Visual Effects (VFX) Artist Career Overview & Outlook

Becoming one VFX artist sounds more tempting than ever before. These professionals typically enjoy the luxury of working remotely and freelancing more than nearly any other field professional.

Moreover, the ambitious idea of joining a large production studio to work on a Netflix fantasy series or a new Marvel movie someday is too great.

Before you set foot in the VFX world, there are many things you need to clear up.

What are the responsibilities of the visual effects artist? What are the requirements for education and skills? What is the career outlook for this profession?

Let’s read to clear these queries.

Job Description

What Is VFX?

VFX stands for Visual Effects. It refers to the process that makes your video look different from what you originally shot. VFX will make everything in your video look as realistic as possible.

Have you seen the Marvel movies, the world of Ironman, Captain America, and Hulk? Everything in that world, including Ironman’s armor and Hulk, is a VFX.

VFX will allow the creation of scenes that look lifelike but will be unsafe, expensive, time-consuming, complex, or even impossible to shoot on film. However, many blockbusters overuse VFX these days, which doesn’t seem okay.

Most VFX artists work on TV shows, films, and video games in the media business. They might take on different job titles, many of which take the same responsibilities.

VFX (Visual effects) is not easy.

What Are VFX Artists?

VFX artists are often in charge of creating photoreal, digitally-generated imagery. This role requires seamlessly integrating those effects into live action in television, feature films, or console gaming.

These professionals use advanced technologies to create computer-generated crowds, creatures, stunt doubles, and more.

In addition, they also need to be responsible for digital particle effects, including fire and fluid, object, and lighting manipulation.

All efforts made by VFX artists will make viewers believe that what they are watching is real. It could be a fairytale castle, a dragon, a big wave, superheroes, spaceships, entire planets, or alien cities.

Duties and Responsibilities


You will be responsible for making, optimizing, and managing animations and visual effects using software applications and computerized technology.

You will usually start by conceptualizing before creating cutting-edge special effects. You are also usually responsible for producing CGI characters.

You will get feedback from VFX supervisors and leads and might be responsible for managing and tracking the department workflow.

You can also deliver technical and creative assistance and handle any problems with animations.

You can also make storyboards, maintain an accurate progress summary, and manage edits with the editorial department.


  • Create, manage and optimize animations and visual effects.
  • Conceptualize and then create cutting-edge special effects
  • Use software apps and computerized technology to get the job done.
  • Create CGI characters.
  • FX simulations
  • Create storyboards
  • Troubleshoot any issues with animations
  • Manage edits along with the editorial department
  • Maintain an accurate summary of progress
  • Follow the direction of VFX supervisors and composite leads.
  • Provide creative and technical assistance.
  • Track and manage the workflow through the departments.

Types of Visual Effects Artist Roles

There are various different job titles, which can be confusing. Regarding artist roles, the structure of the VFX process can be split into 2D compositing and 3D creating CGI (computer-generated imagery) elements.

Here are some main titles that you might come across:

  • VFX artist.
  • FX animator.
  • VFX supervisor.
  • Multimedia artist.
  • Compositing artist.
  • Effects (FX) technical director (TD).

Where Do VFX Artists Work?

VFX artists can work in various settings, including production houses, post-production facilities, and studios. They usually work on a project basis, and each project lasts from several weeks to a few months.

These professionals normally work regular hours, although they sometimes have to work overtime to fulfill deadlines. Their work might be stressful since they are typically under pressure to meet tight deadlines and deliver high-quality work.

Working Hours

As a VFX artist, your working hours sometimes might be long, especially when your clients change their requirements and problems arise.

Your typical day may start at 9 am but usually finish late into the night. Working late or the occasional weekend is not unusual when deadlines approach.

Education Requirements

It is possible to enter this career without a degree.


It is possible to enter this career without a degree, but most of the new entrants have studied at a higher education level to gain a degree.

If you have not studied a course that includes VFX but have studied some subjects such as media, media technology, media production, photography, or graphic design, it is feasible to begin as a runner and work your way up.

Some relevant subjects include:

  • Maths.
  • Visual effects.
  • Art, including design, illustration, animation, painting, or photography.
  • Science, especially physics, engineering, or computer science.

It is essential to build a showreel or portfolio. Regarding your showreel, you should display quality over quantity. Also, it must be accessible via a webpage or any digital media to be considered.

Training and Experience

Many employers require their candidates to have two years (or more) of experience. Some may favor candidates with at least five years of experience.

