What is Game Art Design?

Margo Upson
Margo Upson

Game art design is the design and creation of visuals in video games. Game art designers may be responsible for the coming up with sketches and creating the "feel" of a game, actually drawing or animating characters, backgrounds, interfaces, and items, or even designing the lighting in a game. This field is often very detail-oriented, and typically requires both a deep interest and understanding of video gaming and artistic training and talent.

Game artists try to create an immersive experience for gamers.
Game artists try to create an immersive experience for gamers.

It's important not to confuse game art design with game design in general. Though game designers and game art designers often work closely together, game designers are responsible for creating the content of a games, the way in which the game is played, and the missions or levels players must complete to win. Game art designers then do the necessary drawing and animation needed for the game the designers come up with.

There are a lot of diverse skills that someone in game art design needs to have. While a long-time background in art is not necessary, the designer should at least have strong artistic skills. Designers must be good at computers, and able to learn complex software in a short amount of time. They need to learn how to draw, and then animate, characters and interactive objects, as well as create background art. Game art designers also need to be able to create and use storyboards to tell a story.

Individuals interested in a career in game art design should first have a basic understanding of how games are made, and should also have basic drawing skills. There are hundreds of schools that offer certificate or degree programs in video game art design. While most of the programs are offered through technical schools, there are also many traditional colleges that also offer these programs. Many schools even offer a job placement program, helping students to get their first position in the game design field.

Game art design is a demanding field. Designers can expect to work long hours, especially as a product nears the final stages of completion. An ability to communicate clearly, work as a team, and be self-motivated is essential to being successful in game art design. It is an industry that is hard to break into, but can be very profitable with time and experience.

Margo Upson
Margo Upson

Margo has a varied academic background, which has involved everything from psychology and culinary arts to criminal justice and education. These wide-ranging interests make her an ideal wiseGEEK writer, as she always enjoys becoming an expert on new and unfamiliar topics.

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Discussion Comments


@lapsed - With the popularity of 3D movies and different kinds of advertising, this job might not be as limiting as some might expect. It might be difficult to break into, but it's also an expanding field.


I've met a lot of people who have had their hearts set on becoming game art designers. I never really got into video games, but I can certainly appreciate the place in pop culture the field has reached. I see a lot game art design degrees and schools in various capacities but I think if you were to succeed in this field you'd have to be very passionate about it.

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