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Interview with environment artist, Richard Piper

By 3dtotal staff

Web: http://www.richardpipespiper.com (will open in new window)

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Date Added: 15th July 2014

Richard Piper unveils the tools and training behind his emerging freelance career as a 3D environment and texture artist...



Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you, what do you do, and where are you located?

Richard Piper Hello, my name is Richard Piper, also known as Pipes, and I am a Senior Texture / Environment Artist within the gaming industry, located in the sunny UK. I am currently in a freelance capacity but with views to moving back into the studio environment, as I do miss the camaraderie of a team atmosphere and sharing and developing techniques with fellow artists.

I have worked with three studios, one of which is TT Fusion which is part of TT Games, creating the ever-entertaining Lego Games, including Lego City: Undercover, Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars and Lego Legends of Chima Laval's Journey. I have recently contributed to work on the upcoming web-based title The Time Tribe which is currently in Beta and will also be available on iPad.

The Viaduct Pub, part of the Abandoned Cinema Scene
©2014 Richard Piper

Tell us the story behind your artwork: What brought you into the digital art world and what software do
you use?

RP: I decided in 2006 to have a complete career change and went back to University to study design and media. I knew I wanted to pursue a career in the creative arts but I wasn't sure where my role would reside in the various disciplines. I started using Photoshop for day-to-day photo editing and I followed a 20 hour tutorial by Deke McClelland for lynda.com and became instantly intrigued by digital art and what could be achieved. I had always experimented with traditional mediums but I was really intrigued by the creation of digital artwork.

The software I currently use is rather limited as I prefer to keep things simple. I use Maya for modeling, ZBrush for sculpting and high poly to low poly map creation, Photoshop for compositing, xNormal and Knald for baking and I am currently exploring Substance Designer and Painter for procedural map generation within my workflow.

Interior of the Viaduct Pub, concept art created in Photoshop
©2014 Richard Piper

How did you learn to work with 3D software â€" what's your educational background and what are your tools of choice, and why?

I enrolled at my local college and began a night course in digital media which in turn led me to a full four-year degree at the Art University of Bournemouth in the UK, where I was awarded a First Class BA(Hons) in Digital Media specializing in 3D art.

I was introduced to Maya in my 2nd year and this is when I knew that my passion was in 3D environment art. I was especially drawn to the texturing aspect, incorporating what I had learned using Photoshop previously. I had a great introduction to using Maya from a lecturer called Saul Sheard whose enthusiasm inspired me to push my modeling further and I began to explore the high poly sculpting ZBrush could offer.

An Abandoned Cinema Scene, made in CryEngine 3
©2014 Richard Piper

RP: The final year of my degree was perfect timing for the release of UDK and I began to create a small environment for my final major project. This introduced me to level design and the technical aspects of creating a basic, functional game map. I spent many hours researching and watching as many tutorials as I possibly could to expand my skills and to explore the techniques the top industry professionals utilize.

The nature of the creative industry is one of a continuous learning curve, sharing techniques and pushing the visuals further to add that ever increasing ‘wow’ factor. I now share my techniques and contribute to the 3D community via professional tutorials released through sites such as Eat3D.com and more recently Art for Games, as I feel it is important to share what I have learnt and to relay my technical knowledge to a wider audience. I also have various development videos on my YouTube channel. Knowledge is power!

This is a piano prop for the Viaduct Pub interior. This is a physically-based render
©2014 Richard Piper

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Readers Comments (Newest on Top)
(ID: 287235, pid: 0) Wdcstudios on Wed, 16 July 2014 3:12pm
Great interview, very inspirational as I'm going through a career change myself.
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