Also known as: Lead artist, 2D artist
Concept artists are responsible for the style and look of a game. They are the first to draw the environments, enemies and player characters. Working with a brief from the producer, their sketches are used to help 3D artists, producers, programmers and publishers understand how the game will look.
The drawings of the concept artist are a vital part of the game’s development as they are the starting point of all the artwork and an important part of the marketing plans.
Concept artists work with all the other members of the art department. They report to the art director and often work closely with the creative director.
Concept artists usually enter the role having worked in other roles in the art department. Look at the job profiles for 3D modelling artist, environment artist or texturing artist for details of how to get into the art department of a games company. Some companies have a junior concept artist role, but you will be expected to have learnt the skills before they will take you on.
At school or college:
Learning traditional drawing, painting and sculpting is useful as a way to demonstrate artistic flair outside software.
If you want to go to university, it would be useful to take A-levels or Highers in:
Or you might want to take any of the following vocational Level 3 qualifications:
If you can add some physics or computer science into the mix, that will give you a rounded set of skills that are ideal for a career in games.
If you want to straight into a job or apprenticeship, these Level 3 qualifications will equip you with relevant skills:
Build a portfolio:
Learn the software, experiment with games engines and start creating work that you can show to admissions tutors or employers. This is essential. Go to build your games portfolio to learn how.
Look for an apprenticeship:
At the moment, there aren’t any apprenticeships for 3D modelling artists specifically. However, it might be possible to find an apprenticeship as a 2D artist and move into concept art from there. Go to how to become an apprentice to learn how to find apprenticeships in your region or approach companies directly.
Get a degree:
Most people in the games industry have a degree. Get one in games art, graphic design or any 3D digital art. Have a look at ScreenSkills’ list of recommended courses in games. We recognise courses with our ScreenSkills Select award where they offer training in the relevant software, dedicated time to building a portfolio and have strong links with the games industry.
Get to know people in the games industry by attending events, including games conferences and expos. Meet professionals and ask them questions about their work, while demonstrating interest and knowledge in the industry. Offer to provide them with your professional contact details and try to stay in touch with them. Go to how to network well to learn how to do this.
Search for jobs:
Use the UK Games Map to find out if there are games companies near you, then go to their websites directly and check out their open roles. Even if they are not advertising the right role, if you like a specific company it’s worth emailing them to let them know you are looking in case something suitable comes up in future. Look for roles like 3D modelling artist, environment artist or texturing artist to get your started.
Look outside games:
It’s also worth considering computer artist roles in any other industry as using similar software will build up your skills. You can use this and any professional artwork you produce to continually improve your games art portfolio, putting you in a stronger position for an entry-level role in games.
Being a lead games designer, level designer or an environment artist in the games industry. You might also be interested in being a production designer in the film and TV drama industries, a concept artist, previsualisation (previs) artist, look development artist or an environment artist in (visual effects) VFX, or a concept artist, storyboard artist, art director or background designer in the animation industry.
Covers genres ranging from period dramas to epic fantasies screened at the cinema, on TV or on streaming sites
Involves making sequences on a computer that can't be created on set, like enormous crowds and fire-breathing dragons
Creates the illusion of movement, includes computer-generated, stop-motion and hand-drawn animation
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