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Old 31-05-2010, 07:33 AM   #1
XK0be
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Questions about getting into the industry, college, freelancing, please help.

Hi I would like some guidance... I am 17 and have been accepted to a Uni, I believe I'm going to major in whatever they have closest to game art... I'm looking to work as a character artist but anyways here are the questions I have pertaining to that. At the end I'll state what I am leaning for with what I know right now, and hopefully after some replies I can make a more educated decision with my family.

- Is it actually gonna help me find work? Will having a general education, a bachelors or going the whole 5 years for a masters going to help me A) get a higher salary from the start, B) get into the industry quicker? Or will it just make it harder on me to spend the time necessary to build up a portfolio worth showing? I know the whole having an education and being a smart guy thing is appealing, but is it gonna really help me accomplish my dream of working on games?

- Should I go to something like the gnomon schools? It's a lot of money but maybe a quick course gives benefits such as allowing easier access to working for a game company, or perhaps a structured work regime could help me get better so much faster. I don't know.

- I don't know if I want to freelance or work at a game studio. Money is always a factor, but there is another factor that may or may not be well received here.. I do not want to work on bad games. Do I have a choice in that if I am at a game studio? I'm not expecting to work at valve or something but I don't know if I could pour my soul into a creation knowing that it will be some horrible movie game that I wouldn't be able to play through. If I freelance I get the bonus of being at my house but the negative of no social interaction, but that way I am not connected to the game or the movie or whatever I am making something for, so I lose out on the chance of being a part of a great team for a great game.

I think that's all the questions I have but I might add on later.. Right now what I'm looking at is working as hard as ever to get a portfolio done asap, freelance all next summer and then look for a studio job if thats what I want to do. I don't know if I want to risk everything like that, I have nothing to fall back on if I am unable of getting a job, I want nothing more than to be a 3d artist but my 2 projects so far have gone really slow. And if I do go to Uni, for however long, chances are I won't be able to maintain a 3d practice schedule as long as I want too, and maybe something new comes along that revolutionizes the workflow to build games and I don't have enough time to catch on to it because I am at college. And hell, why is this coming up so late you ask? I mean I already am accepted to uni.. well its because I never really understood how close it was until just today. feels like yesterday I was trying to learn this stuff and stay afloat, now I gotta talk about getting a job and making decisions that will change everything. I gladly accept the challenge but well, I hope someone helps me lol.

Thanks for reading I'll post this on a couple forums so I can get the broadest set of answers.
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Old 31-05-2010, 10:51 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by XK0be View Post
Hi I would like some guidance... I am 17 and have been accepted to a Uni, I believe I'm going to major in whatever they have closest to game art... I'm looking to work as a character artist but anyways here are the questions I have pertaining to that. At the end I'll state what I am leaning for with what I know right now, and hopefully after some replies I can make a more educated decision with my family.

- Is it actually gonna help me find work? Will having a general education, a bachelors or going the whole 5 years for a masters going to help me A) get a higher salary from the start, B) get into the industry quicker? Or will it just make it harder on me to spend the time necessary to build up a portfolio worth showing? I know the whole having an education and being a smart guy thing is appealing, but is it gonna really help me accomplish my dream of working on games?

- Should I go to something like the gnomon schools? It's a lot of money but maybe a quick course gives benefits such as allowing easier access to working for a game company, or perhaps a structured work regime could help me get better so much faster. I don't know.

- I don't know if I want to freelance or work at a game studio. Money is always a factor, but there is another factor that may or may not be well received here.. I do not want to work on bad games. Do I have a choice in that if I am at a game studio? I'm not expecting to work at valve or something but I don't know if I could pour my soul into a creation knowing that it will be some horrible movie game that I wouldn't be able to play through. If I freelance I get the bonus of being at my house but the negative of no social interaction, but that way I am not connected to the game or the movie or whatever I am making something for, so I lose out on the chance of being a part of a great team for a great game.

