A day in the life of a game artist with a row of colourful pencils as the image

The game artist profession is so versatile that it takes more than one day to map out all its aspects thoroughly. After all, these range from sketching game assets or characters to creating them in final 2D or 3D form. What’s more, the creation of UI screens are part of it, as animations as well, and, in my case, the creation of mood boards and the responsibility for the art direction

In most cases, a game artist covers as many areas as possible and is, therefore, a “Jack of all trades“, aka a “generalist”. It is impossible to be equally good in every area, but having a sure and steady hand in each field is important. In most cases, there is always an area that the artist is particularly good at because this is where their interest is the greatest. I would say drawing, painting and 3D are the most important for me.

But I digress without even touching on a day, let alone a morning…but let´s skip Monday morning for obvious reasons.

On a Typical Tuesday, 7:00 am

The alarm clock rings. Wake up, have coffee, shower, clothes (don´t forget them), go to the office, …keys (don´t forget them).

8:00 am

You are in the office. Still tired, but that’s fine; another coffee will do the trick. The first task of the day will also kickstart the motor.

“We need an art concept for the new golden chest in our game”. That’s what the GitLab ticket says.

Firstly, I review all the chests in the previous game. The new one should be different and, at the same time, fit the overall style of the old chests. The ticket says: “it´s a golden chest the player gets when he reaches level 10”. You start working on the first sketches. They look something like this: 

It’s fine; you just woke up…

10:00 am

Standup: During this meeting, everybody says what he worked on the day before. The day before was Monday, so let’s skip that…

10:30 am

You post your first sketches in the chat to get feedback from the team. Each piece of feedback is equally important, so you listen to everybody and try to understand the essence of it. Ok, so my chest should look golden. No problem.

Research. You realise you should have done this in the first place, but better now than never. You go to the world wide web and search for: …. and this is important!!!… Golden chest games mobile

The work of a game artist doesn’t start with the first line of the pen or the first polygon; it starts with the first thoughts and the research. And researching is not easy. You want to get the best inspiration in the shortest amount of time. Google and Pinterest are good starting points.

Pure Ref” is a great and free tool to gather references, so in the end, you have a huge wall of references you can work with.

After looking through tonnes of examples, you find something like this:


12 pm

Lunch…and by the way: this is half the day of a game artist….the clock is ticking.

1 pm

After implementing feedback and posting the concept in the chat, the team likes it, and your leads approve. That means that you can go on with the asset in 3D. Modelling, unwrapping, texturing and export/import.

My sketch with shading

1:05 pm

You open Blender (aka the 3D application of choice) and start modelling the chest using your concepts. You think about the appearance of the chest. “How close will we see it as a player” “will it be seen from all sides or just one”…? 

These questions are important since they give us information about Polycount, unwrapping, and texturing. The closer the player gets to the chest, the more details are required. Details take time, and if we can save some time, we are smart. Who doesn’t want to be smart? 

2:00 pm

The first model of the chest is done. We took care of the polycount and the poly loops. It’s a static object, so it´s not too important if it doesn´t get animated, but it’s a good habit, and most of the time, a good polyflow gives the best poly count. 

Time for unwrapping and texturing. So, how did the other chest in the game look again? Did they have just a gradient, or had they been textured individually? Since it´s a mobile game, they had been textured, most likely with gradients. It´s mobile, so you try to save as much memory space and draw calls as possible. 

You go with a small texture palette for the chest (in an ideal world, one texture could be used for all chests).

An example of the final product!

4:00 pm

Here we go. It’s rewarding to see your idea come to life. The way you did the texturing was fast, so the chest is ready to export to Unity. 

Top tip: Blender does have a different y-axis than Unity, so be aware of that and make sure to export with y up instead of z. Importing the chest into the engine is as easy as exporting. Just drag and drop the chest into the project, set up the material and create the prefab. DONE! 

5:00 pm

What a day. This morning there was no golden chest, and now it’s in the engine, ready to be used. Your task for tomorrow is UI, but that’s a future me’s problem.