Adam Fautley - A day in the life of a 3D Artist at XR Games
Adam Fautley is part of XR Games' 3D Art team, joining in 2021 after following his graduation from the University of Huddersfield. Speaking to Andy Driver (Talent Acquisition Manager) he takes the time to reflect on his journey into the games industry, reveals what a typical day looks like and takes the time to pass on some key advice for those looking to do the same!
Tell us about your journey into the games industry and how you got the job at XR Games.
A passion for games whilst at school led me to studying a Games Design course at Wakefield College. This got me introduced to a bunch of mediums including 3D modelling, asset texturing and working in video game engines. Spending time getting to grips with the industry standard software through college & some intro tutorials was a great starting point (I’ve ended up using most of these daily so it's paid off!). The 3D side of things were definitely my favourite haha!
After that I moved over to Huddersfield to study for a degree in games at their University. This is where the bulk of my journey sits as they provided lots of support and resources to grow as an artist. I had the opportunity to take a placement year where I worked as a 3D Artist with some friends at our small start-up company on a couple of really cool projects. Never underestimate just how many skills you can learn from working on smaller projects!
This all led to me graduating and starting to hunt for jobs! I must have racked up over 100 applications (Keeping a spreadsheet of each one proved a blessing and a curse haha!) until I landed a job with the awesome people here at XR Games as a Junior 3D Artist. It’s coming up to a year of being here yet I still can’t really believe that I help make games for a living…
So what is life really like working as a Junior 3D Artist at XR Games?
First up, there’s a whole host of different specialisations that can be explored as a 3D Artist. I’ve gone down the environment & prop art route but just a few others include characters, vehicles or VFX. There’s so many so be sure to do your research!
When it comes to what I do day-to-day, there’s a general workflow that I’ll follow but each day’s always different from the last. I’ll use an example from my portfolio as a brief guide in asset creation (Everything's under NDA lock & key that I’m working on at XR sadly!).
So before getting stuck into any task, gathering reference is always first. Stressing this as it’s engraved in my brain from being told it so many times at University haha! Even if you have a concept art piece, you’ll never know 100% what something looks like in real life so gathering useful references is key. I’d 100% recommend using a program called PureRef combined with a bunch of real-world imagery depending on the task.
Got your reference? It’s time to get stuck into the good stuff… 3D Modelling! This part is where you start to build your asset in 3D space out of basic primitive shapes. It’s focussing on getting the model as close to the reference as you can from the larger silhouette right down to the finer details. Most of those complex game assets from popular games these days will have started out as simple cubes or spheres. Think you could say it’s my favourite part…
There’s a whole lot that goes into this stage including unwrapping the model to prepare for texturing and creating high / low poly versions to bake down additional high frequency details to save on performance.
After the model is ready, it’ll be in serious need of some colour. This is where texturing comes into the pipeline. Creating textures for a current video game usually requires having to meet its specific art style which is always fun to learn new tricks! It’s also a good idea to consider your textures during the modelling phase so you can plan out your UV’s effectively.
My workflow at this stage usually consists of building a texture set up from a base colour / material and layering details on top such as dirt, grime, rust etc. Lots and lots of feedback too of course! Taking advantage of some useful techniques such as Trim Sheets, Tileable Materials is great but never knock the good old unique texture method for some awesome detail.
A bunch of software can be used at this phase but some industry standards include the Adobe Substance suite (Painter & Designer) alongside Photoshop.
So you’ve made your model and it’s got some nice n’ shiny textures applied, you’ll be wanting to get it all together looking sweet, right? Well a video game engine or other rendering tools are your best bet! Popular engines such as Unreal or Unity are great (And FREE!) tools that you can grab right this second to experiment with. Alternatively, Marmoset Toolbag is an awesome piece of kit that gives great rendering results in no time at all.
One last thing, did I forget to mention references? Gather them!!
Do you have any advice for aspiring artists wanting to work in the games industry?
There’s so much advice that can be given and it’ll be unique from person to person but something that’ll be pretty consistent is that ArtStation is KING! If you’re looking to delve into art as a career, then ArtStation should be your first and only choice of showcasing your work. It can be super overwhelming to scroll down the home page and see all these incredible artists and their work (Don’t worry I’ve been there, and still am!), but everyone starts somewhere and it’s all about building your skills gradually over time.
Not only that, but ArtStation is huge for its vault of tutorials and access to everchanging competitions that give set briefs (Quite similar to an industry brief) in each specialty. Combine these with other tutorials from sites like Flipped Normals & YouTube, the access to industry standard knowledge and techniques is so easily accessible!
To finish up, I’d have to say that games is one of the most incredible industries to be involved in and working at XR Games so far has been a dream come true! Speaking from the art-side of things, it’s a super competitive industry that does require you to stand out from the crowd.
The main thing I can say about this is don’t get disheartened when getting to the application stages. If the passion is there and you’re determined to keep working on your portfolio, you’ve got this!
If working for XR Games sounds like its for you then check out our careers page to find all of our open roles.