What is a Technical Artist?
The technical artist is fairly new on the scene and the role can vary depending on the size of the studio and the needs of the team. You can think of the Tech Artist as someone who brokers the needs of artists and programmers alike - they will have the essential art skills to understand the needs of character and environment artists, and the technical prowess to know whether it can be done, liaising with the programmers to make sure the right tools can be built.
Entry Level Skills & Capabilities
The following information outlines the exact skills you need to demonstrate as a Certified Digital Artist. You must be proficient and capable of completing all these skills and capabilities.
1. Communication skills
- Strong communication skills to describe and present your work with confidence
- Willing to show progress frequently and able to receive and discern feedback objectively
2. Reference Gathering
- Capable of collecting and cataloging visual reference images
- Ability to gather technical documentation relating to the software and the scripting languages used on a project
- Capable of basic 3D modeling techniques
- Good understanding motion and body dynamics
- Good understanding of anatomy for humans and animals
- Capable of building basic tools to help animators work with rigs
4. Task Preparation
- Quality control of models and topology to help create clean deformations and shapes required for performance
5. Movement & Mechanics
- Apply understanding of anatomy, morphology, locomotion & physical mechanics to build characters capable of a compelling performance.
- Familiarity with anatomy and locomotion in the natural world. (Features, Subtleties and Limitations).
- Articulation and deformation skills for rigid bodies and soft bodies
- Build a full range of basic face shapes for a character performance
- Ability to rig an object (prop) in a way that allows animators to integrate it effortlessly into a performance
- Ability to rig a vehicle for performance and animation purposes
- Capable of creating a mechanical rig with articulating joints
- Ability to work with dynamic simulations
- Ability to apply blend shapes/corrective shapes to rigs
- Bonus: Ability to create cloth asset simulations
- Ability to produce clean, efficient and documented code that adheres to scripting standards
- Create simple tools to help animation workflow and rig interaction.
- Applied understanding of script jobs, runtime expressions and the node graph.
- Bonus: Ability to design a basic automation/workflow tool
- Basic understanding of logic such as conditions and remapping of values
- Bonus: Basic understanding of concepts such as linear algebra (manipulating vectors and transformation matrices) and trigonometry
Basic ability to use one or more of the following coding languages:
Ability to use one or more of the following software packages:
- Autodesk Maya
- Unreal Engine
- 3ds Max
These skills are equally important in terms of your understanding and ability to do this role. Although they are not skills or knowledge that is officially certified, it will be obvious to recruiters and Certified Digital Artist(CDA) reviewers if you have knowledge in these areas.
- Knowledge of Mathematical Principles: Linear Algebra, Geometry, Calculus.
- Intimate knowledge of both the game engine and development hardware.
- Understanding of animation principles and human anatomy.
- Strong analytical and problem solving skills.
- Game knowledge: Have a strong and wide-ranging interest in PC, Console and Mobile Games.
Life Skills & Communication
- Thinking Critically
- Communication Skills
- Conflict Management
- Taking initiative
- Time Management
Roles in Creative Media & Entertainment industries are quite different to traditional roles. As a Digital Artist, you need to prove your creative and technical abilities which requires an online portfolio filled with projects that showcase your work. One of more of the following projects should be included in your digital portfolio to demonstrate your skills and abilities to perform the required skills of this role.
- Show a comprehensive rig of a character, which demonstrates good deformation, by going through a range of motion or ideally an animation
- Create a rig capable of rigid mechanisms such as a robot arm or excavator.
- Create a rig for a quadruped animal with basic controls for animation
- Create a rig for a specific human or animal body part eg: shoulder
- Bonus: Demonstrate a dynamics simulation by having cloth interact with either a character or prop
- Bonus: Demonstrate a range of primary facial shapes for humans
- Bonus: Include screen recording that demonstrates a script or tool that you have developed.