Anna Orlova is a digital artist with a traditional art background. She currently lives in Moscow, Russia, working full-time as an environment concept artist.
What is your background as an artist? What educational experience/background did you have coming into CGMA? Do you have professional experience?
I graduated with a degree in Fine Art, having previously studied programming at a tech school. I started taking CGMA classes while studying at the university. Now I'm working as an environment concept artist in a Russian indie game studio called Ice-Pick Lodge; I've been on the team for almost two years. Apart from doing environment concepts, I was also lucky to be offered to make several card illustrations for an upcoming tabletop game for the same studio.
Why did you decide to take CGMA classes?
Video games as well as tabletop and LARP games have always been a passion of mine, so I had a fervent dream to work in the game industry one day. I realized that if I wanted to become a concept artist, I needed much more than just knowing how to draw and paint traditionally. So I started to look for additional online educational opportunities in entertainment design.
What classes did you take and why did you choose them?
A lot of them. The class I took first was Environment Sketching with Philip Dimitriadis. I assumed that it would be a good start for studying basic principles of working with environments, since I believe that a good understanding of the basics, such as composition and general structure, is crucial and should come first. I was a little worried about my English skills since it was my first-time experience, but the class went so amazingly well that I decided to continue the journey here. Then I switched to character design, anatomy classes, and am now planning to finish the environment design program since it's directly related to my current work.
How did taking classes help you refine your craft and help you along your artistic journey?
I really like how the classes are structured. Each week your are working on a specific assignment with a tight deadline so it perfectly imitates the real work in the industry. You are approaching the chosen subject step-by-step under the guidance of an instructor, it's stressful and inspiring at the same time. My portfolio was based heavily on my CGMA assignments and it got me my first job. So, it definitely helps a lot.
What was your first big gig and how did you get it?
It is actually my current job at Ice-Pick Lodge. I was contacted by the art director soon after my graduation. I was more than happy to try myself as one of the concept artists for the successfully crowd-funded game called Pathologic.
Why would you recommend CGMA to another artist?
It's a great online school for students of all levels where you can take particular classes or full programs based on your interests. It feels the pulse of industry. There are amazing instructors with overwhelming professional experience who can really help one improve as an artist. Also you can make new friends among the classmates—the friends many of whom will later become your colleagues.
Why is having professional feedback important to you?
I've always been the kind of person who learns faster with a teacher than on their own. The feedback that an instructor provides offers clear guidelines that can help one solve their individual artistic problems. You can ask about anything you are troubled with and receive an answer. Sometimes just a few words can totally change your way of thinking or drawing and it's incredible. You can see the classmates' feedback too, which is very useful since we often tend to make the same mistakes.
What was your inspiration to creating a specific character?
When I'm creating a character I'm trying to imagine her or his story, personality, attitude, temper, and express it through their appearance in a specific setting. I like to listen to music while I'm drawing, and picking something suitable for the mood I'm after helps a lot.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I would like to thank CGMA for providing great educational opportunities and a friendly community for students from all over the world. There are so many interesting subjects to learn and I'm looking forward to it as a big adventure!
We would like to thank Anna for sitting down with us and sharing her CGMA experience. To see more of Anna's artwork you can visit her ArtStation website HERE