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Design & Style

How to Become a Video Game Concept Artist

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Nov 8, 2020 • 2 min read

There are dozens of careers in the fast-growing video game industry that contribute to quality game production. These highly coveted positions include game designers, QA testers, programmers, and game artists who all work together to create a fun, playable product that consumers can enjoy.

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What Is a Video Game Concept Artist?

During the beginning of game development, a concept artist is a person who creates the initial visual representation of the game’s artwork. The concept artist uses the game design document (GDD) to illustrate the style and general idea of how all the in-game assets should look. Other members of the art department build on these early sketches, eventually leading to the final product.

What Does a Video Game Concept Artist Do?

Early in the game creation process, the concept artist works with art directors to shape the look of a video game before it enters production. Concept artists use photographic research, 3D modeling, and digital painting to create the initial look and tone of the video game. They establish the 2D environment, create the initial enemy and character designs, and conceptualize how many other visual elements will appear in the game (like weapons, tools, or vehicles).

These video game artists provide the foundation for animators, 3D artists, publishers, level designers, and programmers to get an accurate feel for the game’s aesthetic. Their work can help sell investors on a potentially successful game idea.

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How to Become a Video Game Concept Artist

Jobs in the gaming industry are highly competitive and hard to come by. However, with the right skills and motivation, you can land a role as a concept artist in the gaming world. Here are a few steps you can take to put yourself in the best position to land the job:

  1. Get a degree. Some game companies require concept artists to have a degree in game art, graphic design, or 3D digital art. While attending an art school isn’t necessary, completing a graphic design or animation program can help you stand out in terms of knowledge and experience.
  2. Expand your skillset. Concept art goes beyond your ability to create 2D sketches. You should know how to use illustration software, as well as the various editing and effects programs. Becoming knowledgeable in the many aspects and techniques of game art can make you a multi-threat, and a valuable asset for game companies.
  3. Create a portfolio. Samples of your work are the most important part of selling yourself as a concept artist. Assemble a portfolio of your most impressive sketches and designs, and build a website advertising yourself and your talents, as well as any relevant experience or additional skills.
  4. Network. Attend video game expos or conferences and network with other talented artists. Ask them questions about their job and experience, and try to make connections or obtain their contact information to possibly facilitate a future working relationship.
  5. Search for positions. Some indie game companies hire video game artists on a freelance basis, so it is always worth researching and querying these which companies employ freelancers. Gaining experience as an artist outside of video gaming can also be useful, as it can contribute to your portfolio and showcase your diverse abilities.

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