I think that's all the questions I have but I might add on later.. Right now what I'm looking at is working as hard as ever to get a portfolio done asap, freelance all next summer and then look for a studio job if thats what I want to do. I don't know if I want to risk everything like that, I have nothing to fall back on if I am unable of getting a job, I want nothing more than to be a 3d artist but my 2 projects so far have gone really slow. And if I do go to Uni, for however long, chances are I won't be able to maintain a 3d practice schedule as long as I want too, and maybe something new comes along that revolutionizes the workflow to build games and I don't have enough time to catch on to it because I am at college. And hell, why is this coming up so late you ask? I mean I already am accepted to uni.. well its because I never really understood how close it was until just today. feels like yesterday I was trying to learn this stuff and stay afloat, now I gotta talk about getting a job and making decisions that will change everything. I gladly accept the challenge but well, I hope someone helps me lol.

Thanks for reading I'll post this on a couple forums so I can get the broadest set of answers.
Hi Xk0be,

Well I will try and give my perspective of things for your consideration, which by no means should be taken as the absolute truths on the matter.

First I will start by saying that I'm 34, have studied 3D Animation in Greece (yes we have 3D in Greece, only it's about 3.000.000 years in the past) and I am working as a Graphic Designer for web sites (the lameness that I feel is unimaginable). Anyway, here's my 2 euro-cents...

Going to a University is a good thing. I take it that you are considering the US or Canada (since you mentioned Gnomon) and I approve. I was considering the Academy of Arts in San Fransisco a few years back. The University will help you hone your skills and teach you things that would otherwise take you years to figure out, since learning on your own can only take you so far. Even more so, all Universities have a constant co-operation with some major companies of the field, so if you work hard, your teachers will notice and promote you for your last semester internship (not too shabby considering that all major names in game industry take interns for some projects, who get hired afterwards if they deliver).

I would strongly suggest to start working in a studio. Like the University, the job environment has a lot of things to teach you before you start working on your own. There are tips and tricks that your older and more experienced co-workers will show you and make no mistake, working even for a lousy game, will give you enormous pleasure when you see it finished. Personally I don't like working at home, as my home is an asylum of sorts. Have tried it and didn't like it one bit. My home is the place to relax, watch movies with my gf and friends and generally have a good time. My job stays outside the front door.

As an added advice I have to say that, like all things, 3D Animation needs a level of devotion from your part. You have to sacrifice things in order to become one of the best, so first and foremost you must ask yourself, "How much am I ready to sacrifice for this?". The answer will show you how far you will progress in your chosen profession.

Hope I helped
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Old 31-05-2010, 11:39 PM   #3
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Hi Xk0be,

Well I will try and give my perspective of things for your consideration, which by no means should be taken as the absolute truths on the matter.

First I will start by saying that I'm 34, have studied 3D Animation in Greece (yes we have 3D in Greece, only it's about 3.000.000 years in the past) and I am working as a Graphic Designer for web sites (the lameness that I feel is unimaginable). Anyway, here's my 2 euro-cents...

Going to a University is a good thing. I take it that you are considering the US or Canada (since you mentioned Gnomon) and I approve. I was considering the Academy of Arts in San Fransisco a few years back. The University will help you hone your skills and teach you things that would otherwise take you years to figure out, since learning on your own can only take you so far. Even more so, all Universities have a constant co-operation with some major companies of the field, so if you work hard, your teachers will notice and promote you for your last semester internship (not too shabby considering that all major names in game industry take interns for some projects, who get hired afterwards if they deliver).

I would strongly suggest to start working in a studio. Like the University, the job environment has a lot of things to teach you before you start working on your own. There are tips and tricks that your older and more experienced co-workers will show you and make no mistake, working even for a lousy game, will give you enormous pleasure when you see it finished. Personally I don't like working at home, as my home is an asylum of sorts. Have tried it and didn't like it one bit. My home is the place to relax, watch movies with my gf and friends and generally have a good time. My job stays outside the front door.

As an added advice I have to say that, like all things, 3D Animation needs a level of devotion from your part. You have to sacrifice things in order to become one of the best, so first and foremost you must ask yourself, "How much am I ready to sacrifice for this?". The answer will show you how far you will progress in your chosen profession.

Hope I helped
I wish you luck and remember (check signature) :P
Thank you for the help.

