About Me

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Leicester, United Kingdom
Studying BA (Hons) Game Art Design at De Montfort University. It continues to be challenging as much as rewarding. Primary outcomes include 2D and 3D projects and 2am coffees.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

First Year review

It's quite surprising that this first year is already done and dusted. I recall back in September that I was feeling rather unsure how this year would pan and out and I'm amazed I've managed to get through it.
When I first arrived and sat through the 'Congratulations you're in' and 'what we expect of you' presentations, I knew the tutors were being blunt and honest with us. It made me believe that I wouldn't last long in boot camp. I had come to DMU straight from Art Foundation which I enjoyed and which had been rather beneficial from the life drawing point of view. If I had skipped that year and come right after 6th form, my drawing style would have most likely slowed me down a bit, given my attention to detail.

Visual Design: I found that in the first few weeks I was spending far too much time on my thumbnails after comparing mine to others. I soon realised that the thumbnails didn’t always require such great detail, their purpose was for me to understand the composition of whatever it was I was drawing. The archway is a good example of this little issue of mine. When I saw it, I felt the need to include every stone in the final piece. In the end it turned out looking rather poor. So from this I now use my judgement to decide when it is appropriate to have excessive detail in and when to leave parts out and simplify it.

Original Final: too many bricks,  takes the focus away from the overall piece

Reworked Final: less bricks, now more focus on the archway itself

During reviews with Chris I have taken onboard the advice and comments he has given me. The one thing I thought most important was ''Play to your strengths''. Indian ink and fine liner pens are my two favourite mediums and I think also are my strengths. I love using them in my pieces and it really shows they’re my favourites when they’re finished. The end result really pleases me.  This was a relief because over the months I have felt compelled to 'get with it' with digital painting, considering seeing certain other peoples finals makes me die a little inside. Don't get me wrong, I have begun to use it more often and I'm slowly getting there. I am happy to continue using methods I am most confident with.

Digital Painting: Several student friends share this opinion. Throughout the year we have agreed that we would have liked to have had pointers or tutorials as to how to start it since it wasn’t something everyone was familiar with. I know some have had previous experience with the tablets, but I was totally new to it. I recall how during my reef character, I struggled to make progress due to my detail habits. I only did three digital finals this year, quite disappointing I know yet I am rather pleased with them as they came out as I’d intended, especially after sufficient practice.

If digital painting guidance could be made a larger part of the Visual Design schedule it would be a great addition, as it is the way forward for concept art and a vital part of portfolios. Another alternative would be to have this as a part of the Guru projects. I know that each group will have different projects set depending on what the grasshoppers ask for, yet it would be very beneficial to those who are new to digital.

As with most people, I have been a victim to stress and pressure here and there as a result of bad planning and big intervals between staring and finishing. However, it has helped motivate me and see things through to the end. On this note, it is common for rushed pieces to not look to the best of your abilities, but with my ink and pen pieces, this has not been the case so I am thankful that I'm able to produce such pieces in good time.

Game Production: However, I have managed to get the stress levels down as time has gone by, because I know what I'm doing now as opposed to when I started in September. I owe a great deal to the 3rd Year guru's whose aid was valuable, since I was a complete noob at 3DS Max when I started, I was so thankful that I was able to learn so much within a few weeks of starting. Within the 3D projects I have done well not to get carried away with the tri count and keeping to the brief, however there have been occasions where during the unwrapping I’ve had to fiddle around and decide which plane mapping is best, depending on what part exactly I’m unwrapping. Also depending on the size budget of the texture sheet, editing the components at the appropriate scale felt like quite a lengthy process.

When first introduced to Rigging I was immediately rather stumped when seeing how elaborate the process was. However, after repeating the process several times I managed to see any faults I’d introduced and found the process less painful the next time round.

In spite of all these improvements, it is still clear there are some areas that I will look for improvement from my personal point of view:

Time Management: An unfortunate trait that is shared by many students, procrastination is a part of life really, but the bottom line is I seem to do it at the crucial times. I really do start projects the day they are set, but then I have an unfortunate big gap before I pick it up again.

Resources: I need to make more use of what the uni has to offer in terms of reference and need to use facilities such as the library for background materials. Prior to getting the Autodesk software on my own PC, I was in the labs whenever I could until they closed at 5pm. Generally I wanted to figure it all out for myself so I have watched the Max tutorials provided for us, but I also need to make use of my peers and other resources rather than struggle sometimes..

Presentation: Whilst I haven’t received any crits about my final render presentations on 3D, I have changed my layouts with almost each project. For some I have shown the technical info and UV layouts, and some just showing the one render with lighting etc. Above all else I know that rendering on black backdrop is a no go!

My first year in Game Art Design has certainly lived up to my expectations and I sure know now that it is not an easy option. However, I have enjoyed it and am glad to be part of it. Despite the pressure of the more challenging work to be set ahead, I am looking forward to it.

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