Texture Artist

How hard is it to get a job as a Texture artist in this field. And what are most game developers looking for,and more
importantly if you are good at what you do,are there jobs. I've been told that its hard to find a good! texture artist,And that Game Developers are always looking for some one that's good and fast at texturing, Is this true and if so can you help.


Ken Byrnes

Daemin's picture

I would kinda consider a texture artist to be a dead occupation now. I would think that one would need to also be able to do stuff like concept sketches, interface design/general art, and maybe a bit of 3d modelling in order to be hired...

Although I'm an unemployed programmer, so don't take my word too seriously.

souri's picture

Do any companies actually seek anyone specialising in texturing? If by texture artist, you meant concept artist, then I'm sure that people in that area will always be needed (although looking at the quality of talent around in local dev. studios, you'll have to be *really* good to impress them).
As for a texture artist, it seems that this occupation is going to be split in two directions. Low polygon texture artist - the kind of stuff they've been doing for ages now, basically hand painted textures for low polygon models. It won't be completely dead like Daemin says, I reckon, as there'll always be a need for low polygon models and textures for handhelds and mobiles or PC games that want huge numbers of characters on screen like RTS games etc..
High polygon texture artist - perhaps the industry will want specialised people to create the diffuse/specular/bump map etc textures that high polygon models require for next gen engines, but we'll have to wait and see, I think.

p.s don't take my words too seriously either.. [:)]

Blitz's picture

Really good texture artists, in the traditional sense, i see as not being as neccessary with newer style engines. Basically, with the real-time lighting and shadowing etc. we can do nowdays there is not so much need for texture artists who can get the lighting "right" on certain bits of the texture...now the texture artist just makes things flat colour and lets the lighting/normal mapping etc. take care of the rest.
CYer, Blitz

Malus's picture

Well considering those sexy new fangled normal mapped, radiosity lit, poly pushing beasty engines only cater to a small section of the games being developed I'd have to disagree that texture artists are becoming irrelavent. [:)]

Anyone see "Doom 3:the Real Time Strategy" or "The Sims: Unreal2 build" coming to our shores in the next few months?

Good texure artists still have jobs a plenty and even with those new engines I would personaly still employ a talented artist to do the job of making normal, specular, bump, diffuse maps etc.

Saying that, in my opinion if you stick to one thing, be it modelling, texturing or animating you are cutting your employment options down considerably. Try to at least have 2 skills or you'll have to seriously kick butt to get noticed among those who are multi skilled.

Red 5's picture

Yes, there's still plenty of jobs for dedicated texture artists (as Malus mentioned), I know of many studios that have their texture artists create all in-game textures even though some 3D modellers are capable of creating their own.
It's often thought that by having the 3D and 2D artists concentrating on their specific roles it's easier to achieve a level of uniformity and continuity throughout the game.

unknownuser2's picture

Have to agree with both malus and Red5 on that - a good texture artist to me is worth more than an average allrounder 3d guy.

While i understand the importance of the polygon, it is the texture that we all look at and go wow - try running morrowind in wireframe mode continuity in the texture area is paramount to creating a believable universe in my eyes.

Still as malus said - youll need to arm yourself with some other skills if to get yourself noticed more.

Daemin's picture

However now those extra texture - bump, displacement, normal - maps are generally created (tell me if I'm terrible off the track here) by 3d programs, by creating an ultra high detail model then culling it down and generating those textures as a result. Therefore a dedicated texture artist is not required for the process. However there still will be a market for talented texture artists, for 2D games on small handheld platforms, mobile phone games, and others not using the latest greatest engine.

Just that they won't be as needed for the AAA (shooter titles etc) games as much as they were once.

Red 5's picture

Daemin, even though it's becoming reasonably commonplace to utilise normal mapping, textures still have to be painted plus there's still a lot of art that doesn't benefit from high poly modelling and normal creation.

J I Styles's picture

Ok, first of all I'd like to address the original question of this thread which people have seemed to have neglected.
Getting a job as a texture artist is the most open way for an artist to get a gig if they're good at what they do. There's a definite bias of average to fantastic modellers in this industry comparatively to well rounded artists, and good quality dedicated texture artists. These modelers, although very employable, still find it incredibly hard to get jobs because there's just so many that can do what they do. Every artist and their gran can model well -- in Australia we have a small handful that can truly push the pixel. It's these people that find getting work considerably "easier" than the others. Then again, if there's no position, there's no position.

Alrighty, now that that's done [:)] ...

The argument of texture artists becoming a dying breed has played out again and again in many other channels and forums, and ultimately they've all been moot points over "what you do now you won't be doing in 1 year... 2 years... 3... 4...". The same arguments where played out over 4bit sprite artists, then 8bit, then 16bit; the point being the technology grew and evolved, and so did the people with it, because it's the people that push the technology.

So what happened to this breed of "dying" artists? They didn't die out, but their roles shifted. Technology moved forward, and they either adapted or shifted around into other areas to compliment it(and still emerging areas like mobile games, watch games, etc).

