Technical artists (TAs) make the work of the artists easier. They develop the games engines, so they work as well as possible for the people making the art. If an artist wants to create something complex, TAs will say if it’s possible from a technical point of view and think of the best way of doing it. In some studios, where the animation team needs some complex rigging (creating a moving skeleton), they may call on the TAs to do it. They act as a bridge between the artists and the programmers.
Technical artists work with the art director and the programming team. They are the first port of call for technical problems encountered by the other artists.
People become technical artists having worked in games for several years. They come through the art department, particularly animation, or they come through programming. Have a look at the animation job profile, generalist programmer job profile or the 3D modelling artist job profile for full details of how to get into the games industry through these routes.
At school or college:
This is one of a number of roles within the games industry that requires both artistic and programming skills. While at school or college, try to combine arts and sciences.
If you want to go to university, it would be useful to get A-levels, highers or a BTEC in a combination of the following:
Or you might want to take any of the following vocational Level 3 qualifications:
If you want to straight into a job or apprenticeship, these Level 3 qualifications will equip you with relevant skills:
Build a portfolio:
Create work that you can show off to employers. This is essential. Go to build your games portfolio to learn how.
Create levels of a game using software provided by the publishers.
Get a degree:
Have a look at ScreenSkills’ list of recommended courses in animation. 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. Or you might want a degree in games or computer programming.
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:
If you already have experience as a games programmer or artist, 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.
Look outside games:
It’s also worth considering technical artist roles in industries like animation and VFX. You can build up your skills and move into games from there.
Being a 3D modelling artist, an environment artist, a texturing artist, visual effects (VFX) artist, graphics programmer or generalist programmer in the games industry. You might also be interested being a production designer in the film and TV drama industries, a computer graphics (CG) supervisor, modelling artist, texture artist, an environment artist or a creature technical director (TD) in VFX, or an art director, a character designer, modeller 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