On Internships, Portfolios, and Being Paid to Improve.

Jun 12, 2011 I 1.21 Jiggawatts!.

At Avalanche (Disney Interactive) they have a fantastic intern program for many reasons, but one of the biggest is the “personal project”. At most internships, they have you only work on company work, which is awesome. Unfortunately, if you’re working on a new game, you wont be able to show your work until the game is out. In fact, you don’t even get to say what you’re working on until the company officially announces it. Neither of these things are good for the portfolio, especially if you finish your internship a year+ before the game ships and you just have to tell future employers “No, I swear, I worked on a game there and it was GOOD WORK, just take my word for it…”

To combat this, Avalanche has integrated a personal project as part of their internships. Essentially, it is part of my job description that I will need to produce, on the clock, a 3D art project of my own design and art direction that I completely retain the rights to. As a part of this, I also am required to submit my work in progress to my department head for critique at least once a week and I am encouraged to send my work around to the various professionals in the office. Essentially, they say “Take at least 1 hour a day, on the clock, make a project that will meet x criteria, and use whatever resources necessary to do so and then you take that with you when you leave.” This is, of course, awesome.

So I’ve got an idea simmering and we’re into the concept stage, so expect the next handful of posts to showcase some of the work in progress. The most I’ll say for now is that it’s an environment-based project, I’ll be building it in the UDK, it’s set in a “hyper-70s” world, and it involves cars.

Thus, cars and roads:

This was the initial sketch that accompanied my idea pitch. It’s way hard to read, but it is just a sketch after all…

I’ve never attempted to seriously design a car before, and it is definitely different than drawing people. This was my first attempt at the “hero” car. Remember, the period is 70s, and I’ve compiled a ton of 70s car reference photos, but I don’t want to just model up an existing car. That’s boring, sterile, and uncreative, and if this were an actual game, I’d have to pay tons of money to the manufacturer in order to use it. The idea is to steal the design elements that all of these cars have that communicate the time period it’s from and make something new out of them. I scrapped this version as it has many problems, not the least of which its proportions are much to fluffy for the style I want.

This design is more on the right track. The proportions are sleeker and more inline with an actual sports car. I’ve also played with some different elements like the bubble window, the spotlight, and antennae that add character and make this look like it isn’t just some boring sports car that just rolled off the line. The cars in this project (there will be 2 eventually) are essentially the characters of the world I’m creating, so they need to be designed as if they were individuals.

More to come!

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