So what of texture artists and the push of current technologies emerging in the soon future? well first and foremost, nothing -- according to the arguments when this first came about, by now they'd already be gone; this shift has already happened in a few circles, and again roles have only shifted, people don't disappear.
Tools change, methods change, techniques change -- so far it means we have to do 4x the work [;)]. A lot of masking, a lot of subpasses.

Daemin: Stating a texture artist has no hand in that process results in some very nice gray surface geometry that takes AGES for a dedicated modeller to make [;)] in this instance, texture artists roles shift into painting diffuse, bump, displacement, pigment, and shader masks -- in effect, the texture artist doesn't have to fake surface geometry by a texture, but creates multiple passes to physically create it. It still has to be done though, it's not magically modelled vert by vert and then processed into a readily available game asset.

byrnzy's picture

thx,s to you all, This has has been a great help. Since it has been brought up that you need 2 or more skills to help to find work i do model in 3ds Max but my stronger
point is in texturing. I'm back at school at the AIE in the A.C.T. in game development, DIP2 And have a lot to do with the over all texture look and feel of the game, as this is all
new to me and I will be looking to find work at the end of the year. I'm trying to find out how difficult it is going to be for me to find a job. As far as I can tell from what
you have all said and from what people have been telling me so far from the AIE, That have seen my work, My chances are looking good. Now to find a job.[:)]

again thx

Ken Byrnes

Daemin's picture

I'm saying that it *can* be done that way, and there will be tools coming out that will automate the process more.

It's just the same sort of situation as with programmers, as more and more middleware comes in, the programmers attention shifts. Such will be with texture artists, where there *will* still be a market for texture artists, but it will change, and more tools will be created to fill in the gaps.

Also don't forget that you can generate realistic looking textures using formulas and algorithms, so a texture artist could become some sort of artist/programmer hybrid. Of course there could be tools generated to do it all.

Malus's picture

Why do programmers believe eveything will become a code handled sooner or later? Theres one thing your code will never be able to replicate and thats a good eye for the asthetic.

CombatWombat's picture

Sorry to break programmer ranks here Daemin [;)] but I have to stop lurking in this thread and say that I don't agree :-) The more nifty tools one has the more nifty assets one can produce (and must produce to stay competitive).

I'd say there's no way I can see that with in the next 20 years that we'd come anywhere close to replicating the process/emotions a human goes through in order to judge somethings' aesthetics. I'd also say I hope we never get to producing hardware that can judge this, too :-)

unknownuser1's picture

I have to step in and actually agree with Daemin to a certain level. Unless I misunderstand him, there are a lot of good points he is making.

He hasn't actually said the texture artists will become non existant or texturing is a lost art. If there is a way to make a texture look and handle better than just paintng it, then what is wrong with that? Making a texture procedurally has always been a viable option with higher end 3D work, so why not with gaming now? Textures have always been made by painting them as that was the only option. With games coming out promising to have better shader networks (Unreal 3 that supposedly has a shader editor like Maya's Hypershade), 2D painting for textures may start to take slightly less important role. I can't actually see in the future, so I don't know. I think that texture artists will always be around, but they will have to evolve (just like every other field has in the past), and learn the new techs to stay at the top of their game. Think about it, if code can be written to create a ground texture procedurally that would other wise require a few meg of textures, why wouldn't you do it through a shader?

Malus - And why do artists think they are the only ones with any aesthetics? Daemin never actually said that a programmer will take the job of a texture artist, he said that the roles may blend together. The computer wont actually make the texture, it will just render it. There still has to be someone there to tell the computer how to render it. What does it matter if that person is an artist or a programmer? As long as it looks good, what is the big deal?

If shaders do take a bigger role in the texturing of game surfaces, it wont be for quite a few years. I don't think that anyone who tries to be a dedictaed texture artist will lose their job in rush, but it sure as hell wouldn't hurt to learn the new technologies as they become available.

unknownuser2's picture

ill just add my two cents further to avens comments, it goes without saying that people working in our industry evolve with technology - if you dont, you simply wont be workin it for long.

A good example is doords post that mentions his boss asked him to start playing around with zbrush - and straight away hes on it posting his work on here trying to gain tips - show off his advancements, to me thats what its all about. growth.

Daemin's picture

Exactly Aven!...

But I also have to say that some programmers do have an artistic side, no matter how bad it is, but with the proper tools they can create good looking things.

Also I never said that texture srtists will become obselete, I said that they won't be as required for top AAA (fps etc) games. However they will be required for handhelds and other compact consoles, since they won't have the advanced technology of the latest and greatest PC graphics / central processor. Textures will still probably be used for colouring in those AAA engines and such, but they'll just be used for colour, as before textures were used to create details on otherwise flat and lifeless models. The new displacement/bump/normal maps (that will most probably be generated by a tool of some kind - like it is being done for Doom 3 etc) will be used to create the intricate details.

