A Step-by-Step Guide to Becoming a 3D Game Artist

Want to break into the gaming industry and make art for games? If so, you’re in luck. 3D game artists and designers are one of the fastest-growing careers in the gaming industry, and it’s an industry that’s predicted to grow by nearly 19% by 2025. Despite a lot of companies prefer to outsource animation services, we would like to highlight who game artists are and how to become one.

What Are 3D Modeling Artists?

3D artist jobs involve drawing and sculpting items for games, including but not limited to models of characters, items, vehicles, and environments. 3D modeling artists model images on a computer and then create “art objects” (or game assets), the model used in the game. These artists work closely with the programming team to get their creative visions into the game as quickly and efficiently as possible.

What Do They Do?

3D modeling artists overlap with concept art professionals and texture artists at times. Their job involves building, designing, and texturing digital models in 3D games, but they usually work differently than other digital artists. Developing a game can take years, and these artists’ tools are constantly evolving. They may create digital models or characters using programs like Maya, Maya LT, SketchUp, or 3DS Max. Artists can also use animation and motion-capture software to bring their creations to life. The following steps will guide you through how to become a 3D game artist, from picking your school to landing your first job.

Step 1: Choose a School

So you want to become a 3D game artist but don’t know where to start. This is an important decision; picking the wrong school can set you back years. Fortunately, you don’t need to pick an expensive school to get a good education. You can do several beneficial things at an inexpensive school that will increase your chances of success.

First, you want to find a school that offers the necessary skills and training. This may mean spending six months or more working as an intern during college, but this will significantly increase your odds of landing a job after graduation. When you apply to a school, you’ll want to choose one with a good industry reputation. Many schools have a list of publications they publish and maintain, and you can also find out if any of the faculty have won awards for game design.

Another important aspect to consider is cost. This is an area where different schools will have stark differences, but there are some things you can do to keep costs low while still getting a quality education. For example, many schools offer online classes for a fraction of the tuition cost. If you can find a school that offers this and you can take classes online, it’s a great way to save money.

Step 2: Work as an Intern

Many consider internships one of the most important factors when deciding where to attend school, but it may not be an option for everyone. Fortunately, there’s a way to get around this if you can recruit a friend or relative in the industry. After you’ve found the right school, you need to start working as an intern at a game company.

Working for at least six months as an intern is necessary for every 3D game artist and will improve your chances of being hired by a game company after graduation. You need to learn the ins and outs of life in the game industry, including working in teams and making art under deadlines. It may seem difficult, but working as an intern will increase your chances of landing a job after graduation by 122%.

Step 3: Apply to Game Companies

After graduating from school, it’s time to apply to game companies. Even though you won’t get hired straight out of school, you still want to be in the industry as soon as possible. Even though you won’t get hired immediately, the application process is a great way to learn what game artists and designers expect. The following are some things you should expect from the interview process:

  1. Detailed questions about your previous projects and personal life. This purpose is to find out if you make good choices when making games, so they can see how well you work with others. Of course, it also helps them learn more about your personality and which end of a studio pencil they need to use when interviewing other candidates.
  2. Interrogation. Most of the interview is spent answering specific questions about your skills and knowledge. This won’t be easy, but it will increase your chances of being hired after graduation by 136%!
  3. Tough questions about the industry. This can be a hard part of the interview, as you’re facing off against several game companies. There are plenty of things you want to avoid saying or asking, such as “what do you think about indie games?”
  4. Multiple interviews with different people in different parts of the company. This includes lunch with the lead game artist and the art director.

Step 4: Apply for Grad Programs

After you’ve applied for internships, it’s time to start planning for graduate school. This is another key step in your career as a 3D game artist and will greatly increase your odds of being hired after graduation by approximately 80%. Several great programs exist, but you must research before applying. Try to find programs with publishing credits from major gaming companies or win awards at major game conventions. Your school may even have a list of top schools for game design that can give you good advice about which schools to choose.

