Unreal Engine 5 Jobs – Real-time technology is the fastest growing skill in 3D graphics and is driving skills transfer across many industries. As real-time technologies continue to impact the job market, more and more custom organizations are seeking candidates for both creative and technical roles traditionally associated with game development. One role that comes with many transferable skills is that of an artist. What is a face artist? Commonly found in the gaming industry, a surface artist is responsible for defining the look and feel of all types of surfaces in an environment. Using materials and textures, they describe how the surfaces of objects react and interact with light. The role of face artist is based on the combination of art and technology. Surface artists must be skilled in painting and sculpting, but also proficient in technical aspects and real-time project work.
Textures In order to create realistic and accurate real-time textures in an environment, it is essential that a surface artist has a good understanding of 3D sculpting software, painting software, and high and low poly rendering software. When working on a project, the face creator must also work closely with 3D modelers and game designers, as well as art directors/concept artists to agree on the art direction/style. Commonly selected skills are:
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Materials A surface artist must have a thorough understanding of creating effective real materials. An important aspect of the Visual Artist role is to work with the Lead, Art Team and/or Art Director to develop high quality, complex and realistic content. Surface artists also work with environment and other character artists to help improve the quality of materials and allow technical artists to develop advanced shaders. In terms of materials, the surface artist should:
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Why are they needed? Surfaces are the first visual interaction a person has when experiencing an environment. The task of a surface artist is to show how a surface reacts to light in a 3D environment, or how a material exists in the perception of the world.
“Surfaces help enhance scale, composition, tone, and expression. Surface artists are essential team members because they combine believability and immersion. Without surface artists, our world would be flat and gray.” – Brad Smith, Pipeline Developer, Epic Games
The experience defines the entire scene of the environment. Surfaces are mostly displayed incorrectly because it will interfere with the scene. If errors in the models are common, they may appear too flat or the material will not respond well to light.
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What industries need surface artists? Surface Games artists are core team members at game studios. Sometimes, some of the skills and responsibilities of surface artists can also be found in material artists, texture artists, and shader artists.
Surface artists can work on entire environments or on individual characters. They can be responsible for defining both the form and the way the light interacts with everything in the scene.
There are large studios where surface artists work on characters and environments, materials and textures. In small game studios, character models are also expected to have some of the skills and characteristics of a facial artist. Typically in a game studio, surface artists focus more on textures and all materials are defined by the artist, unlike architectural rendering where artists mostly import content.
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“Good looks can make or break a scene when we’re trying to achieve trust.” – Harrison Moore, Technical Artist, Epic Games Media and Entertainment There’s often a whole section in film that focuses on just the surface, because it’s such a niche position. The roll is usually a woven or handmade combination. It is also very common for a surface artist to transfer material that cannot be edited.
Architecture Surfacing also plays a key role in achieving architectural visualization commitment. In game development and in large teams, this role is often referred to as a “surface artist”, but here the visual expert is expected to handle these tasks. The challenges are the same as there is a demand for photorealistic results that reflect the appearance of the intended materials used in the construction industry.
In architectural visualization, visual artists (or surface artists) often acquire content that has already been physically defined (known as “scaled materials”) and are more interested in how the material looks in physical light. (usually linked to IES profiles) . In this work, the facial artist focuses more on photogrammetry – the science of extracting fine facial details from photographs.
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Industrial Design The industrial design surface is more photo-based with an emphasis on photo scanning. In these roles, the surface artist photographed the surface and subsequently reconstructed it.
Industrial design consists of clean images of detailed and specific surfaces, so these types of roles are less about painting and more about creating highlights, metals and base colors.
Is a team player Surface artist must be proactive in their role and work well in a large team environment. They often communicate and collaborate across different teams, such as computer graphics, modeling, and art teams, to create a visual environment.
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When working as an artist, it’s also important to remember that there are often times and periods associated with play. A person in this role must be able to meet a schedule and work calmly and effectively under pressure. It is important to show respect for the processes and requirements of the studio’s production and pipeline.
In the role of a high-level advanced surface artist, they are required to inspire, lead and support other artists in their team. It is also important to have a library of quality materials available to other team members. When materials are needed in real time, this opens up a channel and allows other artists to use these tools to improve their work. Together, team members can share resources in the library and improve the channel.
What does career progression look like? Entry Level When you look at the career path of a face painter, there are both entry and advanced level positions. A basic surface artist is usually responsible for carving and adding surfaces to an existing material, or for drawing at a basic level. Usually in these roles, all the materials that will be handled are predefined.
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High Level A high level surface artist will create and describe the movement of materials and lighting. If they need this created material, they pass it to a lower level surface artist to reproduce it. Someone in a senior/leadership position will also be responsible for research and development of new tools to improve service.
In some game studios, surface artists must only use specific materials. Here at Epic, there is more freedom to use all parts of the tool. Advanced Surfaces and Proceduralism There is a new trend in the industry called proceduralism that focuses on using new tools to manage textures and shader functions. Working in a proceduralist role, one is responsible for researching new texturing tools and techniques to create more functional and visually pleasing environments. They are also responsible for creating game environments using the material library.
The person looking to step into this role must be highly skilled in Substance Designer, produce materials at scale and develop powerful and efficient services to improve functionality, speed and quality for the entire art team. Must also have the ability to master a proprietary content writing system – artists who specialize in this area are in high demand. The skills for a procedural surface artist require the person to be object-oriented, highly organized, highly skilled in asset management, and adept at defining the process of creating and modifying workflows. To work as a procedural based surface artist you need to have a very strong foundation in surface art. Proceduralism is often combined with textualism.
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Stylized vs. photorealistic For those who want to work as a surface artist, it is best to choose to work on stylized projects (think animation animation) or go the more photorealistic route.
Stylized projects can allow for more creative freedom, and most suggested edits are usually more about ideas than obvious mistakes.
On the photorealistic side of the surface, projects are more detailed. This type of role will spend much more time making sure projects are displayed accurately and completely. Being a photorealistic surface artist also has more to do with photography than photography. In addition, photorealistic projects can open doors to many avenues outside of the gaming industry.
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How can they succeed? When a person decides to become a visual artist, they really have to decide if they want to produce art or if they want to solve problems and define work processes. Industry perception believes that texturing is simple and artistic, but in reality it is very technical. To be a skilled surface artist, they must have both creative and technical skills. Tips from the experts
Other Helpful Tips For anyone interested in this career or the Unreal Engine career path, it’s important to build a portfolio that shows high quality.
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