Where to begin in my Tech Art journey

#1

Hello!

I’m a first year student pursuing a 4 year degree in game design but after a few months of rummaging around what the game design pipeline looks like, I can definitely see myself being interested in becoming a Technical Artist. I like to be proactive and try to use my time as effectively as possible so I’m trying to find out where the best place to start is. Theres so many different aspects that it can feel a wee bit overwhelming trying to find out where to start. I know its a little vague of an ask, but I appreciate anything, from tips, online resources, to what to focus on first and/or the foundation skills that I should spend time on.

Becoming a technical artist with no art background
#2

Hey buddy,

If you are going to deal with games, you will soon enough come across Maya or MotionBuilder. So you might as well start here.

It can be a little long winded at times, but the lessons are valuable and true.

Best of luck

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#3

Take a look at: Fresh TA looking for advice regarding expanding my skills set

Some pretty good advice in that thread.

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#4

And for a general answer, this article (written for coders, but I think it also works for tech artists) talks about how specific languages or syntaxes (or specific tech skills or 3D apps) are less important than overall systems thinking. And the courage and curiosity to break things open and see how they work.

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#5

@clesage @bob.w @ritterrav

Thank you all! I really appreciate you taking your time out to send me these messages. I have been playing in Maya somewhat and also teaching myself C# but this gives me a clearer idea of what I should be doing. The threads and articles are great.

#6

To add to the excellent answers already here, I’d say look around your course for other people with the same drive, and start making things as soon as you possibly can. I’m extremely fresh out of university as well, and my greatest regret from that time is not getting more “production experience” - it definitely put me at a disadvantage.

Also, don’t get hung up on looking for the exactly perfect tool or the exactly perfect technique to achieve what you need - achieve it through whatever inefficient methods are available to you, and work backwards.

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#7

To add to the already stellar advice here… much of what I and the TAs I’ve worked with do has zero visibility to the end user. Whatever your path, always keep in mind that you are going to be doing and making things to support team members most of the time. I joke about our department being renamed “Hufflepuff”.

Which isn’t to say that our work is any less important. The TAs here are essential to our product. Like white blood cells against inefficiency, stagnation, and burnout.

That said, as you progress, seek out personal and academic projects that are not just your own work in a bubble. Find ways to be indispensable on a team but don’t expect to be the hero to anyone except the artists and producers.

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#8

Thanks @EdArt I’ve been going to every single game jam since I’ve shown up and trying to find people who have the drive to get a project or two started in their free time but its a little tough. Does personal projects, game jams, or work in progress games count as ‘production experience’?

@theycallmemax This is definitely true. I’ve spent a lot of time watching GDC talks and videos from Tech Artists and what they do is extremely interesting but not ‘pretty’ haha. I’m currently getting familiar with Maya, and trying to learn the foundations of programming so I can move into Python and MEL eventually. I’m learning a lot but one issue I foresee is that I learn plenty from project based learning, and its hard to figure out what sort of individual projects and/or goal oriented tasks to do without having to do it in service of another artist or team member, if that makes sense. Rigging seems like something that I can do a good amount of individually but the rest seems a little more abstract to tackle.

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#9

Sounds like you’re doing all the right things - as far as personal work, I find that it depends. Personal projects obviously will never be a bad thing, as you’ll always be improving yourself somehow (a decent portfolio is a bonus).
Making art is also the best way to identify inefficiencies and annoying repetitive tasks, and thus where the tools that you make can be of most use. However it’s also very important to finish work, to have that discipline to work to a final deadline, and to manage your time around all these different areas of the project so that on that final day, you have something you can be proud of, rather than one more eternally in-progress piece. The easiest way that I’ve found to enforce this is to have a team depending on it; alone, you’re far more likely to get sucked in to either the tech or the art, and lose track of what needs to be done for the project to be realised.

In short, yes, but don’t lose perspective on what you’re getting out of it.