Pixars Brave

Game Design Artist

Overview of the role of a Video Game Artist

As you might expect, artists in the game industry do a range of diverse jobs, and as such, several specific job categories have developed over time. Each of the categories is associated with different styles, techniques and areas within the game development process.

Although the details will vary between companies, the following list of definitions should be useful at least as a guide:

Concept Artist
2D/3D Animator
2D Texture Artist

Concept Artist

This person will create and design characters and worlds used within the game.
To begin with, everything is created on paper as a rough concept. When this is approved, it goes through a cleaning up period which may involve scanning the designs on to computer and using an art package such as Photoshop to perfect fine line work and add details. Colour is then introduced into the Image so that the texture artist can create the correct textures for the world or character. Once the concept artwork has been completed it is passed on to the 3D Model Builder (or Animator if it is an animated character).

A concept artist will be required to:

Ensure the design fits with the general look and feel of the game

Achieve maximum effect with minimum complexity - complex designs eventually lead to more complex 3D models (something that can be easily created with as few polygons as possible is desirable)

Consider colours and colour schemes used to maintain a balance of colour throughout the design.

How do I become a Concept Artist in the games industry?

Hmmm, this is a tricky one. Concept art cannot really be taught. Being a good concept artist is about drawing as much as you possibly can, whenever you can. The great Chuck Jones once said that every artist has a million naff drawings inside them, it's just a matter of working through them so you get to the point where you only produce your best.
I myself have been drawing from the very first moment I picked up a pencil, but to get really good takes time and persistence. It's good that you admire Disney and Anime but don't try to copy and imitate them too much, use the style and line construction as a guide and try to develop your own line style and characters. If you spend most of your time copying other people's work you will never learn how to come up with outstanding creations of your own.
A good way of getting good is to focus on an aspect of drawing that you really enjoy. I chose traditional animation and background art, it teaches you a lot about a character's attitude, emotion, and motivation, aspects which are all to important when creating believable characters and environments.

Drawing characters and animals
One of the most important parts of becoming a good character and animal illustrator is life drawing and good observation skills. Try to learn as much as you can about anatomy, proportion and skeletal structures, this will ensure that you put the right muscle in the right place, there's nothing worse that a character with made up anatomy. Life drawing may be a little daunting at times but if you get good at it the rules of construction and pose that you learn will come across in your own creative work.

Creating environments
Again, as with characters, observation and drawing from real buildings and landscapes will teach you how to produce realistic environments that seem real and believable. Focus the layout and try to find the hidden composition that makes for a captivating and impressive environment, this will all go towards helping you to come up with your own creations and how to make the unreal seem real.

What you need to do now

If you're sure (as I was) that illustration and design is the direction you want to go I would suggest you find a course which tries to encompass all aspects of Art and Design. After School I went into a Graphic Design course at Stafford Art College which taught me many different aspects of Design. The course itself involved life drawing, graphic design, photography, animation, illustration, calligraphy and technical drawing. All of these media types helped me find an overall understanding of art and design.
After my 2 years at college I went to University to study Traditional Animation. This again involved a lot of drawing from life and a lot of observational drawing, as well as learning how to animate characters and produce background artwork.

The route here isn't necessarily the best route and everyone's different but the best advice is to try to find a good art course at a respectable art college and see where it takes you. You may find out that you have other skills that you never thought you had.

A few main points to remember:

Keep drawing and don't copy other people's work, use it as a guide and learn from what they have done.

Don't be afraid of blank paper - just get in there and draw, nothing ever comes out right first time anyway.

Be critical of your art, and look hard at it to see what doesn't look right and then change weak aspects and improve on parts that already work within the illustration.

2D/3D Animator

The job of a 3D artist is to provide a game's levels and character content. You may also be required to provide high definition models for concept and marketing purposes.

The animators position involves animating individual characters and scenic elements within a game. They may also be required to animate filmic introductions, cut scenes and endings for the game.

The task of texturing a 3D object is often given to a specific 2D artist, but you may be required to create textures and apply them when needed.

2D Texture Artist

The job of a 2D Texture Artist is to provide all the texture elements within a game for the 3D models.

We use in-house developed tools for applying the textures to the models, but the creation of the textures requires the use of packages such as Photoshop, Painter, Deep Paint and vector based applications like Xara and Illustrator.

There are also other 2D elements required within a game such as lighting and special effects.

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