Gerard Dunleavy

Gerard Dunleavy is an ex pupil of the Master’s degree at Ulster University. He started out a  web/ graphic designer, he was alwayss interesting in 3D and visuals so learnt about it on the side. Now Gerard is a Senior Digital Matte Painter who works on backgrounds, characters, props and vehicles for things like Assassin’s Creed and the John Lewis Christmas ad.

For A Levels, he knew he wanted to do art, LOTR inspired him a lot and for his A Level he worked a lot on prosthetics, models and painting. He then took a year out because he felt that most design courses were too print orientated. During this year he watched a lot of movies and gained a lot of inspiration from them. He then went to Jordanstown and taught himself 3D things on the side, incorporating this in to everything. At this time there wasn’t a lot of places to learn from and so he had to look through a lot of sources to find things. Although this felt like a waste of time, it made you really cherish the information you found. Then Gerard went on to do the Masters degree with Greg, here he learned and grew, and moved away from his initial interest which was character design/ concept art.


Find an appropriate speed for the pipeline:

  • If you’re too fast you fuck over the people you’re working with.
  • If you’re too slow you also fuck over the people you’re working with.
  • There will be communication issues between departments: account for this in your workflow.

When given a brief:

  • Do a version based off your first reaction/ gut instinct.
  • Then, research and update it.

Observation is key:

  • Draw people everywhere you go (coffee shops, trains, anywhere)
  • Use these sketches to inspire characters.

Compound Effect:

  • Do a little bit every day – you will improve a lot over 30 days if you do.
  • Time spent daily doesn’t matter.
  • Wee bits daily > loads once a week.

Not every shot you do will end up in the final version:

  • This is incredibly disheartening BUT do not let it demotivate you

Make the most of uni:

  • Money takes away your freedom; you will not be able to experiment nearly as much when you have a job.
  • Learn the technical stuff but don’t make it your focus: software and techniques will change, learn to be adaptable.

Make sure your contact details are in your reel/ on your website.

Only put the work you want to do in your reel and portfolio: otherwise you will be hired for jobs you have no interest in.

The amount of work we have to do can be incredibly overwhelming:

  • See where your work will have the biggest impact within the projects final result and focus on this first.
  • Estimate how long a task will take you: set a timer and when this time is up step away from it and work on something else.
  • If you aren’t done: Still step away, come back to it later with fresh eyes.



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