“The role is a relatively new one for the games industry, but is becoming increasingly important as consoles and PC hardware becomes more complex.”
Every company has a different opinion on what a technical artist job role and responsibilities entail, however this post should provide a brief overview of the position.
The technical artist is a hybrid between an artist and a programmer, using this knowledge to act as a bridge between each respectively. Although they possess strong programming knowledge, TA’s work part of the art teams within the industry, working closely with the *Lead Artist and *Creative Director, as well as liaising with the *Lead Programmers to ensure goals are achievable.
Although they are probably able, the TA will most often be not involved with the creation of any art assets used in the end product or game. They are more commonly a consultant role, a source of knowledge which investigate new techniques and implement them. In result, communication skills are key, sharing this knowledge via training and mentoring sessions with other Artists within the company.
Technical Artists must be adaptable, staying up to date with changes in technology in a progressing industry, both hardware and software, as well as new techniques. Also, strong knowledge of a programming languages, or multiple scripts such as lighting and rendering, texturing and shaders. This is important as TAs are expected to create custom tools within the main modelling and animation software packages to help improve efficiency in their team.
Overall, technical artists are a rare breed, a good all-rounder in both art and programming used to optimise the efficiency of the development process. As a result, although one of the newer implemented job roles, it is one with growing importance as technology becomes more complex.
Upon research, I found a great video which provide as simple and informative description of a Technical Artist.
- LEAD ARTIST – “The Lead Artist (also known as Art Director or Creative Manager) is responsible for the overall look of the game. The Lead Artist devises the game’s visual style and directs the production of all visual material throughout the game’s development.”
- CREATIVE DIRECTOR – “The Creative Director is the key person during the game development process, overseeing any high-level decisions that affect how the game plays, looks or sounds.”
- LEAD PROGRAMMER – “The Lead Programmer leads the programming team responsible for creating all the computer code which runs and controls a game. Programmers have various roles and specialisms including AI (artificial intelligence), game engine development, user interface, tools development and physics. “
Here are a list of skills required to be a technical artists, as compiled by CreativeSkillset.Org:
- Be able to show technical proficiency in areas such as lighting and rendering, texturing, and graphics-related programming languages such as shaders
- Have extensive knowledge of art packages ranging from modelling to texturing and special effects
- Be able to customise art packages so that they are as streamlined as possible for specific projects
- Be able to work well as part of a team
- Have good communication and people management skills, in order to train and mentor others
- Be able to work with minimum supervision
- Have excellent organisational skills
- Be able to think creatively to resolve technical challenges and limitations
- Have knowledge of console hardware architecture
- Be highly skilled in the use of 3D graphics software
- Be able to anticipate the needs of the artists so as to streamline their productivity
Example of Technical Artist Job Advert
The featured job advert was found on the companies official website, Creative Assembly, with the opportunity to join the Total War team.
Immediately, it is evident that the candidate must possess strong art and programming skills, as discussed earlier. Communication stands out as a key skill within the job role, having to liaise between various teams within the company and providing support and teaching to the art team. Finally, having strong technical and scripting experience to create specialist tailor-made tools which help “expedite artist workflows”, as a result, improve efficiency.