I forgot to post my recent work in this thread, so here it is.




wip:



Devotion is not a problem, I've been doing this stuff since I was 12 or 13. I have been teaching myself via tutorials and plan on continuing to do so. I did some research and it seems like studios all want to see a BA, but I don't know if I should go and do that at my uni potentially risking not having enough time to get better at the pace I want to, versus the risk of spending time to get as good as I can and my portfolio amazing but then not getting hired because there's a bad time in the economy or something and being stuck doing nothing, and then not even being able to get a decent job till it smooths over because I only finished HS. I don't want to work any other job besides 3d for even a second though, I dunno.

I get that you can't really make the decision for me, but it would help if it seemed as if I am good enough to get a job in the near future or whatever. Do I have the basic stuff down? Maybe if I do I can just put some time in until the end of summer, see where I am and then depending on where I actually am I can Look for a job, go to a gnomon school course or try and join a mod team for like TF2 or something.
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Old 01-06-2010, 02:09 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by XK0be View Post

- Is [Going to a University] actually gonna help me find work? Will having a general education, a bachelors or going the whole 5 years for a masters going to help me A) get a higher salary from the start, B) get into the industry quicker? Or will it just make it harder on me to spend the time necessary to build up a portfolio worth showing? I know the whole having an education and being a smart guy thing is appealing, but is it gonna really help me accomplish my dream of working on games?
Degrees are secondary to a portfolio, but having one will help if they are deciding between two people to hire. Also keep in mind every year more and more grads enter the industry so having one is starting to hold more weight.You may have to deal with a lot of GE requirements depending on where you go, but hopefully you'll have plenty of opportunity to focus on your craft. It's always good to surround yourself and work with other artists, and college is a great opportunity to do that.

Also expect to be working for peanuts at the beginning. There is a lot of mobility to move up, but you have to pay your dues first.

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Originally Posted by XK0be View Post
- Should I go to something like the gnomon schools? It's a lot of money but maybe a quick course gives benefits such as allowing easier access to working for a game company, or perhaps a structured work regime could help me get better so much faster. I don't know.
You don't have to go to a specialty school like Gnomon, VFS, Full Sail etc, but your chances of having good teachers and good local competition go up. And of course connections and with that opportunity. Trade schools are usually a little more fast-tracked so you'll jump into things quicker, but that may be at the cost of a number of traditional art and art history classes. Your call, you could always try to get the best of both worlds by transferring to a trade school, but that means more money and time.

Of course if you don't dedicated your personal time outside of class to getting better and researching, don't expect to go anywhere no matter what school you go to.

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Originally Posted by XK0be View Post
- I don't know if I want to freelance or work at a game studio. Money is always a factor, but there is another factor that may or may not be well received here.. I do not want to work on bad games. Do I have a choice in that if I am at a game studio? I'm not expecting to work at valve or something but I don't know if I could pour my soul into a creation knowing that it will be some horrible movie game that I wouldn't be able to play through.
If you start loving the process more than what you are required to produce, you'll never have to work on something you hate in your life. Your personal projects are your time to work on what you are dying to do.


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If I freelance I get the bonus of being at my house but the negative of no social interaction, but that way I am not connected to the game or the movie or whatever I am making something for, so I lose out on the chance of being a part of a great team for a great game.
If you freelance it's usually because you lack experience resident artists have. Of course there are exceptions, but get the idea that you'll be working from home out of your head. Most places require freelancers to work at the studio.

Last edited by Crispy4004; 01-06-2010 at 02:12 AM..
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Old 01-06-2010, 07:55 AM   #5
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...Lol, when I was 12-13 I didn't even have a PC, let alone do 3D with one!

From what I see you won't have a problem, 3D-wise. But the University, as Crispy4004 stated, will teach you far more than Modeling/Rigging/Shading. You must also learn about the history of Art (especially the various artistic inclinations of each era, what will happen if someone asks you to create a baroque-style dress, for example...), motion and human anatomy, stage direction, traditional arts (painting, free-hand drawing, etc.) and stuff like that which are complementary yet essential for a complete working knowledge.
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Old 01-06-2010, 09:54 AM   #6
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Crispy I appreciate the post it made it going to college make a lot more sense to me. And yeah I don't think I want to freelance if I can't work from my house all day, was just a fantasy dream I guess aha I don't even know what made me think that could happen.

