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Art Careers: Becoming a CGI Artist

Have you ever watched an impressive video production and been so enthralled with all of the amazing digital effects, visuals, and/or animation, that you considered becoming a CGI artist?

Why not explore further?

If you’re computer savvy, are open to learning specialized software, and have a vivid imagination, you have what it takes. Soon enough, you could be conjuring stunning 3D graphics and animations for movies, video games, or whatever digital world you desire as a computer-generated imagery artist.

Steps to Becoming a CGI Artist

In a previous post (NEED LINK) we explored careers that don’t require a college degree. And while extensive experience in computer graphics, fine arts, animation, or another related field could land you work in the CGI art realm, you’ll likely fare better with a bachelor’s degree.

Whatever the case, you will need to have proficiency in industry-standard software like 3ds Max, Maya, and Blender. The nice thing about Blender is that it’s free so you can get a head start on learning your way around the program whenever you’re ready.

Knowledge of color theory, design principles, and composition is necessary for creating visually impressive work. Strong communication skills and experience in collaborative work are also essential for success as a CGI artist. Middle school and high school students receiving an arts-focused education will have the advantage of having fully explored these upon graduation.

Students can also get practical experience. Internships, entry-level positions, and personal projects are all great ways to start building a portfolio. In addition, it’s vital to keep up with the latest software and emerging technologies to stay relevant.

What Can You Do As a CGI Artist?

There is a wide range of jobs and tasks assigned to CGI artists. And there are jobs in a variety of industries including gaming, film, architecture, and advertising (to name a few). Depending on your interests and skills, you may perform many of them or specialize in certain areas. Many of them intertwine throughout the production process.

For example, you may be a superstar in sketching or illustrating original design ideas for characters and then creating three-dimensional models based on those sketches or concepts.

If animation is more up your alley, you’ll learn how to build skeletons or rigs for 3D models and then define joints and movement controls to enable them to move realistically during animation. You’ll also bring more realism to 3D models by adding expressions and interactions, as well as applying colors, surface textures, or other materials that contribute to the visual effects.

But It Goes Beyond Just Characters

CGI artists also have to consider all objects and environments before rendering them digitally. You might f

ind a certain skill in setting up lighting in digital scenes to create a realistic atmosphere and mood. Or perhaps your interest is more in computer-generated effects (think fire, smoke, explosions, fantastical, or weather elements) that make video games, movies, or even advertisements really pop.

Zooming out from there, another aspect CGI artists need to consider when creating a 3D scene is how to craft detailed and immersive backgrounds such as interior spaces, cities, or landscapes. You might really enjoy the challenge of taking natural

phenomena such as fire or water and making them believable in the digital realm.

Once all of the above elements are in place, CGI artists are responsible for ensuring that all of the various elements layer and integrate seamlessly into a cohesive final image or sequence.

How Can You Get Started?

As soon as you determine that CGI artist is your career goal, it’s never too early to begin building your portfolio and resumé. Begin by downloading the free software Blender that we mentioned above.

Then take as many art and creative courses available to you. Classes in digital art will help you build a portfolio to demonstrate your creativity as well as technical prowess and proficiency in CGI skills.

If your school or community doesn’t offer much in the way of art, you can explore online options. Research the many CGI and digital artistry tutorials, courses, or workshops available. You can also enter CGI or digital art competitions to further hone your skills while receiving valuable feedback.

Explore local and/or online options for participating in art clubs, computer graphics clubs, or other relevant activities. These will enable you to collaborate with and learn from others while getting exposure to the latest CGI techniques and trends. Also, reach out to CGI professionals to take advantage of any mentorship and internship opportunities they may offer.

Once you start feeling comfortable with your knowledge, experience, and the software, experiment with creating 3D digital art on your own so you can create a body of personal CGI project work.

Could a Career As a CGI Artist Be in Your Future?

If you’re interested in becoming a CGI artist, you can begin building your foundation today by acquiring essential skills, demonstrating your passion, and building a portfolio.

And if you’re a middle school or high school student with this ambition, one of the best ways you can attain these skills is by attending a public arts academy school.

So contact us today to request a tour of our school. And find out how our digital arts program could be the jumpstart you need to get into this exciting career.


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