Character art and design has always been my passion, as you might have guessed from the contents of this blog thus far. However, I have been well aware of a hole in my skill set in the shape of environment design for some time and recently I decided to do something about it. Getting a job as a concept artist is difficult enough, let alone if you just limit yourself solely to the character design side of it.
I’ve been a regular visitor and contributor to the cghub.com community (my gallery – ray.cghub.com) for quite a while now, and it was from here I learned of the Computer Graphics Master Academy, and the work of James Paick. He is a freelance concept artist working primarily in the games industry and has worked for such companies as Naughty Dog, NCsoft & EA, amongst others and he runs two classes on for CGMA. His personal website cane be found here.
Not kidding myself into thinking I knew more than I did about environment design, I wanted to start from the beginning and learn from the ground up, and so signed up for Environment Design 1. The class consists of a 1 – 1 1/2 hour video lecture in which Mr Paick creates a piece of environment concept art, talking the students through the techniques he uses and the thinking behind them. Students are then set a homework assignment to be completed before the week is out. Having submitted the homework, students are invited to a live Q & A session with Mr Paick, in which he critiques each students work and answers any questions for an hour.
Below are my homework assignments for the first three weeks. Week one concentrated on composition and value, with five images to be roughed out for homework. The focus of week two switched to lighting, with three images asked of us, while week 3 was concerned with bringing the standard up with regard to detail and finish. The brief was for one image that had outer space as its theme, with special concern given to scale.
While only three weeks into an eight week course, I am already learning useful techniques as well as a greater understanding of the environment design art from. Mr Paick is an excellent artist and teacher, who has an easy manner and makes for interesting listening, explaining succinctly and communicating with students in a very personable way.
I still find it a struggle to get the piece done in a timely fashion, always getting frustrated in the first half of the creative process until it starts to take shape in the second half. I do feel that I am making progress, however, and I am enjoying the challenge of taking on a facet of concept art that is somewhat foreign to me and pushing myself to meet the briefs in the time alloted.
At the end of this course I hope to discover whether it is my inexperience in the environment design field, and the difficulties that the unfamiliarity that comes with it present, that has put me off it in the past, or that it is simply a case of not finding it appealing to me as an artist.