matches the kind of studio you’re heading to, whether it’s pixel art, digital paintings or 3D. Some quick and dirty tips about putting together a portfolio:

Only include your best work. It’s better to have one truly stellar piece of work than a lot of mediocre work.

If you know which studio you’re trying to get into, make work that is relevant to them. You should be able to hold your work up next to a shot of one of their games, and honestly tell yourself that your work would easily fit there, and look just as good, or better.

Answer questions with your work. (Example questions might include: Does this person understand lighting? Does this person understand anatomy? Will this person be able to create good quality work on a tight deadline? Does this person understand the constraints of getting her work into a game engine? Answers to these questions might include full environment pieces, anatomy studies, competition entries and captures from a real-time renderer, respectively. Which questions you prioritize depends on what kind of artist you want to be.)

Also realize that the majority of positions are filled by referrals or word-of-mouth. It’s a really good idea to be involved in game communities, to show work regularly, to take feedback and critique professionally (regardless of how savage the feedback might be), and to be the person that people think of when a position pops up. Don’t be isolated, or nobody will even know you’re keen for a job.(source:devmag