Rohit Nayak
Rohit Nayak
Lead 3D Generalist/ Matte Painter at ILM
Vancouver, Canada


I get approached by a lot of students asking me about my career, Vanarts, my job at ILM and how I became a matte painter/generalist. And I would love to reply to each and every one of you and guide you but many a times I am really busy with my schedule and I end up replying really late. So I decided to write down these FAQs and my replies to them so that I can point you guys here. I intend to keep updating these when I get new questions or if I have better answers. Hope this helps ;)

FAQs :
Q : How long have you been working in VFX industry ?
A : Almost 7 years

Q : Why did you study Engineering and how did you transition your career from a software engineer to a matte painter/environment artist ?
A : I have always been interested in art and drawing since my childhood. But growing up in india during those times, no one considered making a career out of it. I was also interested in engineering. So as most of the Indian students, I studied engineering and also worked as a software developer for almost 3 years. And to be honest I loved my time studying Engineering so much so that I ended being the topper of the class in most of my exams. After that I did ended up getting a job as a software developer and I enjoyed it thoroughly too. But between the time I finished my engineering and started the job, I had this time off for couple of months which was kind of a turning point for me. I decided to do a short course in photoshop and sketching. I met my first mentor Mr. Shakti Sir and he gave me this dream to become a matte painter. He acknowledged my artistic skills and technical background and suggested me to try for a matte painter position. That was the first time I came to know about VFX and matte painting as a profession. But I still went for my software job as it is a stable good paying job and vfx was new in India and was seen upon as a negative profession which won't make you money. But while working in software, I also practiced my matte painting skills on weekends and also after work sometimes. It was just for fun. But after doing it for some time, I had this INNER CALLING if you will , where all I could think of was matte painting everywhere I go. I started taking part in online challenges and even won few. I even started applying for job positions in India and started getting some offers. Now that gave me enough confidence to literally switch my profession and come to Canada to become a matte painter. I did a 1 year VFX course at vanarts where I met some amazing mentors Geoff Taylor, Nick Tay, Dave Rose, Wade Howie and few more. And I got my first job as matte painter on Amazing spiderman 2 at MPC even before I finished my school. Definitely a dream come true.

Q : How much can a 3d generalist / matte painter earn ?
A : Earning ability of an artist depends on few factors. First one would be how good are your works of course. If you are an insanely talented artist, your works will definitely speak for you. That being said, I have come across many artists / colleagues in the industry who are way underpaid for what they offer. So from my experience, I feel your negotiating skills will matter a lot which in turn depends on how confident you are in your skills. I also feel, specially when you are looking for your first job or are planning for a switch, having a couple of options is always a plus. What I mean is, you should give multiple interviews at different studios and then weigh your options accordingly. That always gives you an idea of your market value and help you to decide your hourly rate. I would also recommend Glassdoor as many artists post their income/hourly rates there anonymously.

Q : Does your engineering Background helps in your day to day work as a VFX artist ?
A : Most certainly! 4 years of studying at engineering college definitely builds a technical mindset to approach problems. So even if I don't deal with engineering problems in my daily work, we as VFX artists are problem solvers. So I definitely feel more confident in solving any problems I come across in my daily job.


Concept ArtEnvironment DesignMatte Painting