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Vol. 2, Issue 10
February 3, 2000   Painting on Polygons:

Q&A

by Rick "Flatness" Grossenbacher

I’ve been backlogged with quite a few questions so I thought I’d devote this entire week’s column to just that. I’m not going to have the time to get any critiques in, so I’ll do those next week. So, let’s get right at those questions.

QUESTION by Phil E ([email protected]) about drawing tablets:

I was wondering what computer drawing pad do you use for making textures such in Photoshop? Is there a good brand to buy?

ANSWER:

I myself never got much into using a drawing tablet (although I had one sitting on my desk when I was working at Ion Storm), but many artists do like them and swear by them. I have always thought the ones by Wacom were quite nice. The bad news is that if you want to get a nice one like the ones we used at Ion (and the kind I see many other artists using at other companies), the Intuos 6x8 Graphics Tablet with Pen, for instance, will set you back a couple of bucks. That baby costs over $300. CompUSA’s latest price was $329.00, in fact. Ouch. So, if that is out of your price range you may want to look around and see if you can find something cheaper or simply try to find some reviews written up somewhere on the Internet that give ratings of drawing tablets.

Editor's Note: I've used a comparitively teeny 4x5 Wacom tablet for years now, and while the larger ones are certainly nicer, I still don't think they're necessarily worth the money. It takes some getting used to, but the smaller tablets (which are at least half the price - you can easily find one for under $150) work just as well, especially if you're just getting into digital art.

QUESTION by Scoll ([email protected]) about 3-D Studio MAX:

What kind of viewmode do you use for editing?

ANSWER:

Generally I am switching my viewports constantly (between Top, Front, Left, Perspective/Camera). I have a camera set up in almost every scene that I do, but I don’t necessarily use it all the time. As for inside the viewport -- I usually have it set to Smooth + Highlights and also I quite often have edged faces checked. Sometimes I go to wireframe, but not very often (it really depends on what I’m creating). Also, I quite often click the Min/Max Toggle button to extend the current viewport to large view (it’s the little button at the bottom right corner of the screen).


QUESTION by Billynose ([email protected]) about getting into the industry:

I’m currently working on a show-reel of my work, but I was wondering what type of work impresses potential employers? Should I be doing Low poly meshes...and if so how many faces...Should I include a collection of texture tiles? Or would actual full scenes be more worth while?

ANSWER:

This is a tough question to answer, actually because it depends on what kind of job you are going for. If you are going for a 3-D modeling position you will definitely want to include some low-poly work. Since technology is advancing all the time, the number of polys in a mesh that a game can handle is growing too. So, one way you might want to approach it is by doing a model with a high poly count, medium poly count and low poly count. This will show that you are versatile in all areas. As far at the actually number for a low poly count, you might want to keep it somewhere around 300-800 polys. Again, this really depends on what the model is that you are making. If you are making a model of a car, then it is significantly less than if you are making a boss character or something complex.

If you are just going for a texture artist position, then low-poly modeling might not be the skill they are looking for (although if you are good at it, I wouldn’t hesitate to show an example or two in your portfolio). A collection of textures is always good -- that’s what I did for my portfolio. But I also included 3-D rendered scenes with my textures on them too.

QUESTION by Angus "froofy" McCann ([email protected]) about color art:

For color art in games, what medium is usually used? Is it painting, digital tablet, or pencil sketch and color added after it is scanned? The reason I ask is that I have little experience with color.

ANSWER:

Really all kinds of mediums are used for color art in games. All of the above that you mentioned. I’ve seen people scan in acrylic paintings and use them for backgrounds in games. Usually though, almost every piece of art that is scanned in needs some level of clean up in Photoshop. For things like textures, the majority of it comes from working in Photoshop or Painter using the plain old mouse or drawing (digital) tablet. If it is concept art, then a lot of the time people do pencil drawings which are scanned in and color is added over top in Photoshop. They don’t necessarily add the color straight over the pencil lines but many times use the pencil lines as a separate layer that they can see at the bottom as a guide. It’s really up the artist’s own style, however.

By the way, Angus, I will be getting to your critique you sent in on the next issue of Painting on Polygons. That also goes for Orlin too. Orlin, I apologize that it has been so long since you first submitted and I haven’t posted it yet.

I want to say thank you to everyone who sent in questions. It’s nice to know that my advice has been helpful. Thanks.

- Rick "Flatness" Grossenbacher works on Gameboy Color games for Vicarious Visions.


 

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