If you could advise someone starting CG

If you had the opportunity to advise someone starting CG studies to become a Technical Artist for UE4, which books would you recommend? Would you suggest a roadmap for his studies?

I’ve just started reading Game Engine Architecture (and I’m feeling really bad for not reading it before), from Jason Gregory, and there are important aspects of rendering pipeline in it, but after that I’ll search for more content about CG that can be used in UE.

I would like to hear your opinion, it is very important to me since I HAVE to turn into one to fulfill a real gap in my team or, at least, know how to evaluate someone’s knowledge about this.

And no sugar coating, please =) tell me what would YOU expect from someone entitled as a Technical Artist for UE4.

I’m still just at the beginning of learning this stuff myself to be honest, but I recommend checking out Eric Haines’ stuff:

His book "Real-Time Rendering’ is considered a classic: Real-Time Rendering

His website also has tons of links to go deeper into certain areas: http://www.realtimerendering.com/

And he now runs a free online course which is really interesting: Interactive 3D Graphics | Free Courses | Udacity

Thank you for your suggestions! Didn’t know about his online course. Seems like a good start.

Which specific topics should I have a more solid grasp while working in UE4? Anything I should give special attention?

Well, I’m sure someone more experienced can weight in here with more useful advice than me, but my understanding is that as a Technical Artist your role is to mediate between the coders and the artists to some extent. Exactly what this means will depend on the size and nature of your team, as well as the kind of project/s you’re developing. For example, on a game with complex character rigs, you might work closely with the character TD to develop artist-friendly controls for the animators. If your project doesn’t involve complex rigs/animation, it would be a waste of time for you to spend hours understanding those processes.

Areas that are probably going to be important no matter the project are lighting, **rendering **and materials. That’s why I recommended Eric Haines, because his stuff is fundamental to all of those areas really. In terms of UE4 specifically, you want to understand all of these things so that you can build artist-friendly tools.

For example, you need to understand the benefits/limitations of all the lighting methods in UE4 (static, stationary, dynamic) so that you can make clear decisions about what approach you’ll be taking to lighting / shadows for the project, and then educate and build a pipeline for everyone else working on the project. Understand the difference between deferred and forward rendering. Get to grips with post-processing, not just playing around with the existing parameters on a PP volume, but actually making some post-processing materials so you understand what’s possible. Have a firm grasp of materials (and almost definitely PBR) so that you can build good, clean master materials that your artists can easily customise for every eventuality in your project. I could go on, but you get the idea.

I haven’t yet watched these tutorials yet, so can’t really comment on them, but this guy has two recent tutorials which look like they cover a lot of this stuff specifically in UE4:

Though perhaps you already know all of that stuff!