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Senior Environment Artist Karthik Jagannatha from Codemasters

This week we go back to Codemasters for another interview with Karthik, a Senior Environment Artist.

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

I played a lot of video games growing up. I got my NES when I was about 10 and played a lot of Super Mario Bros, Excitebike and Contra. As I grew older I drifted away from consoles and moved to PC games. I knew about game mods and messed around a lot in the good old Unreal tournament & Quake level editors.
I recall a funny incident during my final school year that led me down the path of making art for video games. I was waiting for my friend to finish his exam and a student walked up to me and handed me a flyer. I wasn’t really listening to what they had to say and I took the flyer, gave them my contact info and totally forgot about it. A couple of months later I got a call about a new summer course in animation and video games.
Till then I never realized I could actually make a living making art for Video games. Teenage me was probably like “Hey I love playing games, working on them is the next best thing!”. I took that course and later joined a school that offered a Game art course and that’s how my career started.

What are you working on at the moment?

Currently I’m working on an Unannounced title at Codemasters studios. Personally I’m trying to learn Blender and incorporate it into my workflow.

What are the best and worst parts of your job?

The Best part of my job right now is I get to explore the vast possibilities of procedural materials. I am trying to replace many of my classic 3D workflows with trim textures & material masks.
I also get to interact with a lot of amazing artists in my team who come from different backgrounds. It’s always fascinating to learn new tools and techniques that were originally not used for game art.
Since I work with a lot of procedural materials the worst part of my job is to not let go sometimes. Let me explain, Every time I playtest I notice a tiny tweak or change that I could have done to make it a tiny bit better. The difficult part is letting go and moving on.

What does your typical workflow look like and what tools and software do you prefer?

I use a lot of Substance Designer, Painter for my textures and occasionally Zbrush, 3ds Max, Maya for more organic stuff. Typically I tend to make about 40%-50% of the textures and plug them into the shader and test out the blends and materials in game with basic lighting. This also helps speed up the dependency time for other artists in my team waiting for the textures.
I then tweak/iterate, take feedback and tweak some more. I also work on props and environment assets when texture work slows down to hit deadlines.

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

Having worked in the game industry for about 8 years in both outsourcing & development, the one advice I can give is: Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Your art might not turn out to be top row stuff right away. Keep at it, analyse your mistakes and try to improve on these. Be open to feedback, I do know that early on in your career it can be crushing when things are pointed out in your work that you have poured your heart into. Try not to take things personally. Remember Video games are a team effort and more often than not you will be tweaking, changing a lot of things anyways. Always look at the bigger picture.

What’s your favourite game and why?

This is a difficult question for me. I have equal love for all game genres and I tend to play as many as possible. My recent favourite for visuals are God of War, Last of us 2 & Ghost of Tsushima. I absolutely love Zelda Breath of the wild & Persona series for the art aesthetics, gameplay & story.

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

During my spare time I like to work on my personal art be it traditional or 3D, play video games or simply hang out with my wife.

Thanks again to Codemasters and of course Karthik for another great talk.

More from Karthik:

ArtStation – Karthik J

More about Codemasters:

Codemasters – Racing Ahead

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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