Look Dev Artist

Learn about the role, salary, software and skills to become a look dev artist

Student work by John Olofinskiy

Look dev artist job description

Look Dev Artists play a crucial part in both pre production and post production processes. They oversee the overall look of the initial artwork and concentrate on developing the aesthetics of the game in pre production. In post production they create the final finishes on the game’s textures. 

The Texture Artist will provide the textures chosen for assets then the Look Dev Artist will add shading, special effects, contours, etc. They will also develop the differing conditions of a texture, for example how it will react to elements such as water, light, wind, fire, etc. In terms of character design they may work on skin textures such as goosebumps, heckles, burns, etc. 

Establishing visual style is an important responsibility of the Look Dev Artist. They work within genre, geography and mood to help establish the world of the game. They keep these style filters consistent throughout the work to maintain a seamless gamescape. 

Role and responsibilities

As the title suggests the Look Dev Artist focuses on the development of the visual style of the game. Overseeing all elements such as layouts, environments, characters, objects, assets, etc are in line with a uniform look. This involves setting the style, color scheme, genre and execution of the artwork.

The Look Dev Artist puts the finishing touches on textures to keep then in line with the aesthetics of the game. They curate the color scripts of the game, determining the mood of a scene or level. This is done by determining rendering processes and the stylized asset designs.  

Responsibilities of the Look Dev Artist may include:

  • Liaise with designers and developers regarding the design brief and visual style of the game
  • Research resources and game genre materials for the development of graphics
  • Create mood boards, color schemes and lighting plans as references for animators and designers
  • Sketch key scenes, environments, characters and assets within the same style
  • Produce a variety of variations of designs and concepts for approval
  • Create prototypes for testing
  • Oversee the visual development of the design process to maintain a consistent look
  • Maintain production documentation
  • Adhere to the production schedule
  • Finish all textures with special effects, lighting, shading, etc
  • Handle input/output files
  • Maintain production documentation
  • Assist in curation of asset libraries
  • Establish format procedures and guidelines
  • Ensure that textures are believable and work well on screen
  • Test ideas to achieve maximum quality results
  • Provide rough preliminary composits of renders for review
  • Apply texture maps, set up scene templates, and define standard render passes

Software and other tools used

Look Dev Artists may initially sketch out designs and storyboards with pen and paper, however all artwork is finished and presented digitally.

Software platforms used by Look Dev Artists can include:

  • Maya
  • 3D Studio Max
  • Cinema 4D
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Nuke
  • Houdini
  • Keyshot
  • Katana
  • Clarisse
  • Substance Painter
  • Substance Designer
  • Quixel
  • Krita
  • Affinity Designer
  • Clip Paint Studio
  • Renderman
  • Arnold
  • vRay

Skills required

The Look Dev Artist has to have a keen eye for detail and ability to look at the big picture of a game. They are adept at interpreting visual styles across all environments, backgrounds, characters and assets. Working with a clear vision of the final integrated aesthetic is a vital skill for the Look Dev Artist.

Employers may look for the following skills in a Look Dev Artist:

  • Excellent attention to detail
  • Team player and ability to work independently
  • High level drawing and conceptual skills
  • Experience in storyboarding
  • Desire to learn new technologies and design techniques
  • Knowledge of the video game development pipeline
  • Solid technical knowledge of what the engine and programming limits and capabilities of a project
  • Strong understanding of visual language - texture, color, dimension, scale, perspective, shade, composition depth of field, proportion, lighting, spatial awareness, etc
  • Ability to collaborate with technical and creative departments
  • Talent for creative experimentation
  • Highly experienced in texturing and adding effects to textures
  • Able to produce multiple revisions of artwork as briefed
  • Comfortable with taking constructive criticism
  • Good communication and interpersonal skills
  • Ability to work under pressure and consistently meet deadlines
  • Experience with fur and hair grooming and cloth simulation design
  • Able to create photorealistic finishes and visual effects 
  • Basic knowledge of 2D and 3D animation, familiar with the principles of animation
  • Familiarity with texture mapping and finishing

Average salary

The role of Look Dev Artist is not an entry level one, it requires at least 2-3 years experience in game art design to take on the heavy responsibility of overseeing the entire look of a game. The average salary of a Look Dev Artist ranges from USD $32,000 to USD $77,000. Source: Glassdoor

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