We’re catching up with members of DigiPen’s 2013 graduating class to find out where they’re headed.
Rachel Downing graduated from the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Digital Art and Animation program. She began an internship at Airtight Games as a character artist during her senior year and will soon start as a background painter at PopCap Games in Seattle.
What kind of work have you done at Airtight Games?
I guess pretty much everything that a character artist is required to do. I did a lot of modeling of character pieces. I did some hi-res sculpting. I acted as a liaison between the concept art department and the character department, because they liked that I could paint. And so there was a whole lot of modeling and painting and designing things. And it was a lot of fun. They fully integrated me into the team.
How has the internship compared to your work as a DigiPen student?
It’s very similar, and I feel like DigiPen trains us really well for handling the workload that’s expected of you when you’re in the industry. Part of it is that at DigiPen you’re managing all these different tasks. You’re basically being an animator and a character artist and a concept artist and an environment artist — all at the same time. So when you’ve got a position you’re kind of focusing on just one thing, which is really nice.
What do you think helped you get the job at PopCap?
I think that one of the things that really helped me was that the person who recommended me for the job was somebody I actually met at DigiPen who was a senior when I was a freshman. He recommended me so I could get my foot in the door.
As a painter I’m always comparing myself to professionals and not just comparing myself to the students around me. Because it’s important to compare yourself to your peers so you’re learning from your peers, but ultimately you’re competing with professionals.
I found that [DigiPen’s] digital painting class helped me a lot, and then Peter Moehrle’s class helped me a lot as far as seeing how to deconstruct my art.
Are you very familiar with PopCap and their line of games?
Before I came to college my mom played Bejewled all the time. Then when I was older and I started college, my younger neighbor was playing Plants vs. Zombies, and I thought, “That’s so cool!” So I played that for a while.
I became more familiar with them once I was in school, because I had friends that were working there, and they were always saying like, “Oh man, it’s so great working here! Everybody’s super nice, and everybody loves to crack jokes, and they all play the ukulele!”
What are you looking forward to about your new job?
I love backgrounds, because it sets the mood, it sets the scene, and it’s the environment that the player becomes immersed in. It becomes the player’s world, and so being a part of that is really awesome.
I’m really looking forward to working with my team, and I’m really looking forward to making games that people are really passionate about, both the people creating them and the people that are playing them.
I’m also excited for ukuleles and jokes and bad puns.