Concept art, Illustration

Environment design course final week + final thoughts

Well, after 8 weeks, the course at CGMA is over and here you can see the 3 illustration from the last 3 weeks.

Well, this was my first experience in terms of online courses and I have to recognize that I was a bit afraid of it. Reasons why I gave it a try?

– I met some of the responsible for CGHUB in SF
– CGMA is related to CGHUB
– The instructor of the Environment design course is James Paick (NCSoft, Uncharted 2, Resistance 3, etc.)

How did the course work?

8 weeks. Every week you have this:

– A new video-lecture of 60-90min, and the recorded Q&A sessions (about 60min again) from the previous terms, you can watch them whenever you want.

– One assignment related to the lecture, to submit on Thursday

– The next day you have a review (your work with some notes in it) by the intructor.

– Also on Friday, there’s a Q&A session of 1h on live with your instructor where he comments a bit more about everybody’s work, quick paintovers and then you are free to ask whatever you want.

– You can see other classmates work and their reviews.

– There’s a little “forum” where you can add questions or comments related to the lectures and a chat room.

That’s how it works. Now my opinion:

To be honest, the content of the course, is something you can find out there (except for the little trick by James), video-tutorials for free on the internet like those by Feng Zhu, magazines, books or DVD (for a cheaper price than the course). Then, what’s worth the money? Well, it’s good to have all that information compiled in one course but for me the main two reasons why it was worth are:

1) The instructor: Having such an experienced professional guiding you and ready to answer your questions. James eventually missed one or two questions asked by mail or on the forum (he replied many others, but he’s busy and replied as much as possible). Anyway, you can save your questions for the Q&A or keep e-mailing, you will get your answers. The paintovers and the notes on the reviews are incredibly useful, he will see in a moment things you can’t see. In my case, James is very passionate, someone asked him, you do this because working as a designer you don’g get money enough? And he told us: nope, I do this because I enjoy teaching. And he thanked us every week for the hard work.

2) The class environment: I was lucky having a class with artists who work hard and whose work was pretty good. That gave me motivation to work hard to don’t fall behind. Also, you have all their work available, also their reviews, so, the notes or answers the instructor gives you, are not only helpful to you, they are for the whole class. And yeah, it’s another way to do networking, but tbh, we were 18 students and I only got 5 of them on CGHUB, a couple on FB and 3 mails.

Suggestion: Don’t take these classes if you won’t have time enough for them. I thought about taking 2 courses at the same time thinking the amount of work would be insignificant. It’s open to you of course, but I’m just a noob you now, and I had to spend dozens of hours on my assigments. But I’m glad I did, I see I improved and I made sure I could ask at least 3 questions every week.

In my class, everybody was happy (or at least that’s what they said) with the classes and the instructor, and some of them are going to repeat the course (the basics are very important) or continue with next Env. course 02.

Oh, there were a couple of minor issues. One day James was late, he arrived 20 minutes later, but, we’re humans and accidents are inevitable. Then last week the time was changed on the States but we didn’t get any notification so half of the class (from around the world) missed the last Q&A session. CGMA apologized for that and they’ve arranged a new Q&A session for this week for us who missed the class. I told I was fine just asking my questions by mail, but for eveybody is better the Q&A because it’s recorded and my questions, can be useful for my mates, or other future students, and the same for me, other classmates questions can be helpful for me.

That was MY experience with THAT course, and I would recommend it to anybody, but you know, you can hear other opinions there, or think by yourselves it’s not worth the money.

I can’t take more classes in next term because I have other plans, but I’m looking forward for summer classes or other future classes



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