Asset Designer

The role, salary, software and skills of an asset designer for film and games

Student work by Tom Garden

What does an asset designer do?

An asset designer (or asset artist) is a type of concept artist who creates a vast array of elements that are typically used in video games. This can include objects, props, weapons, vehicles, and natural elements such as trees and rocks.

They design the movable and functional objects that facilitate gameplay. Depending on the role and size of the studio, this area can be both an audio and visual discipline of game development.

An Asset Designer needs to understand the full scope of the game development process from 3D animation to sound design. They bring to life and assist in designing the elements that push the narrative forward through interaction with characters and environments. They maintain libraries of these elements for animators and programmers to use in assembling the game.

Asset designer job description

The role of the asset designer is to create concept art of all the visual assets and rough audio files of sound effects for visual games. They base their artwork on the style and look of the game, working with Environment Designers and Character Designers to create a cohesive aesthetic throughout. 

Asset Designers will be called upon to design any manner of objects, and each project may require hundreds of individual assets that need to be brought together to create the final product. They will deal with detail and volume that must be organized effectively and logically.  

Role and responsibilities of an asset designer in film and games:

  • Liaising with designers and developers on the artistic brief of the project
  • Researching resources and references for the style of the game
  • Designing concept art for all the visual assets
  • Rendering a variety of different designs for review
  • Revising artwork and audio based on feedback and collaboration
  • Creating rough audio files for sound effects
  • Compositing visuals with their audio effects
  • Creating prototypes for testing
  • Designing with user experience in mind
  • Pitching and developing ideas 
  • Developing gameplay systems that involve story elements
  • Maintaining production documentation
  • Basic sound design duties


Skills required to become an asset artist for film and games

A good knowledge of the history of objects and excellent drawing abilities are valuable skills for an Asset Designer. They must have a passion for drawing everyday objects in intricate detail and an interest in audio design. Because of the pure volume of work to be done by Asset Designers they must be able to work quickly to accommodate the production pipeline schedule. 

Film and game companies may look for the following skills in an asset designer

  • Strong illustration, digital painting and conceptual skills
  • Training in game art
  • Knowledge of mechanics, historical artefacts, weaponry, botanical elements, furniture, clothing, etc. 
  • Excellent knowledge of video gameplay, game genres and the latest trends
  • Solid understanding of visual language - texture, color, dimension, scale, perspective, shade, composition depth of field, proportion, spatial awareness, etc
  • Ability to execute the vision of the designers and developers 
  • File organization and time management skills
  • Ability to be a team player and work independently
  • Desire to learn new technologies and design techniques
  • Good working knowledge of latest design techniques and technologies
  • High-level communication skills
  • Knowledge of sound design and mixing
  • Basic compositing skills
  • Familiarity with games production pipeline

What software and tools do asset designers use?

Asset Artists will draw inspiration and reference from a plethora of rare, invented and everyday objects.

This means their materials and tools will be either invented or sourced from real-world samples.

All assets must be finished digitally.

Asset artists may need knowledge of a combination of the following software:

  • Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Audition
  • Audacity
  • Maya
  • 3D Studio Max
  • Mudbox
  • Zbrush
  • Nuke

How much does an asset designer make?

Asset Designers earn a standard Game Designer salary which ranges from USD $45,000 to USD $93,000. (Source: Glass Door)

To learn more about this field, visit: What is Digital Illustration? or What is Concept Art?



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