After his win in both the Character Art category and the overall Search For A Star Art award, we catch up with Sam Bang to find out more about his experiences with the competition.
On the 31st March at Staffordshire University, Sam Bang came first within the Search for a Star Character category and took home the title of the overall winner. His round two character submission (a character created for Unreal Tournament and designed from a brief provided by Epic Games) impressed the panel of judges, which included industry experts from studios including Epic Games, Sumo Digital, Rare, Playground Games and Cloud Imperium.
Alongside his impressive competition submissions, Sam has an extensive range of artwork on his portfolio, which impressed the judges on finals days. Although he primarily specialises in character art, Sam’s portfolio showcases life drawing, concept art and environment and technical work.
We got in touch with the University of Hertfordshire student to find out more about his Search for a Star experience.
When did you first know that you wanted to get into games?
[perfectpullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]It’s a great way to get your work seen by industry professionals.[/perfectpullquote]
“I’ve always had a passion for playing computer games, but I started my pursuit for the games industry at around 13 years old, when I started making maps for Team Fortress 2 in the Hammer editor. By using that I got to grips with the basics of 3D and it opened up a whole new side to games that I never knew, and that started me off learning and working to get to where I am now.”
Where do you draw inspiration from for your artwork?
“I always try to represent the emotion and narrative that a character has in their design; a really important part of my process is trying to make the character feel alive and someone that the audience can connect to. I was originally a fine artist, and I really enjoyed how traditional painters use the medium and style to express their ideas using colour, composition and symbolism. Artists such as Salvador Dali and Francis Bacon are some of my favourites for how evocative their work is, and I was a big fan of Impressionist painters for how vibrant their paintings were. I also draw a lot of inspiration from other character artists in the industry, and constantly push myself to learn from their work and try to meet their quality with every piece I do. I haven’t yet succeeded, but I’ll keep trying!”
What did you enjoy about taking part in Search for a Star, and what did you learn from it?
[perfectpullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]The competition gives you a good edge when searching for a job at graduation.[/perfectpullquote]”I really enjoyed the fast-paced process of creating the Skaarj character, and although it was difficult, it really challenged me to speed up my workflow and analyse the quality of game characters made at Epic Games (as it was their design I worked from as a concept.) Likewise, the process taught me some new things about the pipeline the AAA Industry uses to make their characters, so it was valuable experience overall.”
Why would you recommend the competition for other students?
“It’s a great way to get your work seen by industry professionals, and gives you the opportunity to get feedback on your work and your plans for the future. Even by participating, you’ll learn a lot about how fast you need to work and the quality you need to produce in the industry. You’ll also get the opportunity to meet people at the same level as you and above, who are going through the same process, and make some new friends! The competition also gives you a good edge when searching for a job at graduation, so definitely give it a shot.”
What are your aspirations for the future?
“I really want to keep improving the quality of my work and keep learning more about making characters; there is such a wealth of styles, stories and ideas in the world that I want to experience and learn from. My goal is to offer everything I can to the people I work with, and share my passion with the gaming industry and its audience to create lovable characters and amazing games.”
Thanks to Sam Bang for his time, and congratulations again for the deserved win!