by Katya Koroleva IVM
In August I started doing an online CG painting course in SkillsUp school. SkillsUp is a St Petersburg - based computer graphics school, which has both offline and online lessons. I decided to take on this course because one of my long-term goals is working as a computer game concept artist, which requires CG skills. I know photoshop pretty well, but I don't do much of painting in it, up until now I've always been more of a traditional media artist, but I have a graphic tablet. The aim was mainly getting used to drawing on the tablet and learning some tips and tricks of painting in Photoshop.
This was my first online art course ever. I've never done this before, but I have read reviews of this course from others. They warned: stock up on instant noodles and microwave dinners as you will not have time to do anything else. OK, I thought, this advice is for working people, who would do assignments after their main job. I was free-ish is August and the beginning of September, so I thought it wouldn't be as harsh for me. But it was still quite tough, as life got in the way. Friends and relatives needed attention, internships needed to be applied for. In the end I did have some extra hours in a week compared to my working groupmates, but with moving to London it was more complicated. Here I had to sort out my new accommodation, the situation with the internet was not clear, as I moved into a new house occupied by new tenants. And the LCC library was still on Summer schedule closing at 6. And now there was a time difference of 2 hours earlier. So, when the Russians came home from work at 7pm, it was still 5 pm in London, so it was kind of tricky logistically to attend the feedback sessions which were in a live online session. I had to do this in a Pret a couple of times, which made it hard communicating through a microphone.
In week one we studied lighting and how to paint lighting on simple objects such as spheres and cubes. Then we hopped to creating textures, still in black and white. The main point was to use appropriate reference photos, and to copy the textures as best as you can. The sum-up of these couple of weeks was to paint a black and white still-life from simple objects (sphere, cylinder and cube), and assign textures to each of them: stone, metal, wood.
Next, we continued with colour theory and learned how to paint textures in colour. First, we copied some after the teacher, and then we had to invent our own textures. It could be a series, it even could be a mini-prop for a game, but it had to be close to a cube in form. I picked the aquatic topic. This was the week I had to move from Moscow to London, so I had to sketch on the plane.
I ended up finishing only two cubes out of four : a cuboid parrot fish and a slice of water, which I later turned into stickers.
In week 8 we started working on our final piece - a prop for a character, namely a chest or a bag, something they put things in. Of course, it all starts from writing down all the characteristics, race and occupation of the character that you're designing for, because the prop should show who it belongs to. I decided to make a trunk for an elf-biologist in a steampunk setting.
We had to gather lots of reference pictures, make many iterations of the silhouette, try out different colour schemes, for which you also had to find references. And finally, after two weeks of polishing every speck of texture and lighting on your thing, you had a whole game prop ready for your portfolio. Legend has it, pro-artists can paint a prop in a day, well, we’ll see how it goes in the future…
The 12 week Photoshop painting course in SkillsUp ended on the last day of October. It was a stormy time for me, battling procrastination and spending sleepless nights doing homeworks before the deadline. I could have been better organised, but this is the person that I am. It was comparatively better than any study tasks I ever done, because I am highly motivated to learn CG and get a job in the games industry, so I tried my best, but you don't turn from an avid procrastinator into a time management wiz overnight, so it went how it went. I managed to do the bare minimum to pass the course, but I would like to work more on the assignments, to complete the extra homework and to have a fuller portfolio.