Character artist Adam Fisher talks us through teaching Maya and working his way through small games companies to establishing himself in the videogame industry...
3dt: So to kick things off, can you tell us about how you ended up where you are today? When and why did you realize you wanted to work in a creative industry and why 3D?
I've always loved creating characters. When I was a little kid I'd spend hours sketching characters from comic books. After high school I enrolled in a graphic design course, where one of the classes was an intro to 3D. I was hooked. I spent countless hours watching tutorials and reading everything 3D related. I didn't know what area of 3D I wanted to go into, but modeling was something I really enjoyed. Around this time I found ZBrush. I was trying to teach myself and I remember the interface being really intimidating when I first started, but I pushed through it and fell in love with digital sculpting.
I took a job teaching Maya for a little while, before I landed my first industry job at a small games company as a 3D artist. I was mainly doing effects and props for a Wii game that unfortunately got cancelled and the studio eventually closed. After that I went back to teaching and in my free time I decided to start concentrating on character art as this was what I enjoyed the most. I was really inspired by all the amazing artists I'd see posting their work on the forums.
This motivated me to improve my art and start posting some of my own work to get feedback and critiques. I figured that if I put in all the hard work, good things would happen. This led me to start getting some freelance opportunities and my current position working as a 3D artist for a simulation company and freelancing for the games industry. I love creating characters and getting to work on some cool projects. I'm always trying to improve with every character I do and personal work is a great way to try new or different techniques and I think that's important in this industry.
"After working on something for a while you get used to looking at it and can miss some obvious areas that need adjustment, so it's always helpful to get a fresh set of
eyes on it"
3dt: As an established artist who is focused on continually improving your work, where do you look for advice and inspiration?
There are a few places I turn to for advice for my personal work. The first is my wife, who is very supportive, but she'll tell me if something doesn't look right. If it passes the first test, I have some artist friends and colleagues who will tell me if there's anything that could be improved or suggest ways to push myself a bit further, which is great because they understand what I'm trying to do and where I want to take a piece. After working on something for a while you get used to looking at it and can miss some obvious areas that need adjustment, so it's always helpful to get a fresh set of eyes on it.
Posting on art forums is another way I like to get feedback on my work. Some people find it intimidating to post their work on forums, but it can be a great way to get critiques and to get your name out there.
When I'm searching for inspiration, there are movies, videogames, graphic novels or my ever increasing collection of art books. However it's quite often other artists that are my biggest source of inspiration. I find it hugely inspiring and motivating to browse through sites like 3dtotal, CGHub
where I can find so much amazing 2D and 3D art.
3dt: It sounds like you've worked very hard to get where you are and have had some setbacks along the way. What advice would you offer to people having difficulty breaking into the industry?
This industry is really competitive, especially in the character art field. Anyone looking to break into the industry needs to be extremely dedicated and focused on producing quality work. They should always be looking at ways to improve their craft. It can be really easy to get discouraged, but if it's something you're willing to work hard for then the opportunities will eventually happen.
I also recommend posting your work on game art forums, which is a great approach to promoting yourself and your art. There are also a large number of members who work in the industry, so they're a good opportunity for networking.
Your portfolio is your way of showing potential clients/employers what you're capable of, so make sure it consists of work that is at a professional level of quality. If it's a portfolio of a character artist for games, then make sure it has some game resolution characters and not just ZBrush sculpts or 'work in progress' images.
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