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Aaron Aikman

Senior Technical Artist II

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BIO

Aaron Aikman is a Senior Technical Artist II with 7+ years of experience. He focuses mainly on shaders, pipeline, and problem-solving.

Aaron has worked on AAA titles, indie games, cinematics, remasters, film, tv, and amusement park rides - often wearing the many hats of a tech art generalist. He now specializes in graphics - from shaders and rendering technology, to performance profiling and optimization. In addition to making and maintaining core shaders for common PBR surfaces, he frequently works on more dynamic surfaces like water, snow, ice, clouds, fog, and lava. Aaron also prioritizes streamlining art pipelines, from modeling and texturing to lighting and iterating in engine. He looks for opportunities to improve workflows by creating tools and automation for Maya, Houdini, Substance, and version control. He regularly acts as a bridge between art and other teams, from translating needs and goals with engineers in order to facilitate new engine features, to coordinating with purchasing and legal teams about acquiring and distributing new software. Aaron strives to be a general troubleshooting resource for anything artists and leads are facing. Overall, he seeks to add quality and speed to the art he makes, and clarity and confidence to teams he supports.

Software Proficiency

Type Packages
3D Maya Icon Maya, Houdini Icon Houdini, Blender Icon Blender, Zbrush Icon ZBrush
Surfacing Substance 3D Designer Icon Substance 3D Designer, Substance 3D Painter Icon Substance 3D Painter
Engines Unreal Icon Unreal, Unity Icon Unity, Proprietary
Version Control Git Icon Git, Perforce Icon Perforce
Profiling PIX Icon PIX, RenderDoc Icon RenderDoc, Proprietary
Other Photoshop Icon Photoshop, Qt Designer Icon Qt Designer, Excel Icon Excel, Jenkins Icon Jenkins, Jira Icon Jira​

Skills

Type Skills
Art Modeling, Sculpting, Retopo, Unwrapping, Texturing, Lighting, VFX
Tech Shaders, Performance, Art/Animation Pipeline, Version Control, Job Distribution, Automation
Code Python, Qt, C#, HLSL, GLSL, Blueprint, Batch, AutoHotkey
Soft Communication, Coordination, Documentation, Training, Pathfinding

Qualities

  • Solid understanding of real-time engines and graphics
  • Experience building and maintaining efficient art pipelines
  • Experience problem-solving on a daily basis and being a point of reference for artists and engineers
  • Experience interfacing with artists and engineers about art pipelines, graphics features and performance
  • Advanced knowledge of modeling, sculpting, texturing, shading and lighting
  • Experience leading, training, documenting, scheduling, and providing support
  • Familiarity with rigging, animation, and vfx pipelines
  • Passion for creating immersive and engaging games

Contributions

Games

Film

TV

Amusement Park Rides

Experience

Blizzard Entertainment

Roles
  • Senior Technical Artist II (Sep 2021-Present)
  • Senior Technical Artist I (Sep 2018-Sep 2021)
Responsibilities
  • Creating tools, shaders, and solutions for artists
  • Interfacing with artists and engineers to improve game features and performance
  • Empowering artists by providing graphics knowledge, tooling options, and general troubleshooting
The Mentor Coalition - Shader/Tech Art Mentor (Sep 2021-Present)
  • Mentoring current and prospective tech artists in shaders, rendering, and problem-solving
Blind Squirrel Games - Senior Technical Artist (Oct 2017-Sep 2018)
  • Created shaders for characters, environments, and vfx
  • Made filters for Substance Painter to improve Character artist workflow
  • Rigged characters and props
  • Created character skill and ambient visual effects
  • Set up anim blueprints and in-engine rig solutions in Unreal Engine 4
  • Created post process materials for screen space effects
  • Profiled and improved performance
  • Developed tools for improved animation workflow
  • Provided troubleshooting support for art team and engine-specific knowledge for engineering
  • Wrote documentation for art pipelines
HALON Entertainment - Lead Engine Artist (Aug 2015-Nov 2017)
  • Established art pipeline for asset creation, shot assembly, lighting, effects and rendering in Unreal
  • Trained team on real-time engine workflow and best practices
  • Wrote extensive documentation for training and troubleshooting
  • Managed project structure and optimization as pertaining to Unreal
  • Created material inheritance system and templates for visual quality and efficiency
  • Developed tools in the engine to aid and expedite the creative process
  • Managed engine troubleshooting challenges across the company
  • Created visual effects including particles, clothing, and destruction for Previs and Postvis
  • Performed motion tracking of cameras and actors for Postvis
  • Integrated motion capture and animation for shot creation
  • Developed tools to aid, manage, and export animation as well as tools for file management
Flatter Than Earth - 3D and Technical Artist (Sep 2014-Jul 2015)
  • Established character and environment art pipeline
  • Created hero characters
  • Created props and modular environment kits
  • Managed scene assembly and worldbuilding
  • Authored VFX and shaders
  • Optimized assets and improved in-engine bottlenecks
  • Developed art tools and workflows to speed up production

