From caregiver to 3D-artist of the new hit videogame Valheim
Updated: Aug 24, 2022
It took Robin Eyre 7 years of disciplined self-learning to become the 3D artist of the new videogame hit Valheim from Iron Gate Studio.
Robin shares with us how he went from caregiver to videogame artist; tips for self-learning and reaching the industry, and the pros and cons of his approach.
“I slipped on a banana peel and, accidentally, got into the games industry”
Robin's love for video games began at the age of 6, in the early 1990s, with the NES console. He was amused with the possibility of controlling his adventure, something impossible in movies and videos, but he didn't think he would ever be able to work with videogames. However, when Robin was 14 years old, Final Fantasy 7 changed everything. "I was obsessed with the game and the company Square. I realized that I wanted to work with video games, but the questions were how and where to start. I asked my teachers and other adults, but no one knew."
Although he went to art school and then moved to Japan for 2 years to become an animator, he still hadn’t a clear path. After moving back to Sweden, Robin started a self-learning journey, which became his key to the videogames industry’s door.
“I slipped on a banana peel and, accidentally, got into the games industry,” he said. But it wasn’t only luck. It took him 7 years of disciplined self-learning to land his first permanent job as a 3D artist at Iron Gate Studio.
7 years of self-learning
In 2012, at 28, Robin wasn’t taking the traditional path of studying in an educational institution. He didn't have good enough grades, he had 3 jobs as a caregiver, and he had a newborn baby. Precisely the birth of his daughter was Robin’s inspiration to start his self-learning routine. Robin studied at night, after family time when his daughter went to sleep. He did it with the limited resources available on the Internet at that time.
"If I were the same age as then and started at this time, I think I would improve in less time. Now, there are many more resources on the Internet." His technique was to look for references and wonder: "how did They do that? With the knowledge that I have now, can I do that?."
Robin's routine consisted in spending 2 hours a day (8 pm to 10 pm), 5 evenings a week learning by himself, basically, with YouTube videos. His pathway step by step was:
Painting: He started learning about painting, but then he noticed that his works "were not moving or doing anything.”
3D Modeling: He wanted to become a character artist and followed with 3D modeling with Maya and C brush. But after a year, he realized: "I only had 3D models standing in space."
Animation: He learned how to animate stuff, but his pieces needed a purpose. “I needed to put this into a game.”
Game engine - Unreal Engine 4: He didn't know anything about programming, so “I had to teach myself how to do this node-based programming stuff.”
After all these learnings, “that was when I started to feel like everything came together. I could paint, model, animate and put my characters into a game.”
In 2016 Robin felt that his skills were getting high enough. He obtained his first freelance project that year when he posted his work on a Facebook Group. Since then, Robin Eyre worked as a freelance artist on the DeviantArt platform and for small videogame studios.
However, he did not relax his strict routine until 2019, when he started working as an employee for a videogames studio.
From freelance artist to Valheim’s Success
Robin planned to always work independently. After some bad experiences, he thought studios couldn’t pay him enough and only wanted to take advantage of him. However, In 2019, he saw an Iron Gate job post on Facebook and applied without many expectations.
"My biggest worry was that they couldn’t afford my salary expectations. I had only heard of people having bad salaries in the industry. However, I went for the interview, and they agreed with my salary proposal."
That is how Robin joined the ranks of Iron Gate Studio as a 3D Artist for Valheim. Which then became an overnight sensation, selling more than 5 million copies.
In his upcoming talk at Friday Stories, Robin Eyre and his Iron Gate colleague Lisa Kolfjord, Community Manager and 3D Artist, will talk with the participants about how the success of Valheim has impacted their and the studio’s future.