Back in 2005, I was in the video game art and design course at Art Institutes. I was in a background class, and was invited to come take a look at what the animation students were doing on their animation class final. This was a production team where a bunch of animation students would collaborate and make their own big thing. I toured their labs and storyboards, taking it all in, then during one lunch break, decided I would sit down at an unregarded corner and take a wild stab at painting a background.
I wasn't supposed to be in there, I wasn't even supposed to be dabbling through their storyboards, but I wanted to do something which would help gauge my background painting teacher on my own abilities.
I was wrapping up an image, a composite of 2d and 3d elements, painted over in Photoshop to integrate them all together, when I felt a looming shadow swallow my soul. I wheel around, and the lead producer of the animation department's project, an industry veteran who has worked with the likes of James Cameron, is glaring over my shoulder.
Struck with terror, I do my best to play it cool, trying not to make a big deal out of the fact I was armpits deep in classified information. She looks at the 3d render/speed-paint I had whipped up in the last hour.
"Perfect," she says.
Fifteen minutes later, I find myself rushed to the office of my department chair, and behind me is the producer, the chair of the animation department, and my background teacher. Though I was destined for a texture artist position the next quarter in the Game Design program's production team, an emergency initiative was put into place, making me one of the very VERY few Game Art students to play a role in an animation team.
The first quarter, I was a contributing artist. I was developing a style, and churning out assets at a feasible rate. Amongst those assets, the northern lights. I probably painted the Northern Lights three dozen times in one afternoon, solidifying the style and feel for it.
The next quarter, I was bumped to lead background painter. I was the first student in campus history to assume a lead position in a department different from his own academic course. Many more followed as the production teams started merging talents, but as far as my tenure there, the effects of my presence are still rippling to this day.
For instance. Five years later, I get to draw the northern lights again.
Adobe Photoshop CS2
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