June 26, 2017

Valuable Advice From Cyan Game’s Environmental Artist Blake Bjerke

Obduction by Cyan Games

UAT Game Art & Animation Alumni Blake Bjerke works as a 3D Environmental Artist at Cyan Games, which has been Blake’s dream since he was 10 years old.

He attended UAT and learned everything he could as a student, but didn’t stop there. Each day he continued to work on his skills, adding more techniques and program proficiencies to his artistic arsenal.

Game Development is a competitive industry. We are thrilled that Blake is willing to share his tips for success with our more than 120 Game Studios students who have been diligently creating games this semester.

Read our Q&A with Blake to see how he landed his dream job with Cyan.

Blake Bjerke

Blake Bjerke, UAT Art and Animation Alumni

What was your major at UAT?
Game Art and Animation

Did you have any internships while at UAT?
Yes. I had an in-house internship making a flash game for the DOD with Professors David Wessman and Shelley Keating. The purpose was to create an educational flash game to teach children about cyber security.

What is your current job?
3D Environmental Artist at Cyan Games

What well-known video games have you helped create?
Right now, I’m working on the spirital successor to Myst called Obduction.

UPDATE: Obduction launched on Steam, Oculus, GOG and Mac App Store on Aug. 24, 2016.

See the Obduction launch trailer here.

Obduction environmental art

Obduction environmental art

Read more about Obduction in this recent article, Hands-on with Obduction: Myst’s spiritual successor straddles the line between familiar and alien.”

What was your role in game development?
I’m an environmental artist, so I create 3D models for buildings, structures, props, and arrange those assets into the game environment. Essentially I create the playable space in a game and make it look aesthetically pleasing.

Sometimes that entails researching the style of the area, or using Pinterest to reference any area I can. I like to find a base, or a real-world example, of how the object or structure functions and do my best to replicate it.

Obduction

Obduction environmental art by UAT Alumni Blake Bjerke

Do you play the games you have helped to create?
I do. While we are working on it, I play test to make sure everything is working properly.

What sized team do you work with?
There are seven artists total including my boss. We’re a very small company of only 21 employees mostly made up of artists, management and programmers.

What is the most valuable skill you have learned since graduation and having spent time working in the industry?
You have to keep up with latest trends, newest techniques, software, and make sure you’re knowledgable because the industry changes rapidly. I hit it hard after graduation, I kept learning new software, essentially trying to improve myself every day until I got hired.

Why did you decide to attend UAT?
I remember seeing an ad on TV when I was in high school. UAT was in my hometown, I grew up in Phoenix, and I decided to tour the school in my senior year of high school. I knew I wanted to go there right away.

Who are your idols? Who do you look up to in the industry?
There are a few artists out there that I look up to who are completely insane, Tor Frick is one, also my art director, Eric Anderson, he’s extremely technical, smart, and I learn something new from him everyday.

What advice do you have for other game students to find their dream job in the game industry?
My advice is to keep learning, continue working on your portfolio. There’s tons of free software available for students, use any resources you can get your hands on! Don’t stop learning because the industry is really hard to get into.

One tip I used was to tailor your portfolio to a specific company that you want to notice you. My portfolio was based on Myst, their flagship game and I posted a link on their forum one day. My current boss noticed my work and that’s how I got my foot in the door.

Katha Island - Blake Bjerke

Katha Island, the environment was created using Unreal Engine 4

What excites you about your career?
I love being at this company. It’s something I’ve dreamed about since I was 10 years old and to be here working on brand new IP with them that stays true to the games they’ve done in the past is just amazing. I’m just getting started in the industry and I’m exactly where I want to be.

What else would you like to add?
My advice is to never stop working on your portfolio. Your student work probably won’t be enough to get you noticed, but keep applying. It may take time, but realize this is not an easy industry to break into, but it’s definitely possible to get in!

Don’t rely solely on class assignments. UAT encourages students to work on projects in teams, like the Student Innovation Project (SIP) and Game Jams. Get out of your comfort zone and work with other majors like programmers and artists, it’s more realistic of a real-world work environment, collaborating with a team. You learn so much more than just on your own and you might make a few new friends and people you want to work with again.

Check out Blake’s portfolio and follow him on Twitter @BlakeBjerke3D!

 

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