3D Modelers, Concept Artists, Animators, and Sprite Artists are just some of the titles of artists that create art for video games. Each of these creative professional’s crafts specialized art assets for a game. In this video we’ll break down the different skills and software one should know if they are looking to start a career as a game artist.
- [Voiceover] Game artists create everything that you see in a video game. This art can include the building of assets, characters, animations, scenery, effects, and weapons. In this video we'll take a look at what skills a game artist needs, and how you can go about preparing for a career as a game artist. The first question I usually get asked about a career in game art is, "Do I need to be able to draw well?" For most positions the answer is: Yes. These are art jobs, after all. However, some positions such as an animator, or environmental artist won't focus so much on drawing skills as your time will most likely be spent designing things rather than drawing them.
Learning to draw well will always be an asset in the field as drawing helps you communicate your ideas as a concept easily to others on the team. Let's look at some of the skills and trades important to becoming a game artist. Game artists need the ability to see the big picture, or have a vision of what they want to create. The ability to envision a scene or place, then recreate it in software is a skill many artists have difficulty with. Second, learn at least one 3D program like Max, Maya, or Blender.
Learn how to make hard surface in organic types of objects in 3D. Third, learn at least one digital sculpting program. These programs will allow you to digitally sculpt characters and objects with extremely high polygon counts and fine detail. Fourth, master Photoshop. There isn't a game artist job on the planet that doesn't have to use a raster-based image editing program. Photoshop is the industry standard. Fifth, create art from real life. While stylized, anime, or your own creations are important influences for an artist, creating real-world objects and realistic characters is a good start to a portfolio.
Art directors can easily identify your skill sets by comparing drawings from one artist to the next of objects or scenes they are familiar with. Sixth, learn a commercially available game engine. Import everything you model into the game engine to prove you know how the game industry pipeline works from start to end. UDK And Unity are fantastic engines to start with. Seventh, play games. You'd be surprised how many artists try to break into the industry without knowing anything about current games or the current state of the game industry.
Keep in mind that game art candidates are easily judged. The artists that can create the most realistic, detailed, or interesting assets usually is the better candidate for the job. While drawing or design skills rarely come up directly in an interview, these foundations skills are the building blocks that make you a better artist and potential new hire. Learn what software is being used by the position you are applying for. While Photoshop, May, Max and Zbrush may be standards, there are other programs that may be just as useful for a specific position.
Programs that fake normal maps, render objects with game engine lighting and UV unwrapping tools are every bit as common as Photoshop. I hope this video has helped you get started on a career as a game artist. Remember, practice, practice and play a few games along the way.
- A brief history of video games
- The phases of game development
- Roles in game development
- Essential programming, art, design, and audio skills
- Choosing a game engine
- Funding options outside the game studio system