I have decided to look at my previous work to help me narrow down my area of study. I’ve looked at each discipline in terms of my own experience, its employability rate and whether or not I enjoy it. Employability is incredibly important to me, but I want to enjoy my year and the subsequent job that (I hope!!) comes from it.
Experience – Done quite a few environment projects in the past. I have experience working in realistic and stylised styles. I know a fair bit about this dicipline, but still have a lot to learn, such as cubemaps, modular texturing and hard surface modelling.
Employability – There are a lot of environment art jobs, but also a lot of environment artists. Most of the CA students that got jobs straight out of uni this year did environment focused projects. Advice on Polycount suggests that environment is a good way to go but that props and weapons should be learned if going down this route.
Enjoyability – I really enjoy environment art but worry that because it lacks the technical/problem solving aspect that I enjoy that I might get bored doing a purely environment project.
Link to some information about employability rates – http://www.polycount.com/forum/showthread.php?t=45470
Experience – I did the technical art applications module and made simple modular rigs for Seek, my Dare to be Digital game, but I still have a lot to learn. I would need to look into games pipelines more as well as general rigging practices. There were quite a few issues with the seek rigs. I would also need to learn a lot more about Python and start from scratch with MEL.
Employability – Seems very in demand. There are not many tech artists compared to jobs. If I was to go down this route I’d be the only person in my year doing this. I was told that every Abertay tech artist has managed to get a job. Salary is better than other art roles.
Enjoyability – Tech art seems to be either really enjoyable or really frustrating. I like the problem solving aspect and there’s a lot to learn which is good, but hitting a brick wall can be awful. This is especially true when it comes to working with others. I might need to learn animation for this, which I’m not really interested in.
Some info about what tech artists do – http://tech-artists.org/forum/showthread.php?41-Technical-Artist-job-description-at-your-company
Experience – I created effects in maya for scripting and dynamics and did fx for seek in unreal. I still have a lot to learn in this area. I would need to learn about the fx pipeline and optimisation. I would need to learn more about unreal’s cascade, as well as maya particles and other programs. There is potential to expand into other areas of simulation such as Ncloth.
Employability – Not many fx artists compared to number of jobs but not as much jobs as tech art. Can’t find a great deal of information on empolyability but it appears that big studios only have a couple of fx artists so it may not be a role in smaller ones. It seems to be an emerging role, with fx playing a larger part in current gen gaming, due to better hardware.
Enjoyability – I really enjoy learning new things and vfx seems to have that. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the fx work I did for seek and am really keen to continue working on it.
So, the overall consensus is that tech art is going to get me a job, fx is the most fun, and environment art is the safe inbetween. There’s always the possibility of combing the disciplines, but I would need to make sure that I don’t spread myself too thin.