Everything you need to know about getting started as a games artist!
Let’s start with this thing called game art, and explore why you’re interested in becoming a game artist in the first place.
If you’re like most of my readers and students, you’re a video games enthusiast who loves playing games, and now want to build a career in the game art industry. You want to win the game of 3D game art work, and— as important—have a fulfilling and happy life as you build your career. You strive to challenge yourself, grow, improve, and reach your fullest potential. You want to apply your artistic talents and inspiration to create video game art enjoyed by millions.
I attest that digital art is one of the most powerful mediums of our time, and worth the effort of learning. Beginner-level digital art education should be as accessible and affordable as possible to as many people as possible.
If you are reading this page, I am guessing:
My hope is that by the time you are done reading this informative page, you will know all you need to know to decide if:
So, let’s continue…
Step 1: Get To Know Me, My Story, And Why I Do This
Wherever you choose to pursue your education and community of practice, you will learn most from, and with, those you resonate with. And, you will also enjoy the long, and ongoing learning process to digital art mastery way more when you feel a personal connection and rapport with your teacher, and resonate with the passion they have for their work.
I’ve been in this game for a while now (get it?:), and am happy to share my story about where I started, what I went through, what I learned, where I am now, where I am going, and why I’m doing all this for you here in the first place. After reading it you will know if I’m the teacher, and if this is the school, for you.
Once you’ve gotten to know me a bit better…
First, subscribe to our monthly Game Arts Newsletter. Its packed with valuable content and inspiration for the aspiring and professional game artist alike. (Plus, you’ll also get early-bird access and opportunities for behind the scenes looks into the programs we are developing).
We’ll also send you our ebook on [FREE EBOOK NAME: eg. “Industry Insider Secrets On What It Actually Takes To Get Hired At A Game Studio”]. (You won’t find these tips on any potential employers’ websites or jobs boards). We will never, ever share or sell your email address, and you can unsubscribe with a quick click of a button.
There are also a few other places we hang out online other than our own website.
If you are hoping to become, or already call yourself a professional 3D artist, you will need to be on Artstation. Follow us! And see the impressive art our students are creating.
We will be active on Twitch and Stream soon.
I haven’t been able to devote much time to them yet, but plan on making this a focus of GAA’s content media strategy in 2020 and beyond. If you’re on these platforms, follow us and get notified when we do start getting active there.
We post about industry-related current events, breaking news, and links to artwork we love on our Facebook Page. We have a small community of close to 30 people there now.
We love our company LinkedIn page, and will focus most of our content publishing on the blog there and here.
While it is not gamer-focused, Pinterest still has lots of great inspiration for 3D art from 2D concept art. We have created boards for every niche within the 3D art field (environments, characters, textures, etc.), and will be adding more over time.
If you want to follow what we’re up to, but you are one of those types who only uses Instagram, you’ll also find us on there.
Twitter is still kicking so you can get to us there too.
Even though I am not able to focus on this much right now, I invite you to subscribe to Game Arts Academy on YouTube and hit the notifications bell to get dinged when I do start posting content on there. My future goal is to do a daily video blog with a motivational or educational tip that you can consume in ~5 minutes from your phone.
If you are on any of the up-and-coming social media platforms like Minds, Gab, Bitchute, Dailymotion, or Steemit, you can follow us there too.
I also try to answer every email I receive so if there’s something you’d like to share with me, good, bad or ugly – Let me know. I will answer your questions to the best of my ability. Please be patient as it’s only me handling the support email for now.
Also, in the spirit of focused effort, I plan on focusing on creating content for one social media platform and then re-purposing that content for fodder for other types of posts on other platforms. I would love to hear where you would like to see me focus our content media creation efforts. You can shoot me a quick email here with your thoughts.
“Become A Game Artist Without Breaking Your Bank”
To make a high quality, graduated, digital arts education affordable and accessible to 100,000 students over the next 10 years, and stop approx $2,500,000,000 of potential student loan debt from ever being created.
Who Game Arts Academy Is Not A Good Fit For
I had to include this disqualifier here.
After watching so many young people lose money in this industry, I feel that industry mythbusting is a moral duty of mine.
Before you adventure any deeper into a career in game art, or even into this site, I see it as my responsibility to bust some myths you might be currently enchanted by, and set realistic expectations for you.
For the right people, with the right attitude, I have a growing track record of achieving extraordinary results for students. But, there are a few early warning signs that should tell you and me that you won’t have a good experience in Game Arts Academy. And likely won’t make it as a 3D Artist, no matter where you pursue education.
We designed GAA’s base camp curriculum to help beginners to “test the waters” in the shallow end. And then to only allow the strongest swimmers to graduate to the deep end.
We don’t do this to be cruel or discriminatory, but because of care and compassion for your debt-to-asset ratio in life.
If you graduate with a pile of debt, and lacking the hard skills to land a job, you will have a high debt-asset-ratio and have to take any job you can get. Because you will have to service your student loans the moment you finish school and they become due, you will not be in a position to be picky, or even selective.
