What does a texture artist do?
Texture artists make surfaces look realistic on computer-generated (CG) 3D models.
They rough objects up or they make them shine – scales on a crocodile’s skin, reflections on car doors, skid marks on roads, creases in trousers.
They start with a 3D model created by a modelling artist that is usually a plain grey shape. The texture artists paint the details onto the surface of the models until they look like a photograph.
Texture artists sometimes create textures from scratch, so they have a good understanding of different kinds of real-world materials. Sometimes they work from a library of stock textures. Or they might use photographs – often photographs from the live-action footage of the film they are making – in order to digitally project them onto a 3D model as a basis for the texture.
Once a texture artist is happy with the textured surface that they have created, they can ‘bake’ (copy using a VFX program’s ‘baking tool’) the texture from one surface so that it can be used elsewhere as well.
Texture artists work for VFX companies or studios or as freelancers. Smaller VFX companies may not distinguish between texturing and modelling artist roles, and instead advertise for one position to do both roles.
What's a texture artist good at?
- Art: have a good understanding of form, colour and texture, and know how these elements work together, recognise what makes an image appear realistic in terms of light, colour, composition and perspective
- Photography: understand cameras and cinematography, have technical proficiency, build a stock of photographs to use in the role
- Knowledge of VFX programs: be adept at using relevant programs such as Blender, Maya, Photoshop, Substance Painter and ZBrush, continuously try to improve your ability with these
- Organisation: work within the production schedule, manage files and meet deadlines
- Collaboration: be able to work with other VFX artists within your pipeline, use each other’s resources and work effectively