Game Artist Career Overview & Outlook

Game artists are often generalist animators, or 3D modelers who create 2D and 3D art for a game. Working from concept art and design briefs, these experts express the script from the storyboard to populate the game’s world.

These artists work on all the visual elements required, including characters, objects, assets, textures, props, environments, vehicles, weapons, and more.

Most game artists specialize in one or more areas as game development becomes increasingly sophisticated. The role’s extent also depends on the size of the project and studio.

Job Description

What is a Game Artist?

Game art is all the visual elements you can see while playing a game. Without game artists, a game would be nothing more than ideas in designers’ heads.

Here are some visual elements delivered by game artists:

  • Sprites.
  • Concept art.
  • Environments.
  • Character models.
  • And more

Game artists work closely with game designers, producers, and writers to bring the game’s stories, characters, and worlds to life.

Game artists work on all the visual elements required for a game.

Role and Responsibilities

Game artists are generally responsible for designing preliminary sketches and developing them according to a game’s general style. Then, they create 2D and/or 3D models from those sketches under the Lead Artist’s supervision. These elements make the world, its mood, and its unique personality.

There are many specialization areas for game artists, including architecture and landscapes, character design, modeling, lighting, special effects, texturing, and animation. Here are some roles & responsibilities of a dame artist:

  • Liaise with lead designers and developers regarding the feel and style of the game.
  • Research resources and references are required to produce the game’s assets.
  • Apply textures to all visual elements.
  • Sketch the visual style’s concept designs and critical elements.
  • Build 3D models of all assets in line with the game engine’s technical limits.
  • Integrate special effects to scenes, events, and textures, including weather effects, muzzle flashes, sparking wires, particle systems, haze, smoke, billowing dust, explosions, steam vents, and more.
  • Animate creatures and characters.
  • Add shading and lighting effects to all elements, ensuring intensity, color, and lighting levels consistency.
  • Design promotional materials, posters, packages, and web for the game launch.
  • Produce prototypes for testing.
  • Create sound effects, conduct audio mixes & design.
  • Maintain production documentation.
  • Adhere to the production schedule.
  • Curate and catalog the asset library.
  • Advise on new technologies.
  • Work with motion capture.
  • Design with the user experience in mind.
  • Problem-solving both technical and creative issues.

Where Do Game Artists Work?

As a game artist, you may work in a team with other artists, game designers, and programmers to make video games. You may work in various settings, including small independent studios and large gaming companies. You also often work in well-lit studios or offices and use computers to create your art.

Education Requirements

Although not required for all game artist positions, gaining a bachelor’s degree in art will help you get skills in design and prove that you have official art training.

By pursuing an art program, you will know how to create figures on a 2D page or screen that appear 3D by using shadow, light, anatomy, composition, perspective, proportion, and texture.

You can also learn about artistic subject genres and matters throughout cultures and history and form your artistic style. Here are some art majors you might consider pursuing that might prepare you for a game artist position:

  • Physics.
  • Information technology.
  • Programming.
  • 3D digital art.
  • Video games art.
  • Games animation.
  • Computer science.
  • Creative digital media production.
  • Graphic design.
  • Art and design.
  • Graphic communication.
  • Design production.

You can usually meet other people in an art program or school who share your passion. If you take graphic design and concept art classes, you may meet other people who also love video game design.

Forming friendships with those who share your interests will give you the emotional support to achieve your professional goals.

You also need a portfolio to find a job. You can build a target by completing a course to improve existing skills and learn new skills.

Essential Skills

You need many skills to succeed as a game artist.

Here are some skills that will help you succeed as a game artist.

  • People skills: As a game artist, you can benefit from having great people skills, like compassion and friendliness. These skills help you to form friendships with other artists and work effectively with stakeholders.
  • Communication: As video game artists typically work with customers, you should be experienced in fostering client relationships and meeting client expectations. You must communicate your ideas effectively, practice active listening, and collaborate well to deliver helpful designs to other team members and your clients.
  • Dedication: Although game artists can learn tips and strategies from advanced artists, they also must practice by themselves to develop their skills. While becoming a great game artist may take a long time, you can do it with the proper determination.
  • Attention to detail: As a game artist, you may be responsible for designing many details of a game, such as character outfits and facial expressions.
  • Design: As a game artist, you should know traditional techniques to render realistic figures. You should also know how to form a composition and work in many art genres, such as science fiction, fantasy, or cartoon.
  • Computer skills: These professionals should be proficient in utilizing computer software to make 2D and 3D art. They’ll benefit from learning how to use advanced technologies to make original, great visual figures.
  • Knowledge of video games: As a game artist, you should know video games and how they work. Knowing what players want and expect from a gaming experience will let you make effective and appealing game art.
  • Creativity: Game artists tend to be experts in making characters and worlds that are memorable, interesting, and recognizable. They hold a talent for making connections with players via engaging visual narratives.

