How to Become a Visual Development Artist

The visual development field focuses on creating the look and feel of characters and environments for digital products. Are you really into this industry?

Without a doubt, there are various career paths to start your dream job. But this article will show you general guides. So if you are interested in this position, scroll down to consider the steps!

Who Is A Visual Development Artist?

Visual development artists are professionals responsible for creating cinematic and immersive atmospheres for creative entertainment.

They create the tones, color palettes, and moods for environments. They also must ensure these components follow the project’s genre and storyline.

These artists additionally make the director’s vision visible. The duties of these specialists may include helping the audience connect to the story’s concept and underlying theme.

As a visual development artist, you can consider pursuing various roles:

  • Art director
  • Animator
  • Color ket and lighting designer
  • Environment design artist
  • Costume designer
  • Visual development lead
  • Character design artist
Visual development artist

How To Become A Visual Development Artist

After having an overview of visual development artists, do you want to become this specialist? If yes, consider taking the following steps!

1. Get A Formal Education (Optional)

It is optional to pursue formal education to become a visual development artist. Yet, most companies look for experts with bachelor’s degrees.

You should attend formal classes to have robust graphic design, illustration, and animation knowledge for visual development. So you can complete your tasks more effectively.

I recommend you gain at least a bachelor’s degree in your industry. Thanks to this degree, you can have better foundational knowledge to start your first visual development artist job.

2. Develop Your Artistic Skills

As a part of this industry, I realize becoming a visual development artist requires a blend of technical and artistic skills.


Drawing skill is the basis for other art forms. So all visual development artists must master it. When having this skill, you will find it easier to create attractive works.

Visual Development

You must develop visual elements of animation and graphic design to maintain a position in visual development. You should also have visual development skills to control a video or image’s color tone and mood.

Visual Effects

Apart from the above skills, you should master visual effects to become a visual development artist. You may need to convert an image into a fictional character and use these things in movies or shooting films.

So you must develop this skill to make the visual effects appear using the footage in imagery and producing realistic images.

Graphic Design

Visual development artists must have graphic design skills to succeed in the field. Artists use this ability to turn visual content into communication messages.

To pursue a visual development artist career, you must use pictures and letters to apply page layout techniques and visual hierarchy. So you should master this ability to meet your client’s requirements and needs.

I find that many firms sell their services or products using graphic design. So they can use infographics to convey complex information.

Color Correction

I must solve color issues and make the footage natural during my work. It’s when I must use color correction skills to adjust white and black levels or contrast.

If you are a visual development artist, you should have this ability. If that’s the case, you can fix the underlying issues in images. In particular, you should ensure all elements are realistic.


Visual development artists often use this standard tool to create visuals to develop their ideas. So you should learn and master this talent to get a job in this industry.

With good storyboarding skills, you can create an image sequence to represent your story or video action.


As an experienced worker, I realize that animation skills are essential in visual development. I often use this ability to create the motion of objects and characters in scenes.

My tasks entail making the clothes, hair, and other scene components move. After that, I hand these to animators to make the final products.


If you gain a position in visual development, your tasks may involve creating models for the environments and characters using modeling software. So try to learn and master this ability.


You will work with other production team members as a visual development artist and express your ideas. You can ensure your products match your vision.

Moreover, communicating with clients is unavoidable to answer their questions and offer comments on the progress of their projects.

You should have good communication skills to improve your work. So you can work with others effectively and produce products to meet your client’s needs.

Develop essential skills

3. Learn Digital Tools

Any visual development artist must learn how to use digital tools. When working in this field, you will find several entry-level jobs requiring applicants to have software skills.

So it would be best to learn about digital tools as soon as possible. Check the list of common apps used in video game and film industries below!

  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Autodesk Maya
  • 3D Studio Max
  • Substance Designer And Unreal Engine
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Quixel Suite

When applying for a position, you may also notice they use the digital tools above. So try to master these apps to win a place in your employer’s heart.

Learn digital software

4. Study Film and Animation

I recommend you study film and animation to understand the context in which you will use work. It would be best if you watched TV shows and movies. Pay attention to the visual elements used in these products.

5. Create Personal Projects

Are you seeking an effective method to demonstrate your skills? Start working on personal projects. Feel free to experiment with many techniques and styles when doing your tasks.

Besides, working on projects can help you present your artistic vision and creativity. It’s also an excellent opportunity to expand your knowledge and increase the value of your portfolio.

