Help in My Quest to Become a TA; No Idea Where to Start

Hello Everybody! I am a recent grad with one contract under my belt. I recently went to a games convention, and after hearing my interests, a games professor referred me to this site. He really turned me on to the idea of becoming a tech artists, but as I have been cruising around the forums, I am not sure where to start.

I have been using Unity for 5 years now. I have participated in game jams, made some tiny, 2D projects; and have completed two contracts for clients (one in school, and one outside) Environmental design/modeling out scenes/level design was my primary role in college, as I was paired with excellent programmers when we were put in teams. I stayed in art/design roles until my last contract, where I was the only developer creating a simulation of a chemical reactor. I effectively learned solid amount of C# in 6 months and discovered a love for programming.
Additionally, I am able to model in Cinema 4D/Blender (Although not too well - I need more time)

After speaking to that professor at the games conference, he mentioned that I should learn python. I decided to start there and have been working my way through some online courses to great effect.

There seems to be a few key skills a TA must have in order to either get hired or, more realistically in my position, get an internship. I am lacking many of them LOL.

From what I have gathered: rigging, writing shaders, animation, python, a statically-typed high level language (Probably c++, eventually), and rendering and post-FX.

Is this accurate? How should I approach this? What order would be most beneficial to learning these skills in? (I am also building a game in Unity that I can apply all of these concepts to. Will that potentially work?)

Just trying to get a gauge on where to take my career next. There seems to be a laundry list of skills to learn, and I am unsure of where to put my attention first.

I would say that for me starting out it was important to find focus. Now more than ever TA positions vary in a big way. Throughout my career I was lucky to wear many hats and learn a wide range of TA skills, so I consider myself to be a generalist. But now things have gotten a lot more complex, hence you have people who specialize in rigging or shaders…So look back at your current experience, is there one aspect of TA that you enjoy and excel at? Once you figure out the answer, I hope that you like it so much that you obsess over it. Use all resources, and there are a lot, to learn something new every day. Push yourself to identify and solve problems. As a TA you never stop learning, if anything, you have to become more agile as things get more advanced.

Good luck!

yes, I think it’s pretty much what you say. Looking at job postings is also good to see what skills are needed in the current market. Or maybe if you want to work for certain studio or kind of game, see what they are looking for. But I guess in the end, it’s best to follow what you feel more comfortable with and not trying to fit some template.

Also there are UI Technical Artist, I currently work in that role and I didn’t know it existed until I got offered the job =P. It’s my first job in the industry and I started like half a year ago. It’s pretty similar to Frontend or mobile development, like implementing screens, buttons, lists, widgets, etc. with code and connecting the data with the view, and sometimes using design tools like Photoshop, Flash, or so. Also some TAs could be more focused in Procedural content generation, or modeling. Learning Houdini would be great for that.

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