Case study

Games artist — Samuel Bruce

Following a degree in games design, Samuel found work as a games artist. Discover his top tips for breaking into this competitive industry

How did you get your job in games design?

After graduating with a BSc in computer games design from Staffordshire University, I applied for roles as a games artist. I had built up a strong portfolio of work and made sure my CV was interesting and stood out immediately. I got the job as my employer was impressed with the calibre of my work and my knowledge of games design.

What's a typical day like as a games designer?

I work in a team of about 30 people producing high quality content for our range of simulation entertainment games. A lot of my time is spent coming up with new ideas for games and working with junior artists to turn these ideas into a finished product.

I do a lot of research - I read technical documents and breakdowns published by other studios and attend meetings and conferences to find out what other companies are doing. This helps me keep on top of the latest developments, which I can then incorporate into our own titles.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I enjoy working as part of a team as we share similar interests, usually video games. We have a weekly board game meet up and host game nights at the office.

I also like the collaborative nature of games design. The gaming community often share ideas and tips, for example a breakdown of how they've done something new.

What are the challenges?

Deadlines can be a major challenge. However, I discuss them with the project manager and divide my tasks up with an estimate of how long each one should take. This means I'm able to see where I want to be and when.

Another challenge is maintaining quality and best practice, as well as keeping up to date with the latest industry trends.

How relevant is your degree?

My degree taught me everything I needed to know for my role - the fundamentals of 3D modelling, high to low poly modelling and baking, the latest in physically-based rendering (PBR) shades, engine technologies and how to use a range of software packages.

What are your career ambitions?

I'd like to progress to a managerial role but still make art and take software further. Most companies have a matrix which helps you understand what you need to do to progress. Relevant industry experience is so valuable as it enables you to gain professional-level feedback from people you connect with.

What advice can you give to others wanting to get into games design?

  • Don't underestimate the amount of hard work and effort it takes to make sure you stand out from the competition. Stay motivated, even if you don't get a job straight away - with every new piece of work you will get better.
  • Your portfolio must be outstanding. Having 12 satisfactory pieces of work is nowhere near as good as having two or three high quality, well-polished pieces.
  • Make your portfolio, and your work in the portfolio, easy to find. Your art should be one of the very first things employers see. If you really want to write about yourself, then put it somewhere else in the portfolio. Less text, more pictures and videos.