What does an asset artist for video games do?
Asset artists create a broad range of elements within a video game. These include graphics, 3D models, sound effects, music, vehicles, head-up displays (HUDs), icons, etc.
Asset artists will maintain and catalog a detailed library of all assets required of a game for animators and developers to access during production. Video games utilize a vast array of audio and visual components to engage the player. The more complex gameplay is, the more gamers will be engrossed by the stimuli of the game.
Because of the variety of skills required to create or acquire the volume of elements required for a video game asset artists need to be skilled in both audio and visual design.
Asset artist job description
The asset artist role is a generalist one requiring knowledge of both visual and audio elements that go into making a game. They can be required to produce all manner of elements so knowledge of mechanics, historical artifacts, weaponry, botanical elements, furniture, clothing, metallic and organic finishes, etc.
A big part of their role is to maintain and categorize asset libraries. These are a vital part of the production pipeline as there could be hundreds of assets that need to be created for use at any point in the game. When the compositor comes to complete the final render of the game all assets must be properly ordered and formatted for a smooth finish to the game.
Role & responsibilities of an asset artist in the gaming industry:
- Liaising with designers and animators regarding the brief and scope of work
- Assisting in the creation of visual and audio assets
- Researching references and resources required for the production of assets
- Designing and developing from concept art to final product
- Creating organic and hard surface models
- Cataloging and curating asset libraries
- Some sound design or mixing duties
- Integrating visuals with sound
- Developing prototypes of assets for testing
- Producing high and low poly models, keyframe animation, and motion graphics
- Adding special effects
- Working with motion capture
- Texturing 3D rigs
- Producing UVW mapping
- Collaborating with creative and technical teams
- Maintaining production documentation
Skills required to become an asset artist for video games
A good knowledge of the history of objects and excellent drawing abilities are valuable skills for an asset artist. They must have a passion for rendering everyday objects into 3D models.
Video game studios may look for the following skills in an asset artist:
- Training in computer science, game art or computer graphics
- Skills in working systematically and keeping to a schedule
- Ability to interpret abstract ideas into stylized or photorealistic assets
- Love of video games, knowledge of game genres and trends in gaming
- Understanding of multi-pass rendering and 3D scene layout
- Knowledge of plate and image based lighting
- Solid understanding of visual language - texture, color, dimension, scale, perspective, shade, composition depth of field, proportion, spatial awareness, etc
- Strong illustration, digital painting and conceptual skills
- File organization and time management skills
- Ability to work in a team and independently
- Desire to learn new technologies and design techniques
What software and tools do asset artists use?
Asset artists will work with 3D animation, compositing and programming software.
Asset artists may need knowledge of a combination of the following software:
- 3D Studio Max
- Substance Painter
- Adobe Photoshop, After Effects
- Unreal Engine
How much does an asset artist make?
The asset artist role is similar in wages to the character artist. The average wage of an asset artist is between USD $45,000 and USD $83,000. Source: Glassdoor