What is a Layout Artist?
The Layout Artist will use storyboards as reference to create camera angles for a scene, as well as placing or 'laying out' the props and environments made by the Modelling department. With the help of editing, that scene will then be broken down into shots. Animators, Lighters and Compositors will work on those shots through the cameras set by the Layout Artist.
Layout artists are the directors of photography (DoPs) in a virtual space. A DoP in a live-action movie makes decisions about lenses, camera angles and camera movements. In a 3D animation, the layout artist makes the same decisions, but with a virtual camera within 3D animation software.
Entry Level Skills & Capabilities
The following information outlines the exact skills you need to demonstrate as a Certified Digital Artist. You must be proficient and capable of completing all these skills and capabilities.
1. Communication skills
- Strong communication skills to describe and present your work with confidence
- Willing to show progress frequently and able to receive and discern feedback objectively
2. Reference Gathering
- Capable of gathering photography for use as live-action background plates
- Understanding a brief and able to review concept art, storyboards and a script
- Bonus: Understanding the principles of animation, including Kinesiology and Body Mechanics
- Bonus: Demonstrate understanding of collecting with live action footage
3. Task Preparation
- Assemble tracking/matchmove data: Assemble data into approved environment locations using studio tools and workflows.
- Ability to translate storyboards to 3D Solid understanding of Staging and Composition.
- Bonus: Process on-set data including photogrammetry, Lidar/Scan data, for use in tracking, modelling and look development
- The ability to match photographic reference of an environment (natural or architectural) with a minimum of assets.
- Generalist skills in modelling, texturing, and rigging.
- Assemble and maintain assets into project/sequence/shot based environments
- Ability to setup a Camera to match the composition of a Storyboard panel
- Understanding of camera positioning and how it affects the audience perception of a shot
- A comprehensive understanding of photographic composition and when to use different camera lenses.
- Clear understanding of visual storytelling, composition and set-dressing.
- Clear understanding of space, line and shape and how these techniques are used in layouts visual storytelling process.
- Solid understanding and ability to communicate story through the cinematic process
- Bonus: Knowledge of digital lighting techniques
- Bonus: Capable of creating basic compositions with multiple plates, layers and elements.
- Bonus: Strong understanding of matchmove concepts.
Ability to use one or more of the following software packages:
- Autodesk Maya
- Bonus: Nuke
- Bonus: Houdini
- Bonus: Unreal Engine
These skills are equally important in terms of your understanding and ability to do this role. Although they are not skills or knowledge that is officially certified, it will be obvious to recruiters and Certified Digital Artist(CDA) reviewers if you have knowledge in these areas.
- Colour Theory
Life Skills & Communication
- Thinking Critically
- Communication Skills
- Conflict Management
- Taking initiative
- Time Management
Roles in Creative Media & Entertainment industries are quite different to traditional roles. As a Digital Artist, you need to prove your creative and technical abilities which requires an online portfolio filled with projects that showcase your work. One of more of the following projects should be included in your digital portfolio to demonstrate your skills and abilities to perform the required skills of this role.
- A full CG shot with a complex camera move demonstrating timing, rhythm and composition.
- Based on a storyboard, create the required environment, assets and characters. Render out still frames that match key moments in the storyboard.
- Demonstrate timing, composition, movement through a range of various shots.
- Bonus: Find or create a 2D storyboard consisting of around 10-12 shots and create a previs with 3D assets. Need to see how accurately the boards and 3D previs match. Show your 3D previs with the 2D boards in an image plane 0n the top left or right corner or side by side to show the comparison.