Interview with Steve Finney of Arteria3D
Arteria3D, aka Steve Finney, is an Asset Store success story with several top-selling high-quality 3D models. His catalog includes environments and characters, as well as original soundtracks. Check out some of Arteria3D’s creations!
How did you get started in 3D modelling?
Originally, I came from a background in professional music — having been a musician in the UK Dance scene — genres such as House, Trance and Drum & Bass. In 2005-6 when internet speeds increased dramatically (in the UK), the niche market of releasing vinyl for djs diminished almost overnight, with most of the labels and distributors ceasing to exist, thus as a working musician within this field, it was important for me to look at some other source of income.
Just prior to this period, I picked up a 3D game engine in a local computer store and started to tinker about. As a kid (41 now), my teenage years were devoted to my Amstrad CPC and Spectrum, and learning how to make 2D art. I was very inspired by Laser Basic (some people will remember this!) released by Ocean Software. This allowed me to create sprite art and put it into simple game logic… I loved it! I was inspired by games such as Knight Lore. This rekindled my love of 2D games from back when I was younger, and set me on a mission!
What was your first product?
I started with a product called DeleD, learning how to model in 3D, fusing my passion of medieval surroundings, and attempting to create them in 3D. I’m lucky living in the UK, as all around me are historical buildings, ruins etc.
I also enjoy sci-fi. The first pack I set out to create was a basic sci-fi abandoned ship pack, with a simple interior. I also created a handful of music packs. I decided to release my work to the public by way of the first website I created. In 2006 I started Arteria3D. I’ve always been known as Arteria, but back then, I used the more generic Arteria-gaming name for the store.
The emphasis was the release of music packs at first. I worked on Medieval, Sci-Fi, and Action themes to provide various musical elements and tracks that people could use to enhance their game world. Adding sonic ear candy is important in games! Around the same time, I also released my Sci Fi 3D pack. I’ll never forget my first sale, it was such an incredible feeling, knowing that people started to value what I created!
One of the most interesting aspects of my work is the creative process. I don’t come from a traditional arts background — with pencil and paper I can shape something decent based on real-life buildings etc, but by no way can I draw and create concept art — something I think that sets me apart from most 3D artists. However, shaping objects in 3D, and painting characters in real time is something different from drawing on paper.
Tell us about your products, their inspiration, why you decided to make them.
Product wise, due to my passion for historical buildings, Arteria3D over the years has been a haven for anything medieval, but gradually I’ve moved into other areas such as modern day with my shanty and urban sets. Sci Fi is something I definitely want to explore further.
The workflow of my medieval projects is always based in the real world too. I have visited many historical sites over the past few years in the UK and have taken thousands of pictures. I then base my work on these buildings, either creating ruined scenes, or taking them back to how they looked in their specific era — I’m a photorealistic modeler too, so I use a Canon SLR to take photographs of stone walls, fences, half timbre etc, that I then use with some modification and apply to my buildings.
What do you like about Unity?
I should be a salesman for Unity! Ha! Unity, without a doubt, cemented my ideas into reality. Just over 3.5 years ago when I started using Unity, in my opinion there was no engine out there, that had the toolsets to make 3D scenes intuitively with a high artistic flare.
I found that I didn’t have to understand how to set materials up to a high degree, apply settings etc. It just worked so much more easily for the artist. Like anything there is always the advanced side you can get into, but for the element of adding meshes to the scene, on a terrain, painting landscape features, then applying a directional sunlight, no other engine came close! It was with Unity that I made my first downloadable level — The Medieval Worldbuilder Pack. I got so involved in that project, adding so much fine detail, I felt sometimes I lived in this virtual world whilst I was creating it! To this day I still use Unity for my environment scenes, to lay out, and promote my packs — and I always mention Unity to my customers!
How did you hear about the Asset Store?
As I was a regular forum viewer at Unity3d.com, I heard about the Asset Store through the forums.
What role does the Asset Store play in your life as a middleware developer and game designer?
I’ve recently started adding quite a few packs to the store, and I think it’s really a one stop shop for people designing games and applications. From what I see on the store now, anything you could think of to add to your game can be purchased there!
Do you have any advice for developers who might use your tools?
I think the most important thing is the mind’s eye — looking at buildings, character costumes etc, and seeing what holds them together — examining the detail — thus forming this object in the mind, and then relaying it visually on the computer screen.
Another thing which is interesting is my use of tools. Most people assume artists always use like Max or Maya, but I don’t! I’ve used a 3D program called Hexagon 2 ever since my early modelling days. Personally I wouldn’t use anything else for modelling, as its tool set is really intuitive to use. I do however use Softimage for the animation stage, but also use a very inexpensive app called Fragmotion for lots of animation timeline duties.
My workflow is primarily this: I create the 3D object in Hexagon then unwrap the model in Unwrap3D (a very inexpensive UV program). If it is a character, I will then put this into 3D Coat (a 3D realtime paint program), bake in ambient occlusion, then paint a combination of real photograph textures and hand-drawn elements over the model.
Advice wise, I’d like to say, never be put off. Don’t frown on your artistic abilities. I had very little skill in the 3D area seven years ago. I remember once my eldest daughter asked if I would be making 3D characters. I just smiled, and replied, “I could never make them!!” Now, seven years later I have over 30 characters on the website! Always keep an open mind, and if you’re willing to put in the time and effort, your art ideas can be realised.
What can Unity developers look towards in the future from your company?
Recently I started to develop the BASE CHARACTER PROJECTS — This provides a customisable base character for specific game styles. Already having released the Medieval Male, Sci Fi Male and Modern Day Male. Shortly these will be expanded with female releases of these packs, plus other packs in this style such as Zombie, and Steampunk. Also more Sci Fi based products will be released in the way of a base ship pack with a connectable customizable interior — also a new Medieval City pack which is going to be very special!
What is your vision for the future of creativity in game development?
Such a hard question to answer! The future is wide open, with technology advancing so fast. Creatively even at this point we have so many tools available to use — we can even do cheap low cost motion capture ourselves now! As technological advances become more widely available, with quality increasing, anything is possible.