Texture artist Harsh Agrawal: Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker was a rewarding experience
Texture artists are responsible for creating the textures, colours and organic surface qualities needed in the completion of CG creatures and hard-surface models used in production.
Harsh Agrawal, an Indian native, is a Senior Texture Artist at Disney-owned Industrial Light & Magic, founded by Star Wars creator George Lucas. The company has contributed to some of the biggest film franchises ever, including Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Terminator, Harry Potter and the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Harsh’s last project was Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the concluding film in the Skywalker saga of the franchise.
Excerpts from the conversation:
What did you study to become a texture artist?
During high school, I was doing more technical things – studying science and technology. It was in college that I did fine arts and visual effects studies. So it was a combination of technical and artistic stuff.
What does a texture artist do? Why did you specifically choose texturing?
This goes back to my interests. I am really passionate about painting and even now I do a lot of painting work. My process includes a lot of painting, even if it is digital painting. We would take a 3D model, creature or environment, and then we would do some painting work on it. So it is a good combination of art and science. This is probably why I enjoy texturing.
How does a day look like in your job? What do you like the most about it?
There are many aspects to it. Usually, day-to-day, it would be a lot of problem-solving. It could be creative problem solving or technical problem solving. So, it is almost like a puzzle that is fun to solve. You start with some sort of 3D model and then you define the look of the object — whatever the object may be. That process of look development is what I enjoy the most.
So you kind of give objects a realistic look?
It does not have to be realistic. It depends on what the story wants, right? So depending on what kind of project you have joined, it could be a different style. So, for example, I wouldn’t call Star Wars realistic. It has its own style that we needed to be true to.
How was it like working on a huge project like Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker?
It was a great experience. The process of collaboration, feedback, learning from all these different people who are doing an amazing job in their respective fields and putting all their efforts to see the movie come together — it was all quite rewarding.
How is Industrial Light & Magic as a workplace?
It is really great. I enjoy working at ILM in Singapore. The studio nurtures creativity which I really like. The work-life balance is also really nice. The people I am working with here are very talented.
Any tips for a budding visual effects artist?
The main thing is you need to be really passionate about what you do. You need to enjoy it. And the other thing is to keep yourself motivated, which means finding inspiration. You look at other artwork and movies, and you constantly get inspired from all that amazing work being done around you.