FX Artist - Games

The role, salary, software and skills of video game FX artist

Student work by Tuck Abbot

What does a Video Games FX Artist do?

A video game FX artist creates digital simulations and procedural workflows based on real-world elements or supernatural concepts that move or react under the basic laws of physics.

There are two main areas of FX in video games:

  • Gameplay effects: enhance the action
  • Environmental effects: enhance the overall visuals

Composition, scale, form, speed, and viscosity are often taken into account to help determine how an effect looks and reacts to its surroundings. Before creating effects for games, artists are usually required to research real-life phenomena, watch reference videos (when possible), and generate multiple concepts. 

Role and responsibilities

“Power-ups,” fire and lightning, activating a magic forcefield, or even sparkling jewels — these effects (and many more!) are the responsibility of an FX artist.

They also create explosions, destruction, particle systems, and liquid simulations. Their role can also be as broad as generating procedural environments, building basic assets, character effects (cloth, hair, etc.), and solving challenging pipeline problems.

FX Artist responsibilities may include:

  • Designing and creating FX animation, procedural simulations, dynamic simulations, particle and fluid systems
  • Lighting and rendering FX elements and producing composites to showcase ideas and concepts
  • Assisting in setting up or maintaining a library of effects presets which can be loaded and applied across an entire game
  • Creating tools and code to facilitate automated workflows
  • User interface design

FX Lead Artist Timucin Ozger has the following simple yet important advice:

Efficiency is key. Optimization is a must.

Software and other tools used

Game FX Artists are commonly required to use one or more of the following software:

  • Houdini
  • Blender
  • Real-time Engine (Unreal, Unity)
  • Programming languages VEX and Python are also commonly used in FX
Skills required

FX artists in games require a mix of technical, creative skills, and interpersonal skills. Basic knowledge of programming software is vital as they need to be able to articulate their technical needs with the game programming teams.

Employers may look for the following skills:

  • Houdini knowledge and experience (demonstrated via showreel)  
  • A solid understanding of the video game pipeline
  • Organized, particularly with asset management (including naming systems)
  • Knowledge of physics and natural phenomena
  • A love of playing games and sensitivity to the user experience
Average salary

Average Wages for Video Game Industry (in USD)

Junior: $55,000
Mid: $80,000
Senior: $111,000
Lead/Manager: $135,000

(Source: Skill Search 2021 Survey)


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