Roto Artist

The role, salary, software and skills of a roto artist in the film industry

What does a roto artist do?

Roto artists digitally trace areas within live-action frames (known as a plate) where CG characters, backgrounds, or effects will be integrated with the live-action footage. They work closely with Compositors. Roto artists also create roto mattes, similar to silhouettes, within the frame to allow for CG hold-outs. If the sequence involves camera movement, roto artists must work frame-by-frame to ensure the silhouettes continue to match the plate. This technique is known as rotoscoping.

Roto artist job description

A lot of what a roto artist does is behind the scenes, so what you see in the final film does not really reflect their work. Much like a Compositor, their role is to help make each shot and all its components seamlessly fit together. They create mattes to help other artists build up a shot in different layers (either in front, alongside, or behind something in the live-action plate) and provide hold-outs that help other artists add shadows and reflections that match the plate.

Role & responsibilities of a roto artist in the film industry:

  • Use Silhouette, Nuke to create and track roto shapes and lines for various elements within a shot
  • Create roto mattes for Compositors and foreground mattes for Animators with a comprehensive understanding of how these mattes will be used
  • Shape creation/editing; shape animation by hand and with trackers; and shape compositing, fill modes, and opacity settings
  • Maintaining consistency of visuals and style throughout the production
  • Basic green and blue screen compositing


Skills required to become a roto artist

Roto artists require a strong attention to detail along with sound technical and creative skills. The VFX industry is a highly collaborative environment so a roto artist must be able to work well in a team, and have a solid understanding of the VFX pipeline.

Film studios may look for the following skills in a roto artist:

  • Strong eye for color and understand grain structure and successfully de-grains scans and re-grains paintwork for further use
  • Extensive understanding of 2D and 3D tracking and is able to create accurate, steady tracks
  • Able to handle complex shots with heavy motion blur, defocus, hair, fur, lots of layers, etc.
  • Drawing ability, accurate tracing skills with high attention to detail

What software and tools do roto artists use?

  • Silhouette FX 
  • Nuke
  • Mocha Pro
  • Digital fusion
  • Maya

How much does a roto artist make? 

According to Comparably, the average wage for a roto artist is around USD $68,238 but this will vary depending on location, experience, and studio. 


Want to know more? Download your guide!

Fill in your details below to receive your guide to getting started in the visual effects industry.


VFX courses led by industry experts