BE A BET­TER PRO

ad­vice their to give be artists can 3D you sev­eral pro­fes­sional We ask the best for be­ing

3D World - - CONTENTS -

We ask sev­eral 3D artists for their ad­vice on how to suc­ceed as a pro­fes­sional creative, with tips on how to deal with clients, time man­age­ment and get­ting in­volved in the com­mu­nity

Ift here’ s one thing that each con­trib­u­tor to this fea­ture agrees upon, it’ s that there are some base level qual­i­ties needed to suc­ceed as any kind of dig­i­tal creative. it all boils down to pas­sion and de­ter­mi­na­tion, but there are nu­mer­ous tips and tricks that can help you build on these foun­da­tions and­be­comethebestofthebest.to as­sem­ble these words of wis­dom 3 D world spoke to free­lance creative di­rec­tor an tony ward, south­erngfx di­rec­tor glen south­ern, and self taught free­lancer rico cil­liers.

So what qual­i­ties are nec­es­sary in or­der to be­come a suc­cess­ful pro­fes­sional in this in­dus­try? Ac­cord­ing to Ward, flex­i­bil­ity with your skill set and how you ap­ply it is key. “It’s like be­ing a joiner who only fits doors,” he says. “Even­tu­ally work will dry up, whereas if you can build shelves, fit deck­ing or cre­ate be­spoke things with wood you will al­ways be busy. The same can be said for poly­gons. Don’t just be a sculp­tor when there are so many other ser­vices that you can of­fer to a client when there’s no sculpt­ing avail­able.”

For Cil­liers the devil is in the de­tails: “I rec­om­mend de­vel­op­ing an eye for de­tail and a sense of per­fec­tion­ism. You don’t want to be too nit-picky about things, but clients gen­er­ally ap­pre­ci­ate at­ten­tive­ness and an abil­ity to spot prob­lems then solve them.”

South­ern main­tains that the qual­i­ties that re­ally make a dif­fer­ence aren’t creative at all: “The abil­ity to com­mu­ni­cate, take feed­back, be a team player and fin­ish a project that isn’t the most en­joy­able are all skills that will get you hired. Be­ing a kick-ass con­cept artist is one thing, but if you can’t take di­rec­tion from your art di­rec­tor it’ll pre­vent you from be­ing an ef­fec­tive part of that team. Spend as much time craft­ing your in­ter­per­sonal skills as you do work­ing on your art skills.”

Know­ing how to deal with clients is one of the cru­cial in­gre­di­ents needed to make a per­fect pro­fes­sional. The trio have some sage ad­vice when it comes to this: “Ef­fec­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tion on the job is the most im­por­tant thing I’ve learned,” says Cil­liers. “My clients need to know ex­actly what they’ll get and how fast they’ll get it, as well as the costs in­volved. In this line of work it’s of­ten dif­fi­cult to pre­dict those things, but you need to be as clear as pos­si­ble.”

Ex­pe­ri­ence is cru­cial to ap­proach­ing your clients, as South­ern ex­plains: “The only way to get ex­pe­ri­ence in this area is to do it. Ev­ery cus­tomer is dif­fer­ent and will treat you dif­fer­ently. Who­ever the client is, they al­ways want great art at a rea­son­able price.” He also agrees with Cil­liers’ as­ser­tion that com­mu­ni­ca­tion is key: “If time is tight or some­thing has to give, that’s where the abil­ity to com­mu­ni­cate and be hon­est is ab­so­lutely es­sen­tial. Be hon­est about your skill level and ex­pe­ri­ence, be hon­est about how long the project is go­ing to take, and be hon­est to your­self about your abil­ity.”

“The abil­ity To com­mu­ni­cate and Take feed­back are skills That get you hired” Glen South­ern, di­rec­tor of South­erngfx

He con­tin­ues: “Some­thing I hear artists say all the time is: ‘say yes, then worry about how to do it later.’ That’s fine un­til you are knee-deep in a project and re­alise that it’s not go­ing to work out. Be­ing hon­est early on can pre­vent sleep­less nights or an­guish over a project.”

Ask any dig­i­tal artist, free­lance or other­wise, for the most es­sen­tial skill they’ve picked up along the way and there’s a strong chance that they’ll say time man­age­ment. Cil­liers has some very sim­ple tips where this is con­cerned. “I’ve found that us­ing an app like Google Cal­en­dar is re­ally help­ful when it comes to time man­age­ment, as it’s so easy to use. I break tasks into small chunks, then I set per­sonal dead­lines for each chunk of work. I also try to take breaks reg­u­larly to avoid burn­ing out.”

Ward keeps his days var­ied as a means of stay­ing on track, “I tend to start work at around 7:30am. Rather than jump­ing straight into work, I use the first hour or two to work on per­sonal projects, learn new skills, and catch up on emails. The rest of the day is then ded­i­cated to client work.”

He con­tin­ues: “If I’m jug­gling a cou­ple of projects, I make sure I di­vide the day and ded­i­cate an equal amount of time to each, so I don’t get too fo­cused on one and let the other slide. I also make sure to go to the gym a few times a week. If you’re sat at home all the time you will soon see your health de­cline and if you’re not well, you’re not earn­ing.”

South­ern is will­ing to ad­mit that hon­ing his time man­age­ment is an on­go­ing process, and one he hasn’t fully mas­tered yet. “I have to be care­ful to not say ‘yes’ to ev­ery­thing; tak­ing on too much leads to poor-qual­ity work and bad de­ci­sion mak­ing. Get that wrong at a high level and it can re­ally dam­age your rep­u­ta­tion. I find be­ing re­ally struc­tured with a di­ary is a great help – I put ev­ery­thing I do in mine, in­clud­ing fit­ting things around my per­sonal life.”

