My first art tools



Hey Guys,

I’m an aspiring tech artist. I am an established character artist but over the last several years have been doing more and more technical work to the point I wasn’t sure my job title even made sense anymore. Initially I was quite frustrated by the studio I was at not having a single dedicated technical artist when I arrived, but I have slowly grown to love the field by solving problems I perhaps otherwise would not have had the opportunity to take on. I am trying to combine my love of Houdini with my love of characters. I am currently looking for work. I am trying to move away from “traditional” character art and into making art tools.

Sadly it seems like a lot of games studios are still not using Houdini, is yours?

Below is my tools blog (which I am trying to update every couple weeks) and my reel.

*If you have a chance could you please give me some feedback or any advice as I try to transition from one discipline to another.

RnD blog

Spring 2015 Reel

Thanks for your time, Ken


First off, great reel, there’s a lot of great tools and ideas in there. It’s great timing that you mention the use of Houdini in game pipelines. (I recommend tagging the thread with [Houdini] to try to draw more attention.) At GDC 2015 this past week, there was discussion in the tech art round tables concerning the use of Houdini in studios and its potential in the game art pipeline. You’re not alone in using Houdini. While my studio doesn’t use it, several tech artists spoke up – hopefully they can contribute to this thread – and cited its strong procedural creation toolkit as a primary use. One practical example in environment art was the use of proceduralism to create parameterized structures likes ramps and houses. The discussion was enough to inspire me to begin playing around with Houdini. If this GDC was any indication, there seems to be a steadily growing interest in Houdini.


Thanks for writing in Eric. I was afraid I was not going to hear anything. I welcome all feedback, negative and positive… I can’t learn from silence. Was it clear what was going on? There is more explanation in the blog.

I updated the thread title as you suggested.

I was actually a driving force behind bringing Houdini to Insomniac about 3 yrs ago now to build the world of Sunset Overdrive. The learning curve is steep, though getting people (design, art, etc) to buy-in and even try to use it is was the bigger hurdle, I had just begun to play, so we hired a guy from the film world to do the work.

I would love to find a gig where I get to use Houdini on a regular basis. The adoption of houdini has been much slower than I expected to be honest. I thought at the time this was the future and it would spread like wildfire.

Of the handful of people I know doing houdini work in game studios, they are all primarily focused on level art - which makes sense. Though VFX and lighting is a good one too.

I have no problem with level art at all, I’d be happy doing level work too, my best friends from my last gig were all senior and principal lvl guys. I just have a decade of building characters, so to me, it is the next frontier, and a niche I don’t see anyone else exploring as actively. Plus I selfishly see potential in how it can benefit making characters and assets because that is what I have done for years - so I don’t have to think too hard to come up with problems to solve, or tools I’ve wanted for years.

I am trying to update my blog every week with a new tool. Hopefully In another day or two I will wrap up my “smart UV’s” - which adjust to fit and orient to the texture underneath them. Its the first piece of tech towards a much bigger optimization tool I have had in the back of my head for a few years now.

RnD Blog


I think the big question I want to ask is: what about my reel makes you want to hire me, and what about the reel makes you not want to?


Your character art was unexpectedly good. I would suggest you separate your reel into 2, 1 for character and 1 for technical.


Thanks Panupat, I’m glad my character stuff looks competent :slight_smile:

I though a lot about making a 2nd “tech only” reel before making my current reel. My 2013 reel is purely character art, my 2014 reel is a big mix of everything from vfx, to Houdini, scripting, to character art. My 2015 reel is 60/40 of tools to art.

I think initially I didn’t think I had enough content to make a tech reel, at least to the length of my current reel. That is quickly shifting though, but I am generally choosing to add new content to me RnD tools blog, vs. cut a new reel every couple weeks and slowly remove all of my character art work.

My initial desire was to build procedural character art tools, so showing my ability as an experienced character artist seemed important. Because it seemed like “everyone” was using Houdini for level art I wanted to stand out. However the adoption of houdini still seems slow, so perhaps I need to start showing some level art centric tools if I want employment any time soon.



My “smartUV” tool has been added to my tools blog.

I plan to allow the user to edit the correspondence between UV island and texture incase I did not get it right, or for some other reason the user may have I haven’t thought of yet.


Any chance the person that votes “Yes” could mention their studio? I’d love to know if it is in addition to the handful I know of.


I’ve added a wip video of a sci-fi procedural helmet generator I am working on. The big focus is working with artist created content and being able to edit and manipulate the data in meaningful ways. Ideally the parts are somewhat “smart” and react to each other.

Still very early days but I wanted to post something before I was out of town and a month had gone by.

RnD blog


I’ve updated my blog with my latest endeavor - Asset Synthesis. The idea being to take real world assets and generate more based on the initial example assets.

RnD blog


spaz your stuff is too good - i hope you dont get depressed with the miserable response. Your showing some real evil methods there. You could never guess what I have planned tho, I want to suck reality into a kinect and build a markov chain - for an automatic playback simulation. :slight_smile:

Ill get a slap on the face for that for sher! heheh


Thanks for the kind words and encouragement Rouncer, it helps. I think the biggest challenge for me is being considered a technical artist, and not a character artist. I have been very interested in proceduralizing character creation workflows for a number of years now, but the attitudes and appetite for it still seem years away.