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Prop Artist Lewis Thompson from Cloud Imperium

We are back with another talk. This time we have Lewis Thompson from Cloud Imperium, with some great tips on getting into the industry.

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

Since I was young I’ve played video games, I am a big fan of interactive storytelling and the social aspect of gaming.
When I was younger I didn’t have much confidence and video games helped me find common ground in which to share with others.
Being such a huge part of my life I was inspired to create things that could make people feel the same emotions I did as a kid, and maybe help someone else overcome their problems.

What are you working on at the moment?

Apart from working on Star Citizen and Squadron 42 at work, at home, I am currently working on some attachments for an MK18 Rifle I’ve had on the back burner since last year.
My goal this year is to continue to improve on my texturing and to work on my design skills. I’d also love to set some time aside to learn Blender, I’ve heard from many that it is a pretty cool bit of kit.

What are the best and worst parts of your job?

The best part of my job is being able to create for a living, I get paid to create a universe and that is something very special indeed.
Creating for the Star Citizen community is a blessing and feels meaningful, especially with the love they show for the teams.
My role at CIG is a lot more diverse than it was when I worked at Ubisoft so I get to have much more of an impact and have the opportunity to learn some new skills.
I think the only thing I don’t like about the job at the moment is having to work from home. I haven’t yet met my team in person due to the ongoing pandemic. I miss studio life.

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

At home, I like to use a ZBrush dynamesh workflow. I begin by creating a mid poly version of my asset in 3DS Max and then take it into Zbrush to create the high poly.
Zbrush is excellent for creating lovely transitions and smooth edges on boolean objects and other complex geometry.
After this, I optimize the mid poly to low poly and unwrap. Then into Marmoset Toolbag 3 for baking and presentation. Marmosets baker has some awesome features such as skew painting and bakes pretty fast overall in my experience.

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

Be self-critical. Don’t lie to yourself. I see way too many students that can’t work their way past their own ego. You are your own worst enemy, put in the time and you’ll achieve your goals, and always be as humble as possible.
Don’t burn bridges, I’ve encountered lots of people who will enter a chat full of industry members and start slating other artists work. This is a small industry and word travels fast. Be kind, be humble and strive to improve every time you create something. Put in those hours!

What’s your favourite game and why?

I have too many to name, at the moment I am playing a lot of Escape from Tarkov, I love my guns.
Other games I love are the Uncharted Series, TLOU2, God of War, Assassins Creed series, Frostpunk, Death Stranding, Fallout, Subnautica, Dishonored, the list will go on forever!

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

Currently, I focus my spare time on gaming and a little personal work. Have been dabbling with a bit of cooking, learning a little guitar.

I also run a 3D Art Community called the 021 Space on Discord which can be found here: https://discord.gg/PjPZxJe.
We have a nice community for people to show off their work and interact with the industry. Other than the above I am trying to get more into public speaking, I will hopefully be doing more talks for educational institutions this year starting in February.

A huge thanks to Lewis Thompson as well Cloud Imperium for the talk!

Lewis’s Artstation:

ArtStation – Lewis Thompson

Cloud Imperium’s website:

Home – Cloud Imperium Games

Unreal Authorized Instructor, Programme Leader for MA Games Art at Escape Studios & Tutor for Games Art Short / Part Time Courses. I have been teaching new creative talent for the past 15+ years, at institutions such as 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’. Currently working on my own game!

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