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What is a Technical Artist and How to Hire One?

April 22, 2021

We all know that the global game industry is on the rise, and the newest AAA titles have completely changed the experience of gamers. With realistic graphics, long and complex storylines, and the integration of motion capture technology, it takes years to develop such games. Additionally, there are also multiple teams (design team, development team, etc.) consisting of highly skilled professionals who work together to create a masterpiece.

In order to make sure that all your teams are on the same page and there is no communication gap between them, you need to hire specialized professionals. One of the positions that you must consider in game development is a technical artist.

What is a Technical Artist?

A technical artist is actually a bridge between the developer team and artist team, who ensures that both teams collaborate seamlessly. A technical artist can not only sculpt, draw, or design, but they also possess technical skills such as programming and rigging.

What Does a Technical Artist Do?

Technical artists are also known as TAs, and they help artists work in a way that is close to a developer’s point of view. Thus, they understand the best way of creating art that goes hand-in-hand with development.

VFX created by Game-Ace’s technical artist

The Difference Between Artistic and Technical Drawing

In simple words, artistic drawing usually conveys an emotion or replicates nature. On the other hand, a technical drawing (which is also known as an engineering drawing) usually replicates real things and how they function based on physical rules. The goal of technical drawing is to communicate and illustrate practical information about different elements.

Technical Artist vs. Technical Designer

The technical artist works with the game engine, porting and adapting assets to it. It makes the life of the other artists easier because it allows the art to work as well as possible in-game. TAs also help the artists work in the most effective way from a technical viewpoint. In comparison, technical designers are known for their technical skills as they develop complex systems and technical design elements of the game.

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Hiring a Technical Artist: What Skills Does a Technical Artist Need?

Technical artists work in collaboration with the creative director and lead artist as well as the lead developers. They must understand all the art-related disciplines of game creation. The most important responsibilities of a technical artist are as follows:

  • Configuring and maintaining the art production workflow
  • Determining the tools and packages that the studio should use
  • Investigating useful and new art techniques for better implementation
  • Spotting potential art related problems and helping other artists resolve them
  • Developing graphic rendering workflows
  • Listening to both programmers and artists and bridging the communication gap
  • Knowledge of most popular high-end coding languages
  • Rendering and post-effects experience

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Specialization of Tech Artist: How to Choose the Right One?

Now that you understand what a technical artist is and the main roles that they need to fulfill, it’s time to examine how to choose the right one for your studio.

By Type of Art

Basically, there are two different types of Art in game development, and you’ll need to choose a technical artist depending on your individual needs and requirements.

1. 2D Technical Artist

2D design is generally associated with flat objects and shapes that involve height and width. For example, a simple triangle on paper. In games, more vivid characteristics are added to 2D art through style, saturation, color, and creativity. Some of the key types of 2D art that a technical artist should understand are:

  • Vector art
  • Pixel art
  • Flat art
  • Doodle art
  • Cutout art
  • Monochromatic art
  • Cel shading art

2. 3D Technical Artist

If you add another dimension (depth) to 2D shapes and objects, then it becomes three-dimensional. Most AAA titles in recent years, such as Red Dead Redemption, Assassin Creed Valhalla, Zero Horizon Dawn, are three-dimensional games. Here are some of the most important 3D art styles that a technical artist should know:

  • Realism
  • Fantasy Realism
  • Low Poly
  • Hand-Painted
  • Cartoon
  • Collage
  • Anime

By Game Engine

There are several game engines out there that essentially serve you as a core software on which your game runs.

1. Unreal Engine Technical Artist

Unreal engine is the most popular and one of the most commonly used game engines that offer robust data translation, lifelike animation, dynamic physics and effects, and photorealistic rendering. Understanding how this engine works and how to operate it is essential for any technical artist.

2. Unity Technical Artist

Unity is another popular and commonly used cross-platform game engine, and it currently supports more than 25 platforms. Some of the best traversal games, such as “Hollow Knight” and “Ori and the Blind Forest,” are made on Unity. Having a comprehensive knowledge of this platform is undoubtedly an edge for a technical artist, and if it’s your primary software, then it’s a must.

3. Other Game Engines

There are also many other game engines that are used in the game industry, such as:

  • Godot
  • GameMaker
  • Amazon Lumberyard
  • CryEngine

Other than that, some studios also prefer to develop their own game engines to use them exclusively. If you aim to develop your own game engine, then hiring a technical artist who understands the basics of how a game engine works will be enough.

By Platforms

There are many gaming platforms to meet the needs of different gamers.

1. Desktop and Consoles Technical Artist

The basic techniques and rules to develop a game on any engine remain the same. However, the development process for the different platforms is always different, and a technical artist should understand those differences. The most commonly used gaming platforms are desktops and gaming consoles such as PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo.

2. Web Technical Artist

The web is a relatively new gaming platform where people don’t need to install any game on their machines. They only need a good internet connection and a decent computer/device. You’ll need a technical artist who understands the different requirements of web game development if you want your game to be accessible online.

3. VR Technical Artist

VR (Virtual Reality) offers the most immersive gaming experience where gamers wearing special headsets enter the game and interact with the gaming world, where it feels like they’re physically present in that world. It’s also a new field, and a technical artist for VR game development must be highly skilled and technically proficient.

By Tasks

It’s the most important factor that you need to consider while hiring a technical artist. It’ll allow them to fulfill precise job requirements most efficiently.

1. VFX Technical Artist

If you’re going to hire a technical artist for VFX (Visual Effects), you need to make sure that they can:

  • Work closely with the VFX team for the implementation as well as optimization of designs
  • Integrate VFX with other used software
  • Create and iterate game assets such as custom shaders, full-screen post effects, and geometry to help the VFX team

2. UI Technical Artist

UI (User-Interface) is one of the most important fields of any game because it’s the first thing that the gamers observe. UI technical artists must be able to solve technical issues while implementing UI art. They must also be able to document, develop and support the techniques and pipelines of the game art that production teams use.

3. Character Technical Artist

It’s important to hire a technical artist who can handle the creation of a complete character system that includes:

  • Skeletons
  • Clothing
  • Effect emitters
  • Vehicles
  • Weapons and more

4. Environment Technical Artist

The environment of any game draws the attention of the gamers and keeps them engaged all the time. A technical artist for the environment will create layouts, background, and other elements of the environment within a game. They must know how to design and create a 3D backdrop where objects, weapons, vehicles, and characters will interact and operate according to logic and physics.

How and Where to Hire a Technical Artist?

If you need a lead or senior technical artist for your game project, then consider contacting us. Our studio specializes in cross-platform game development for all types of game genres and platforms. Whether you’re developing a casual, MMO title or even a detailed and extensive RPG, Game-Ace can push your game to greatness and commercial success.

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