Here at Logic Artists we have been fortunate to bring together a number of young and talented people to make games and we feel that they deserve their own kudos for what they have done and are doing here at the studio. Over the next few months we will be publishing a series of Employee Spotlights, to showcase our team and give our readers and fans some insight into how we go about making games here at Logic Artists. We are pleased to begin this spotlight series with Søren Gravesen, our resident CG Artist.
Hi Søren, introduce yourself.
My name is Søren Gravesen and I am from a small town some 30km from Roskilde, Denmark. I took the 3½ year CG Artist Bachelor’s education at the Animation Workshop in Viborg (Denmark) and am currently working on the CG pipeline at Logic Artists. I have been at LA since june, 2012, where I started my internship at the company. When I graduated in January 2013, I was immediately hired as a fulltime CG Artist with focus on characters and props.
What is your favorite thing to work on at work?
I am by far a visual kind of CG artist so at work I prefer to work with the more ‘artistic’ part of the CG pipeline, mainly the design and modelling process, but sculpting and texturing as well.
What is your least favorite thing to work on at work?
I dread rigging the models for animation every time I reach that part of a production pipeline. My education has taught me enough rigging for me to make basic rigs but also enough for me to have a basic understanding of rigging so I am able to improve when facing a new part of the process.
How do you approach creating characters?
When creating a character, I get a character sheet from the game designer containing character descriptions and reference pictures. Then I start sketching, consulting the game designer if I need clarification on some points.
After making 20+ sketches I get comments and critique (C&C) from the game designer and art director and make 20+ new sketches from those. I keep doing this, moving on to values and colors etc until we have a final design.
Once the design is settled, I start modelling, getting the simple shapes nailed down on the character, with a decent edge flow and topology. Then I sculpt the character (if we have a normal map for him/her) and make changes to the base model accordingly. After this it’s time for C&C again. When this part has been approved I start texturing, color, specular and transparency before more C&C. When the final model has been approved, I rig it and send it off to the animator. Usually some things show up, like skinning issues or something that turns out to not work completely as intended. Then I go back in the process and fix whatever needs fixing before returning it to our animator.
Where do you go for creative and technical inspiration in between Criticisms and Critiques during your design process?
I usually go to either google or deviantart, just browsing random themes of pictures or maybe search for specific themes if needed. More than once a picture of something random or an element in a random picture (like a squirrel looking at the camera in a funny manner) can help me get ideas for my designs and work. Other times just taking a walk by myself just letting my thoughts drift, have proven to create some interesting ideas.
How do you approach making a tile set?
When making a tile set I create a scene with multiple objects, fitting a theme (metal pipes, tools, blacksmith props etc.) and then export the objects one by one for the level designers to just plug in place as they see fit.
Take us through your daily routine at the office.
A daily routine is me showing up at the office 1-1½ hour before the day starts. I enjoy my breakfast and drink my morning coffee while checking mail and working on personal projects- it’s important for me to work on other projects than the work or else I risk running out of motivation. At around 10 o’clock we have our scrum meeting and then I work the day until I’m off. I have a long way to and from work so I don’t wanna work overtime if I can help it (of course it’s a given that we do during crunch-time), which is also why I work with only very short breaks, often just going outside for 15 minutes and then back to the desk.
Working with the scrum makes the days not really make a difference in accordance to the week. Monday and friday, for example, are equals in every aspect. I take a task on the scrum board and estimate a number of days for that task to be finished and then I work on it every day until it’s done.
What do you eat and drink at work?
When at work I try to stay healthy. I always bring lunch from home, usually some dark bread with toppings and some fruit between meals. Being a coffee lover, I almost only drink coffee; sometimes milk and an occasional beer, once in awhile, after a long days work.
What kinds of digital games do you play?
I tend to favor rpg/open sandbox games with a lot of customization options (both character and gear). When playing these games, though, I usually just wander around like a tourist in the world, looking at graphics and taking pictures of inspiring visuals. I rarely have the time to play games, due to several other hobbies so I usually just watch walkthroughs on youtube where people who are better at the games than I am play the games I like.
What kinds of other games do you play?
Speaking games in general, I favor by far tabletop storytelling RPGs and Live Action RPGs. I spend an evening almost every week running a campaign with some friends of mine, which has been going for 4 years now. Once every month I also suit up for a weekend LARP in the woods with orcs and elves and stuff.
As a newly educated worker entering the games industry what were some of the things you did to get yourself hired by LA? Do you have any tips for people new to the industry?
I think that what got me a job at LA was their experience working with me; I worked with Ali and Jonas at the DADIU program on a project called ‘Broken Dimensions’ and later they hired me for some smaller concept art tasks. When I started my internship I had already contact with Ali and it got me a job straight off the bat at LA. My tip for new people in the industry is; don’t be picky if you can’t find a job. Don’t be afraid to move to different locations or work with a style that is not your prefered style. If you want a job in a specific company make something that relates to them- show them that you can do what they do. Also, for a lot of smaller companies time is of the essence; create awesome assets in a short time and show them. Last, have an updated showreel; Don’t tell people you’re a great artist- show them.
Show what you’re proud of not just everything you have- your worst piece of art will always drag you down.
What are your future plans/dreams?
My future plans and dreams so far is to stay at LA and see them grow bigger, becoming the head of the danish computer games industry. I would love some day to work for Bethesda softworks but I’m in no hurry at the moment.