Becoming a 3D game artist is not an easy endeavor. Not only do you need to have passion for digital arts and become an expert in your niche field,, you must also be ready to work hard to make your dreams come true.
My story is no different. Having started out as a young artist in Mexico, I have come a long way forward, working my way to the forefront in the game design industry on the international arena. My strong passion for game art and desire to excel made me what I am today. And I could not be happier about it.
Over the years, I have worked on multiple renowned games, including Star Wars: The Old Republic: Knights of the Eternal Throne, Star Citizen, Borderlands 3, Friday the 13th, Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy Remastered, Manticore: Galaxy on Fire, The Sims 2 freeplay and others. I have also collaborated with several game industry behemoths before joining the prestigious Los Angeles-based Devoted Studios, which is known for having worked on projects like Spellbreak, Guild Wars 2, Blankos Block Party, Animal Jam, CoinHunt World, Fusion Guards, Angry Birds: Dreamblast! And several triple AAA titles that are yet to be released
Now that I have learned all the ins and outs of the gaming industry, I am ready to share some of the insights and help others become a world-class professional.
1. Portfolio is king
As an artist, you should always keep in mind that your portfolio is a summary of your work. It is the first thing that your clients see, which can only mean one thing: It must be immaculate.
When creating a portfolio, choose only those pictures that set you apart from others. They should be the epitome of your talent: nothing less and nothing more. Once you have done that, make sure to edit them to perfection.
Besides, make sure that you pick only on those pictures that are currently relevant to your current career priorities. Let me give you a 'for instance'. If you want to become a 3D artist in the gaming industry, it is only worth including those pieces that are pertinent to this area. In other words, there is no extra value in showing hand-painted landscape scenes. No matter how impressive they are.
The web offers plenty of tools for creating portfolios. For example, Slider Revolution and ScreenSkills or Artstation, where many industry devs publish their work and get noticed. Test the ones you like the most, heed my advice, and make your star shine.
2. Learn to accept feedback
Everyone thinks that their work is outstanding. There is nothing wrong with that. It is how humans are.
Yet, if you want to become better, you must learn to accept that others might have a different perspective. They will ask you questions, make edits, and suggest improvements. Unless they make it personal and become outright rude, there is no need to take it personally.
Over the years, I have greatly benefited from the advice I received from various leads and art directors. They have guided me thoroughly on what and how to refine - and I cannot thank them enough for that.
Once you have accumulated these perspectives, you will see that your skills will improve greatly. And it will be easier for you to proceed.
3. Be a team player
The game developing industry is a team-oriented space, and you need to accept that from the outset. No matter how hard you try, you cannot conceive and develop a game on your own. Nor should you try doing it since it is a waste of your time and resources.
Instead, I recommend that you become the person you would want to have in your team. An individual who is both reliable and hardworking, and in good spirits, too. Never once have I heard from my colleagues that they enjoy working with someone negative or diva-like. You will simply end up being sidelined. Even if your artistic vision is exemplary.
4. Share your knowledge and become a problem solver
The world of design is tough. It is highly competitive and requires you to put your skills to the test. If you have managed to make it and reach dizzy heights, then help others do so, too. Share all the tutorials, tips, and tricks with the newcomers because remember: we all need help. What's more, those artists you shared your knowledge with will likely help you in the future. And that is something you want. After all, we make progress faster when working together.
Let me give you a real-life example. Once I was working on the Galaxy on Fire project. It was both cumbersome and complex for the entire team. To find a solution, I decided to spend extra time researching alternatives. It greatly paid off. Soon I came up with a clear-cut plan and shared it with my teammates who were struggling just like me. My perspective helped them make a pivotal shift that led to success, even though all I did was simply pick up the pen and break a big problem into easily solvable smaller ones. I recommend that you try doing the same from time to time.
5. Do not be afraid to ask for help
If you are struggling with a task, most likely, you are not the only one. There is a chance that someone at the studio has already faced the same issue. So, why not turn to them?
Sure, it is never easy to ask for help, but remember that there is no shame in doing that. Throughout my career, I have asked for assistance on multiple occasions, and I believe that this is why I made it.
Yet, also keep in mind that reciprocity is essential. So, if someone turns to you for help, you should do your best to lend that person a helping hand. I have met artists that like to hoard knowledge and do not want to share anything. Do not be THAT artist. Even if you think that you will somehow benefit from keeping all the secrets to yourself, trust me, it is not so. It is an illusion, and a dangerous one, too. Only by helping others succeed will you be able to grow professionally and make the world a slightly better place.