Updated as of 2023/06/17


If you’ve found your way to this post, it’s likely you’re captivated by the beautiful blend of art and technology that is game development, and are considering stepping into the alluring world of technical artistry. In the gaming industry, a Technical Artist (TA) is a rare breed of hybrid professionals, where left-brain logic meets right-brain creativity. It’s an exciting, ever-evolving field that offers a rich landscape of opportunities for those who can’t help but look at games and wonder, “How did they do that? And how can I do it better?”

What is a Technical Artist?

Before we dive deeper, let’s define what a technical artist actually does. Technical artists bridge the gap between the art and engineering teams in game development. They implement the artists’ visions in a way that the game engine can handle, and ensure that the technical aspects do not hinder the creative process.

Technical artists are in high demand in the game industry, as they can help solve many of the challenges and limitations that arise when developing games for different platforms and devices. They also have a lot of creative freedom and influence over the visual style and quality of the game. However, becoming a technical artist is not easy, as it requires a diverse and balanced skill set that combines artistic and technical knowledge.

TAs are responsible for developing scripts to automate art creation pipelines, work on shader programming, handle performance optimization, and troubleshoot problems. It’s a broad role, often tailored to the needs of a particular studio or project, so the more versatile your skill set, the better!

Getting Started as a Technical Artist

Let’s explore some steps to help you jump-start your journey into tech art.

  • Understand the Basics: Start by learning the basics of both game art and programming.

    • For art, consider courses in 3D modeling, animation, and digital painting.
    • For programming, start with languages commonly used in game dev, like Python and C#.
    • For shaders, start node-based shader/material creation, like Unreal’s Material Editor or Unity’s Shader Graph.
  • Master the Tools: Familiarize yourself with industry-standard software such as Unreal Engine, Unity, Blender, and Maya. Mastery of game engines and 3D modeling tools is a must for TAs. Explore their technical capabilities and understand their limitations.

  • Specialize but Stay Versatile: While it’s essential to become proficient in specific areas (like shader programming or pipeline optimization), a good TA can wear many hats. Versatility is often a key to problem-solving in this role.

  • Build a Portfolio: Show potential employers what you can do. Build a portfolio demonstrating your skills - this might include shaders you’ve programmed, automation scripts, or innovative ways you’ve solved performance problems. Ensure you include a minimum of one or two creations utilizing a game engine. This is crucial in demonstrating your foundational understanding in game development, and navigating the game engine.

  • Never Stop Learning: The gaming industry is ever-evolving, with new technologies like VR/AR, ray tracing, and AI changing the playing field constantly. Stay ahead by keeping yourself updated, attending industry webinars, workshops, and conferences. The Unreal Engine and GDC Youtube channels are a great place to get stay updated.

Projects to Get You Started

Starting on this journey can feel a bit overwhelming, so here are some practical project ideas and resource that you can use to learn and demonstrate your skills as a Technical Artist.

  1. Simple Environment Interaction: Develop a simple and interactive environment using Unity or Unreal Engine. Start by learning the basics of 3d modeling and texturing to build out your environment. Bring your assets into a game engine and breathe life to your environment using lighting and materials.

  2. Shaders: Dive into the heart of visuals by creating custom shaders. You could start with a simple cel shader, then move on to something more complex, like a toon-style water shader, that simulates reflections and refractions.

  3. Asset Pipeline Automation: Write a script to automate a part of the art pipeline. This could be a script that optimizes the import of 3D models, auto-generates materials, or a tools that organizes asses in the engine

  4. Character Rigging: Create a 3D character model and rig it for animations. Ensure you create some simple animations to demonstrate the rig. This is a good way to learn about the process of character animation in games.

  5. Procedural Generation: Implement a simple procedural generation system, like a pipe or dungeon generator. This will show your understanding of algorightms and your ability to think creatively about using code to create art.

Landing Your First Job

Once you’ve honed your skills and built a strong portfolio, the next step is landing your first job. Before you begin, I’d like to share a few pointers with you first.

  • Apply and Apply: In the fast-paced, ever-evolving world of game development, your enthusiasm and drive to learn can often be as valuable as your current skill set, if not more. Apply to most job postings even if you don’t feel qualified.

  • Networking: Start networking as early as possible. Attend industry events, join online communities and forums, and connect with others on platforms like LinkedIn. Networking can often lead to job opportunities, and at the very least, it will help you learn more about the game industry.

  • Prepare for Interviews: Tech Art interviews often involve both technical and artistic questions. Be ready to discuss your portfolio in depth, as your thought process will be analyzed to gain insight into your methods and problem-solving approach

  • Stay Up-to-Date: Stay current with industry trends and new technologies. The ability to adapt to new tools and techniques is highly valued. Showing that you’re commited to learning and evolving in your role will be noticed by potential employers.


The role of a technical artist in game development is a challenging one, but equally rewarding. It’s a career path that opens up a world where creativity meets technology, leading to some truly magical gaming experiences. So if you’re an artist with a knack for tech, or a programmer with a soft spot for art, why not explore the path of a technical artist? Happy creating!

Remember, every gaming legend was once a beginner. Your journey is just a press of the ‘start’ button away. Happy gaming!

Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions.

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Resources to Jump-start Learning

3D Basics

Blender Guru Donut Tutorial

Lighting in Unreal Engine 5 by William Faucher

Lighting a NIGHT-TIME exterior in Unreal

Rigging Characters in Blender


Basics of Shader Graph

Moebius-style 3D Rendering

Stylized Water using Shader Graph - Unity 2022

Getting Started with Technical Art in Unreal Engine 4 with Chris Murphy

Shaders Using HLSL (Advanced Shader Creation)

Shader Development using Unity

-I’ve personally used this course, and would recommend. It is a little pricy at $174.-

The Unity Shaders Bible

-I purchased the hard copy and use it as reference from time to time, or when I need a refresher. $30 for the digital version is a fair price.-

Shader Basics, Blending & Textures

Writing Shader Code in Universal RP (v2) by Cyanilux

Unlocking The Power Of Unity’s Scriptable Render Pipeline

Engine and Pipeline Tools (Python, C#, UE Blueprints)

Blender Scripting for Artists

Intro to Tool Dev - Unity

Building In-Editor Tools with Blueprints | Unreal Educator Livestream