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Texture Artist

The role, salary, software, and skills of a 3D texture artist

Student work by Andi Edirisinghe

What does a texture artist do?

Texture artists specialize in creating the textures of 3D models. They require a biological understanding of skin in humans and animals, as well as a knowledge of textiles, geographic elements, architectural finishes, landscapes, etc.

With games now requiring more photo-realistic finishes these days the role of the Texture Artist is increasing in importance. In line with this trend, some of the work of the Texture Artist involves scanning photographs and then applying them to objects and environments created by the 3D Modelers. 

Custom textures are created for fantasy environments, objects and creatures but they are always rooted in reality. Covering gaming worlds in a variety of surfaces prevents boredom and enhances gameplay. 

Gaming Texture Artists work closely with modelers and shading/lighting technical directors to create the best possible elements for the game universe. 

Texture Artists in live action film and 3D animation features create textures for the elements of the productions that require complex texturing. In live action productions this will be more photo-realistic as it must integrate seemlessly with the footage, and sometimes replicate surfaces that exist in real life.

Texture artist job description

The role of the gaming Texture Artist is to recreate realistic or fantastical textures or surfaces to characters or objects. They specialize in all surface qualities of 3D computer models such as skins, flesh, textiles, armor, fur, hair, scales, metallic finishes, nails, claws, membranes, etc. This requires a broad knowledge of the skeletal framework and rigging that suspends and operates the models as the texturing must work as a layer on top of moving parts.

Textures are created from scratch or from real world references using scans which are imported and fashioned into graphics elements. With gaming graphics becoming ever more sophisticated the Texture Artist must deliver increasingly real and dynamic results. 

The role of the Texture Artist in live action and animation is to create textures for 3D modeling throughout the production. Realism is the goal in live action sequences, while animation projects require consistency of visual style.

Role & responsibilities of a texture artist in film and games:

  • Liaising with designers and developers regarding the design brief
  • Liaising with the director, cinematographer, design department on the finishes of the texturing 
  • Researching reference materials for aesthetics and genre of game, film or animation
  • Working with post production and visual effects teams for seamless integration with footage
  • Develop and refine textures during the production process
  • Collaborate with animators and modelers on the best textures for each object and character
  • Create a diverse and compelling range of textures that will engage the player and enhance gameplay
  • UV mapping
  • Maintain a high level of design and photorealism throughout
  • Curate a consistent look of all the elements of the game or film
Skills required to become a texture artist

Any Texture Artist worth their salt will be constantly on the lookout for textures in the real world to bring into their work. They need to have a keen eye for detail as everything that surrounds them could be a reference point for a surface or character skin. 

Video game and film studios may look for the following skills in a texture artist:

  • Training in computer graphics, 3D animation, or graphic design
  • Experience in texturing 3D models, knowledge of modeling rigs
  • Ability to consistently draw inspiration from real-world references
  • Solid understanding of visual language - texture, color, dimension, scale, perspective, shade, composition depth of field, proportion, lighting, spatial awareness, etc
  • Fundamental understanding of anatomy 
  • Familiarity with geographical and botanical elements, architectural finishes, textile movement, skin and hair behavior, metallic sheens, etc
What software and tools do texture use?

Texture artists must know their way around the software used by 3D modelers, but also have more texture-specific programs that they work with.

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

  • Mari
  • Substance Painter
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Mudbox
  • Maya
  • Zbrush
How much does a texture artist make? 

The role of a texture artist can be an entry-level or junior position. The average salary of a Texture Artist ranges from USD $47,000 to USD $96,000. Source: Glassdoor.

 

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