Life at Escape Studios is unconventional to say the least. I'm a second year Game Art student, and for us, a day at uni does not consist of a traditional lecture or seminar. A typical day for me would be a 3 hour tutorial followed by optional self study. My timetable as of current is 9:30-12:30 Monday - Friday. During this 3 hour slot we will have a tutor showing us step by step how to achieve something that we can apply to our own projects.
In these sessions we also have 2 studio assistants who are about to help if your struggling to follow along. Studio assistants are personally one of my favourite things about our learning sessions, having someone to help you one to one instead of making the tutor stop so you can catch up makes learning a whole bunch easier and less overwhelming. We have 2 main tutors for game art, Philip Meredith, who specialises in teaching us the art sides, and Juriaan who specialises in teaching us the more technical elements.
Support at Escape Studios
After this session (or before if your teaching start later) there are free classrooms for us to get on with our coursework. Typically until 6pm, at least 2 studio assistants will be about to help you on your projects outside of your scheduled lesson. This extra support is really beneficial as games can be easy to break, so having an extra eye is great while still learning the ropes, and if things go really wrong you can always go and cool off with free coffee, tea or hot chocolate in the kitchen.
Game Art does take a lot of perseverance at times, but the community here truly is one of support. If you need to cool off in the kitchen because your project just won't go the way you were hoping, someone will overhear you ranting to your friend and have sympathy or sometimes even a solution. We all come from different areas of expertise prior to uni so we all have a lot to share with each other and help us grow.
What you'll be studying
For your first year, you'll study fundimental based learning with six 2 week projects and three 4 week projects that are designed to help build up your skills in all areas (including VFX and Animation)
In our second year we have 3 projects, 2 of which are 6 week personal projects and 1 is a 12 week group project.
Image above: example of 1st year work
My current projects
I have recently just finished the 6 week mobile game project where we had to design a mobile environment that would run on a high end mobile device. The only other limitation to this is that the game had to be a side scroller layout. The rest was up to us.
Since starting second year I have been writing blog posts about my progress roughly each week, these can be found at - www.artstation.com/sapphiretaylor
It's a great idea to document your work, If I could go back to first year and take more progress screenshots to look back and see how I've improved I would! For other artists viewing your work it's also really interesting to see how someone approached a design, I would definitely recommend showing your process or work in progress somewhere!
Image above: example of 2nd year work
Connection to Industry
Escape Studios, as I'm sure you know, has fantastic industry connections. With us being in the heart of the city as well as a training hub for many breaking into the industry though our short courses, the Escape Alumni is overflowing with talent. Many 'Escapees' come back to give talks, lectures or feedback sessions with students.
Every few weeks we have film night, most of these film nights have an industry guest who worked on the film attend to give us a Q and A session after.(We even got an early screening of incredibles 2!)
At the start of my newest project we were visited by Anya Elvidge, a diorama artist who has previously worked on games such as Total War. She came in to share her process when creating dioramas and answer any questions we might have about the workflow. At the end of the month one of my lectures will be taught by Oskar Woinski, Lighting artist for splash damage. Oskar will be giving a workshop on lighting techniques in unreal engine.
Not only do we get the privilege of these fantastic tutors guiding us along this artistic journey, we have fantastic networking opportunities about the city too! Last year I worked at the VFX festival which is something run by Escape studios, here I was assisting companies such as Media Molecule (Who made Little Big Planet and many other fantastic games)
Around the city there's so many opportunities for artists to gain references and inspiration. We are very short walk from the British Museum and only a short Tube ride away from other huge and fantastic museums. These are perfect if you're stuck for ideas or need to get together a bunch of photos for your next project!
“Create Bad Art”
Weird quote right? Well, for context, we were given drawing exercises at the start of first year and many of us were too embarrassed to draw properly in front of each other. Uni is a time for you to experiment and learn from your mistakes, so go out and sketch terrible roughs on your train ride. The biggest mistake and artist can make is to not create out of fear.
-By Sapphire Taylor (2nd year Game Art Student)