Be a game artist and turn your gaming love into a career: Know about skills, salary and job prospects

New Delhi, June 29, 2018: The gaming industry wasn’t growing as fast in India as in many other developed countries for quite some time because we didn’t have high computer availability in every region.

But now, with the arrival of smartphones, people in remote corners of the country are also downloading games to play. Nasscom predicts the gaming industry to soon reach 1 billion.

“The fact is that the gaming industry, with an Industry size of $100 billion globally, is the largest segment within the entertainment industry — far exceeding movies, music and animation,” says Manavendra Shukul, CEO of Lakshya Digital, a leading name in the Game Art outsourcing business according to reports published in indiatoday.in

Since its inception in 2004, Lakshya Digital has created game art for over a hundred game titles including hugely successful ones such as Bloodborne, Just Cause 3, WWE 2K16, Uncharted 2, Farmville and Cityville.which has created game art for over a hundred game titles including hugely successful ones such as Bloodborne, Just Cause 3, WWE 2K16, Uncharted 2, Farmville and Cityville.

Manavendra Shukul, CEO of Lakshya Digital, a game art company
“The Indian gaming industry is currently valued at over $300 million (approximately Rs 2000 cr) and is poised to become one of the world’s leading markets in the gaming sector,” he adds.
He explains that the gaming industry is growing so fast globally that there is ample scope for game artists to earn a great living, especially in India which has seen an explosion in the number of active gamers.

In India, skilled game artists are in constant demand, says Shukul, because the supply is consistently less. This is different from mature gaming markets such as the US where such a gap in demand and supply doesn’t exist.

“It is a big misconception that people don’t recognize being a game artist as a viable and lucrative career or profession,” says Shukul.
Why this is the right time to make a career in the gaming industry
There are quite a few gaming companies in India but the massive gap in the supply of game designers and game artists here makes it a career choice absolutely ripe for the picking!

Moreover, India is moving closer to the time when the majority of its population is formed of youth who are in school or working. This is the target audience of the gaming industry.

Games are being used in various sectors now and has multiple uses rather than just entertainment.
Gaming is now increasingly used as an information spreading tool in education, marketing, banking and other fields. Moreover, apart from mobile gaming and PC gaming, we even have games on X-Box, Nintendo, PlayStation and simulation games.

Various job roles in the gaming industry
The gaming industry has various types of jobs — game artist, game developer, game decoder, game tester, audio engineer, 3D modeler, concept artist, game programmer, software developer etc.

The industry has four basic parts:

game development (requires logic and art)
game design (requires art and visualization skill)
game art (requires skills of drawing, colour concepts and visualization)
game testing (requires logic and effort)

Being a game artist is a lucrative career option now.
Concentrating on the Game Art discipline, Shukul explains that the primary positions include:

1. Artist: Starting position which entails hands-on art creation under the Lead Artist’s supervision.

2. Senior Artist: Experienced artists (at least 4 to 5 years) typically entrusted with more complex art creation tasks on a project. They are expected to work mostly independently and can take a couple of junior artists under their wings.

3. Lead Artist: Talented artists with team management skills who can lead an artist team in specific areas such as Character creation or Environment creation.

4. Art Director: Senior position holders with strong leadership skills along with visualization and artistic. They are responsible for laying out the artistic vision for a game.

Some of the other common job titles include Animator, Animation Director, Concept Artist, Illustrator, and Game QC Artist.

Educational qualifications you need to be a game artist
“Students looking to make a career as a game artist should consider enrolling for a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) programme from a good university followed by a good training programme that brings in professionals to impart knowledge and training on tools, techniques and processes,” says Shukla.

There are diploma, degree, and certificate courses available specifically for game designing and game animation as well such as courses on 2D or 3D animation, VFX etc.

As children are increasingly growing up with the world of information in their hands via smartphones, many are starting to learn skills they can later use in job industries from a very young age according to reports published in indiatoday.in

So, if you are passionate about making a career in game art, you can check out free courses on game animation from online education websites right after finishing your class 10 exams.

You can even opt for a distance learning course to learn the same skills at a much lower cost. For further higher studies, you can opt for a Master’s degree postgraduate diploma in design or animation.
“If one is unsure of which area of game art to specialize in, it makes sense to enrol in a generalized game art programme that provides basic training and exposure to each of the areas — so you can get a deeper understanding of what skills are required to work in that area, and how well you are equipped to do so,” says Shukul.

“While artistic ability is a key pre-requisite for a career in game art creation, one also needs to be skilled in the use of digital tools like Maya, Max, Photoshop, ZBrush, Substance Designer etc. and have a rudimentary understanding of how game engines such as Unreal or Unity work,” says Shukul.

He adds that a game artist also needs to have knowledge of the video game art creation pipeline, and the processes and techniques involved in the creation of digital assets for games.

“Needless to say, a passion for gaming helps great!” Shukul adds.

A day in the life of a game artist
In the words of Manavendra Shukul, here is how a typical work day of a game artist goes:

A game artist’s day usually starts with reading emails and this is all the more important for artists who are part of a geographically distributed team with team members or clients in different time zones across the world.

Character animation design by game artist
This is typically followed by a team meeting to discuss work status, immediate priorities, project updates etc. An artist usually walks out of such a meeting with a clearer idea of what they need to accomplish within that day.

At the end of the day, a Lead may review the day’s work to ascertain that the artist has completed as much work as they were required to.

After a sign off from the Lead, the artist usually checks in the files that they had been working on into some kind of a digital asset repository such as Perforce and leaves for the day.

“While starting salaries are typically modest, the average artist salary is around 5-7 lakh per annum, this can grow to 12 lakhs or more by the time one becomes a Lead (or even earlier), and can grow by huge leaps thereafter,” he says.
“To add to this, there are ESOPs for senior employees in companies like ours. Post employment, the growth potential is immense and like everywhere else a lot depends on individual talent, skills and aptitude,” adds the CEO of Lakshya Digital.

Screenshot from WWE 2K16 with game art by Lakshya Digital
Two biggest challenges in the gaming industry
With a fast-growing industry as game art, there come a few challenges along with the perks.

“One of the biggest challenges that employees in this industry face is the rapid pace at which the industry, and the associated technologies and tools, changes,” says Shukul.
Game artists must stay up-to-date of the latest technologies and trends to ensure that their careers don’t stagnate, he says.

The next challenge Shukul mentions is creating games (and art) that appeal to international audiences.

“For this, it is important that developers understand what works (and what doesn’t) with international audiences,” he says.
To do this, game artists and game designers must play as many top international games as possible and also get proper exposure to the international pop culture.

As a game artist, you will stay relevant in the gaming industry for a long time as long as you keep yourself updated.

“Invest time and energy (and if required, money) in constantly developing your skills. The best artists never stop learning through their lifetime,” advises Manavendra Shukul.

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