Auxilliary Experience

Featured Academy of Art Game Development Story [link] (2021)
  • Spoke about career journey and the skills necessary to succeed
Guest Speaker for Loyola Marymount University Tech Art Class (2020)
  • Spoke to students about tech art as a career and valuable tools for the job
  • Spoke to students from at Saddleback NEXT academy about industry opportunities and trends
  • Broke out into targeted session for teaching game industry technology and practices
  • Spoke to educators from across Orange County, CA about industry opportunities and trends
  • Broke out into targeted session for teaching game industry technology and practices
  • Spoke to educators from across Orange County, CA about industry opportunities and trends
  • Broke out into targeted session for teaching game industry technology and practices
  • Spoke about building a previs pipeline in Unreal Engine 4 on War for the Planet of the Apes
Academy of Art Spring Show Winner (2013)
  • First Place for 3D Character Art

Education

Academy of Art University San Francisco, CA (2009-2013)
  • Major: Game Development
  • Degree: Bachelor of Fine Arts

Recommendation Highlights

Aaron is an extraordinary game developer. He is willing to tackle anything with enthusiasm and carries a “whatever it takes” attitude. I and the team was very fortunate to have him do tech art, shaders, and even VFX. He was thrown into the VFX realm and tackled it with both technical know how and with artful eyes. His timing for VFX animation was impeccable. He was able to author everything with the utmost efficiency, speed, and pleases the eye. Everything he touched was always delivered with perfection. A true craftsman.

Alan Lee (Environment Technical Art Director at Counterplay Games)

 

Aaron reached out to me looking for a new opportunity, and he exceeded my expectations when he joined the Technical Art team. He ramped up quickly on several projects, not only learning what he needed to complete his assigned tasks, but also going outside his comfort zone to contribute to other areas like VFX. His work not only showed technical prowess, but he has a good eye for art as well. He gained the trust of Art Directors and team members as a go-to artist when they needed to improve art tools, to create new pipeline processes, or to solve problems. He will be a great asset on any project lucky enough to have him on board. And the ultimate compliment, he is a colleague I hope to work with again.

Mike Popovich (Senior Technical Artist at Treyarch)

 

“Aaron stood out immediately among other candidates when he was hired at Halon. His technical knowledge and ability to find ways to make anything work was impressive, and even has the eye to make the work look good and polished. His desire to learn and grow was apparent to me when we briefly worked together on the same project - very easy to work with and trustworthy. I’d work with you again, Aaron, any place, any time!

Jason Choi (Technical Director, Game Engine Production at Frame Machine)

 

Aaron is one of the most talented and dedicated to his craft that have I ever worked with. We worked together at Flatter Than Earth, where Aaron lead the team of 3D and 2D artists and engineers. Aaron is a very passionate and knowledgeable specialist that can resolve any pipeline related and code related issues which is why another of his responsibilities was to design the art pipeline and write the explanatory documentation for programmers who would work on visual effects and create new shaders based on his designs. Aaron was also part of the design group and was responsible for designing and implementing new game mechanics from paper prototype to polished in-game experience. Over all, he worked very hard, over 12 hours a day and on weekends if needed. He knew his stuff so well that he would spend lots of time teaching the rest of the team on better ways of doing things. He would passionately show how and explain why it is necessary to do so. All I can say is that he is a great artist, teacher and technical lead and it was an honor to work with him.

Andry Fedorchuk (AR VR Lead Developer R&D at Innovation Group WellsFargo)

 

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Aaron Aikman is a Senior Technical Artist II with 7+ years of experience. He focuses mainly on shaders, pipeline, and problem-solving.