How Do I Become a Game Artist?

Gregory Hanson

Anyone who wants become a game artist will, first and foremost, need to acquire solid technical skills, usually through a process of self-study or through formal training, often at an art or technical school. Skill at using software appropriate for the modern game industry is a crucial part of this technical training. Knowledge of the games industry and practical experience in the field are also valuable career resources. Industry connections can also prove useful in the quest to become a game artist.

Game artists may focus on console games, computer games or both.
Game artists may focus on console games, computer games or both.

An aspiring game artist should acquire technical skill in the types of artwork commonly used in game design. Three-dimensional (3D) art, which focuses on models and textures, is very valuable, as most modern games employ some level of 3D artwork. Skill at crafting two-dimensional (2D) art can also prove useful for someone seeking to become a game artist, as 2D artwork is also still widely used in game design, both at the concept stages and for backgrounds, loading screens, and similar in-game decorations.

Game artists try to create an immersive experience for gamers.
Game artists try to create an immersive experience for gamers.

Skill as a game artist can be acquired though a course of study offered by a college or university. Many art schools offer courses designed to teach the basics of game art. These programs typically include both instruction in the process of creating art, emphasizing the use of specific design tools, and general training designed to hone a student's artistic abilities.

Formal education is not the only way to acquire the skill needed to become a game artist, however. Many successful members of the gaming industry began as passionate fans and are essentially self-taught. Creating a complete conversion mod for an existing game or designing custom textures and models for a favorite game offers valuable, hands-on experience. Online communities of dedicated amateurs exist and can provide support and assistance for would-be artists who choose this route.

Experience inside the gaming industry is also a useful asset for someone who wishes to become a game artist. The traditional means of acquiring this experience is through an internship. Many entertainment companies offer internships, generally, but not exclusively, to students enrolled in programs focusing on game development or computer science. These internships provide practical experience in game art as well as a chance to form industry connections. An internship may lead to an offer of full-time employment after graduation.

Industry connections are another useful, but not essential, asset for an aspiring game artist. Connections are helpful for locating any sort of employment, and this is certainly true in the world of game art and design. School and internship opportunities offer chances to forge this sort of connection, but work on game mods and active participation in online communities also provide an aspiring game artist with these contacts.

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