However, if you graduate from an affordable online school with the core skills and assets needed to land work, and have no student loan debt, you can focus massive time to continuing to master your craft and fill your portfolio with impressive art. If you can do this, you will have a low debt-asset ratio and will not be stuck in a position where your back is against the wall with debt.
Having no, or very little debt, can open opportunities and give you at least a little freedom to experiment and explore your options.
Having lots of expensive debt can enslave you before you even have a chance to break into the industry.
This is why we encourage you to commit to an affordable, but high-quality online education when you are starting out. If you change your mind, or if you find out you ain’t the artist you thought you were, or if some other unexpected disrupting event of life takes you out of the game for a while, you can rest assured knowing that you don’t have $15,000+ of inescapable debt to also deal with.
Many students think that because they love to play video games, that being a games artist is the right career path for them.
The truth is that if you don’t have the drive and discipline to do the heavy workload early on in your education and career pursuits, you will never make it as a professional 3D artist.
And you should not borrow a single dollar to put towards a game art education. That doesn’t mean you have no chance of making it in this industry in some other capacity, such as project management, marketing, etc.
It just means 3D game art is not your forté.
The tiered intro, advanced courses, and boot camps make sure you never find yourself over-committed to the wrong education path.
If I can’t deliver the results you expect for the tier you commit to, I would rather not take your money at all.
Some red-flags that might be a sign of a bad fit include:
If you don’t resonate with these above “ifs”, you will resonate with the education and community here at GAA.
If you do, and the above “ifs” match you to a T, please reconsider an educational and vocational path in game art.
Top Free Resources For Aspiring Game Artists
Free 3DS Max Tutorials
Because you need the base 3D skills (crawl > walk > run) before you will ever create any impressive 3D art, this is the place I recommend all aspiring beginners start. If you can nail this tutorial and love it, you will know you are on the right course. 3DS Max allows you to create 3D graphics. In games, when you see characters or environments, that was done in 3DS Max.
They offer a free trial for you to test drive the software and see how it handles / how you handle it. We also offer a fast-tracked Intro to 3D Modeling Course using 3DS Max here at GAA. You can learn more about it here.
Free Substance Painter Tutorials
If you enjoyed your experience test-driving 3DS Max, you can now dive into Substance Painter and see how you resonate with it. This software allows you to create realistic “shaders” and textures for your models. Without knowing how to do this, and do it well, you have no chance of making 3D that will get you paid.
Join Substance Academy and learn the fundamentals of this tool and its techniques of use.
Start with these 3 courses in this order:
Free Substance Designer Tutorials
If you feel energized and excited after working through the Substance Painter crash-course, that is a good first sign that you will be able to master this craft. The next step in our beginners’ crash course is learning the ropes of Substance Designer. By the time you watch and complete the exercises of these lessons, you will be well on your way to creating high-quality materials that game studios use in their games.
Free ZBrush Tutorials
Unlike 3DS Max and Substance Painter and Designer, ZBrush allows you to sculpt ultra realistic characters and props. It makes the final art look more detailed and believable. Without mastery of this tool, your art will look mediocre and always fall short of AAA-studio quality.
Pixologic offers a Getting Started Course. It will take you from having mere interest in game art, to having fundamental knowledge of Zbrush and all it takes to actually make great game art. You won’t have the skills mastered by the end of this course, but you will know exactly what it will take to be a master one day.
They offer a 45-day free trial of the software, after that you need to purchase the licenses for around $700 USD.
Once you have basic skills blooming in the development tools, you are ready to start diving into the game engines. These build the characters and the worlds we enjoy in our games.
There are a few off-the-shelf game engines that you can jump into right now and try out for free. They are not the only ones used in the industry, as some studios use their own proprietary game engines. But they perform all the same functions and will help you learn the universal ropes of game engine technology. These skills are totally transferable once you master them on one engine. These universal engines include Unity and Unreal Engine.
Don’t even start with these tutorials until you have nailed 3DS Max, Substance Designer and Painter, and ZBrush. If you skip those Development Tools, these Game Engines won’t make much sense to you.
Once you understand the fundamentals of all these Development Tools and Game Engines, you will be ready to start blazing a trail towards professional mastery and employment as a 3D artist.
And here’s where I can help you even more.
Thank You For Your Time And Attention
If you are still reading this, congratulations. You are one of the few young people whose attention-span defies the norm.
So thank you for engaging with me up to this point. I hope you feel way more aware of what lies in front of you, and are able to make an informed and empowered decision about how you want to progress.
I want you to know that, first, I am here to serve as your guide and friend as you navigate the treacherous high-seas of the game art industry.
I want to hear about your wins, your loses. I want to hear your stories and your questions. I want to understand your greatest fears and highest aspirations. And I want to know how else we can help you here at Game Arts Academy.
In everything I do here with GAA, I want to make the game art industry, and the larger world, a better place.