Essential Tools

As a game artist, you need knowledge of a combination of the following software:

  • CAD
  • Maya
  • Blender
  • Quixel.
  • Zbrush.
  • Mudbox.
  • Nuke.
  • C++.
  • TVPaint.
  • Houdini.
  • Python.
  • Unity 3.
  • CelAction.
  • Unreal Engine.
  • 3D Studio Max.
  • Substance Painter.
  • ToonBoom Harmony.
  • Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects.

Job Outlook

The BLS projects an increase in demand for software developers from 2020 to 2030. The video game industry may also reflect similar trends.

As predicted by market researchers, the global video game industry will grow by 73.8% from 2020 to 2027. So job opportunities for game artists may increase in many locations with more game studios.


The average annual salary for a game artist in the United States is about $68,350 per year. It equates to $32.86 per hour, $1,314 per week, and $5,695 per month.

Most game artists’ salaries earn from $41,000 to $81,000, with top earners making $132,000 annually across the United States.

The average pay salary for these professionals greatly varies, which suggests there are many opportunities for increased pay and advancement based on location, skill level, years of experience, and more.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Some pros and cons of becoming a game artist include:

– You can follow your passion.
– It will allow you to express your creativity.
– Part-time work is available.
– Your work generates tangible results.
– You can work independently.
– There are many routes of entry.
– It is highly competitive.
– You may work long hours.


How Many Game Art Positions Are There?

To give you an idea, here is a list of the common art positions you will find at most game studios:

  • FX Animator.
  • Art Director.
  • Concept Artist.
  • Level Designer.
  • Character Artist.
  • Marketing Artist.
  • Character Animator.
  • User Interface Artist.
  • Environmental Artist.

How To Become A Game Artist?

Jobs in the gaming industry are highly competitive. With the proper motivation and skills, you can get a role as a concept artist in the gaming world. Here are some steps you can take to put yourself in the best position to land a job:

Step 1: Gain a Degree.

Several employers require game artists to hold a degree in graphic design, 3D digital art, or game art. Participating in an art school is unnecessary, but completing an animation or graphic design program can help you stand out in terms of experience and knowledge.

Step 2: Expand your skill set.

Concept art is not just the ability to create 2D sketches. Knowing how to use illustration software and various effects and editing programs is recommended.

Knowledge of many techniques and aspects of game art can make you a valuable asset for any game company.

Step 3: Make a great portfolio.

Samples of your work are essential to selling yourself as one concept artist.

Make a portfolio of your most impressive designs and sketches, and build a web advertising your talents and any additional skill or relevant experience.

Step 4: Network.

We recommend attending video game conferences or expos and networking with other artists. We recommend asking them queries and questions about their job and experience, making connections, and obtaining their contact information to facilitate a future working relationship.

Step 5: Find open positions.

Many indie game companies look for freelance game artists, so it is always wise to research and query which companies employ freelancers.

Getting experience as an artist outside of video gaming can also be helpful since it can contribute to your portfolio and display your diverse abilities.

How Many Hours Do Game Artists Work?

Game artists usually work during regular business hours, about 40 hours a week. They work extra hours in the evenings or weekends to meet deadlines.

Is It Hard to Be a Game Artist?

Becoming a game artist is as hard as getting into any other career, but with added competition and the need to be constantly relevant and fresh.

By applying yourself and keeping long-term goals in mind, it will be a fulfilling and rewarding career as straightforward to progress through as anything.

Career Advice

Game artists are one such prominent wing of the game industry that happens to be both flourishing and getting the attention of younger prospects.

Like other professionals, game artists work at many seniority levels, and the career path of a game artist often starts with junior roles. At the entry-level stage, they will work under the supervision of experienced game experts.

Becoming a game artist can be difficult and time-consuming as the game industry is highly competitive. But with the proper motivation and skills, you will get a role as a game artist in the gaming world soon.