I believe that a great artist is a person who knows how to inspire and motivate others. My whole purpose of this post is not just for me to achieve my personal achievements, but also help others to reach there goals and purpose in life. In this blog post, I'm going to share with you everything that I have learned. Tips, learning method, philosophy, and finally my story of how I became a 3D artist.
I will begin with some tips for new artists who are struggling at the beginning of their journey.
TIPS TO GET YOUR ARTWORK NOTICED
You want to succeed in this industry? First thing to learn: SELL YOURSELF. Many artists are so afraid of putting their art online. You are so wrong if you think only good artists can share their work. No matter is is good or bad, WIP (Work In Progress) or finished. Just share it with the community. Tell people what you are working on, share your progress with them, and ask for critique and criticism if needed. Knowing that someone is waiting to see your results can help maintain your motivation. Just make sure you do not put everything in your portfolio, but only your best work.
- Artstation is the best platform for artists to showcase their work and engage with the community.
- 3DTotal It is very valuable if you can get your work on 3DTotal because they only pick the best work to add to their galleries.
- Facebook: Follow your favorite artists, share your work on your page and art groups such as:
- Twitter same idea as Facebook
- Pinterest is like "Google" for artists. It is one of my favorite place for collecting references.
- Linkedin is a platform for professionals, and recruiters use Linkedin a lot. It is a good idea to post your work here.
- Zerply is like a Linkedin for artists. I actually like it more than Linkedin because it allows us to display our work in a more creative way.
- DeviantArt is probably the oldest and largest online art gallery and community, but not the best. There are some really good artists and resources on there but the community is not really professional because it has lots of different kind of people on it.
- Polycount is the best forums for game artists. The community is super nice and helpful. You could find a lot of helpful resources on their wiki page.
- Zbrushcentral is a really good place for Zbrush users. However, I really dislike their forums because it is too difficult to use. I don't often post my stuff there.
- CGSociety seems more about VFX and Pre-rendering. I don't use it too much.
- CG Plus is an alternative for Artstation.
- 3DArtist posting your work here to have a chance to get your work featured on 3D Artist Magazine.
- Behance mostly for Graphic Design and Illustration, I don't use it but I heard it's okay.
- Sketchfab the best place and the only place to share and embed interactive 3D files.
TIPS TO STAY MOTIVATED
Personal motivation is the key to accomplish your goals. Without it, you won't get anything done. Here are some tips that have helped me to stay motivated over time.
This is the number one killer of motivation. If you want to achieve your goals, you have to eliminate procrastination from your life. The biggest goal of being an artist is to be better everyday, and the only way to get better is practice. You need to study and train to level up your skills. Please don't say something like "I have a full-time job, I'm so busy, I don't have time for other stuff" or "This is so hard, I'm not good enough, I can't do this".
I have a full-time job and I can still spend 3-5 hours for personal projects after work. If you really want to do something, you will find a way. If you don't, you will find an excuse.
NEVER GIVE UP AND NEVER BE SATISFIED
Nobody was ever born with an ability to make good art. Everybody sucked at first then got better with practice. Everybody has to start somewhere. I was so disappointed with my first sculpt that I thought of quitting the school, and changing the industry. However, when I think about it, I found that being dissatisfied with my work was a good thing. Because I will always have a feeling that I want to get better, and it is my drive to improvement. Never be satisfied with your work because it will limit your possibilities to grow and innovate more, even if you are at a level that others consider good.
Do not give up if your work disappoint you at the beginning. It's normal and everyone has to go through this phase. Remember the 10,000-hour rule, you need to practice 10,000 hours to master a skill. It would be more dangerous if you don't see any flaws in your work because that would prevent you from growing.
LEARN THE INDUSTRY
The industry is changing so fast everyday. In the next few years, it is going to bring huge changes in technology and advances in game art as well. In order to adapt to these changes, we need to keep learning, improving and pushing ourselves to the limit. Connect and follow your favorite studios and artists on Facebook, Twitter, and Artstation to update the latest news. Here are my heroes:
- My favorite Character Artists: Yosuke Ishikawa, Seungmin Kim, Baolong Zhang, Rafael Grassetti, Rafael Souza, Frank Tzeng, Hossein Diba, Kurt Papstein, Frederic Daoust
- My Favorite Concept Artists: Wei Wang, Bayard Wu, Artgerm, Puppeteer Lee, Ignacio Fernández Ríos, Marc Brunet, Ross Tran, Jason Nguyen, ZeronisPK
PODCASTS / INTERVIEWS / ART BOOKS / ART GALLERIES / MAGAZINE
Read, watch, and listen to others' success stories is a good way to get inspired and stay motivated. I use Artstation and Pinterest everyday, in the morning before I start working, in lunch time, and before going to bed. Ash Thorp is hosting a podcast that brings weekly episodes of discussions with industry professionals from around the world. I highly recommend you should check it out: The Collective Podcast. Listening to success stories and looking at other people's art make you realize that you can't be satisfied with what you are right now, and you have to practice more and more.
