What is a Games Artist?

Do you love gaming and want to get into the gaming industry? Are you artistic, have a strong attention to detail, and think you'd enjoy working with other people? You may want to consider a career as a games artist!

A games artist creates 2D and 3D art for the visual elements of a video game, such as characters, vehicles, props, scenery, background, objects, colours, textures, and clothing. All these things create the look and feel for a video game.

What does a Games Artist do?

Video games are growing in popularity with each passing decade, with the gaming industry seeing people of all ages now gaming. The look of a video game is a huge factor in its success, second only to its playability.

Some video games try to look as realistic as possible while others aim for a more stylized look. It is the game artist's job to model and texture characters and objects to achieve the desired result.

A games artist sitting in front of a computer, creating visual elements for a video game.

Essentially, games artists are graphic designers who specifically focus on video games. They imagine what items will look like, sketch out preliminary designs, develop sketches into forms that go with the game's desired feel, and turn the chosen sketches into 2 or 3D computer graphics.

Game artists work under the supervision of a lead artist, and have the responsibility of creating specific art assets within a game. They may also create artwork for packages, promotional materials and websites. Some specialize in the design of human figures and characters, others in buildings and landscapes, and some in textures for 3D objects. They must keep in mind the technical capabilities and limitations of the platform that the game will be played on, and listen to feedback from QA testers.

Game artists do a range of jobs which have different responsibilities and techniques:

Concept Artists will typically use pen and paper rather than computer software, sketching ideas for the game worlds, characters, objects, vehicles, furniture, clothing, etc. Although not involved in creating the actual game art, their concept helps to shape the look of the game.

3D Modellers will build the characters, objects and environments of the game, including life forms, scenery, vegetation, furniture, vehicles, etc. They balance visual detail with the limitations of the game's technology.

2D/Texture Artists will create and apply textures to characters, environments and game items, such as surfaces of walls and floors of buildings. This is a highly skilled area, requiring quite a bit of knowledge with lighting, perspective, materials and visual effects.

Environment Artists will work with the environment (the world itself), as opposed to the characters. They may do 3D modelling, texturing, work with creating complex layered shaders, and some simple animations. They take all the built and textured 3D objects and basically build the world - exteriors, interiors, roads leading to bridges, giant elevators, rocky hillsides, deep forests, etc.

Lighting Artists will take care of the lighting, and are the equivalent of the director of photography in the film world. They create and place all the lights in the game levels adjusting colour, intensity, and falloff in an effort to both make the world more realistic and help create the mood.

Effects Artists will work with a combination of 2D and 3D tools, particle systems and lights, bringing any area to life. Effects artists are called on to create muzzle flashes, weather effects, sparking wires, water leaks, smoke, blowing dust, steam vents and anything else required.

Are you suited to be a games artist?

Games artists have distinct personalities. They tend to be artistic individuals, which means they’re creative, intuitive, sensitive, articulate, and expressive. They are unstructured, original, nonconforming, and innovative. Some of them are also enterprising, meaning they’re adventurous, ambitious, assertive, extroverted, energetic, enthusiastic, confident, and optimistic.

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What is the workplace of a Games Artist like?

Game companies are always on the lookout for game artists who display exceptional style, talent, and creativity. They are a valuable asset at companies big and small.

Smaller game companies typically look for game artists that can do a lot of different things, and be given a lot of various art related tasks. Working for larger companies will give artists more focused and specialized work. The hours can be gruesome (especially during crunch mode) and it can be exhausting at times.

Games Artists are also known as:
Video Games Artist