Any­one read­ing this very mag­a­zine will know how im­por­tant com­mu­nity is in the world of 3D

art. Main­tain­ing a pres­ence in this com­mu­nity can do won­ders for any pro­fes­sional’s ca­reer, as Ward ex­plains: “Meet­ing new peo­ple in the in­dus­try is es­sen­tial in build­ing a po­ten­tial client base, so I try to at­tend net­work­ing events like Gama-yo (Game Mak­ers of York­shire) or Ver­tex when­ever pos­si­ble. Hav­ing a healthy on­line pres­ence is great too, as it means peo­ple all around the world can see what you’re do­ing and con­tact you.”

Ac­cord­ing to South­ern, you don’t even need to leave the house to main­tain a pres­ence in the com­mu­nity. “So­cial me­dia is a bless­ing and a curse, but it’s here to stay so if you want to grow a fol­low­ing you have to ac­cept so­cial me­dia as your key de­liv­ery method. Find like-minded artists who do what you want to do and join in. Push your­self to share work and try new ideas within a safe group en­vi­ron­ment. Do com­pe­ti­tions and chal­lenges to see where things lead and get peo­ple in­ter­ested in what you do along the way.”

Cil­liers builds a com­mu­nity through col­lab­o­ra­tion with his fel­low artists. “For me it’s al­ways been ef­fec­tive to in­volve other peo­ple in my per­sonal creative projects,” he ex­plains. “Typ­i­cally I like to post ‘work in progress’ screen­shots of my art, and I ask peo­ple on­line to give feed­back. Peo­ple love con­tribut­ing ideas, and this gen­er­ally leads to a pleasant com­mu­nity in­ter­ac­tion. You also get valu­able ad­vice. It’s a win-win sit­u­a­tion. Also, get on Art­sta­tion, it’s the best place to be for any and all dig­i­tal artists.”

So you have the ba­sic qual­i­ties needed to suc­ceed, an idea of how to deal with your clients, and a de­cent foot­ing in the com­mu­nity, but how do you know what to charge for your ser­vices? “It’s re­ally

“Peo­ple love con­tribut­ing ideas, and This leads To a Pleasant com­mu­nity in­ter­ac­tion” rico Cil­liers, self-taught 3D free­lancer

quite sim­ple,” as­serts Cil­liers. “Add up all your monthly ex­penses, ac­count for the pos­si­bil­ity of un­fore­seen costs, as well as profit, then di­vide that amount by the num­ber of hours you work per month. This will give you a ba­sic hourly rate. There’s re­ally no right or wrong way to do it, as long as you’re not un­der­pric­ing your work. Don’t be afraid that your prices might be too high ei­ther. If you do good work, and your pric­ing is hon­est, you will find clients.”

To Ward pric­ing is some­thing of a mine­field. “It’s dif­fi­cult be­cause if your rates are too high peo­ple won’t hire you, but set them too low and you won’t get time to sleep. With that said, if your prices are low a client won’t have con­fi­dence in your work. I would sug­gest de­cid­ing on a day rate that you’re com­fort­able with, one which means you’re mak­ing enough money to pay the bills. With that in mind I al­ways try to work to a client’s bud­get. If the bud­get is smaller I see if the sched­ule is more flex­i­ble, so I can take longer to do the work whilst do­ing some­thing else to top up my earn­ings for the month.”

Even af­ter ev­ery­thing covered in this ar­ti­cle, there are still many fac­tors that peo­ple for­get to con­sider when set­ting out as a dig­i­tal creative. For free­lancers in par­tic­u­lar there is the con­stant pres­sure of run­ning your busi­ness and mak­ing sure that the work is com­ing in. There are how­ever con­sid­er­a­tions that ap­ply to any­one, as South­ern lays out: “You have to get used to the fact that you won’t get to work on what you want for 90 per cent of the time. You could get lucky and work on things you love, but bear in mind that’s harder for free­lancers than em­ploy­ees.”

He con­cludes: “You will get harsh crit­i­cism, cri­tique and feed­back some­times. You will pro­duce work that you may con­sider your best and it can be dropped in a heart­beat. Don’t get too emo­tion­ally at­tached to a piece of work, it’ll al­ways sting a lit­tle at first but that wears off. One thing I al­ways say about be­ing a creative is that the lows are low but the highs are higher. There’s no bet­ter feel­ing than get­ting a piece of art right and your client lov­ing it.”

This fiery im­age was cre­ated by Rico Cil­liers for some client-re­lated R&D work

Top: An im­age cre­ated by Glen South­ern while ex­per­i­ment­ing with Grav­ity Sketch

Above right: This im­age is from a se­ries of stylised stud­ies un­der­taken by Antony Ward to im­prove his tra­di­tional art skills

Antony Ward pro­duces both 2D and 3D work for a wide range of clients in­clud­ing Elec­tronic Arts, In­fo­grames, Sumo Dig­i­tal, Rag­doll Pro­duc­tions and Jel­ly­fish Pro­duc­tions

Above right: Glen South­ern urges bud­ding pro­fes­sion­als to be fru­gal with their earn­ings and not spend money on things that they don’t need

Above left: Rico Cil­liers has eight years’ ex­pe­ri­ence in sculpt­ing, char­ac­ter cre­ation, high- and low-poly mod­el­ling, and tex­tur­ing

Rico Cil­liers warns that free­lancers should be pre­pared to do a lot of ad­min work in-be­tween artis­tic en­deav­ours

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