Born in Rio Branco, Brazil, Christopher Henrick never imagined that he could earn a living from his talents as a freelance Texture and Substance Artist. However, since he began to produce his own tutorials and textures, Christopher has realised that a career in this field is entirely achievable, taking advantage of both his own expertise and websites such as Hotmart and Gumroad.
“Previously, my main jobs involved freelancing for independent developers and companies, but since these opportunities were rare, I focused on producing tutorials, teaching what I knew,” says Christopher. “I started with my Substance Designer course at Hotmart, and then I started my Gumroad to sell my products, because I realised that people wanted to know how I got my results.”
Having learned a lot of his trade through self-teaching and online resources, Christopher believes that sharing his art within a community has its benefits:
“I don’t see a problem with sharing art, I know that in the future some people will thank me, as many have already done, and this is very inspiring and rewarding,”
“Currently, my main source of studies is based on ‘merging’ techniques that I learned alone and over time studying some content that I found in videos and in materials that I bought. It’s amazing that with only one material, you can learn techniques that you have never seen before, and this can give you infinite possibilities for future creations.”
Although Christopher had long been interested in video game art, he faced barriers when trying to pursue his studies. A lack of video art and animation courses in his State meant that he was restricted to studying online. As he transitioned to 3D modelling, Christopher faced his biggest challenges.
“It was without a doubt the most difficult experience for me, because I had no introduction to the basic concept of texture, and there was little content available on the internet that would help me reach the level I wanted to be at. I started studying tutorials on YouTube, reading documents and asking for help from other artists. I decided to create a routine optimising my time to the maximum, waking up early, having pre-defined study and rest periods, and in six months I got to the level I wanted. I made sure to continue to study and learn new things so that I exceeded that level.”
Originally, Christopher studied programming, but transitioned to art because he felt it would allow him to be more creative.
“I wanted to give life to my imagination,” explains Christopher. “I always had ideas for scenarios, monsters and characters, and I knew that programming would not give me this freedom of creation. In the future, I intend to make my own world and I want to tell its story through my art.”
Check out some examples of Christopher’s work below:
“This is for sure the best work I’ve done with Substance Designer. For a nature scene, I could not believe that I was able to get results like this.”
“This particular material is one of my most recent ones, it represents for me the formidable support I receive from my girlfriend who has accompanied my entire journey over the past three and a half years, always helping me with all possible feedback, with fantastic ideas and always motivating me to continue with my dream. I think it’s very important that you be close to the people who support you, be it your girlfriend, friends, family or anyone else, you just need those who support you and nothing else.
Christopher maintains that practice and trial and error play a key role in developing your skills as a Texture or Substance Artist:
“All I got was through practice and as you improve your materials, you will also improve your presentation. You will want to create your own presentation template, you will want to redefine your portfolio several times, redefine your materials and gradually you will create a more artistic vision about your work, will perceive details that you did not understand before, will be able to correct simple mistakes, will try harder to present your content before posting and gradually you will reach the level that you want and you will not notice,”
“A good tip to improve your presentation in the portfolio is to analyse how the artists of the industry present their materials and try to follow this model and the main tendencies of the area that you want to follow, and how to improve the surface of your materials. The best way to practice is to study some tutorials and contents that some artists make available to the community and try to reproduce your own version or recreate the material without simply ‘copy and pasting’, take the material and gradually recreate it, enter the name of each node and connect them one by one and adjust the parameters manually, this helps to know how the node works and also remember the name and function of it. It’s okay to recreate the texture and post it in the portfolio, just make sure you mention/link the author of the original material and say it’s just a study project to improve your skills.”
As for advice to people who are looking to begin their journey in the industry, Christopher believes that a willingness to improve and commitment are paramount.
“My tip is do not worry about perfection and post your content regardless of whether it is ‘good or bad’ because as you improve you will replace those works gradually and as you post people will comment and critique your art and you will use those reviews to improve on the next material. Always spread your content in Facebook groups or other social media, try to make new artist friends and add people of the game industry support them and support their projects in the same way that they support yours, do not be selfish and help each other and be interested in the projects they have. If you want to be a respected artist, be respectful, because people like it and you can be sure that people will remember you either as an artist, fan or both. Summarising everything, post, share, make friends and use criticism in your favour, whether constructive or not.”
Looking ahead, Christopher has ambitious future plans for his career:
“I plan to study shaders and create landscapes in game engines using the textures I produce and also re-study Zbrush to produce characters / creatures and improve my modelling skills to create environments, because I want to publish a kind of album / book of the world I want to create. I also want to be part of a talented team in a game company and publish my work in an amazing game. I have a long way to go, but I do not care, I already chose what I want to do for the rest of my life so while I breathe I’ll be continuing my studies.”
If you’d like to keep up to date with what Christopher Henrick is up to, you can visit his Artstation, Gumroad or Facebook page using the links below: