In conversation with: Graduate Oliver Ward, Texture artist at Scanline VFX
What first inspired you to want to work in the games industry?
Since being gifted my first graphics tablet at age 12, I have always been interested in digitally-based art, from creating 2D paintings on my parents’ computer, to small animations that I would make on my old Nintendo DS. My interests turned towards 3D as I got older as it seemed like a powerful tool that I really wanted to learn.
What do you enjoy about being a Texture Artist?
Having spent a long time 3D modelling and environment building throughout my studies on the BA (Hons) Games Art and Design course, I’ve found great satisfaction in being able to add life and character to a model simply through the texturing process. This can range all the way from the faintest of finger marks to the more obvious grunge and damage imperfections. It requires close attention to detail and a sharp eye, but the results of this will often tell your audience so much of the story of the asset without them even realising it.
“It requires close attention to detail and a sharp eye, but the results of this will often tell your audience so much of the story of the asset without them even realising it.”
Oliver Ward, BA (Hons) Games Art and Design
What inspires you creatively?
During my time at university, seeing other people’s work on platforms such as ArtStation was my biggest inspiration. If I saw something that I liked, it would really motivate me to work hard and try to improve my artwork to take it to the next level. I can’t recommend having a look at ArtStation enough; not only will it inspire you, but its is a great platform to learn from and meet other artists too.
What’s been your favourite project to work on so far?
The short film I created, titled ‘Norilska’, has been by far my most memorable project.
Norilska is set in a desolate and dystopian city, recently struck by a nuclear disaster. After watching and being impressed by the UE4 Rebirth video in 2019, I’ve had the idea in my head to try and create a cinematic piece similar to that. Norilska is my attempt at doing just that and is heavily inspired and referenced by the Rebirth video.
The project really allowed me to steer myself out of my comfort zone and to explore film and the film industry, helping to challenge myself to use software and workflows commonly used in the VFX industry.
How has your time at Norwich University of the Arts helped prepare you for the games industry?
The course structure really helped me get to grips with my specialism and prepared me for the industry.
The first year of the BA (Hons) Games Art and Design course really lets you explore a number of specialisms, which is where I first discovered I was drawn to texture modelling. The following year then lets you explore your chosen area in greater detail whilst working within group projects, something that really prepared me for working within the industry and with the team at Scanline VFX.
The third year was then my favourite year as it allows you to combine all of this work and knowledge to create almost anything you like from it.
“The following year then lets you explore your chosen area in greater detail whilst working within group projects, something that really prepared me for working within the industry and with the team at Scanline VFX.”
Oliver Ward, BA (Hons) Games Art and Design
Looking back to your time at university and what you’ve learned so far, what advice would you give current students?
Find the area of your practice that you enjoy the most. Once you find this, working on it doesn’t seem like work, and you will progress quickly without even noticing it! It can take a while to do this, but for me, it wasn’t until mid-way in my second year that I found I really loved texturing. Knowing this, I then made sure my projects and my final project was centred around things that I both enjoyed and was interested in. It was really down to this that I could spend so much time happily working away on it!
You can see more of Oliver’s portfolio and work over on his ArtStation.
"I love being surrounded by creative people. Working in the studios puts you at the centre of a productive and passionate environment. Seeing what other people are working on - asset production, concept art or indie development, makes you feel part of a dynamic community"