Environment Artist

Games take us to incredible places, and it’s the Environment Artist who creates them. In this highly collaborative role, you work with the design team to model atmospheric and believable locations where the action can unfold. 

Whether it’s a sports stadium or a post-apocalyptic city, an alien landscape or a beautiful fantasy castle – an Environment Artist takes their cues from the concept art and needs of the game designers. You use your eye for landscapes, architecture, and every-day life, along with your 3D modelling skills to set the stage upon which a game takes place. 

As an Environment Artist, you’re creating most of what appears on-screen at any one time, so the work can sometimes be surprisingly technical. They very easily have the ability to make or break how smoothly the game runs, so you need the ability to work efficiently and tidily, whilst prioritising tasks and solving challenges along the way.

ArtEntry-level role
Also referred to as:

Hard Surface Artist, Modeller, CG Artist, 3D Artist, Asset Artist, Prop Artist, Level Artist

You’ll love this role if you’re into:
  • Drawing
  • Being Organised
  • Designing things
  • Working in a Team

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Many Environment Artists have a degree, which provides professional development and a recognised qualification to employers. However, there are many available pathways and all people working in games claim a unique journey. Above all, you will need to demonstrate passion and skills in your chosen field. For this job role, you should be someone who loves drawing, has an eye for detail and likes working in a team. 

As a professional, you’ll be bringing to life concept art by using a range of tools that may include Blender, Maya and ZBrush, as well as game design programs (engines) like Unity and Unreal. We recommend using our tool picker to help you choose the right ones for your current level and purpose.  

Working in the games industry is highly competitive and you’ll need to make sure your portfolio (a collection of your best work) stands out to employers and course leaders.

Environment art falls into two main categories: objects, which are called “props” or “assets”; and building levels. It only takes a very quick look to notice that different games have very different styles, and you may find that you naturally gravitate to one style over another (for example, “realistic” as opposed to “hand-painted”). Don’t feel like you have to be brilliant at everything if you don’t enjoy it. The most important thing is that your work convincingly reflects your chosen style, and you’ll do this through using appropriate materials, textures and lighting, in addition to well-defined models and carefully composed scenes. For more ideas, see our top tips page on building your portfolio.

Whatever role you are working in, it is essential that you understand the game making process. You can head to our build a game section for first steps, join a regular game jam to build up your skills & network, or start modding others games to gain experience. 

Education pathways

Where are you in your games journey?

Learn as much as you can by completing personal projects, then get feedback on those projects from artists more experienced than you.
Ben Matthews, Environment Artist, nDreamsRead the full story
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