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How to Interview in the Game Business

WHAT IS A GAME ARTIST

WHAT IS A GAME ARTIST JOB? A game artist is someone who creates 2D and 3D art for the visual elements of a video game. This includes characters, vehicles, props, scenery, background, objects, colors, textures, and clothing. Together, all of these components create the look and feel for a video game. Game artists are responsible for creating specific art assets within a game. The game artist’s job is to model and texture characters and objects to achieve the desired result. Game artists work under the supervision of a lead artist, such as a Lead Character Artist or Lead Environment Artist. In some cases, they work directly with Art Directors. Some artists specialize in the design of human figures and characters, others in buildings and landscapes, and some in textures for 3D objects. Let’s take a look at a few of these specializations. CHARACTER ARTIST Types of Jobs A character artist works under the supervision of the art director and lead character artist to create character assets for use in games. It is the artist’s job to take a character concept and bring it to life. The character artist creates 3D models based on the concept art sketches. After the art and design teams tweak and revise the designs, the character artist sculpts the 3D model, gradually adding definition, props, and texture. In some cases, enhancements (such as shading and texturing) might be handed off to specialists. As the character progresses through the pipeline to rigging and animation, the artist will work closely with all departments to ensure the character’s topology and props maintain viability. In a large studio, the character artist might work on only one or two characters for each game. Smaller studios tend to heap greater responsibility for multiple characters onto a single person. The demands on the artist depend on both the scope of the project and the deadlines. 2

Note, this is a production art job and not a design job. That means that the artist is in charge of actually producing the 3D artwork that goes into the game. In many cases, though, a character artist is also called upon to design or think through areas that a concept artist didn’t cover. ENVIRONMENT ARTIST The environment artist builds the world within the video game. The artist is in charge of exteriors, interiors, roads leading to bridges, giant elevators, rocky hillsides and deep forests – anything from architectural elements like pyramids or arenas to chairs and plants. Based on the concept art, the environment artist creates 3D models with texture, color and in some cases baked in lighting. During the lengthy process, the senior environment artist will continually consult with the design team to ensure a consistent style and to communicate gameplay considerations such as mission-critical assets, inclusion of vehicles, and design of creatures and other non-player characters. Because thorough planning is required prior to modeling, the environment artist will collaborate with the game designers throughout the process to map out necessary props and scenery elements that drive the story, occur in the player’s interaction with the environment, and move the mission forward. Note that this is also a production job, although environment artists often have to design areas that were missed in the concept phase. CONCEPT ARTIST When the creative director and art director get an idea in their heads about a new game character or world, the concept artist is responsible for generating a portfolio of images to clarify that artistic vision. The concept artist might begin with a few vague descriptions such as “displaced penguin ninja skills” or “fluffy and unicorn-like” or “banana flip-phone” and be asked to return with several different examples. The iterations are discussed in art meetings until a final design is agreed upon. In addition to fleshing out characters, the concept artist is asked to produce detailed illustrations of weapons, environments and props – anything that appears in the game world. The concept artist works under the supervision of the art director and is responsible for maintaining a unified visual style that is consistent across each design. 3

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