Alumni Focus: Dan Roarty

January 12, 2016

I Can't Believe It's Not Reality

For this alumni blog post we spoke with Dan Roarty, an LaSalle College Vancouver alumnus who has more than 10 years’ experience in the gaming industry as a character artist. Dan is now a lead character artist at Microsoft where he keeps himself busy creating content for the upcoming Gears of War 4.

Located in Melbourne— Australia’s design and fashion capital— LCI Melbourne is recognized for its Bachelor of Design Arts and its practical programs developed in partnership with leading industry specialists. The institution also finished first in the latest Australian Graduate Survey, ranking graduates’ satisfaction with the quality of courses available in art and design in the greater Victoria state region.

The Inspiration Behind Video Game Realism

Many artists find inspiration from the natural world – their work stands as a testament to the source of inspiration that drives them. The same can be said of those whose art portrays the people they love. A quick glance at the digital rendering to the left highlights the skill and dedication of its creator, Dan Roarty, and his ability to find inspiration in those around him.

As the Lead Character Artist on the Gears of Wars franchise at Microsoft, Dan’s work has been seen by millions of gamers across the globe. A notable aspect of his work is the extreme realism found in each character he creates.

“Most people say my work focuses on realistic portraits, which is true. I don’t usually do the classical woman you tend to see in many video games with a large sword, gun or big monster,” commented Dan. “I try to make characters that are more personable to me – people who are inspiring to me. I’ve done a piece of my wife [above] and my grandma [below]. That for me is inspiring: people that are important to me growing up and people who help and support me.”

“Most people say my work focuses on realistic portraits, which is true. I don’t usually do the classical woman you tend to see in many video games with a large sword, gun or big monster,” commented Dan. “I try to make characters that are more personable to me – people who are inspiring to me. I’ve done a piece of my wife [above] and my grandma [below]. That for me is inspiring: people that are important to me growing up and people who help and support me.”

Stoking the Creative Fire

Dan was raised with a taste for the creative. Both his mother and grandmother were artists, and he quickly followed in their footsteps by creating characters and drawing his favorite subject, humans. “At age 13, I was given my first 3D software package. I was hooked,” said Dan. “For my generation especially, video games were a huge part of our upbringing. I loved the idea of technology collaborating with creativity, and with all of the game arts studios in the Vancouver area, I knew where I wanted to go.”

After graduating high school, Dan enrolled at LaSalle College Vancouver where he completed the Masters of Science in Digital Animation program in 2003. “I became pretty well rounded in all technical systems as well as the foundational arts. Having a strong foundation in art is crucial, and it helped me get started in my career early on.”

Dan found encouragement and solid career advice from the faculty at Ai Vancouver. “Bob McAfee, one of my professors at Ai Vancouver, was a huge influence in my life. He helped me get my first gig, and we still keep in touch to this day.” Dan credits much of his success to his education in a diversity of art studies, including film, art history, light drawing, traditional animation, and learning a variety of software packages taught at Ai Vancouver. One of his strongest passions in the gaming industry is seeing the collaboration of technology and art, and the thrill of pushing technical capacity to create better, more involved video games.

Gaming From Player to Creator

As the Lead Character Artist on the Gears of Wars franchise at Microsoft, Dan is responsible for managing a team of character artists and creating new characters from concept to finish. “I love working on games, especially as technology limitations are changing. I’m able to express myself and push the limits of art further on this system versus the last system. I was a huge fan of Gears of War growing up, and I always wanted to work on it. Dream come true.” Dan’s characters have been featured in major titles including Star Wars 1313, Prototype, Tomb Raider, and will appear in the upcoming Gears of War.

For those seeking to enter the world of video game creation, Dan commented: “If I had to give any advice, I would say you need to try to be humble, put your head down, work hard, and love what you’re doing. The relationships you make in school and early in your career will help you for the rest of your career. Treat people with respect, never take criticism to heart, and always keep pushing yourself. On top of that, you always have to have your portfolio ready and updated.”

When asked about his impact in the gaming world, Dan mentioned that while he loves hearing from fans and experiencing the final product of his creativity, his aim is to create characters he and gamers will appreciate for their realistic qualities. As a video game enthusiast, Dan has enjoyed playing the Star Wars Battlefront demo, Gears of War franchise games, Tomb Raider, several hockey games and many indie games hitting the market.

Dan exemplifies the hard work and passion it takes to make it as a creative warrior in the gaming world. Armed with an education from Ai Vancouver, Dan produces work that speaks volumes for the collaboration of technology and art that goes into each video game. “Regardless of what you do, you always work overtime to meet deadlines. That’s just how it is. You have to keep a good attitude and surround yourself with people with passion.”

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