Texture Artist

Learn about the role, salary, software and skills to become a 3D texture artist

Student work by Andi Edirisinghe

3D texture artist job description

Texture Artists specialize in creating the textures of 3D animated objects. 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.

Role and responsibilities

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.

Responsibilities of a Texture Artist may include:

  • 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

Software and other tools used

  • Maya
  • 3D Studio Max
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Painter
  • Mudbox
  • Zbrush
  • CrazyBump
  • Body Paint
  • Deep Paint

Skills required

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. 

Employers 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
  • Knowledge of video game genres and latest trends in gaming
  • Solid understanding of visual language - texture, color, dimension, scale, perspective, shade, composition depth of field, proportion, lighting, spatial awareness, etc
  • Knowledge of the video game development pipeline
  • Strong illustration, digital painting and conceptual skills
  • File organization and time management skills
  • Team player and ability to work independently
  • Desire to learn new technologies and design techniques
  • Fundamental understanding of anatomy and zoology
  • Familiarity with geographical and botanical elements, architectural finishes, textile movement, skin and hair behavior, metallic sheens, etc

Average salary

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.

To learn more about this field, visit: What is 3D Modeling?


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