Who creates 3D art?

One of the big mysteries of 3D Art is who makes it. It’s not all computer wizardry, there’s got to be SOMEBODY pushing pixels around in some dark room somewhere. While this may not be the primary focus of my project, I wanted to take a moment to highlight some major jobs or roles that 3D artists can take in the video game industry.

While there are many, many specialized jobs that exist in the Game Industry that focus on a single discipline of 3D art (Lighting Artist, Texture Artist, Animation Rigger, etc.), I will only focus on a few of the main disciplines for now. There may be major topics that I do not discuss or go in to detail over that will be covered in later posts.

Character Artist: Possibly the most prolific of the jobs in the minds of gamers and budding game developers, the Character Artist is responsible for modeling a character or creature. A common misconception is that the Character Artist is the one who CREATES, or imagines the character. The visual aspect of character creation is normally done by a concept artist, as is the case in most 3D art. The Character artist takes the 2D conceptual art given to them, and uses that information to create a full 3D model, as well as texture/material information for that character.

Environment Artist: Environment artists are akin to set builders in the movie industry: their responsibility is to give life to the game world to make it feel like a real, breathing place. Again, Environment Artists rarely design their levels, both aesthetically, as well as in terms of game play, but give three dimensional life to the concepts given to them. Rather than create a single, incredibly detailed model like a character artist may be tasked to do, the environment artist will create and place many props in the game world, ranging from large statues, to inconspicuous rocks, grass, and signposts. A single environment artist may be responsible for a single area, or several areas of a game, rather than a just a few models.

Animator: Animators are aptly named, as their primary responsibility is to animate 3D models. While many modern studios use motion capture to capture real performance and translate it in to animations, animators are still needed to tweak or modify these performances, or to animate things that are usually impossible for the human body to do.