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What Does a Texture Artist Do?

Debra Barnhart
Debra Barnhart

A texture artist is an animation professional who creates and applies texture, color and three dimensional (3D) effects to computer modeling for video games, movies, television shows and sometimes websites. Working with other members of a visual effects team, texture artists must be both artistically creative and proficient with industry software. The artwork produced by texture artists is vital to crafting visually exciting 3D effects. Jobs as a texture artist usually require a few years of experience.

Creating texturing effects is a really sophisticated way of coloring between the lines. Texture artists apply both color and texture to computer models created by other members of a special effects team. They must be able to envision what textures will create an appealing surface for a 3D computer model.

Woman posing
Woman posing

Generating a texture from a photograph that has been digitized may be the first step that a texture artist takes, or he or she may produce a texture from scratch with imaging software. A texture artist may also work with an existing texture artwork and enhance or alter it so that it is appropriate for the required effect. Textures are then mapped onto 3D characters or other objects.

Skilled texture artists produce realistic textures as well as imaginative, fantastic ones. To do this they must have not only an expert knowledge of industry software, but also an understanding of visual art concepts. The principles of composition and the elements of design like balance, rhythm and proportion apply as much to animation as they do to the traditional arts of painting or sculpture. Any texture artist should have a working knowledge of other aspects of the animation process including modeling and shading. The video game industry also requires that a texture artist be familiar with the technical limitations of the systems being used, so as not to overload memory and slow down processing capabilities.

The designs produced by texture artists are key to the animation process. They make the animated world more authentic and believable for viewers. Attention to detail can bring animation to life, and texture artists provide the small touches that can make or break a work of animation.

Finding a job as a texture artist does not always demand a college degree, but having a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) can be of help. Many texture artist jobs require a few years of experience. As with other jobs in graphic design, a strong portfolio that demonstrates the artist’s range of skills and experience is essential.

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