A beginners's guide

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Artist / Animator

Games Artist questions and answers

Let’s tackle some common questions about this games career path.

Artists and animators create the visual elements of a game, including characters, vehicles, objects and backgrounds; their textures; the animations that bring them to life; and interfaces that players use to play the game.

They use software to create artwork ranging from generating sketches called concept art, to creating 2D or 3D artwork, to building models which animators then bring to life with movement.

Some game artists and animators come from fine arts backgrounds, while others have no formal training. At the start of their art and animation careers in games companies, people often work on 3D models, textures, backgrounds and objects. Starting salaries can range from between £18,000 to £23,000.

More senior artists and animators move on to creating the more important elements of a game’s look and feel, such as the game’s lead characters. Many start to specialise in specific types of art and animation, while the most senior roles manage teams of artists and animators. Salaries for medium to senior staff can range from between £30,000 to £50,000.

Any fine arts experience or study will help but every future games artist and animator creates an art portfolio showing examples of their work. These could be hand drawn or created using arts software tools like Maya or engines like Unity. After the portfolio, any experience in the kind of events hosted during Games Careers Week, such as making games with friends, online courses, game jams, further and higher education, internships and so on, will help.

Games companies usually have these 3 pieces of advice:

  1. Show your passion by doing everything you can to make games. See What next? below for some places to get started.
  2. Practice your teamworking skills by working in groups – that’s how games are actually made;
  3. Keep going and don’t be put off if knocked back.
  • What’s a games artist or animator?

    Artists and animators create the visual elements of a game, including characters, vehicles, objects and backgrounds; their textures; the animations that bring them to life; and interfaces that players use to play the game.

  • What do they do?

    They use software to create artwork ranging from generating sketches called concept art, to creating 2D or 3D artwork, to building models which animators then bring to life with movement.

  • How do they start their careers?

    Some game artists and animators come from fine arts backgrounds, while others have no formal training. At the start of their art and animation careers in games companies, people often work on 3D models, textures, backgrounds and objects. Starting salaries can range from between £18,000 to £23,000.

  • What about later in their careers?

    More senior artists and animators move on to creating the more important elements of a game’s look and feel, such as the game’s lead characters. Many start to specialise in specific types of art and animation, while the most senior roles manage teams of artists and animators. Salaries for medium to senior staff can range from between £30,000 to £50,000.

  • What skills and experience help them start their career?

    Any fine arts experience or study will help but every future games artist and animator creates an art portfolio showing examples of their work. These could be hand drawn or created using arts software tools like Maya or engines like Unity. After the portfolio, any experience in the kind of events hosted during Games Careers Week, such as making games with friends, online courses, game jams, further and higher education, internships and so on, will help.

  • How can I get started?

    Games companies usually have these 3 pieces of advice:

    1. Show your passion by doing everything you can to make games. See What next? below for some places to get started.
    2. Practice your teamworking skills by working in groups – that’s how games are actually made;
    3. Keep going and don’t be put off if knocked back.

What next?

8-11 year olds

* indicates required
  1. Watch the role videos on our careers pages and ask which roles appeal the most
  2. Start making games on a free online course from the National Videogame Museum
  3. Take a Digital Schoolhouse computing workshop
  4. Attend a Games Careers Week event that’s right for the age group
  5. Find out if a Digital Schoolhouse is near you
  6. Keep playing and making games as much as possible in spare time

12-15 year olds

* indicates required
  1. Watch the role videos on our careers pages and ask which roles appeal the most
  2. Take an introductory class on Gamemaker or Unity (see below)
  3. Attend a Games Careers Week event that’s right for the age group
  4. See if any Colleges or academies near you have games development courses like these from the NextGen Skills Academy
  5. Keep studying whichever of these GCSE subjects they enjoy: computer science, maths, art and design technology.

15-17 year olds

* indicates required
  1. Watch the role videos on our careers pages and ask which roles appeal the most
  2. Take classes on Unreal, Gamemaker or Unity (see below)
  3. Attend a Games Careers Week event that’s right for the age group
  4. It’s not essential to have a degree but degree courses accredited by industry programmes like TIGA’s or ScreenSkills’ can improve career chances for graduates
  5. Keep studying whichever of these A level subjects are favourites: computer science, maths, art and design technology.
  6. Keep playing and making games as much as possible in spare time

18+ year olds

* indicates required

  1. Research games roles through sites like Into Games, Grads in Games, British Esports Association and ScreenSkills
  2. Take BGI’s free Start your career in games development course on Futurelearn
  3. Teach yourself how to make games using any of the online courses below
  4. It’s not essential to have a degree but degree courses accredited by industry programmes like TIGA’s or ScreenSkills’ can improve career chances for graduates
  5. Attend a Games Careers Week event such as the Games Education Summit
  6. Attend an online games jam like these
  7. Build a portfolio of work, perhaps following advice from Grads in Games
  8. Find a games job via these job boards
  9. Keep playing and making games as much as possible in spare time

Essential resources

Below you will find a range of permanent resources running year round.

We have added age badges to guide you towards sites that have resources appropriate for the age group listed.

Parents – please note that our age badges are not certified age ratings so we recommend you review all materials to decide if they are appropriate for your child.

Games Careers Week is a free non-profit event organised and funded by the BGI, Into Games and Grads in Games, supported by TIGA, NextGen Skills Academy, Gamesindustry.biz and Ukie

Organised by

About the BGI
About the BGI

The BGI is a charity number 1183530 which educates the public about games through the National Videogame Museum, training and research.

About Into Games
About Into Games

Into Games is a national non-profit Community Interest Company that supports people from all backgrounds in finding rewarding careers in games.

About Grads for Games
About Grads for Games

Grads in Games is a non-profit Community Interest Company which equips students with the skills games employers need.

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