Looking To Get Into CG? MekaMon CG Artist Rachel Denton Shares Her Story
From design inspiration to her top tips for getting into the field, Rachel Denton provides an insight into the daily life of a CG artist.
“My job title is CG Artist. I guess at the start of the process I was doing initial ideas and designs in lots of different areas of the game, whether it’s physical add-ons and hardware for the robot or for in-game assets. At the moment I’m doing design work for the arcade games that go into the app. So kind of just chucking a lot of ideas out there. 10% if anything ends up being used, it’s just exploring lots of different options and experimenting to start with.”
So, you say it’s 90% experimenting and 10% actual use?
“Well, I did a load of designs for the leg shields on the actual MekaMon. So I did about 40 different quick design concepts and 4 of them potentially go through to then be developed a bit more, so yeah, in that case, it was about 10%. And then out of those 4, there will probably be 1 that will go further or be developed again after that.”
What’s your day to day like?
“I tend to dive straight in. If I’m in the middle of a job and I know kind of what I’m doing I just go into it and plough through until it’s finished! Obviously, there are also lots of meetings with the rest of the art team to go through things and brainstorm ideas and improvements. There’s always continuous feedback, so it’s a very iterative process.”
So it almost becomes everyone’s ideas together and then you’re the one who makes it happen!
“Yeah, that’s exactly what I’m there for as a CG artist. I’m there to visualise what everyone’s got in their head at the time and put it on paper.”
So, how did you get into CG?
“So, I was always going down the art and design route, way back before things like A Level. I think, especially for parents, as soon as your kid shows an interest in doing art for a career, there are alarm bells! So I think there was always encouragement to look into how you can apply that commercially, rather than going into something like fine art where you’ve got no solidarity — you don’t know day to day what’s going to happen. And then, at one point, I think I picked up a magazine — I read the ImagineFX magazines when I was younger — and heard of the term ‘concept artist,’ and I’d never really known that was the term for it but that was exactly what I was really enthusiastic about. I love film and TV, and obviously gaming, and I loved the artwork for the very start of that process, all the artists who work at the very beginning and first visualise all the ideas.”
“So once I knew that that was its own industry, I knew that was the direction I wanted to go”
So you came into it more from an art perspective than a technical background. Have you picked up a lot of the technical stuff along the way?
“So, at Uni I studied Animation and Visual Effects so there was a lot of animating, 3D, and more technical aspects that were added on. And it helps you understand the process overall, which is really useful because it’s not very helpful having a CG artist who can draw all this stuff but doesn’t actually understand if it’s going to work, or how it’s modelled or anything”
Any CG artist inspirations?
“Yeah, there’s quite a lot. In terms of studios, I really like a studio called Tonko House — originally the guys worked for Pixar but then left so that they could work on their own ideas, and they made a really good short called The Dam Keeper.”
“And then there are lots of artists I really like, so there’s Simon Stålenhag who does some really cool very dystopian sci-fi art which I use quite a lot for inspiration with MekaMon.”
“And I’m also a massive fan of more organic designs, so really creepy horror stuff. So when I do personal work I do a lot of monster and creature design work.”
So there’s a lot of Stålenhag inspiration in MekaMon designs, what do you like about designing for MekaMon?
"I think the really cool thing about MekaMon is that there’s a huge variety of different styles you can work in, which is fantastic. So, you can do proper pencil drawings here and then full on developed paintings and it’s not all incredibly sci-fi mechanical, there are some organic aspects. And then also, say, the arcade game stuff we’re working on at the moment is another different style which is again different and good fun. The variety and how exciting the project is is what makes it really fun”
Any Top Tips for someone looking to become a CG Artist?
- “So I’d say keep focused and work really hard on your own personal work because that really helps your skills develop.”
- “Develop interests outside of actually doing the drawing work because often that can be used as a really good motivator and muse for actually doing the art-work. So for me, that was D&D and table-top gaming.”
- “Have a really good looking portfolio and work hard to make sure you have a portfolio that shows all the skills that you can bring to the table.”
- “You have to be prepared to be put down a lot and you have to keep going even if you send off 100 job applications, hear back from 10 of them and get a positive response from none. You’ve just got to keep going because I guess every time you fill out an application and do an art test you’re improving.”