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...Lol, when I was 12-13 I didn't even have a PC, let alone do 3D with one!

From what I see you won't have a problem, 3D-wise. But the University, as Crispy4004 stated, will teach you far more than Modeling/Rigging/Shading. You must also learn about the history of Art (especially the various artistic inclinations of each era, what will happen if someone asks you to create a baroque-style dress, for example...), motion and human anatomy, stage direction, traditional arts (painting, free-hand drawing, etc.) and stuff like that which are complementary yet essential for a complete working knowledge.
Yeah I'm pretty lucky.

I talked with my fam and for more or less the reasons you have stated here, I decided that I will go to the Uni for a BA. For future people who may find this thread having the same questions I did, I'll list the reasons besides the great ones in your post why I chose that route.

- chance to be cool with people that share my goals, I never met anyone in my life that actually looks at me and knows what I'm talking about when I start talking about 3d.

- learn skills like you said that i just wouldnt

- keep 4 years of my childhood. Well alright my childhood is over but either way I don't think im ready for a real job, i dont even know how to drive yet simply because learning how would mean that I grew up way faster than I wanted too. time flew by damn

Anyways I do hope to join a mod or indie team in the near future and start honing my skills there, but going to Uni definitely seems like the route for me. Thanks to everyone who replied!

Last edited by XK0be; 01-06-2010 at 09:56 AM..
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Old 01-06-2010, 12:26 PM   #7
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I do not want to work on bad games. Do I have a choice in that if I am at a game studio? I'm not expecting to work at valve or something but I don't know if I could pour my soul into a creation knowing that it will be some horrible movie game that I wouldn't be able to play through.
This is the wrong attitude to have. If you want to be a professional, you have to act like a professional. That means completing the task assigned to you no matter what.
Also, as Crispy4004 stated, you must love the process, not the result. 90% of games and movies are garbage, so don't expect most of the stuff you work on to be any good. I worked on a bmx game that got awful reviews, but it was a blast to make because I spent all day studying bmx footage and animating cool tricks.
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Old 01-06-2010, 01:42 PM   #8
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The University will help you hone your skills and teach you things that would otherwise take you years to figure out, since learning on your own can only take you so far.
Completely disagree with this.

The majority of 3D Uni's are ****ing awful with tutors teaching outdated basic techniques. I do have experience and going to Uni was the biggest waste of time and money in my life. I don't know a single person that say their Uni/College was good and they would recommend it. Generally hear the same comments of "I learnt more watching this tutorial than I have from 2 years of Uni" for a reason.

The only reasons I would have for going to Uni would be motivation - Being in a studio of students all working it's kind of hard not to get on with work and keep busy doing work whereas at home it's a lot easier to get distracted and self motivation can be hard at times. Although at Uni you're usually forced to do projects that you don't particularly want to do and thus end up trying to do personal work as well as Uni work and can get a bit messy. If you have good self discipline and motivation then I don't see much use in Uni as you probably won't learn much/anything compared to the plethora of tutorials available online, which would save you a whole bunch of cash. And generally studios couldn't give a crap about degrees, they want talent not a piece of paper and that is shown by a showreel/portfolio.

Only other things would probably be getting experience working in a team and possible industry connections, although my uni introduced no one and gave us no help even though we were supposed to get a work placement.

It's good that you actually know what you want to focus on already, characters, so get studying anatomy and hone your skills in SubD, Sculpting, Low poly, Baking and Texturing.

Seemed to be a few +1's for Uni so thought I'd chuck in my opinion, do with what you will.
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Old 01-06-2010, 03:36 PM   #9
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My college education was definitely worth it, but for other reasons.
I learned alot of things not related to my field....like philosophy and science. Also, I didn't take any computer art classes....I took only traditional art classes.

However, if you are only interested in preparing for a career, colleges are not worth it.
I worked with a brilliant artist who never even graduated highschool. And actual experience is far more valuable than absolutely anything.
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Old 01-06-2010, 04:52 PM   #10
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i agree with Linc, i spent a lot of my time at Uni and unfortunatelly without a proper system where you could fail an exam as many times as the professor saw fit - i was doing up to 25 times in 4 exams - and i wasn't taking a pi-ss at them, i actually new it all - but the system made it easy for them to be personal and go whatever they liked.

