- Personality type:
- Creating the visual elements of a game, such as characters, scenery, objects, vehicles, surface textures, clothing, etc.
- Creating concept art and storyboards which help communicate the proposed visual elements during pre-production
Is this role right for me?
To do this role, you will need to:
- have an art portfolio demonstrating a range of work and originality of style
- be able to draw from life
- have knowledge of anatomy and architecture
- be able to convey facial expressions and emotions
- have a flair for colour, composition, perspective, modelling and texturing techniques, lighting and mood
- have skills in comic book art and/or storyboarding
- be able to work as part of a team and independently
- be imaginative and creative
- pay close attention to detail and have strong powers of observation
- have good communication skills
- be able to work to a style guide
- have knowledge of the requirements of the relevant Health and Safety legislation and procedures
What does a Games Artist do?
Artists create the visual elements of a game, such as characters, scenery, objects, vehicles, surface textures, clothing, props, and even user interface components. They also create concept art and storyboards which help communicate the proposed visual elements during the pre-production phase.
Some games try to look as realistic as possible while others aim for a more stylised look. It is the Artist's job to model and texture characters and objects to achieve the desired result. The look of a game is often a significant factor in its success, second only to its playability.
There are various specialisms within the art department, including 3D object modelling, character design, textures, and environments. Each Artist has responsibility for the creation of particular art assets with a game, but there is also a lot of movement between roles. They might also create artwork for packages, promotional materials and websites.
Artists work under the supervision of the Lead Artist. They create art assets according to the game specification and they are usually responsible for managing those assets.
Some Artists specialise in the design of human figures and characters, others in buildings and landscapes, and some in textures for 3D objects.
Artists must be aware of the technical capabilities and limitations of the platform that the game will be played on. They must also take on board feedback from QA Testers. Artists do a range of jobs which have different responsibilities and techniques, including:
- Concept Artist - usually using traditional materials (e.g. pen and paper) rather than computer software, the Concept Artist sketches ideas for the game worlds, characters, objects, vehicles, furniture, clothing, etc. They also suggest level designs, colour schemes, and the mood and feel of the game. Although not involved in creating the actual game art, their concept will shape the look of the game
- 3D Modeller - builds the characters, objects and environments of the game, including life forms, scenery, vegetation, furniture, and vehicles, etc. They need to balance visual richness and detail with the limitations of the game's technology
- 2D/Texture Artist - creates and applies textures to characters, environments and game items, such as the surfaces of walls and floors of buildings. This is also a highly skilled area, which requires considerable knowledge of lighting, perspective, materials and visual effects
Will I need a qualification?
Most Artists in the games industry possess a degree or HND in an art subject, such as fine art, graphic design or illustration.
If you are considering taking a games course in higher education, the following courses have been rigorously assessed by the games industry and awarded the Creative Skillset Tick for the high standard of education they provide and the degree to which they prepare you for a games career:
Games courses awarded the Creative Skillset Tick
You should also learn how to use 3D graphics packages such as 3D Studio Max, Maya, etc., and 2D packages such as Photoshop. Game Artists might also use software tools that have been developed in-house.
What’s the best route in?
To have a chance to get your foot in the door for most art roles, you should have an art background and education. You should also have some knowledge of the technical side of the work and know how to use the appropriate software packages.
Most game art involves 3D graphics, so you will need to understand the basic mathematical concepts involved. A work placement during a degree course would provide a useful way to gain the industry experience that could lead to your first job.
You will start off in a junior role and decision you will need to make early on is whether to specialise in 2D or 3D work.
You could apply to be a Games Trainee through Trainee Finder, which gives you hands-on experience in the industry and helps you build those all-important contacts that are essential when competing for a job:
Where might the role take me?
You could progress to be a team leader, a Senior Artist or a Lead Artist.
Interested? Find out more...
- 3DWorld - the magazine for SFX, TV production and game development artists
- BECTU - the UK's media and entertainment trade union, covering broadcasting, film, independent production, theatre and the arts, leisure and digital media
- Develop - the monthly magazine for European developers
- e-Skills UK - the Sector Skills Council for IT, Telecoms and Contact Centres
- Edge - the UK's self-styled bible for UK gamers
- Eurogamer - European-focused consumer website
- Gamasutra - website founded in 1997 that focuses on all aspects of video game development
- GameDev.net - online community for game developers of all levels
- GamesIndustry.biz - covering breaking news from the game's business
- IGDA - the International Game Developers Association, a global network of collaborative projects and communities comprising individuals from all fields of game development
- IGN - internet media and services provider focused on the video game, entertainment men’s lifestyle markets
- MCV - the weekly trade magazine of the UK games industry,
- TIGA - the Independent Games Developers Trade Association - non-profit trade association representing the UK's games industry
- Ukie - the Association for UK Interactive Entertainment - champions the interests, needs and positive image of the video games and interactive entertainment industry whose companies make up its membership