8 skills that are equally important as software Kung Fu
The team at Mondlicht Studio outline 8 skills that you need to develop in order to succeed in the industry beyond your software knowledge…
The majority of CG artists aim to get impeccable renders, but career development implies not only pixel-perfect artworks but also personal qualities one needs to develop to succeed in the industry. COVID-19 and global lockdown reshaped our lives and our workflow, putting some specific soft skills at the forefront.
A good eye
When you look at the development of any beginner, you’ll notice that despite the software knowledge the renders are far from perfect. Mostly, this is connected with a lack of experience and understanding of what looks beautiful and realistic. If experience inevitably comes with the amount of projects, a good eye is something one needs to develop. For that, we strongly recommend spending enough time on Behance, Artstation, and Instagram to search for beautiful solutions and inspiring projects. With time, your eye will get used to noticing mistakes and understand where and how an artwork could be enhanced. Another option is to find a studio with a very skilled art director, who may share the experience and enhance your sense of beauty.
“As an author of several CG courses I constantly see how beginners are developing their skills and I noticed a very interesting tendency. Even though many of them know the instruments pretty well, only a few can create a visually impeccable image. The hardest thing in visual art, no matter what exactly you’re specializing in, is understanding what’s beautiful and what’s not”
- Dmitriy Glazyrin
“You can be an expert in whichever software you use, but it’s even more important to have a good eye and some clear idea about how to produce an interesting image or film. It’s vital to find good inspiration from other projects and to study them, to get a better feel as to what looks good to you. It’s always a good idea to have many references that inspire you, instead of starting a project in the dark”
- Stefan Evrard
McLaren P1 GTR animation // Unreal Engine
No matter how skilled you are, if you cannot communicate well you will find it difficult to work within a team. Any project involves teamwork and communication with a client. Both could be daunting during production, especially with a difficult client and tight schedule. Communication and problem-solving skills will help you through your career journey and open many new opportunities. If you feel that communication skills are not your strong suit, you may attend different trainings and workshops for that, but the key principles are pretty simple – stay polite, responsible, open-minded, and care about the result and people around.
“Lack of communication is one of the most common problems, especially for beginners. Sometimes people are afraid to ask for additional details; sometimes they push their vision and stay blind to the real needs of the client. The key to success is to stay flexible, open-minded, client-oriented and always pay attention to the words of your colleagues”
- Arthur Nalobin
Opening titles for the “Starship Troopers” TV series - a passionate personal project created by Mondlicht team for 10 days
The first thing one has to develop is perfectionism and a desire to create the best possible artwork. However, when it comes to real commercial projects, timeline and efficiency become equally important. At first, you may find yourself in a tricky situation when you have to choose between quality and deadline, which is why it’s so important to establish an efficient workflow and work on your time-management skills.
“For many times I had to face projects when the deadline didn’t allow me to spend as much time on the project as I wanted to. In such situations, I’m trying to optimize the work speed and work on the scene from the general to the particular. This approach doesn’t allow you to concentrate too much on the details but helps to evaluate the general progress much better”
- Nikolay Okolita
“There’s a very popular quote from Dali that I like; “Have no fear of perfection, you’ll never reach it.” Most of us know that moment when you keep changing small values or details on a project you’re working on, spending more and more time, and becoming more and more frustrated and never satisfied. It’s always a good idea to keep moving and going back to details later if you have the time, and having a deadline – while sometimes stressful – is a good way to make sure you keep moving along with your project”
- Stefan Evrard
As software becomes easier, more and more studios implement different software solutions to their pipeline. At Mondlicht we use Cinema 3D, Blender, 3ds Max, Maya, Houdini, and other software depending on which program will be more efficient during a project. So, for a specialist, it’s vital to understand the fundamental principles of 3D modeling, visualization, and animation to stay flexible and be able to easily switch between different programs.
“If the only tool you have is a hammer, it is tempting to treat everything as if it were a nail. The same way, when we stick to one software, we try to solve any creative problem we encounter with just one tool. If we instead create the concept of a ‘software toolbox’ holding a palette of software, we will be able to pick the perfect tool for each job, and in the process increase both quality and efficiency”
- Daniel Vesterbaek
During the challenging pandemic times many specialists stayed alone at their homes with the necessity to organize an efficient working schedule and the right balance between family and work. Fortunately or unfortunately, remote work will stay with us forever, so the ability to plan your time and organize the workflow under a relaxed or less relaxed home atmosphere is one of the soft-skills you better develop right away.
“We are lucky to have a team with great experience in freelancing and remote work. So for the Mondlicht family it didn’t pose a challenge to work remotely – for the most part, we did so from the start. However, the lead team does take care a lot about the wellbeing of all colleagues. For us, it's the best and the only way – we work together and we’re always here for each other. To me it is a matter of the heart – and the mindset”
- David Schäfer
Range of interests
To create any new project from scratch you need a source of inspiration. The more interests you have, the more things you know, the more visual solutions you can remember, the more original ideas you’ll get.
“You can get many sources of inspiration and ideas from so many different places, also from having hobbies like photography, painting, even cooking or learning to play an instrument… It can not only teach you to be patient but also taking time away from work can “unblock” some ideas quite efficiently. It’s also useful to get interested in various mediums, even if they don’t interest you. As an example, I originally never was interested in classical paintings, but I now often enjoy learning techniques from old paintings that impress me, and give ideas for lighting and composition”
- Stefan Evrard
One of the trickiest qualities for any artist is self-criticism. On the one hand, this quality will push your boundaries with every new artwork; on the other hand, there is a chance to stick with one project for too long trying to enhance what’s already good enough.
“You only get better if you accept criticism and share your knowledge with others, so you can learn from each other”
- Basti Trescher
In the beginning, it is a temptation to spend all your time in front of the monitor creating one project after another. However, this approach may lead to burnout and a lack of motivation. It’s much easier to prevent the problem than later deal with the consequences.
“Sometimes you work more efficiently if you don't work on a project all day, but give yourself some distance and look at your work the next morning with a fresh eye and brain”
- Basti Trescher