Thursday, April 10, 2014

Goals, Gotta Have 'Em

Baldur's Gate - "FULL OST"
(if you've never played this game... PLAY IT NOW or, if you're really feeling awesome: !!!!)

I think from the very beginning of my gaming days... at least when I finally sat down and got serious about it, I think that I was drawn to being a video game artist. I can still remember sitting around with buddies playing old super nintendo games like Earthbound and Final Fantasy 3 / 6 and my (to this day still) second favorite game of all time: Chrono Trigger. I would think then that it's safe to say that I always wanted to do something in the video game industry.

My first real experience with video game art that I can honestly say drew me into the world of video game design was probably the cover art for Chrono Trigger:

Yeah, that's the same guy that works on Dragon Ball.

And also the character portraits:

  
 

You would've thought that in those days that my goals would have been clear.
My tastes have changed quite a bit since then, but it just goes to show you that things you do in your childhood really do influence you in the long run.

Initially I wanted to be an environment artist for the silly reasons that I didn't want to animate, that I thought environments would be simpler, there would be less competition for this type of work, etc. The reasons are insignificant, because it's much more important to A) have a clear goal up front, and B) to never compromise because "It's easier." As the saying goes, nothing good comes easy. And I whole-heartedly agree, because if it were easy, everyone would be doing it and it wouldn't be worth the time. This goes into a very different rant that I could go on and on about how a majority of the public looks down upon artists. But I'll save that rant for a different time.

Like I said, pay attention to yourself early on. I was interested in the character designs from the get-go, and I didn't listen to myself. Fast forward a tiny bit (not much) and you get closer to what I really wanted to do: character art. Baldur's Gate was probably my first real experience into what makes good character art.


(I still drool over these)

I have gotten into portraiture probably mostly in the past few months and I think this is an after-effect of my childhood gaming habits. I think I secretly always wanted to do this, I was just worried that I would never be good enough to get to this level.

I was talking to my fiancee the other day and I told her all about how I felt about being a character artist in the long run and I don't think I've gotten a look of "wow, you're really dumb if you don't go after what you love" like that before. I mean, sure the competition is stiff. There is a full gamut of artists with all different skillsets, but the point is that I have a clear goal and I am going to try shooting for it.

 
(my current goals probably lie somewhere between these two)

The whole point I'm trying to make is that everyone that starts art should have a very clear goal of where they're going in the long term. I've met a ton of artists (even some getting close to graduation) who look at me completely dumbfounded when I ask them: "So, when you get done, what's next? Where do you want to work?" And I know sometimes it just takes the pressure of being done with school, just relaxing and things, but sometimes I think it's ultimately important to do a little soul searching up front and really discover your passions. Your career and stress levels will thank you in the long run.

Try it... make a goal list. Look at where you see yourself in one year, five years, ten, etc. And see what kind of results you can get. It takes some real research to discover where you want to be. I'm still working on my first step to my goal-list, and keep in mind that it constantly changes. It's a step-by-step process. Think on micro-level first and work up to the macro.

If you're just starting out in art, for example, and you want to be a character artist... I suggest firstly to bone up on your anatomy. Then consider clothing, then weapons, and so on. Marc Brunet says it pretty well here.

If you ever need critique or anything, let me know. I'm usually up for giving advice and critiquing and things.

And just as a bonus... here's some progress if you just practice your ass off.

 
(2010)                                                                          (2013)

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