Games Artists

Job Description:

Games artists create designs for the environment, objects, people, creatures, and overall feel of a game.

Job Category:
Art & Fashion

What you will do:

Your day-to-day responsibilities will depend on your area of specialism. Games artists often specialise in one of these four areas:

  • Concept artist – you’ll create the overall look and feel of a game world, together with the first designs of people, creatures, and objects (it’s worth noting that concept artists are also used in other industries, such as film and animation).
  • 3D modelling artist – you’ll use the 2D drawings from a concept artist to build 3D models of characters, weapons, vehicles, furniture, trees, rocks, etc.
  • Environment artist – you’ll design fantasy landscapes (such as dungeons or wastelands) and realistic landscapes (such as forests and urban streets), in which the game will be played.
  • Texturing artist – you’ll add realism to 3D models by mapping textures onto the object’s surfaces (including rust on metal, tears in fabric, and scars on skin).

Whichever area you specialise in, you’ll need to follow a brief, work to deadlines, collaborate with other artists, and implement feedback.


You’ll need

  • creative and artistic skills, including an understanding of form, colour, texture, and light
  • the ability to use traditional methods (e.g., drawing and painting) and creative software packages (e.g., Photoshop, Blender, 3D Smax, SketchUp and Maya), depending on your specialism

As well as:

  • listening and reading skills, to interpret a brief
  • speaking and writing skills, to explain and pitch ideas
  • organisation skills, to work to a tight production schedule and meet deadlines
  • the ability to stay positive, so you can respond well to criticism and adapt your work based on feedback
  • strong research skills, so you can build characters and worlds within the limitations of the game world
  • teamwork skills, to collaborate with other artists and other members of the team
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become a Games Artist, you don’t necessarily need specific subjects, but certain subjects and skills can be highly beneficial for developing the necessary artistic and technical abilities for this career. Game artists create visual elements for video games, including characters, environments, textures, and animations. Here are some subjects and skills that can be helpful:

  1. Art and Design: Art and Design or related subjects like Fine Art can provide a strong foundation in artistic skills, including drawing, painting, and digital art.
  2. Computer Science or ICT (Information and Communication Technology): Knowledge of computer science or ICT can be valuable, as it helps you understand the technical aspects of game development, including the software and tools used in the industry.
  3. Mathematics: Basic mathematical skills are important for tasks such as 3D modelling, understanding geometry, and working with proportions.
  4. Graphic Design: If available, Graphic Design or related subjects can be beneficial for developing skills in graphic design, layout, and digital illustration.
  5. Media Studies: This subject can provide insights into storytelling, game narrative, and the impact of visual elements in video games.
  6. Photography: Photography can help you develop an eye for composition, lighting, and visual storytelling, which are important skills for game artists.

Post School

There are no set entry requirements. Like many creative roles, your ability to find work will depend on the strength of your portfolio and your experience.

A strong portfolio will showcase your understanding of key design principles (such as form, shape, colour and light theory, texture, composition, and perspective). Although not a requirement, a relevant undergraduate degree, foundation degree, or Level 3 qualification (such as a BTEC diploma in the UK) will help you develop these skills and become familiar with creative software packages.

Relevant subjects include:

  • games art / games art production
  • graphic design / graphics
  • animation
  • illustration
  • fine art
  • creative digital media production

A network of industry contacts will help you to find clients (if you’re self-employed) and gain professional experience.

Working Hours and Environment:

As a games artist, your working hours will depend on whether you work for an employer or as a self-employed freelancer.

If you decide to work for an employer, you’re likely to work full-time, although flexible hours and time off in lieu are often possible.

As a self-employed freelancer, you’ll be able to select clients and projects to suit your availability, although this may mean compromising financial stability.

Whether you’re self-employed or an employee, you’ll be based in a game developer’s studio or office and work on a computer for long periods of time.

Career Path & Progression:

You’re likely to begin your career with a junior/intern art role, although it’s possible to enter the profession through another role (such as a quality assurance tester).

From there, you’ll receive training on the job and will have the opportunity to shadow other games artists. Some employers also offer in-house training in relevant software packages.

You could then progress into a mid-level games artist role and, after three-to-six years, a senior art role. It can take a minimum of five years’ experience in the industry to become a lead artist with management responsibility.