There are two major magazines for 3D Artists. They are 3D Artist and 3D World. There are a lot of tutorials, interviews, industry latest news, and free resources in these magazines. I also created a playlist "Motivation" on Youtube, which contains all the inspiring videos of my favorite games and studios. Feel free to add more videos to the playlist.
Collecting art books if you can. Parka Blogs is an amazing blog about art book reviews and art products. You could find all kind of art book reviews here from East to West, Film to Games, Manga to Comic. I love this blog so much, I highly recommend it to anyone who love collecting Art books like me. Here is my collection so far!
THE POWER OF BELIEVING
If "self-doubt" is a virus that kills an artist silently, then "self-affirmation" will be a vaccine for it. Do you ever feel like giving up when looking at other people's art and there's a voice in your head constantly saying "you can't do this" or "you are not good enough"? There's enough people out there want to bring you down, telling you "can't do", why do you want to tell yourself that?
There's a psychological technique called "Auto-suggestion" which helps people can concentrate upon a given desire where it becomes a healthy obsession. At first, this technique sounds silly, but when this practice is mastered, you would be impressed how it works for your success.
If you want to accomplish big goals, learn how to believe in yourself first. Get rid of all the negative thoughts. Create your own self-affirmation, and tell yourself that you are good enough, and you can do it! You are what you think you are. Believe in your dreams, and they will believe in you!
*Although you should tell yourself that you are good but it doesn't mean you can disrespect others. If you want people to respect you, then you have to respect them first. This technique was developed to build self-confidence, not arrogance.
Dream big, plan small, and track your progress. While you dream big, it is important to have small goals first. For example, your dream is to create your own game IP. You would start with a goal of becoming an artist first. Next year, your goal is to get a job in the game industry. Then ensure you track your progress regularly to see how you are progressing. If you are doing well, make sure to celebrate each milestone along the way. This will help keep you stay motivated and working hard.
You might want to know how I applied these tips and techniques to my own life. Here is my story, I want to get my story out there to hopefully motivate others as well as motivate myself!
MY JOURNEY OF BECOMING A 3D ARTIST
I was born and grew up in Vietnam, most kids don't end up being an artist when they grew up because most Asian parents don't encourage their children in arts. Children are forced to do what the society has told them to do. It is stereotype, and my case was no exception. I never really had a chance to get into Arts until I moved to Canada to study abroad at Simon Fraser University. When I was in my second year, I took an elective class called "Introduction to Graphic Design" in which I was taught about Art History, Art Movements, Typography, and how to use Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign for the first time. While I was in this class, I became fascinated with Arts, and it was the first time I actually enjoyed studying. I could spend hours working on the computer, completely immersed in my assignments.
I'm more interested in game and film industry and I could see that college is just a waste of time and money. It is not going to provide the resources necessary for me to become successful in the competitive world of 3D Design. Therefore, I decided to quit college and proceed on my dream!
After researching numerous local art schools in Vancouver, I fell in love with the program at a post-secondary school named Think Tank Training Centre which located in North Vancouver. It is an one year program that specializes in the latest software and technologies to cater to the needs of the current film and gaming industry. When I visited the school for the first time, I already knew that it was the school that I was looking for. TTTC is a very small school compared to other art schools, but I could tell you it's one of the best art schools out there. When you are reviewing a school, do not just looking at how famous or how big the school is. Look at their student work, asking their alumni and talking to the owners if possible. Choose an art school that made by real artists, not business men. Because they care about your success more than your money. You can tell the owners of Think Tank are artists by looking at the school decor. Scott Thompson and Joseph Bullock are the two owners who designed and built the facility from the ground up.
MY ONE YEAR AT THINK TANK TRAINING CENTRE
I had a very tough time at the beginning. I went to the school with no prior experience in 3D, and things were even harder when English isn't my native language. I couldn't understand the lectures most of the time. I had no idea what is shading, materials, sub-D, UVs, linear/non-linear workflow, etc. Therefore, I had to spend a lot of time to study on my own. In the first semester, I tried to learn everything: modeling, texturing, rendering, compositing, 2D/3D animation, life drawing. The whole point was to learn the basics and how to use all the applications.
