What does a look development artist do?
Look development artists (look devs) define the look of computer-generated creatures or objects to ensure all the art in the film or TV programme is consistent.
If a concept artist draws an alien, then the look development artist works out what the skin of the alien will look like in different conditions – when it’s raining, when it’s dark, when the creature’s angry. They work with lighting TDs, texturing artistsand creature TDs to establish the different looks, balancing the processes of texturing, lighting and rendering to match reference images and real footage.
The looks that the look development artist creates are signed off by the CG or VFXsupervisor. All the artists in their VFX pipeline then use these looks when they create their assets. This ensures consistency and quality.
Some VFX companies or studios may only have a lighting TD role, and not a look dev one. In this case the responsibilities of the look dev would be covered by a lighting artist.
What's a look development artist good at?
- Art: have strong artistic ability, good understanding of form, colour and texture, and know how these elements work together
- Understanding lighting: understand colour, space and the scientific principles behind creating realistic lighting and have a strong knowledge of lighting techniques
- Collaboration: be able to work with other VFX artists, share ideas and expertise, agree upon a look
- Knowledge of VFX programs: be adept at using relevant programs such as Arnold, Blender, Maya, Mental Ray, Photoshop, RenderMan, Substance Painter, V-Ray and ZBrush
- Organisation: work within the production schedule, manage files and meet deadlines