ArtStation Masterclasses 2 Spotlight: Brian Recktenwald

ArtStation Masterclasses 2 – Games Edition is an immersive online training event taught by top artists in the gaming industry. Watch the lectures at your own pace and have access to a 2 week Q&A with the all-star lineup of instructors. Open to all levels, sign up now and join your peers from August 6th to 19th, 2018.

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Brian Recktenwald studied at Savannah College of Art and Design before getting his first job in the CG industry at LucasArts, where he worked as an environment artist on titles including Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings and the Star Wars: The Force Unleashed series before becoming environment lead on the studio’s final unreleased project, Star Wars 1313. Brian is now working at Naughty Dog as an environment artist focusing on modeling and scene assembly and has recently worked on Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End and Uncharted: The Lost Legacy. He describes himself as “proudly helping to create the most beautiful environments ever seen in games.”

Masterclass – Designing a Modular Environment using Unreal

In this class,  students will learn how to create a small subway environment with some supernatural elements in Unreal. Brian will go through the entire creation process which will include: reference gathering, blockout, modular asset creation, photogrammetry techniques and final assembly.

Tell us about one of your most valuable experiences?

That’s a tough one as I’ve been very fortunate to have many amazing experiences, but shipping Uncharted 4 and Uncharted: The Lost Legacy with our team at Naughty Dog has been the pinnacle of my career. I learned so much and am very proud of the work we did on them. Also, my recent travel to Australia with Gnomon, as well as gaming conferences in Southeast Asia, giving talks and workshops was exhilarating, inspiring and a great learning experience.  I had the opportunity to meet so many amazing artists from around the world and being able to share our love of environment creation was very rewarding.

What would you say are some of the key elements required to make a game environment ‘beautiful’ ?

There are many elements that make an environment beautiful, even if it’s an abandoned or scary place. Most importantly, for a game space, it has to play well and compliment the story. For me, creating a sense that you’re being transported to that location and feel as though you are there should be a goal. Also, keeping balance with areas of rest and attention to details are extremely important to making it beautiful. Of course, excellent rendering, materials and lighting are necessary for both realistic and stylized spaces.

Brian modeled & assembled the opening of Scotland up to the entrance of the dormitories where Avery’s grave is. Designed by Emilia Schatz. Textures by Melissa Altobello. Lighting by Scott Greenway. FX by Mike Dudley.

Do you have any hobbies and do they serve to inspire your work?

I absolutely love photography and video work, including drone flying. These very much inspire my work by giving me goals, moods and lighting situations that I want to recreate in CG/games. I try to get out and hike when I can, especially when things are crazy, as this allows me to rejuvenate and study all the details nature has to offer.

What is one key technique students can expect to learn in your course?

One key technique I hope students can take away is how important planning is prior to making an environment, especially with modularity in mind. Also, always being hungry for learning new tools and processes is another take-away I’m hoping for. The industry is always changing and keeping pace with technology, tools and processes are vital, along with pulling from the foundations and older techniques.

Brian was responsible for modeling, scene assembly, photogrammetry, and set dressing. Textures and materials by Adam Marquis. Lighting by Mark Shoaf. Wide by Andrew Watkins. Design by Derek Chatwood.

Find out more about ArtStation Masterclasses.

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About the author

Partner & Alliances Manager at ArtStation