I have now a firm technological grasp of graphic design (the uni i attended) but the only software we ever opened and learned was Pagemaker - and only because it was the only **** that the assistant knew how to teach.

Uni taught me how to be patient, now not to loose my nerves and other LIFE values - unfortunatelly it didn't teach me what i wanted and that was graphic design; ough and yea i did attent the college that should have tought me just that.

BUT this is just my example, my life, no connections to abroad colleges/uni's which i hear really positive things about. Unfortunatelly i guess the knowledge gathering is soley on me now since moving to gnomon to study with missus and a kid is not an option.

I changed 3 part time jobs since i wanted to be a freelance, and now i'm permanently employed whilst still doing freelance work - NO ONE ever asked me about my degree and certifications that i have - everybody sat me near a PC/MAC and waited for results in record time.

at least this is my point of view
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Old 01-06-2010, 10:48 PM   #11
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I've definitely heard plenty of horror stories of 3D tech schools having sub-par or outdated programs. Not all are bad but you really have to be careful. Look at their reel, if they don't have one up for display request a tour. Game related school curriculums are in particular notorious for being behind the times. After all, by the time you graduate the next generation of hardware is out and what you've been taught is now likely 2 generations behind.

In my opinion it's better to go some place with a strong art foundation that allows you some degree freedom to explore at the upper division level. By the nature of how broad this industry is, it's pretty rare that you'll get a teacher that can teach you exactly what you want to do.
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Old 17-06-2010, 06:59 AM   #12
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Well after further assessment, I actually decided to not spend 4 years at a University and go to some 3d college like Gnomon.. But I don't think I can go to Gnomon because it's a bit too far away, parents can't drive me through traffic every day. I don't know of any schools near me with a 3d program besides Devry no idea if it's good.. I want to try and get into the industry as soon as I can, I figure there can't be a ton of 17 year olds in my area better than me (even though I'm not near good enough yet..) but its weird I see some people with a badass job at like Bioware who's portfolio consists of 4 objects but then I see someone without a job who is a total beast and has like 10 amazing characters.

Cost isn't really a problem because I have financial aid already, so I'd just have to transfer it and that's not a problem I think. Just wish there was a school close to me..

Don't know what I can do, has anyone in LA gone to a good school in the Valley? Can I get a job in a few months without going to a school? I have to go to a school because my parents aren't cool with me just chilling and working on my folio, I either need to be at a Uni for 4 years and build my folio in the meantime or be at a 3d school, make connections and build my folio in 1-2 years.. Obviously I want the 2nd option, but I don't see any schools next to me..
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Old 17-06-2010, 10:45 PM   #13
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So do u guys think I can potentially start looking for an internship while taking a few gnomon classes to hone some skills as well as buy time to finish my Rorschach and another model or am I not close?
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Old 18-06-2010, 04:23 AM   #14
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Never hurts to try but don't count on landing an internship so soon. It's not easy, took me at least two years of trying before I was able to get the one I have now, and even then it sort of fell into my lap. There are two big mistakes you can make:

1. Thinking an internship will be available when convent for you.
2. Assuming your portfolio, considering you are a student, is good enough to get their attention.

What many studios are looking for in an intern is not necessarily someone who has future potential. It's great you are doing so well at your age level, but your potential doesn't carry over to saving them money now. They want people who are already creating work at a near professional level but lack Industry experience.

Your car model is a strong point, but it may be difficult to get into games with that. Of course, if you decided to composite it into some live action footage with pass breakdowns, that is great way to get the attention of a VFX studio.

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Old 22-06-2010, 03:02 AM   #15
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Okay so still haven't made a decision, it's down to Devry (really really close to my house, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't have exactly what I want.. But its a uni and my mom likes it more simply for that fact) and Gnomon. I really wanna go to Gnomon but my parents don't get it, they don't know if the instructors there are just guys that worked on games or are they actual good teachers. They don't know if it's generally just a good place to be at with nice people and so on. Also I like the 2 yr course but I don't know, it says I need a folio, do u think my work so far is good enough to get accepted? I asked these questions in an email like almost a week ago but they aren't responding.. Maybe you guys can help!
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