In the second semester, I skipped 90% of the classes because I already knew exactly what I wanted to be. I only attended the classes that related to character creation. I spent at least 14 hours a day at home, to study on my own by watching tutorials and practicing sculpting. The advantage of this method is that my sculpting skill was improved a lot by practicing everyday but I missed the opportunity to meet new people in the school. Networking is important for career path but I think my actual art skill is still the most important at that time. This is just my own way of learning, I don't think it is suitable for everyone so I don't recommend it. Here are some Zbrush sculpts that I made in free time.
In the third semester, I started my mentorship with Pierre Bourgeot, the lead character artist at United Front Games. I think the best thing about Think Tank is their mentorship program. In your final term you have a chance to work directly with an industry veteran who will help you to get your demo reel where it needs to be. My mentor came to check my process every week and I wanted to impress him, I never wanted to disappoint him. I had to work like 18 hours a day, no kidding at all. When I was doing my first character "Space Worker", I didn't know how to use Maya because I was taught Softimage. Then later, I had to switch to Maya because Autodesk decided to discontinue Softimage.
Advice for new students: Don't expect your mentor always to be an expert in everything, or do homework for you. Be prepared to learn on your own, to be directed, and learn to accept criticism and suggestions for improvements. However, your mentor is not always right. If you disagree with something, say it. A good mentor will listen to your opinion, help you think through possible solutions, and giving you their experienced perspective in the process. For example, when we were discussing about the concepts for my second and third characters. Pierre told me to avoid doing female characters and characters with fur. He was not wrong, female characters and fur are extremely difficult to make them look good. Especially female characters, I have done a lot of female characters so far but I still haven't really satisfied with any of them yet. I'm kind of a person who is passionate in pushing myself to achieve my goals, I don't mind learning new skills and dedicating time to improve my abilities. Therefore, I told my mentor that I want to do them and he listened to me. Later those characters won me a worldwide competition.
WINNING THE ROOKIES 2016
When I was still a student at Think Tank, I planned to enter a competition upon graduation, so I did some research and found The Rookies (also known as CG Student Awards). The Rookies is an annual event which showcases and rewards excellence in CG. It's the most prestigious and well known competition for students and recent graduates. Wanting to enter a highly competitive industry, I knew that bagging a Rookies award would add a lot of weight to my profile. The competition really motivated me to create better work, and overall it was a great experience.
I thought carefully about the work I used for my entry to The Rookies, choosing artwork that showed a board range of technical and creative skills, as well as demonstrating an understanding of the industry. All of my characters in the entry were based on 2D concepts or fan art. I chose to work from concepts because I wanted to show I have the ability to recreate other people's ideas in 3D, that is the nature of this job.
Hard work pays off! Nearly 2,000 entries by students from 479 schools worldwide such as Gnomon, Savannah College, Think Tank, Media Design School, VFS, AI, Full Sail, etc. I was selected as the winner of The Rookies 2016 in Next-Gen Gaming Category by an official Judging Panel. It was the greatest reward I've ever been given! I would like to thank to everyone who supported me. A special thank to Alwyn Hunt and Andrew McDonald for creating a platform for young artists to launch their careers, and connect with other passionate artists from around the world.
After graduation, the next mission is landing my first job in the industry. For my first job, I don't want to take a position just for money. My first job can really influence my career path. I wanted to get a job in an Indie or a Start-up company to expand my skill set. Whatever I'm getting into, I really want to do the best I can.
I got a job at an indie game studio in Vancouver, Akimbo Creations. We have a small team so each person is taking on more than one role. For example, the programmers also help out with sound and music or I have to handle the marketing and promotion side of things when the Art Director was on vacation. Indie is a perfect place to get valuable knowledge on different areas of game development.
Advice for new graduates: It may be hard to get your first job. Have patience, learn your industry and learn your craft. Build a strong foundation. Learn from people around you, no matter they are good or bad. There is always something that you can learn from others. When you are involved in a team, all the knowledge there is really valuable.
That's it! I hope my story will motivate someone who is considering to pursue their dreams. If you think this post is helpful, feel free to share it with anyone you think may be interested.
- Surface Mimic
- 3D Total Textures
- Environment Texture
- Substance Share
- Substance Database
- Parka Blogs (Art book and Art Product Reviews)
- The Collective Podcast (Podcasts and Art books)
- Polycount Wiki (everything about game art)
- 3D Artist / 3D World (Magazines)
- GDC Vault (All the game industry insights, data, and trends)
- Anatomy Next (all about human anatomy)
- Badking (Free Zbrush Development & Resources)
- Zbrushguides (Pablo is a Zbrush genius!)
- Unreal Engine Stream (all about Unreal Engine)
- FZD School (Painting demos and knowledge about the industry)
- IAMAG (a wide range of art related content)
- Photobash.org (High-res photo packs)
- Zbrushtuts (tutorials, interviews, news, etc)
- 80.lv (good source of valuable information about game industry)
- Inspiring Videos