Anyone even remotely familiar with video games can probably guess that the demand for video games is exploding. In fact, the video game industry as a whole is experiencing a phase of rapid expansion and growth. According to a study for the Interactive Software Developers Association produced by Coopers and Lybrand, the video game development industry continues to grow at an astounding rate of nearly 20% per year.
For those looking to launch a career in gaming, there are several major areas within the industry to consider: web gaming, computer/TV gaming, mobile phone gaming, arcade gaming, and gaming for training/education purposes. Gaming within training is a recent–but growing–segment of the gaming industry as more and more companies are looking for quicky and easy ways to train new employees.
There are five main game art career positions that video game development and design companies are looking to fill. These include character artist and animator, animators, background artist or modeler, concept artist, and texture artist.
Character artists and animators are responsible for developing, designing, and bringing to life video game creatures. Sometimes the role of character artist and character animator are filled by two individuals, and sometimes they’re filled by just one person. Character artists typically begin by drawing and developing a creature on paper or a whiteboard. Once a basic design has been achieved, artists then reconstruct the character using a computer and modeling software.
Animators create animated creatures, characters, and action sequences in video games. When developing animated creatures and characters, animators often use real-world animals or living humans as guides for develop natural-looking movement. There are two kinds of action sequences that animators create: cut scenes and player-controlled action. Cut scenes are short movies that play at predetermined intervals throughout a game and player-control action includes making an animated character run, jump, talk, and move.
Background artists, sometimes referred to as modelers, are responsible for creating video game settings. They draw and develop game environments to the design team’s specifications and work directly with the level designer to ensure environments are designed to fit the game in every way.
Concept artists are tasked with designing and developing characters and worlds used in video games. As with character artists, concept artists start by developing their concepts on paper or a whiteboard. Once approved, a concept will then go through a clean-up period which may include scanning designs into a computer for additional touchup. Once all concept artwork has been completed, it is given to a 3D Model Builder.
As their name suggests, texture artists are resposible for adding detail to the surfaces of game art. This may include adding texture to the walls of a building to make it look modern or old, or developing detail for an outdoor forest scene. Texture artists will create the surfaces they need via photography or painting and then scan their picture into a computer. Finally, through a process called texture mapping, they wrap their picture around the target object they’re trying to bring to life on the screen.
Even though the field of game art and video game design is highly competitive, there are plenty of job opportunties for those with passion for art and design and who possess the necessarily qualifications. While some professionals within the trade are self taught, most game art designers have formal training in fine arts or art-related subject, such as animation or industrial design. Many successful video game designers will earn a bachelor’s degree in game art design.
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