Thursday, 7 October 2010


You know what’s hard? Starting things is hard. Continuing things? That only requires momentum to be sustained. Ending things? Easiest of all, it usually requires doing nothing whatsoever. But starting things - like a blog? That requires things - like a title.

An introduction is in order. I’m Mike Pickton, a first-year Game Art student at De Montfort University in Leicester. I made the decision a couple of years ago to abandon my Economics and Management university course and attempt entry into the games industry - something which I have a genuine passion for. I haven’t looked back!

Working in Quality Assurance for Codemasters allowed me to see that I really wanted to visualise ideas and worlds into something tangible. For years I have modded and created my own games in my spare time. Retraining myself on an art foundation, and joining a three year course in Games Art, I hope to improve my self-taught skills to industry standard.

I would love to work as an environment artist initially, and move on to lead artist or producer. While my interest lies in the fantasy and science fiction genres, I enjoy the technical challenges of photorealistic production values and would be thrilled to work on any triple-A title for PC or consoles.

I have recently been very active in a team of modders looking to reproduce the roleplaying classic Baldur’s Gate 2 using the Dragon Age toolset; our first release is imminent. As part of this community, I also co-host a fortnightly podcast, record modding video tutorials and organise regular sponsored modding contests.

I’m crossing my fingers that I’ll be able to convert my work on Dragon Age into a summer placement at Bioware, and have an open dialogue with a couple of the developers there. I will be applying for a 3 month placement as an environment artist, hoping to demonstrate the desirable skills they list for this position:
  • An ability to think in 3D
  • Drawings/sketches that display basic skills as well as any modelling and texture work related to objects, buildings, natural terrain, etc.
  • Excellent sense of form, weight (mass), and volume
  • Good use of light and shadow- Breadth of artistic styles
  • An understanding of optimization
  • Excellent sense of scale and level of finish

While I can currently demonstrate most of these abilities to some extent, building a professional portfolio in my first couple of weeks will be challenging. Fortunately, by the time I come to apply for a fulltime job, I plan to have developed many of my weaker areas. I intend to focus strongly on improving upon my breadth of artistic styles and sense of form, weight and volume as well as continually pushing myself outside of my comfort zone to become a better games artist. 

Outside of games, I regularly play tennis and volleyball. While I really enjoy watching films of most genres, I struggle to find time to watch everything I’d like to! I love to travel, and have toured Southern Africa and Europe by road. I hope to travel to South-East Asia one summer, finances allowing!

I have been looking forward to this course for 18 months now, and am extremely excited to be here. I anticipate thoroughly enjoying my time and hope to really excel in a subject that I am so passionate about! 

Starting this course? Easiest decision I have ever made. Continuing it? I have never wanted anything to be more difficult. Ending the course? I only hope I can!

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