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#Development Tips
#Game art

A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Become a 2D Video Game Artist

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As the gaming industry grows, there is a steady rise in the number of jobs for skilled 2D game artists.

Ever been blown away by the beautiful graphics in your favorite games and wondered how you could help make them even better?

You, my friend, are in the right place!

This guide will show you how to become a successful 2D video game artist by giving you information about the video game industry, possible jobs, and the tools professionals use.

Understanding the Role of a Video Game Artist

A video game artist is an essential part of the team that makes the game. They make things like characters, environments, and parts of the user interface (UI)

Here you can find our Guide to all Art Roles

They bring the game’s vision to life using artistic and technical skills. 

Their work sets the game’s mood, affecting the player’s experience.

Tools of the Trade: Becoming a Video Game Artist

In the world of 2D game art, there are a number of important software tools. 

Mastering these tools will not only help you work faster, but also make your work better. 

Some of the most commonly used tools are:

  1. Adobe Photoshop: Primarily used for creating and editing raster graphics.
  2. Illustrator: This vector graphics software is great for creating scalable art.
  3. GIMP: A free alternative to Photoshop, widely used for texture and pixel art.
  4. Spine: Used for 2D animation, particularly for character rigging and animation.

Steps to Launch Your Game Art Career

Now, let’s delve into the steps needed to kick-start your game art career:

Enhance Your Artistic Skills The first step to becoming a 2D game artist is to build a solid foundation in art fundamentals. 

This includes studying anatomy, perspective, color theory, and lighting. You should also familiarize yourself with different art styles prevalent in games and concept art, from realistic to cartoon-like, to find your unique style.

  • Learn the Tools

Anyone who wants to be a video game artist needs to know how to use industry-standard software. 

You can learn how to use tools like Photoshop and Illustrator by taking online courses, watching tutorials, or going to workshops.

  • Build Your Portfolio

A portfolio is your ticket to game art jobs. It should showcase your best work and demonstrate your versatility as an artist. But remember to focus on a one field you want to land your job in. 

If you plan to land a job as a concept artist. Focus on showing your skill in that type of work. You don’t need to show your UI designs. If a recruiter wants to find the best concept artist, you don’t need to show them your UI components.

Networking is crucial in the game art industry. Attend gaming conventions, participate in online forums, and connect with other artists and video game developers. This could open doors to job opportunities and collaborations.

  • Apply for Jobs or Freelance Work

Look for jobs at game studios or think about working as a freelancer. 

The second option gives you the freedom to work on different kinds of projects, which helps you build your experience and portfolio.

What Does a Game Artist’s Portfolio Need to Have?

  • Quality Over Quantity

Your portfolio should represent your very best work. It’s better to have fewer pieces that showcase your strengths than a large collection of mediocre works. Spend time polishing and perfecting your selected pieces to make a strong impression.

  • Consistent portfolio

When it comes to your game artist portfolio, consistency is key. 

It’s important to pick and choose your work so that it fits the role you’re applying for. 

For example, if you want a job as a character designer, most of your portfolio should be made up of character designs. 

In the same way, if the job is for the environment artist, your portfolio should show off your best work in that area.

This targeted approach shows not only that you have the right skills, but also that you understand what the job requires. 

Remember that your portfolio isn’t just a collection of your work; it’s also a strategic way to show off your skills and why you’re a good fit for the job.

  • Originality

Fan art is a good way to show off your technical skills, but original work shows how creative and innovative you are. 

Include things that show your personal style and creativity and make you stand out from other candidates.

  • Match the video game’s company art aesthetic 

When making your game artist portfolio, it’s a good idea to understand and match the art style of the company you’re applying to. 

Each game studio has its own style, whether it focuses on realistic graphics, stylized designs, or graphics that look like cartoons.

As a potential artist, if you can show that you can make art that fits with their style, it can help you stand out in the hiring process. 

It shows how flexible and adaptable you are as an artist and how much you care about the company’s brand and vision. 

Remember that your goal is to show them that you can add to their ongoing projects in a way that works well.

What Recruitment Managers are Looking for in a Game Artist Portfolio

When looking at a candidate’s portfolio, hiring managers look for a mix of artistic talent, technical skill, and professional potential. 

Here are some important things we think about:

Mastery of Art Fundamentals

Art basics like anatomy, perspective, color theory, and composition must be well understood. 

Your portfolio should show that you know how to use these ideas.

Proficiency in Relevant Software

Recruiters look for people who know how to use industry-standard software like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, 3D modeling software and tools, and game engines. 

Include pieces you made with these tools in your portfolio.

Game Artist Salary and Job Outlook

The game artist’s salary depends on how much experience they have, where they live, and what role they play on the team. 

Entry-level art jobs for game artists start at about US$35,000 per year. 

They can go up to $90,000 annually or even more for senior or lead positions. 

The Role of a Video Game Art Director

A game’s art director is in charge of the art department as a whole. 

They work closely with the creative directors and game designers to ensure that the art fits the game’s vision. 

Art directors  also run the art team and make sure that high-quality assets are delivered on time. 

In the job description of a video game art director, it says that they set the game’s visual style, make style guides, and check the art team’s work to make sure it is consistent. 

As the video game industry grows, more and more people are getting jobs as game art directors.

2D Artists in Mobile vs Console Game Development

The tasks and roles of a 2D game artist can vary a lot between the mobile gaming industry and the console gaming industry. 

Due to the limitations of mobile devices, mobile games tend to have graphics that are simpler and more stylized. 

On the other hand, because console games are made for more powerful hardware, the art is often more complex and detailed.

No matter the platform, though, a 2D artist’s main job is always the same. To make art that is fun to look at and adds to the gaming experience.

FAQs on Becoming a 2D Game Artist

1. What educational background do I need to become a video game artist?

A degree in art, graphic design, or a related field can be helpful. Yet many game studios value your portfolio and practical skills more than your formal education.

Read more here!

2. How can I improve my chances of landing game art jobs?

Your chances of getting a job will go up a lot if you keep your portfolio up-to-date. Network with people in your field. Keep learning and adapting to new tools and technologies.

3. What’s the difference between a game artist and a game art director?

A game artist makes the visual parts of a game. A game art director is in charge of the whole art department. Game art director makes sure that the visual style of the game fits with its overall vision.

4. Can I work remotely as a 2D game artist?

Yes, there are options to work from home at many game studios, especially since the pandemic. 

Freelance game artists also often work from home.

Check out our gamedev jobs!

We hope that with our guide, you’ll be able to land the best video game artists jobs in the market, but if you need any assistance or if you have any additional questions – feel free to reach out to us on our social media!