Interview with Game Artist Academy

The newly rebranded Game Artist Academy chat to 3dtotal about what students can expect on its Game Character Creation courses...

The newly rebranded Game Artist Academy chat to 3dtotal about what students can expect on its Game Character Creation courses...

The Game Artist Academy has been providing courses for students looking to get into the videogame industry since January 2013, and has recently rebranded to open up its doors to a larger variety of courses and students. So, insert Artist in place of Character and you get Game Artist Academy, allowing for much greater scope in terms of course content. Read on to find out how they plan to develop the minds and skills of tomorrow's game artists...

3dtotal: You have changed your name from Game Character Academy to Game Artist Academy. What inspired the rebranding?

Game Artist Academy: We want to do more than character art. Rebranding to Game Artist Academy will allow us to really expand our horizons in terms of the variety of courses we offer. The inspiration is our focus, which is centered on the artist and their individual skill.

We are also proud to welcome Partick Murphy to the GAA family! Pat is an Art Director at Sony Santa Monica, creators of the God of War franchise. Previously he was the Lead Character Artist on the franchise and was responsible for creating and leading the team that created some of the most memorable creatures and characters in videogame history.

We are still dedicated to adding quality skills to the industry!

3dt: What can students look forward to in the character course curriculum?
GAA: The curriculum is completely built with production in mind. Everything we're teaching is based on the idea of "How is this going to turn our students into kick-ass character artists that companies will hire?" The real breakthrough and reward for us is actually seeing how far our current students have come in such a short time. There is a week-by-week breakdown on the website of the curriculum, but I think if people really want to get a sense of what the course is about, they should take a look at our student gallery. It says a lot more than my words could say!

3dt: When does the new semester start?

GAA: We are looking at an October start.

GAA: To find out more about the student experience at GAA, we asked one of the students to give us some insight:

Student: Juan Puerta

3dt: When did you discover your interest in character art?

Juan Puerta: I'd say my interest in characters has been there since I was a kid. I have always loved comics, miniatures and movies. I remember constantly trying to draw the characters in them, but it did not seem like something you could do professionally in the future. At 13 I was drawing some stuff and my Dad came to me and asked me if I wanted to be a comic artist when I grew up. I answered, No Dad, this is just a hobby. He felt so relieved man, and so I said, I just want to be an NBA player! Ha!

When I grew up I ended up doing CG and became very passionate about characters again. I started working in a small company making small films, and I got to model characters and props but at that time it was all poly-modeling. I liked it a lot; it gave me a lot of freedom to create anything I wanted!

Later on, ZBrush and sculpting came into play and that was so different from poly-modeling that I got kind of scared because I just knew I did not have the knowledge nor skill to work in that artistic way. However, I started learning and loved it so much, I just knew that this was what I wanted to do with my life.

3dt: How would you describe your skill level?

JP: I'd say I still have so much to develop and learn that my skill level is just starting out.

3dt: What has been your most noticeable improvement in your skillset since joining GAA?

JP: I'd say it's more like a whole package of improvement that is noticeable. Starting out with the anatomy lessons, it's just amazing how it changes the way you sculpt, knowing what you are sculpting and why. Before starting out I just tried to mimic what I saw but did not understand what I was trying to sculpt. Understanding what you are doing, what bones are in there, why is this hole in here, it just changes the way you envision your sculpt and the way you approach it.

JP: Since I've started the program I've been sculpting almost every day, getting critiques on my sculpts, learning new things constantly I think that the most important thing for me is doing the weekly homework and getting the critiques they push me forward. It lets me know where I'm lacking and how to fix it. I become more and more confident in all areas of my art.

Before GAA, I was terrified of just jumping into a sculpt I did not know where to start. But now thanks to the confidence from constantly sculpting stuff it's so much easier to start because I know that I can do it (nevertheless there's always a bit of terror when starting out!) Now I know where to begin, I know what is important in a concept and what is not. I know how to look for proportions, or to see the planes in a sculpt, understand the silhouette, and that is just amazing for me because I had never thought about all this stuff before.

3dt: What projects have you been involved in since joining GAA?

JP: Well this has been really exciting! Since I started out in the school I decided to create some threads in forums in order to post everything I do in school there. This is pretty cool since I get critiques from other people outside the school and encouragement to keep up the work. Recently, thanks to some of the stuff in the thread, I got hired to make a mobile game character for a company called Arup Games! I was also contacted by a miniature company called Scale75 that hired me to make a really cool miniature from a TV show. They were really happy with the job, so now I'm working on three more minis for them. This is a really awesome professional experience, because these guys are miniature sculptors, painters and concept artists. Working for these guys and seeing that they like my work is
just incredible!

3dt: What is your favorite part about school life at GAA?

JP: I'd say that the really cool thing is that we are students from all around the world, in many different environments and situations, and yet it all feels so familiar inside the school. We've got this Facebook wall where we can post anything and get comments and feedback from everyone, so it just creates a pretty cool atmosphere. For example, if I find something cool over the internet I can quickly share it with all my friends in the school.

The live sessions are really fun, it's like getting together with a bunch of friends; I have never in my live experienced anything like this in any other class that I've taken! And man I'm in Spain which means our live session for me is at 6am, so being able to have a lot of fun at that time in the morning it's just something else!

3dt: Any advice you might have for someone thinking about joining GAA?

JP: If this is what you really love doing, this is the place. Game Artist Academy is not about being taught a method or a workflow to make a game character. We are taught how to become game character professionals, and that's what I feel makes this school different. You can probably learn and understand how a game character is made relatively fast, but getting to be a real character artist is a whole different thing, and this is what we are doing here!

Related links

Interested in enrolling? Head over to the Game Artist Academy site for info
Find Game Artist Academy on Facebook
Check out more student's work on Instagram
You may also be interested in 3dtotal's Unreal Game Engine book

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