3D Artist Jobs

  • Art Director: These people set the game’s overall vision and determine what it will look like. They’re usually responsible for directing a team of artists who work on character designs, level design, and other aspects of the video game.
  • Level Designer: These guys create maps and other levels that can be built into a game engine. The level designer works alongside the art director to ensure that the level designs are fair and fun to play in.
  • Animator: These people create movements and animations for characters, enemies, and characters in a game. The animator works with the level designer and artists to ensure that game objects are moving realistically. A game artist will have to do it if a character needs to look at an object for longer than ten seconds of screen time.
  • Technical Artist: These guys create textures and models for all the game’s vehicles, buildings, and other objects. Working in a team with the other artists makes those objects look realistic.
  • UI Artist: These guys create displays and user interfaces for games. They’re usually responsible for creating both 2D and 3D objects, so they get to see how everything works behind the scenes. UI artists also work closely with QA to ensure systems work correctly before going live.
  • Animator & Concept Artist: These guys are responsible for creating all the layout artwork in a game, like maps, menus, and other 2D objects in a game’s world. They also create characters, enemies, and other 3D models used by other artists.

Essential 3D Artist Skills for Your Resume and Career

1. High Quality

You’ll have to deliver high-quality objects with consistent design and Unrealistic expectations. This means you need to know what looks good and what doesn’t. Make sure you know your game company’s graphics standards and follow them when working on a project. If a character is supposed to be human, but you make it look like a generic anime character, the art director will hate your work, as will most of your peers. It’s always best to err on the side of caution.

2. Communication

As a 3D game artist, you’ll need to be able to communicate with your coworkers and supervisors to make sure that you’re working on the right things. You’ll need to be able to listen carefully, ask questions when necessary, and ensure that everyone is on the same page. If you can improve here, it will save everyone time and effort in the long run.

3. Flexibility

The best 3D game artists are willing to change their designs whenever needed. They’re willing to listen to feedback and follow the art director’s vision for the project. They may not always like it all the time, but plenty of people don’t like their jobs. If you know that you can make your art director happy, you’ll have a good chance of getting hired by their company after graduation.

4. Leadership

The best 3D game artists can also be leaders. They know how to motivate, inspire, and direct a team of artists, but they also know when to get involved and do some of the work themselves. This makes them well-rounded team members who are typically promoted whenever possible.

5. Creativity

Being a 3D game artist requires you to be creative on demand. You need original ideas that can be used to improve your games and make them fun to play for all ages. You need to be able to think outside of the box, but you also need to make sure that your ideas are actually okay to use. If you can give a good idea without getting laughed out of the studio, you’ll have a good chance of being in the game after graduation.

6. Critical Thinking

You’ll also have to be able to do some critical thinking as a 3D game artist. You’ll need to look at a situation and decide on the best solution possible. Sometimes, this means that you’ll have to adjust an object or change your design. It’s best to start with a solid foundation, but you always want to ensure that your art is built from the ground up.

7. Respect for Other Artists

Most 3D game artists are very protective of their creations, but there are some guidelines for working with other artists and respecting other artists’ work. If you can’t stop yourself from making fun of another artist’s work, you’ll need to address it before taking the job. No one wants someone joking around with their designs, and it may even cost you an offer.

8. Patience

You need to be able to work slowly and methodically as a 3D game artist. You don’t always have time to rush things, so you have to know when you need to slow down a bit and double-check your work. It’s best to work quickly and efficiently because you’ll have the most time to do it when you’re working with a team.

9. Creativity with Design Systems

Just because you have five years of art experience doesn’t mean that you can design your own game system. This is a lot of responsibility for anyone, but you need to be ready to take it on because so many companies are using these types of design systems as their base. If you can create a system that you can use for multiple games, it will show your boss that you’re worth giving more responsibility to.

10. Research and Development

The best 3D game artists are always looking for new ways to improve the quality of their work. They try different software, use new middleware, and experiment with different techniques. You must be open-minded if you want to be an innovator in the gaming industry. You must be willing to try anything, even if it doesn’t work.

11. Detail-Oriented

You’ll also have to be very detail-oriented as a 3D game artist. You need to count polygons, make sure that your textures are consistent, and draw attention to any minor problems that you see during playtesting. This is usually eye-opening work for many artists who don’t think too much about what they make until it’s time for the playtest round.

12. Teamwork

You’ll also have to be a team player as a 3D game artist. You need to communicate with your coworkers and ensure that everyone is on the same page. It’s also important to listen to their ideas because they know their jobs better than you do at times. If you can take what they say, use it to improve your work, and make sure it fits in with the rest of the team, everything will work out.

These are the basic skills that you’ll need to know as a 3D game artist. The best way for you to learn is by starting on an internship. After graduating with your bachelor’s degree and becoming a certified 3D game artist, you can continue to work for free or for just tips and commission work until you’re ready for a full-time position.