Technical artists are essential in the game development process as they bridge the gap between artists and programmers. These professionals ensure a smooth art pipeline for characters and assets while troubleshooting any technical problems that arise between art programs and the game engine.
These experts fall under the category of special effects artists and animators, who are among the fastest-growing professionals in the United States according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In this guide, we tell you everything you need to know about how to become a technical artist.
A technical artist works in the gaming or film industry to create animated graphics, 3D models, and characters as needed in the game development process. Their roles often vary depending on the company, but these professionals work to create the images, backgrounds, and other materials associated with the characters you see in films or games.
These professionals are commonly known for developing characters in animations. They must have a command of the software tools required in art production. They work with art directors and other members of the programming team on game and film projects.
One of the responsibilities of tech artists is to communicate with both programming and design teams. They are a bridge between artists, programmers, and other professionals in a video game production unit, so they must possess strong communication skills.
Other important roles of these professionals include assisting in asset performance and validation, troubleshooting complex issues that arise during game development, and recommending technical tools for each project.
Technical artists are classified as special effects artists and animators. According to BLS, the job market for these professionals is estimated to grow by four percent over the next decade, which is just as fast as the average occupation in the United States. This means that you’ll have numerous employment opportunities as a technical artist in the future.
In addition, you should expect a higher than average annual wage in this career. BLS reports that these experts earn about $77,700 per year. The national average for all occupations in the United States is $56,310.
There are plenty of reasons why you should become a technical artist. For instance, the demand for these game industry professionals is estimated to grow in the future. In addition, they earn higher than average salaries and find work at top tech companies. Below are more reasons to pursue a career as a technical artist.
Tech artists have an array of responsibilities and job requirements and they change depending on the company they work for and their position within it. Listed below are the most common entry-level job requirements.
The multimedia and visual effects industry is broad. There are many types of tech artists, each role better suited to specific personalities and skillsets. Below, we consider some common skills for these professionals.
Special effects artists bring to life objects and surroundings that cannot be captured by a camera during filming. In gaming, they help to enhance visuals to bring about a more realistic and immersive gaming experience.
2D and 3D animators are concerned with the movement of characters and inanimate objects like cars, trees, or rivers. In essence, their job consists of creating individual frames that when put together create the powerful illusion of movement.
A technical director supervises activities of related departments including composing, lighting, and rendering. These professionals need to combine expert-level technical skills with strong interpersonal abilities that allow them to lead.
Technical artists liaise with animators, artists, and programmers, improving collaboration across these teams. They often work as creative and technical operators who solve problems between the different departments of a video game or film production. Here are more activities associated with tech artists.
These two concepts relate to the development of realistic 3D surfaces to create stunning environments and objects. Modeling involves creating a representation of something while shading is the depiction of depth perception.
After developing 3D models, technical artists apply a technique called rigging or skeletal animation to infuse video game characters with motion. Rigging involves using a series of interconnected “digital bones”.
Tech artists improve and maintain an array of features associated with graphics, including graphics pipelines. These features are used across several departments and projects in a video game production unit.
Tech artists must possess certain skills to carry out their job. Although the skills they need vary according to their specific role and employer, there are abilities and qualifications that almost all tech artists should have.
Scripting is an important technical skill for these professionals. Scripting consists of a series of commands that can be carried out without compiling to automate processes. Without scripting, the code would have to be executed step-by-step by a developer. To master scripting, you should learn Python, PHP, or Perl.
A technical artist’s mission is to give graphics a more detailed and realistic look, even while in motion. To do this, these experts employ techniques like rigging, modeling, and shading, which we have previously discussed.
Tech artists create light and shade effects employing various rendering and post effects techniques. Rendering skills are essential as they help improve the quality of an artist’s drawing to give it a more realistic look.
It could take anywhere from one to four years to become a technical artist. How long it takes depends on the education path. If you choose to attend a game development bootcamp, you could become a technical artist in less than a year. On the other hand, it would take you four years to achieve the same goal if you pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Visual Arts.
Yes, a coding bootcamp can help you become a technical artist. Top coding bootcamps offer courses in animation, game development, game design, and 3D modeling. Technical artists need a wide range of technical skills, including scripting and knowledge of programming languages like Python and PHP. A bootcamp can give you the programming background you need.
Yes, you can become a technical artist from home. There is a host of programs and courses you can take online to master the skills you need in this profession. As we mentioned earlier, coding bootcamps are a great alternative to get the training you need for a technical artist role. Many bootcamps have online programs that you can take from the comfort of your own home.
The best way to become a technical artist is by enrolling in a school that offers animation and visual arts programs or related courses. Your training should include the software and tools commonly used in the animation industry. In addition, practicing and building your digital portfolio is essential. Here is a step-by-step guide to becoming a technical artist.
Your first step should be to join a school that offers programs in animation, visual arts, or technical subjects. This can be a university or a coding bootcamp. At an institution like this, you can take courses in 3D modeling, scripting, game development, computer graphics, or computer science. You will also learn the tools and software you need to succeed.
Most hiring managers want candidates with on-the-job experience and a strong portfolio to show for it. You can achieve this by putting your skills to the test practicing during your free time, working on freelance projects, or joining an internship program.
Update your resume to highlight your relevant skills and work experience. When applying for technical artist jobs, make sure to attach your digital portfolio of past projects to stand out among the candidates.
These professionals can attend several types of institutions to acquire the training they need to get started in their careers. Each option has its own advantages and drawbacks, and we take a closer look below.
Bootcamps are a great alternative to universities and colleges. They are often cheaper and take only a few months to complete. Bootcamp programs are designed to prepare you for a specific career path.
Most bootcamps are programming-oriented, so you can learn coding skills and programming languages such as Python and PHP. Many game development bootcamps offer courses in 3D modeling, Python, and MEL, which can help you become a technical artist.
Vocational schools, also known as trade schools, are institutions that provide practical training to prepare you for a specific profession. These institutions will equip you with the technical abilities you need to start a career in your chosen field.
Community colleges typically offer two-year programs known as associate degrees. An associate degree can suffice to get an entry-level job and get your foot in the door. Aspiring tech artists can consider institutions like Minneapolis Community and Technical College in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Wake Technical Community College in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Many universities across the US offer game development, animation, visual arts, or related programs, whether bachelor’s or master’s degrees. Many employers look for candidates with a university degree, although more and more are prioritizing expertise and experience over educational credentials.
If you want to become a technical artist, there are many universities that offer degrees that provide the training you need. Consider a degree from Yale University, Maryland Institute College of Art, Hunter College, or City University of New York.
Certification is a great way to prove your expertise. Certification sets you apart from the competition in your field of work. This makes it easier to land better jobs with higher salaries. Here are the most important certificate programs and professional certifications that you should consider.
This certification program is ideal for people with over five years of experience in roles in the gaming industry. It is offered by Unity, a leading game development platform, and will validate your skills in Python, MEL, Adobe Creative Suite, and MAXScript as well as your mastery of advanced Unity concepts.
This online course, offered by the University of Washington, is designed to help you become a professional game designer. You will learn game mechanics and systems design which will help you solve complex problems as a technical artist.
The best way to get ready for an interview is by practicing common questions. You will have your answers ready beforehand, which will increase your confidence during the actual interview. Here are sample interview questions to help you prepare for a technical artist job interview.
Yes, you should become a technical artist if you have a knack for scripting, 3D modeling, and overall game development. Demand for these professionals is estimated to grow just as fast as any occupation in the United States. Additionally, most tech artists bring home a handsome salary and enjoy high job satisfaction and work-life balance.