Character artists create and draw the visual elements of a computer game such as the characters, environment, vehicles, weapons and other props. You could also be working on films creating characters or scenery.
You could be:
discussing the brief with a games designer and lead artist
creating concept sketches and storyboards in 2D or 3D
specialising in one area of a game, such as human figures or weapons
working with other artists on a film production, each specialising in a particular area
working as a 3D modeller, building up the characters or scenery, taking account of technical capabilities and game platform
adding texture to the drawings to suit the brief, and to bring the game or film to life
using specialist software such as Maya, ZBrush, Mudbox and Photoshop to create your drawings
involved with all aspects of character modelling including anatomical, cloth and hand-surface modelling
creating and taking responsibility for art assets according to the game specification.
Pay rates vary, depending on:
where you work
the size of company or organisation you work for
the demand for the job.
Newly qualified artists may start off earning from £18,000 to £20,000 a year. With experience this can rise to between £25,000 and £30,000 a year. Lead artists can earn up to £45,000 or more.
Freelance artists charge fees depending on the type of work done. Amounts depends on work done and your experience.
You will spend most of your time working at a computer, usually in an open plan office.
Many artists working on films are freelance.
You would work as part of a team.
Your hours could be long and irregular.
You would probably work some evenings and weekends, especially when approaching a deadline.
Most entrants will have a degree (SCQF Levels 9-11) or HND (SCQF Level 8) in fine art, graphic design or illustration.
For entry to an HND you usually need 1-2 Highers, and for a degree, 4-5 Highers, normally including English and Art and Design.
You will need a good portfolio of artwork.
Abertay University offers BA Hons Computer Arts. You will require 4 Highers at AABB including Art and Design or Photography, Graphic Communication or Design and Manufacture plus English and Maths at National 5. This course has been awarded the ScreenSkills Tick for the high standard of education provided, and the degree to which it prepares you for a games career.
You should be competent in using 3D graphics packages such as 3D Studio Max and Maya, and 2D packages such as Photoshop.
A work placement during your degree would provide a useful way to gain some industry experience.
For art school courses you need to apply through UCAS.
What Does it Take?
You need to have:
excellent communication skills
the ability to pay attention to detail
imagination and creativity
excellent IT skills
knowledge of anatomy and architecture.
You need to be able to:
work under pressure and be able to meet deadlines
interpret other people's ideas
work as part of a team.
Your training would be ongoing as you gain experience and develop your technique.
You could attend training events and workshops to keep up to date with the latest trends and software packages.
You may have to learn in house software packages, depending on the company you are working for.
You must build up a good, up to date portfolio to show to possible employers.
You could progress to be a team leader, senior artist, or lead artist.
There is more work available in the games industry than the film industry.
Young Scot and Creative Scotland operate the 'Nurturing Talent - Time to Shine Fund', which aims to support young people aged 11-25 and interested in developing creative or artistic skills. Both individuals and groups can apply for funding up to £1,000. For more information see the Young Scot website.
For more information please see organisations listed below: