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Senior Artist Austin Cline from ID Software

First of all, Happy New Year.

And to get back into track, nothing better than an interview with a talented Artist from one of my favourites games: DOOM.

I had the pleasure talking to Austin Cline who was kind enough to answer our questions…..so let’s begin!

Who or what inspired you to get into 3D art?

My father was an artist so I was exposed to the craft at a very early age. It was he who got me fascinated with composing forms, colors & textures together in interesting ways. growing up in the digital age paired with my love for video games  I naturally migrated those fascinations into the 3D space. I used to play DOOM and Duke Nukem as a teenager with my brothers and father and we would build/design our own custom maps. I guess I never really stopped and that passion drove me into the position I’m at today. When I go to work I still feel like that teenager making mods for video games in his dad’s study except with WAY better equipment and I’m getting paid.

What are you working on at the moment?

Currently I’m working on Doom Eternal DLC, dabbling in Adobe’s Substance Designer and trying to learn Python. 

What are the best and worst parts of your job?

Best part of my job by far is the creative collaboration and meetings with my team members. People who have come together with the same interests and passions sitting together  and coming up with the craziest, most awesome intense ideas we can fathom . Then taking those ideas, modeling them out, putting them in the engine and being able to walk around and see them come to life never gets old, it’s Hella Fun for me.
Early in my career I would have said that the worst part of the job is the technical restrictions, but Now with all the technology and software that’s out there these restrictions have become just interesting problems to be solved. I find solving those problems can give you a sense of accomplishment that’s more fulfilling now than it used to be. I remember the times when I would sit and struggle with trying to make 32 pixels and 250 polygons look like a barbarian soldier, or making a good looking forest with only 8 meg of ram to work with. with today’s tools you can literally make your imagination come to life without worrying so much about technical issues, it’s an awesome time to be a 3D artist.

How your typical workflow looks like and which tools and software do you prefer to use?

 I like to work progressively not unlike most environment artists starting with breaking down the scene into what can be “kit” pieces and what needs to be custom. I’ll model those out and drop them in the engine replacing the designers block outs. I’ll  then make materials/textures for those models, apply them, evaluate, take feedback and adjust, adjust, adjust from there. 
Adjusting, Readjusting, iterating, and tweaking is a large portion of the job as I’ll be adjusting colors, textures, ett.. till the very end of the project. When it comes to programs I think I may be close to having used all of them. like trying to catch all the Pokemon it’s become a hobby of mine. I’ve gone from using old school programs like Softimage, Corel R.A.V.E and DarkTree 2.5  to Max/Maya, Houdini and substance Designer. My favourites are MODO, Zbrush, and Substance designer, together they are a complete package for what I need to do environment work. I’m especially in love with Substance Designer right now as it has almost completely replaced Photoshop and Worldmachine in my workflow.

What key piece of advice would you offer to a 3D artist aspiring to work in the games industry?

If I could offer insight into the Game industry specifically I would say this. The game industry is smaller than you think but has more passion behind it than can be contained. Don’t let that passion get in the way of yours or others goals . I’ve worked with all kinds of glorious people that have had different passions for the craft, find the thing that sparks yours and feed it. I’ve seen people Shine Bright, burn out hard or  smolder away slowly. I’ve found there’s a difference between those that are in love with developing video games and those that simply love being a video game developer The former tend to get more attention. Tailor your portfolio, skillset, and talents to what you love and want to do, it will show. Whenever possible Absorb constructive criticism, search for and evaluate subjective feedback, and learn to know the difference between the two. I can’t stress taking into account feedback enough and iterate, iterate, iterate, refine, refine, refine. I am by no means a Sage of wisdom to glean the keys of the Game industry off of but I’ve always found the words of one of my favourite authors Neil Gaiman powerful advice, especially to artists “Life is sometimes hard. Things go wrong, in life and in love and in business and in friendship and in health and in all other ways that life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do. Make good art.”

What’s your favourite game and why?

I go through games like tissues in allergy season so my favourite tends to change month to month. At the moment I’m playing the Tony Hawk remaster, Among us with the family and I still jump into TF2 once in a while. Favourite game of all time would probably be Mario Kart, especially the latest ones track designs are so well done. I’ve also been obsessed with the Anno series, I’m probably 400+ hours into all those combined. 

Finally, what do you like to do in your spare time (if you have any)? 

Sleep! Hahaha, between work for ID software, The home remodel, My writing job , teaching guitar lessons, raising my first child, training, personal work coupled with the pandemic Ive been very busy so I try to sneak in a nap whenever I can.

I would like to thank Austin Cline for this inspiring interview as well ID Software.

More awesomeness from Austin Cline:

https://www.artstation.com/austincline

And of course ID Software:

https://www.idsoftware.com/?/age_gate

Games Art Tutor for the MA at Escape Studios. I have been teaching new creative talent for the past 10+ years, working worldwide at places including Alpha Channel and the University of Hertfordshire. I've also wrote numerous published books about Unreal Engine including; UDK Basics, Level Design and Documentation and UDK Games scenarios integration as well creating game assets for the next generation consoles such as the racing game ‘Pacer’.

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