Getting experience by working in other roles in the film industry is okay. For example, you can work as a production coordinator or a production assistant. You can also work as a cinematographer or a camera operator.

Certifications and Licenses

Although certifications are not required (optional) to become a VFX artist, they help increase your chances of landing a job and improve your earning potential.

Essential Skills

VFX artists need many skills to be successful.

To become a VFX artist, it is essential to have a robust set of specialized technology and visual art talents to excel in your sector.

For example, these professionals can be skilled in developing and designing computer-generated pictures since plenty of VFX projects require you to offer impressive graphics.

Knowledge of computer software may also be helpful for you as you may perform most of your work on the computer utilizing design applications.

Apart from technical abilities, you must hone and strengthen a comprehensive set of soft skills, including:

  • Creativity.
  • Leadership.
  • Communication.
  • Time management.
  • Analytical thinking abilities.
  • Teamwork and collaboration.
  • Ability to work under pressure.

Essential Tools

There are various visual effects tools that you can find online. To save your time, here is a list of the best paid and free VFX tools in the market today:

  • Adobe After Effects
  • Blender
  • Autodesk Maya
  • Nuke
  • 3D Studio Max
  • Houdini
  • Mari
  • Krita
  • GIMP
  • DaVinci Resolve
  • Cinema 4D
  • Fusion
  • Modo
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • ZBrush
  • Substance Painter
  • Substance Designer
  • Marmoset Toolbag
  • Unreal Engine
  • Unity

Job Outlook

There are various job opportunities for VFX artists. Those positions have never been more in demand.

Thousands of VFX artist positions are available at some of the most prestigious companies worldwide, like Rockstar Games, Meta, Netflix, PlayStation, Framestore, etc.

So if you are talented and eager to learn, you can quickly gain a job in the field.


The average annual salary for the VFX artist in the US is approximately $80,516. It can be converted to $38.71 per hour, $1,548 per week, and $6,709 per month.

This salary can vary considerably, depending on factors such as your location, years of experience, and skill level.

Advantages and Disadvantages

  • Good Pay.
  • There Are Multiple Opportunities In The Field Of VFX.
  • Opportunity To Earn After Years Of Experience.
  • Chance To Work On International Projects And Work Abroad.
VFX artists sometimes have to work overtime.
  • Long Working Hours.
  • Stress And Uncertainty Relating To Work.
  • VFX Artists Don’t Usually Have A Great Social Life.


How to Become a VFX Artist?

The path to becoming a VFX artist can vary from person to person. But if you don’t know where to start, here’s the guide for you:

Step 1. Complete your secondary school

Step 2. Cultivate and hone your skills

Step 3. Consider obtaining a bachelor’s degree

Step 4: Find and pursue an internship

Step 5: Consider concentrating on one area of expertise

Step 6. Find freelance jobs

Step 7: Look for available positions

Step 8: Gather your materials and apply for a job

What Is the Difference Between VFX and CGI?

CGI (Computer-generated imagery) is a form of illustration OR animation in which figures and motion will run on computer programs. Meanwhile, VFX refers to enhancing current movies or pictures.

You can use matte glass paintings and miniatures to create VFX without using CGI. It will depend on your client’s preference and your project’s nature.

Is It Possible to Learn VFX at Home?

Yes, but you should hold some artistic ability or a passion for design and project management.

You can take advantage of the various online free resources that can assist you in getting the required skills to deliver visual effects for cinema or other applications.

If you intend to do it alone at home, it will take you years of learning and practice to master it.

Does VFX Require Drawing Skills?

Only animation requires sketching skills. Meanwhile, VFX focuses on applying unique effects to films, videos, and animations. VFX doesn’t have much to do with drawing but requires hardware and software expertise.

Is Coding Needed for VFX?

The answer is Yes. You will need fantastic programming skills and a good understanding of the visual effects pipeline.

You might consider getting a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field, but the crucial requirement is high-level technical skills in some programming languages, such as Python and C++.

Is It Hard to Become a VFX Artist?

Yes. VFX artists typically need a solid set of design and graphic art skills to excel in their careers since they often have to deal with complicated tasks.

Career Advice

Now is the time to decide if you should pursue your ambition of becoming one VFX artist. If this road is the one you want to take, you will need to work hard to enhance your skills, earn experience, and grow your career.

Hopefully, this post has given you vital information to pursue this field. If you need further information, please feel free to ask. Thank you for your time!