What is Game Art? How Can I Pursue a Career in Game Art?

Game Artist, even as a job title, sounds cool, especially to a generation like ours where everything game related speaks volumes of fun, creativity with some hard work thrown in for good measure. We explore the role of a game artist in the game development process, what it takes to become one and potential career prospects in this article.

What Does a Game Artist Do?

If you’ve decided to become a game artist, before you don those cool sunglasses, read on to find out what you’re letting yourself in for. If you are still undecided about what aspect of gaming you want to forge your career in, it is important to first figure out if a career as a game artist is the ideal one for you!

Game artists create the artistic aspects of the game using different digital art creation software. 3D modelling and illustration all fall under this gambit. Some games may also require the artist to use more traditional media like drawing and painting. Game artists work closely with game designers, coders, etc. to create the art for the game. Game artists essentially bring to life what has been conceptualised in the initial game making phase.

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While this might sound like they are simply creating illustrations to the game designer’s specifications, there is a lot more creativity involved in the job. In fact, the way a game artist depicts a particular scenario, level or character can have a major influence on the gameplay itself.  Here is what Rasmus Poulsen, art director and concept artist for Io Interactive has to say about the influence the game environment had on the feel for Kane & Lynch 2:

“For Kane & Lynch 2, we filled the game world with these sad, unimportant details to reflect the characters state of mind. Disused shopping carts in a parking garage, trash, TVs tuned to a dead channel and all that. Something movies does quite a lot. Letting the world be a reflection of the mental state of the characters. Where the design of the world is allowed to become more poetic that “just” a background location. Yet we did it without breaking the credibility of the world.”

Different Types of Game Artists

Contrary to what one might think, there are various different roles in the world of game art, each with its own specialisation. Some of the roles are perfect for new entrants into the industry; the others need a few years of experience and a proven track record. Here are a few of the roles in the world of game art you might be interested in:

  • Art Director:

Game art directors lead the teams of game artists and animators. They also coordinate between the various game art departments and game designers. They are involved in the game development process right from the concept stage and are responsible for the quality, continuity and the aesthetics of the game.

  • Concept Artists

They put together the concept art for a game. They research different art styles, photographs, digital paintings to come up with ideas of how the game should look and feel. They then present these ideas to the various teams of artists.

  • Environment Artists

These artists bring the game environment to life. They create the world that the game is played on. From props to scenes, they ensure that there is consistency throughout the game.

  • Character Artist

As the name suggests, character artists are responsible for designing the characters in a game. They may have to follow a specific stylistic brief to first create 2D concept sketches of the game’s characters before going on to model them as 3D computer models. They also have to work closely with the animators to ensure fluidity and consistency.

There are many game artist roles like illustrators, UI designers, game graphic designers, 3D modellers and animators, too.

How Do Game Artists Find Work?

Game artists can either be hired by a gaming company or work freelance on a number of different projects. Freelancers have to be highly self-motivated and be able to juggle demands from multiple clients. They also have to have the ability to drum up work for themselves to ensure a steady income.

In-house artists work in a game studio with a team of other artists and designers. Depending upon the size of the studio, job roles may overlap slightly with a concept artist also fulfilling the role of an illustrator or game designer.

Job Opportunities for Game Artists

The Indian gaming industry is an industry valued at $360 million as of 2017, according to a report published by KPMG and Google. With games becoming a mainstream business and the budgets for games often equivalent to a Hollywood blockbuster movie, there are plenty of opportunities for qualified and talented game artists in the world today. India itself has become an outsourcing hub for many aspects of the international game industry. Big players in the game market like EA Games and Ubisoft have also established their own studios in India giving Indian game artists opportunities to create game art for the international market.

If you would like to know more about the gaming industry, check out our blog article on the subject: What is the Difference Between a Game Designer and Game Developer?

You can also check out our detailed career guide to know how you can pursue a rewarding career in game design.

Seamedu offers a comprehensive degree program in Game Art and Design and a Diploma in Game Art. Eligible students also have the opportunity for placements with some of the top gaming studios in India. Get in touch with us to know more!