INTERVIEW WITH LEAD 3D ENVIRONMENT ARTIST JACOB WAGGONER
Could you tell us a bit more about yourself; what’s your background?
I am a 3D Environment Artist who went to school for 3D Design. I’ve been modding games and creating art since I was a kid, and am extremely excited to help shape the look of Cold Comfort!
Who or what inspired you to get into digital art? What inspires you today?
I have been playing games since I was a kid, and I always knew that I wanted to contribute to them in some way. Naughty Dog has always been a huge inspiration for creating believable 3D worlds that can tell a story, so I’ve always tried to channel that.
What software and tools do you use for your work, and why?
Most of my work is done in the Substance Suite and in 3DS Max. The Substance Suite has been a really incredible tool that has made realistic texturing much more accessible for artists, and it continues to really push what is possible with our modern PBR workflows.
Which of your designs are you most proud of and why?
I participated in the Beyond Human Artstation challenge last year, and I learned a ton through that! I got to do some artwork inspired by some of my favorite artists, and I got a chance to really learn Substance Designer.
Is there a specific type of 3D art that you enjoy doing the most? (ie. characters, environments, etc.)
My favorite piece of the 3D puzzle is environment art, as I love being able to create believable spaces that can tell a story while still allowing the players to have an enjoyable experience. The Cold Comfort universe is a great playground to be able to mess around in, and it is very exciting to get the chance to help in shaping it!
Could you describe your general creative workflow for us?
When I go to create a new environment, I try to keep it as collaborative as possible. I always try to gather a ton of reference material so that both project leads and artists are on the same page for the design. Cohesion is incredibly important, so open communication between all levels of the production is particularly important
What do you think is essential in becoming a 3D Artist? What are you continually trying to improve?
Improving in 3D is all about being open to criticism and about practice. There are definitely certain programs and skills that you can master quickly, but the design process is something that every designer is trying to improve on all the time. Keeping passion in a project is also incredibly important, as your work suffers when you lose focus.
Who are your heroes in this industry and why?
Most of the people that I look up to are really pushing what is possible in realtime art. Rogelio Olguin, Mak Malovic, and plenty of others are really pushing Substance Designer and putting out some amazing results.
What do like about working at Gamma Minus and what would you like to see in the future?
My favorite thing about Gamma Minus is the mix of people from all over the world and the chance to communicate with all of those people. There are some incredibly talented people on this team, and we’re all constantly learning from each other and trying to make the project as good as it can be!
Could you share any bits of advice for aspiring artists or practicing artists looking to get into the field of 3d Art?
Follow your favorite artists online and find out what they’re working on. Most people are pretty willing to show their work in progress shots, and you can learn a ton by just dissecting the work of other artists. Also, practice every day if you can! A sketchbook or a portable drawing tablet will help immensely in keeping you from getting too rusty.
What’s the one thing you think is least known about working as a 3D artist for games?
I don’t think that most people realize the amount of time that even simple assets take. When you’re having a great time with your friends in an online game, it’s very easy to forget that everything from the guns to the trash cans was handmade!
Other than games, where do you go for inspiration?
Movies have had a huge impact on the visuals that I find appealing, and films like The Road, Mad Max, and Logan have played a huge role in the kinds of worlds that I like to build.
What are your favorite games?
What a hard question to answer! The Last of Us is probably still my favorite of all time, though Majora’s Mask, Bioshock Infinite, Forza Horizon, Halo Reach, Crash Bandicoot, Donkey Kong Country, and the Wipeout games are some of my favorites to go back to!