Meet The Sprites: Rob Thornely

Category: careers

January 18, 2023
Meet The Sprites: Rob Thornely

We speak to Rob about life at Firesprite as a Principal Character Artist

Person smiling at camera for portrait photo to discuss games industry topics and their role in video games. Today’s ‘sprite spotlight’ is Rob who is a Principal Character Artist at Firesprite. Rob’s photos sits left of a blue pixel backdrop which displays name, role and the Firesprite logo in red.

When did you know that you wanted to work in games?
When I was about 12, playing Spectrum games in my bedroom.

How did you get your job in games?
I was a secondary teacher who learnt to animate in my holidays, it’s never too late if you put your mind to something!

What advice would you give to your younger self on your first day in the industry?
Be yourself, relax and listen. Nobody expects you to be up and running day one.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given since starting your career in gaming?
Be self-critical. Objectively study what you can improve based on the best in your field.

What most excites you most about working at Firesprite?
Learning. Every day is something new, it’s hard but keeps you mentally fit.

How does your work as Principal Character Artist help bring Firesprite’s games to life?
We try to give all our characters life. We model to the highest standards of course but the best studios also make their characters believable, they need to demonstrate their personality and experiences, reflect their circumstances and environment, support the story.

What are the challenges of Character Art and how do we overcome them?
Staying up to date, adapting and evolving, character modelling like anything else in games is totally different to 20 years ago when I started.

What’s your gamedev superpower?
Ha, wish I had one! I’d like the ability to get everything right first time but sadly I am much more someone who keeps chipping away, but I never give up.

How did you develop and refine your skills as a Principal Character Artist?
Perseverance and hard work. Getting good at art is like anything else, natural aptitude only gets you started. Work hard, listen to those you trust and learn from your mistakes.

What lessons have shaped the work you do today as a Principal Character Artist?
Don’t sit and wait for success to come to you. Get on your PC after work, draw as much as you can, sculpt, read and communicate with others doing similar work. Learn from everyone you can and don’t take criticism personally, people are trying to help for the most part.

What most excites you about your discipline?
Making cool characters or creatures whose models tell a tale. I love designing creatures especially.

What advice would you give to someone aspiring to become a Principal Character Artist?
Try and make contacts now, ask questions, get work experience, do a good games degree. Try and make stuff that compares not too unfavourably with industry standard and go from there.

What do you think the future holds for gaming?
Anything we can imagine. I’d like to see games further diversifying beyond today’s genres. Graphical realism is great but I’d like to see more stylized games too.

What have video games taught you?
Good games can offer an unrivalled experience, immersive rather than passive, co-operative and reactive.

What makes you proud to be a sprite?
Firesprite is a welcoming, supportive and ambitious studio. I have loved it since day one.

How would you describe the work life balance at Firesprite?
I work from home, so I no longer spend 3 + hours a day commuting and instead spend it with my family.

Tell us something you’ve learned from one of your fellow sprites!
I am sworn to secrecy. Nobody would believe me. It involves Area 51.