Create projects

6. Build A Strong Portfolio

Are you searching for another practical solution to showcase your skills for this position? If that’s the case, build a powerful portfolio. Your potential clients and employers can see your ability and talent thanks to this document.

To set yourself apart from other candidates, add your exceptional work, including professional projects when creating your portfolio.

Moreover, you should include the best pieces related to the position you like to apply for. For instance, if you want to become a TV show animator, displaying your working experience in the field is advisable.

7. Look For Internships or Entry-Level Positions

Do you have enough essential skills and build a solid portfolio? It’s time to look for internships or entry-level positions.

Consider working at independent production companies or animation studios. Besides, an entry-level position in these organizations can help you gain experience and improve skills for your job.

Hands-on experiences from these first jobs can help you add value to your portfolio and resume. Also, great opportunities to network with experts appear when searching for these jobs.

Look for jobs

8. Network

Networking is essential to any career, especially in the creative industries. So find chances to connect with experts in your field.

You may get better job opportunities and career advancements by building relationships with other specialists. To achieve this goal, attend events, join professional organizations, and participate in online forums.

Network with other experts

9. Stay Persistent and Be Patient

Becoming a visual development artist takes time and persistence. So don’t get discouraged if you can’t land your dream job immediately.

From my experience, you should improve your skills, build a strong portfolio, and network with experts.

What Does A Visual Development Artist Do?

The responsibilities of visual development artists are different. It depends on their role in the organization. Yet, below are their general duties:

  • Imagining and proposing ideas for animation projects
  • Creating colors, environments, lighting, and backgrounds for film and TV
  • Using the motions of the characters to aid in the animation project’s narrative
  • Working with creative teams and departments
  • Helping with visual decision
  • Designing visuals to express vision ideas on the project

Job Outlook and Salary

In 2023, the average salary for a visual development artist will be around $109,830 per year. You may discover the pay for animators and special effects artists, and they can make an average of $78,790 a year.

I want to mention that the salary for these experts may vary. It depends on geographic location, your potential employers, and experience.

Besides, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 5% increase in employment between 2021 and 2031.

They also state that this increase in job opportunities results from growing demand for visual effects and animation in different media.

Where Does A Visual Development Artist Work?

If you become a visual development artist, you can choose to work for various creative mediums. For example, you can decide to work in the game design studio or film industry. You can consider the following sectors to dive into:

  • Film
  • Mobile app and web design
  • Advertising
  • Graphic design
  • Marketing
  • Publishing
  • Public relations
  • Game design and development
You can work at home

Career Tips

Are you new to visual development? I’ll share tips to help you start your career.

1. Develop Your Skills

If you want a better job opportunity, you should develop your skills. Try to master traditional art skills like drawing and painting.

Moreover, you should learn to use digital software, such as Maya and Photoshop because they are essential to creating digital art and animations.

Additionally, focus on storytelling and cinematography as they may help you produce compelling visuals for your story.

2. Build Your Portfolio

An attractive portfolio is a ticket to success as a visual development artist because it helps you showcase your skills and style to your clients.

Moreover, when your employers review your portfolio, they will appreciate your ability to create visually appealing components.

You should include your concept art and final art pieces. Ensure to organize these elements so that your potential employers can read them easily.

3. Network and Collaborate

Networking and collaboration are the two essential aspects to achieve success in any industry. Visual development is no exception.

Attend events and conferences in the field, like SIGGRAPH (Special Interest Group on GRAPHics and Interactive Techniques), to meet other artists.

Also, join online communities if you want to connect with other professionals in your area. In addition, consider participating in art contests to gain exposure.


What Is The Meaning Of Visual Development?

Visual development involves creating a world’s atmosphere, look, and feel. It deals with creating an environment, designing the color palette for this environment, and drawing all characters for it.

Why Is Visual Development Important?

Visual development is vital to the digital area. With this skill, artists in this sector communicate ideas, streamline development, and create a solid visual identity.

Visual Development Artist vs. Concept Artist?

The main difference between visual development artists and concept artists is their focus.

A visual development artist focuses on a project’s overall look and feel. A concept artist concentrates on the individual elements to make up the project.

Visual development artists perform the tasks in the early stages of a project. In contrast, concept artists are present throughout the production process.

Last but not least, visual development artists establish the vision, while concept artists bring that vision to life.

Career Advice

After reading this article, do you still want to become a visual development artist? If your answer is yes, you should pursue a bachelor’s degree.

Besides, it’s essential to learn the necessary skills and digital software before starting your career. This job can be daunting at first, but it’s rewarding!