And Malus, *everything* can be handled in code, as some of the nifty 64k demos can attest to. We've been able to generate good algorithmic textures for ages now, and procedual landscapes are being used in many games (Settlers 1 had a random terrain generator, and so did Civ 1). However I don't see artists starting to write code, at the very most they'll be using well designed tools that will generate the code for them.

Finally one last thing to note is that the Games industry is highly mobile and constantly evolving, some roles change despite how much we want to keep them intact (think of the programmer/designer/artist from long past), some new roles get created (think shader artist ?), and some roles will stay the same but move to different areas (pixel/texture artists moving to handhelds, engine programmers moving to middleware). We can't avoid this and doing so will result in failure!

unknownuser4's picture

I dont understand how increasing the technology (polies lighting etc) will do away with texture artists for even the ground breaking fps games, even very detailed models created for still or pre-redered shots have to be textured and while it's easier then having to paint in all the details it's still a whole lot harder than simply slapping a color onto the model. There's still the unwrapping and painting of variation/dirt etc.

Like almost every position in almost every industry things will change and evolve.


J I Styles's picture

Daemin: Correct me if I'm wrong, but from your arguments I assume you haven't worked with, or seen much, if any, source material for this gen tech.

Procedurally generate me anything of a quality to this:

The Final Fantasy movie is still credited with the most believable looking digital characters. They used an average of 6 complete texture passes in each localised area, as an example to the extent of this, Aki sat just under 50 hand painted textures for her body (not including her head). The lighting model was handled by a shader which was reliant on 2 other texture passes (translucency, and specularity).

The point I'd like to make is that I'm yet to see a believable character generated algorithmically through code, in games or film, without the use of support from a texture artist. The closest thing is producing procedural bases... which then have to be masked (hand painted by a texture artist), and then rely on other localised textures to detail other areas.


The new displacement/bump/normal maps (that will most probably be generated by a tool of some kind - like it is being done for Doom 3 etc) will be used to create the intricate details.

I just find it funny you're using Doom3 as an example to your argument, when they have Kenneth Scott working full time on texture art. Diffuse, normal, gloss, glow.
One other thing, a good normal map isn't created by a tool. It's ripped by one, not created by it. It's created by the combination of a high res model and a hand painted texture. Have you ever tried to model skin pores? or protruding veins? a displacement map is hand painted to get these localised details, which without it, you've got a smooth baby bum model.
If you'd like, I'd be more than happy to post source material.

unknownuser1's picture

I was away for the weekend, and realise that I forgot that I hadn't put the reasons down why I don't completely agree with Daemin. Sorry Daemin, you don't get off thatlightly ;)

I love the idea of procedural maps. No resolution and the ability to create seamless non-tiling textures. The bad part? making them. The best way to handle the making of procedural maps, wouldn't be through coding one. That would just be nuts. Although we do have the ability to work with procedurals by ajusting little sliders and typing in numbers, it can be annoying and frustrating to get those nice little details in there. The way to work around it? How about a program that allows an artist to paint procedurally? This is the reason why I don't think that an artist that can actually paint will ever be killed off. The other way to create more complex textures procedurally (think a logo on a character's jacket), would be to have a procedural generator that figures out the code by scanning a raster image. For an example of what I mean, have a look at Flash and it's raster to vector conversion tool. At the moment, raster images have nothing to fear (as the conversion tool isn't overly great), but the future is always just a day away :)

At the moment, with procedural, the only way to get decent looking fine detailed textures is through creating major shader networks and using masking maps (like Joel said). The plus side of this is that skin is completely random, and a procedural texture (or at least PS filters) can generate random textures far better than I can paint a random texture :) The down side is that for a fine level of control you need to have a lot of textures. Still, I find painting some rough black and white maps for masks and spec passes easier than painting every pore on a person's skin. I would still be more inclined to use a few painted textures for most surfaces at the moment as I don't know how to use Maya's Hypershade incredibly well (mass understatement), and PS makes it easier (for me at least) to create all the different pass maps that are needed (diffuse, bump, spec, reflection, etc.). If I ever learn to use Hypershade better, then I may learn procedural to a greater level.

Joel - I actually find it funny that you use FF: TSW as an example of good skin textures. Most people on line bitched about them non stop and said they were 'too game like'. Personally I think the textures were great and those people are just bitch picking. And any flaws that the FF textures had were easily made up for in Final Flight. The use of multiple maps for translucency is due to the lack of speed in current Sub-Surface Scattering shaders. When the day comes when SSS shaders are faster (and not so waxy), then count for maps will descrease greatly. As for the procedural generation of Steven Giesler's work.... I'm sure that some nut a Pixar would try to give it a shot :D

And just for the hell of it. Why I do think that texturing will be around for just a little while longer...
Ren? Morel is a dude.

J I Styles's picture

hehe, that's actually the main reason I used it as an example -- it's the closest methodology to where we're heading in games; for the most part, it's already being used, albeit in a simplified partly kludged manner.

Daemin's picture

Ahh well, as I said at the start of this thread, I'm just a programmer not an artist...

Still I think it could be possible in future to generate pretty much all art algorithmically...