Technical Artist – Electronic Arts – Austin, TX
Company: Electronic Arts
Location: Austin, TX
The Technical Artist (TA) acts as a bridge between the artists and programmers working on a game. They ensure art assets can be easily integrated into a game without sacrificing the artistic vision or exceeding the technical limits of the chosen platform. The role is a relatively new one for the games industry, but it is becoming increasingly important as game systems become more complex. The Technical Artist works part of the art team and coordinates closely with the lead artists and the art director, and with the lead programmers.
The main responsibilities for Technical Artists include setting up and maintaining the art production workflow and making decisions about which art packages and tools a studio should use. Technical Artists are also charged with investigating new techniques and implementing them within the team. The job often includes an instructional element, with the Technical Artist sharing their knowledge with other artists through mentoring sessions.
The Technical Artist typically works one step removed from the direct creation of game art assets, setting up the systems of production and solving problems as they arise. It’s crucial for the Technical Artist to keep up-to-date in changes in technology, both regarding console hardware, art packages, and new techniques. The Technical Artist will create custom tools to improve the efficiency of their team. This is usually carried out using the scripting languages included in the main modeling and animation packages.
Technical Artists will help provide feedback or debugging complex assets such as character skeleton rigs and skinning systems. They will also research and oversee the implementation of rendering techniques such as normal and specular maps, particle systems, and pixel shaders as well.
Maintain technologies and art workflows.
Identify art workflow problems, and work with Technical Producers, Expert’s, CG Sups and TA’s to solve them.
Establish and enforce naming conventions within assets, tools, and workflows
Integrate new technologies into art workflows.
Work with other artists/TA’s on a daily basis to identify challenges and provide solutions.
Manage asset and meeting budget (memory and performance).
Oversee continuous asset build stability.
What skills does EA look for?
Technical Artists are generally required to have between two or more years of experience . Involving both art and programming experience, a Technical Artist can come from either background, though most tend to have been artists who have specialized in a area of art production.
You should have a detailed knowledge of at least one industry-standard art package. The use of scripting languages is required, as is an understanding of the limitations of console hardware. Some Technical Artists come to games after holding a similar position in the film or special effects industries, where the experience of high-end rendering techniques or complex animation are useful skills.
The role of a Technical Artist is a specialized one. You will show technical proficiency in areas such as lighting and rendering, texturing, and graphics-related programming languages such as shaders. You should also have knowledge of art packages ranging from modeling to texturing and special effects and can customize them to be as streamlined as possible for specific projects.
Most Technical Artists will have a degree in a relevant visual art or technical subject; however, the most important prerequisite for the role is having experience working with art tools and game hardware on multiple projects.
Skills and Experience
At least 2 years of games/animation/FX production experience.
Intermediate knowledge of CG fundamentals: modeling, texturing/shading/surfacing, rigging, animation, lighting, rendering, compositing.
Understand various gaming platform limitations with regard to visual assets.
Understand at least one 3D package, preferably Maya.
Intermediate scripting experience with Python or Mel/Maya API.
Proficiency with C# or C++ is preferred
Knowledge in troubleshooting CG issues.
Experience thinking creatively to resolve technical challenges and limitations.