news • 1 June 2023
Q&A with Creative Assembly Technical Artists
Lasse Rasmussen (Principal Technical Animator), Morag Taylor (Principal Technical Artist) and Simon Payne (Lead Technical Animator) from Creative Assembly discuss the growing industry demand for technical skills, why they wanted to work with us on the design of our new Creative Technology degrees, and their advice to get into the industry.
Why is there a need for these technical courses? What gap does it fill in the industry?
There is an undeniable need for these technical courses because they fill a critical gap in the industry. As technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace, companies are on the constant lookout for highly skilled professionals who can keep up with these advancements. These courses provide students with the technical know-how and practical experience necessary to excel in their careers, making them highly sought-after candidates in fields like Technical Art, Game Design, and Character Creation. The industry is booming, and the demand for talented individuals is skyrocketing – these courses are the gateway to a successful and fulfilling career!
In the Video Games industry, we are constantly lacking in the positions of Technical Art, including Technical Animation. Tech Art/Animation is a highly specialist area with a broad skills requirement that few are passionate enough to have acquired but is vital to every game. They are highly sought after, valuable artists, and generally well paid and secure across the industry. It takes many months to find candidates. Technical Artists are precious.
To make this a little clearer, Technical Artists are Computer Graphics artists with a vested interest in coding/scripting, tools and pipe. We are the people who handle the technical bottlenecks as well as creating beautiful content and supporting others. The positions cover a lot, including procedural modelling/texturing, automated optimisation, character rigging, procedural animation, physics, muscle and cloth simulation, animation tools, asset management and content pipeline from digital content creation to engine, supporting modellers, environment artists, effects artists, animators and the list goes on. Character-specific Technical Artists are best referred to as Technical Animators but are often just under the Tech Art umbrella.
Technical Art has historically been a career that people have found themselves in from other areas. It's a really interesting mix of art and maths, and it attracts people from both spheres. But this also means that there has been a varying level of standards across the teams.
Now, Tech Art teams are much larger, with their pipelines and codebases needing to be robust and clear – buildable for many years and by many people. This course teaches the proper fundamentals and good coding standards, as well as the good all-round knowledge and experience in all areas of the pipeline, which is fantastic for the industry - having people come in with these skills ready to hit the ground running is very encouraging.
As someone who always loved art but really enjoyed maths too, it’s great to see this space opening up, where you are not either “art” or “technical” but a little bit of both!
Why did you want to be involved in the design of the courses with Escape Studios?
Being involved in the design of the courses with Escape Studios is an honor and a fantastic opportunity. It is a chance to shape the future of the industry by helping to create a curriculum that is both cutting-edge and highly relevant to the skills employers are looking for. Collaborating with a renowned institution like Escape Studios is an exciting way to contribute to the development of the next generation of talented professionals who will shape the future of our industry!
It is very hard at an undergraduate level to see how you will acquire skills, when you do not yet know what skills you need or which you will find yourself the most passionate about. It is also very hard to recruit for an industry that is super strong in both creativity and tech. This is the best way to support each generation of new artists and developers. I hope that direct involvement with companies like Creative Assembly, and industry professionals gives students peace of mind, more faith in their journey, and empowers their educators to give them the very best possible shot at success.
What would your advice be for future students looking to get into Technical Art / Games Design / Character Creation?
For future students looking to break into tech art, game design, or character creation, my advice is to be persistent, passionate, and proactive. Develop relevant interests and skills by exploring various aspects of the industry, experimenting with different tools and software, and always striving to learn more. Don't be afraid to take risks and push the boundaries of your creativity – it's often the most innovative and original ideas that make a lasting impression.
In my own experience, approaching art from a technical point of view has been key to success. By seeing artistic goals as problems to be solved, I’ve been able to explore creativity from an angle I didn’t initially think possible – learning technical skills brought about this way of thinking, and I highly encourage others who wish to bridge the realms of tech and creativity to explore the same. The games and film industries are vibrant, ever-evolving spaces with endless opportunities for growth and success – now is the time to seize those opportunities and make your mark!
My best advice for students would be to indulge in your strongest passions. Getting great at the thing you love most first, is your best way to open doors.
In any chosen part of Tech Art, Games Design, Character Creation, it is all about finesse. Nothing is ever finished, only ever abandoned. It is up to you to decide when to abandon. But if you look at your work, and ask yourself, if it were from someone else, would you be impressed? If the answer is no, you still have more work to do. If it wouldn’t impress you, it won’t likely impress anyone else. This doesn’t mean you can’t do it, or you're not good enough. Recognising it, means you are absolutely good enough. It is super important to be critical of your own work.
Mostly however, don’t give up. Hundreds of thousands of people all around the world do this work, and you would be wrong if you assumed every single one of them is better at it than yourself. There are opportunities in abundance, and it’s a great industry, with a really great standard of living, that welcomes and embraces everyone from every walk of life.
Really take time to understand all areas of the pipeline, and which ones resonate with you the most. Maths is fun and amazing when you can use it to manipulate art – embrace it wholeheartedly!