Connecting the Dots - From Outdoor Advertising Designer to Games Digital Artist.
6 min read

Connecting the Dots - From Outdoor Advertising Designer to Games Digital Artist.

In today's article, Yulia Shelkovenko brings us the story of her friend Maksim Petrik, and how he got into the games industry.
Connecting the Dots - From Outdoor Advertising Designer to Games Digital Artist.

I am a big fan of Steve Jobs, and of course, I watched all the videos of his speech in public. I was particularly struck by his speech to graduates of Stanford University. Yes, the same speech where he said: "connecting the dots" between two important events.

Looking at my friend, 2D, 3D artist, animator Maksim Petrik, I understand that the concept of dots really works. It all started in 2008 and continued in 2021. The events that took place during this period helped to connect these dots. I want to share this motivating story with you.

I studied international economics for two years at the Mariupol State University (MSU) in Ukraine. I dropped out because we moved to Russia, St. Petersburg, with my family.

In St. Petersburg, I became interested in programming, having entered ITMO. I had a friend, the programmer Valentin, probably it all started with him. Unfortunately, he died a few years ago, so this story is also about him.

Like many students in Russia, I did not have enough money, and I worked part-time in the printing industry. I developed the outdoor advertising design, but in 2008 the crisis hit Russia, and I had to change my life.

In the summer, Valentin and I decided to start developing our own game. I took over the development of art, and at that time, I was not into digital drawing. I bought a tablet and devoted the whole summer of 2008 to this project. I worked on about 50 characters and locations for a 2D turn-based strategy.

Back then, there were no games on the VKontakte social network. YouTube was not so popular; there were no drawing tutorials, especially in Russian, and all the information on programming and computer graphics was in books and CDs, which I took from the library.

Around autumn, I found a vacancy for an artist in the game company Osa. I tried my chance: I printed my drawings and went to the office. I was in need at that time, so I agreed to all the conditions - a low salary, a probation period of 3 months, etc.

I rode my bike to work all year because I didn't have enough money. I started pumping, clinging to work with all my teeth. I began to draw much better in a couple of months because I worked a lot and slept for 4 hours.

There was a moment when my boss told me - if the result of your work doesn't meet the requirement, you will be fired. I had to draw a banner for the "Victory Day" game and successfully done it. Art director Maxim Surov said that such fast progress is simply unrealistic. As a result, I confirmed my ability to work. I worked at Osa for over two years, and it was a great start in game dev.

How did I make it? Firstly, I got into an environment where it was interesting to develop; I studied 2D drawing and Flash animation. And you need to understand that I had Ukrainian citizenship; I could not officially get a job in St. Petersburg. But the managers of Osа covered all migration issues.

Unfortunately, the Osa company was closed due to an internal conflict between the management. After leaving Osa, I worked as a freelance animator for a year. Then many of Osa's employees, including myself, moved to the Happy Kids company.

In 2010 I was a Flash animator and worked on assembling code as a programmer, making interactive games for children.

I have an unstable character, and I cannot do one thing for a long time; my brain explodes. First, I drew, then I did the animation; it's easier for me, but I needed a fresh breath of air after a while.

The interest in 3D was probably connected to it, especially since I did projects where I needed to work in 3D programs. I have installed 3D Max several times, but its interface seemed complicated to me, and there was neither money nor time to attend the courses.

A year and a half ago, Blender 2.8 was released with an interface accessible to artists. And I switched to Blender, which is the only one I work with now.

After a while, I ended up getting some really nice results from all the hard work. I'd love to tell you about my favorite pieces. Let's start with the game Grave Digger.

These are slot games we made at the RPI Group. It was 2018. In this company, I worked as a lead artist and animator. I drew and animated this project myself. I felt like a free bird. It is one thing to implement your ideas and another thing to bring in life the vision of others.

You can check out some more cool screenshots below:

Digital Artist Petrik Maksim - 2D Artist & animation - Петрик Максим...
2D Artist & animation - Петрик Максим

Yulia Asks: I liked the drawing of a girl with a gun. Is this a character for the game?

No, just a sketch, not for a project. I don't remember exactly; most likely, there were some photographs as a reference. Of course, I can use it in future projects. I also drew a pilot episode for an animated series, illustrated animated postcards for

Other than these two, this is a 2D animation made in Spine that I'm really proud of. If we talk about Flash animation, it is outdated in output format, coding, and optimization. With Spine, the process is optimized, the output file weight is less.

Spine allows you to make the character more voluminous, with some half-turns, deformations, 3D effects. I did this at Red Brics company, where I worked as a lead animation artist.

Now I work in Blender, but this is more of a hobby; I am pumping in terms of preparing characters for games, and our current indie project - the game Steampunk 1881 - is an opportunity to go through all the stages of creating a game from scratch, face problems, and find a solution in the process.

I think all indie developers go to projects to improve their skills in a team of like-minded people.

Over the past 13 years, I have met many amazing people in game development and digital graphics, and many are still with me. It seems that my life is like a long journey, and therefore it is essential to enjoy it.

I want to give you good advice: look for friends among those who love their job as much as you do. When you do not have the strength and motivation, they will support you. Only thanks to like-minded people do I continue to work and move towards my goals.

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