What is a Games Artist?
Table of Contents
A games artist is someone who 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. Although this career is computer graphics focused, games artists still use traditional hand sketching in the beginning stages.
What does a Games Artist do?
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.
Essentially, games artists are graphic artists 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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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. The smaller game companies will typically be looking for game artists that can do a lot of different things, and be given a lot of various art related tasks. Working at a larger company will give artists more focused and specialized work. The hours can be gruesome (especially during crunch mode) and it can be frustrating at times.
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Getting a Job as a Games Artist
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In this interview Brian Thompson talks about his own career, about traits of a successful game artist, and some advice and tips on producing quality work when creating game art.
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