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Finding a job in the gaming industry is not an easy task. Our guides can help you find the right path to your dream job in the games industry. On this page, you can read other detailed guides on how to get a job in the gaming industry, covering different areas of expertise.
How To Get A Job In Illustration
Think Borderlands, Journey, Limbo, Persona, Portal, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker — while these games are not only memorable for their art style, they’re instantly recognizable. Anyone interested in digital art as a career can only dream of the kind of influence that makes the game artist role one of the most sought after in the industry.
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While you might end up with a general role in game art, there’s a wide range of specialties available – character artist, technical artist, concept artist, UI artist, environment artist and more. In this guide, we’ll focus on a more general approach to getting a game artist job, but the Academy will cover those specialties later.
“Getting your first job [as a game artist] is often not easy,” says Teazelcat CEO and game director Jodi Azhar. “Game art jobs are very competitive. For roles like concept artist and character artist, there can be hundreds of applicants for a single role. Roles like technical artist, technical animator, VFX artist and UI artist are often less in demand, but they are no less creative roles and are very important to making a game.”
These specialized roles can potentially make you much more employable, so it’s worth exploring what they entail. The roles of game artists can also vary greatly depending on the size of the studio.
“It’s worth thinking about whether you want to work at a small company where you can take on more responsibility and have to create different kinds of art, or whether you want to work in a larger team where there are more people working on your features. position and can give you feedback,” says Azhar.
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Regardless of the exact role you choose and the size of the studio, all game art jobs require a specific set of skills and abilities, which we’ll explore in detail here.
The art of the game is taught at university, but it can be learned completely independently – your path depends on you. Higher education offers a variety of degrees that can help you become a game artist, and these degrees don’t have to be directly related to games.
“It was really important for me [to go to college] because it gives you the tools you need, the deadlines that make you progress, and it surrounded me with like-minded people who were passionate about games, which definitely motivated me to get better,” he says. Hendrick. Coppens, who studied 3D art and is now the lead character artist at Rare, “While I think education is vital, I wouldn’t say going to a particular school is an absolute necessity.”
“Formal education is very useful because good courses teach you why things are done a certain way and introduce you to the correct terminology and language,” he says. “[It] will also give you a strong foundation to discuss your work with others and become an expert in your field.
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“However, there are a lot of bad courses that are expensive and don’t give you the skills you need to get a job. It’s important to research the courses to make sure they teach you what you need to know.’
If you’re in the UK, Azhar suggests going to ScreenSkills to see a list of accredited courses and those with good graduate employability rates. In the US, Princeton Review has rounded up some of the best universities for game design courses: one for undergraduate and one for graduate.
Olivier Leonardo, art director of Ubisoft Reflections, comes from a traditional art background – when he was a student in the early 90s, digital art classes were few and far between. But he believes that knowledge of traditional art will still help.
“I was able to explore very different traditional art techniques,” he says. “It helped me a lot in understanding the basics and opened new windows to very different art forms, including digital art and video games.”
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“Learn to work with the latest industry standard tools, but make sure your traditional skills are well trained” Hendrik Coppens, Rare
Coppens says he would like to learn a little more about traditional craft before entering the toy industry, as it can teach you valuable skills. Software also tends to change regularly, so a good traditional foundation with technical knowledge of how 3D software works, for example, allows you to transfer your skills more quickly.
“I always enjoyed doing art as a child, but I didn’t think it would help develop sustainable work skills. I would strongly recommend focusing on traditional and technical skills. Learn to work with the latest industry standard tools, but make sure you , that your traditional skills—perspective, light, use of color, anatomy—are well trained. Many students I talk to focus very intently on knowing every menu in Zbrush, but they don’t have a basic understanding of what they’re trying to sculpt.”
Regardless of what they studied, our respondents generally agreed that a college degree is not required to become a game artist. Azhar believes that if you don’t want to work abroad, a degree is optional. Kyriakidou adds that art is not so much about what you choose as how much you put into it.
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“A structured education at a university or college can provide immediate feedback and pooling of resources,” he says. “But studying at home or doing online classes means you can listen to and learn from different artists and discover different ways of doing things. I grew as an artist much faster when I finished university through personal work and study – just it’s you” you’re willing to put in the effort, that’s all that matters.”
Luciana Nascimento, Bunnyhug’s co-founder and art director, has formal training in game design and audio-visual production, and while she credits that with teaching her a lot, ultimately the hard skills she used the most weren’t the ones she got in school. She eventually landed her first gig showcasing her work on Deviantart.
“I knew that a lot of my knowledge [about game art] could be gained online, but I chose this path mainly because I wanted to pursue a career outside of my native Brazil,” he says. “It gave me insight into various aspects of game development, but none of [these courses] gave me insight into what I’ve done most in my career—creating elements for pixel games and UI/UX. I studied with webinars, reading forums, online courses like Schoolism and Oatley Academy, or even learning from some of my patient teammates.”
If you only remember one thing from this article, let it be this: A good portfolio will get you in the door. It’s very important for an artist to be able to showcase their work – and it doesn’t have to be professional, paid work.
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How you present your art also matters. Leonardo advises showing off the range of styles and techniques you can achieve, not just the pieces you’re extremely proud of.
“I’m looking for volume, not a few curated pieces,” she says. “I often see a portfolio with only a few images to look at. As a young artist, you have to create a lot of art, especially outside of studies when you’re in art school. You can’t just rely on directed work. Personal work has to be exhibited as well. You have to let’s see the volume, because we have to feel that you are passionate about the art, if not obsessed.”
“It’s not a bad idea because then we can discuss in the interview what went wrong, why you didn’t finish the project, what you would have done differently,” Leonardi continues. “[You can] see this as an opportunity to chat with us and talk about your aspirations as an artist.”
“I often see portfolios with a lot of images to display. As a young artist, you have to create a lot of art.” Olivier Leonardo, Ubisoft Reflections
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Creating art for a game isn’t the same as designing yourself, so your portfolio should also demonstrate that you understand the specific approach that game art requires.
“The most important thing is to have a portfolio that shows you understand how to create game art,” says Nascimento. “Showing your process of how you came up with the design, how it was turned into elements, animations, and so on.”
There are tons of resources online to learn how to create game art if you’re new to it.
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