How to Become an Environment Artist for Games -

How to Become an Environment Artist for Games

Stylized Station
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When I was just a kid, I always found myself enamored with the beautiful sprawling environments in video games I played, often entirely forgetting my current mission and allowing myself to get lost in the sprawling grass fields, breathtaking architecture design, and admiring the smallest details of these beautiful environments.

It was this deep childhood appreciation for the art behind the games that drew me to Video Game Art as a career.
Now if you’re watching this video, you’re probably in the same situation I was in all of those years ago. You want to learn How to Become an Environment Artist for Games.

Video Edited by Nicolo Bacialli
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  1. After 2 years of working in product design, I'm starting as an environment artist in a small indie studio. Your videos have been extremely helpful, to say the least. Thank you Stylized station ^^

  2. I am kinda curious also how Age comes into this, i am for instance 36 years old, and i am having a tough time to be honest.
    Havent had a single commission anymore in the past year or so.

  3. I just want to add that Marmoset Toolbag has introduced some texturing tools recently too. I doubt they would be as good as substance painter, but who knows maybe in a few years it will be something to behold.

  4. Great video man! Totally agree on the soft skills part. One of the reasons I feel I got a shot is while there are many talented people not all of them are easy to work with meaning if you are easy to work with it improves the chances of breaking into the industry.

  5. Hi! The title of your video should have been '' How to Become an Artist for games'' because it was so general! I didn't find it to be specifically for the environment. So much can be said about how to make/master environment art and you mentioned nothing about it. I link your video to my interns because I find them very helpful for juniors! I have watched your videos since the beginning but have never commented before, it's a first! Keep the good work and the high-quality content 🙂

    How to become an Environment Artist for Games: (quick overview of the guideline)

    1 – Get a general idea of the scene/level (and the story).

    2 – Get all the concepts and references you need.

    3 – Blocking and first pass lighting. (Helps to highlight the main area(s)).

    4 – Start modeling the main assets (+ Uvs + baking).


    5 – Modeling filling props ( UVs + Baking).


    5.1 – (If needed) Mod/Tex vegetation

    6 – Texturing (You can do it right after modeling each asset or do it all in one. I prefer to do it all in one for more consistency in the style and colors).

    7 – Particle systems and effects (Post process, etc.)

    8 – Final lighting pass.

    9 – optional! Animation/ shader animation. It will bring the scene to life!

    More steps can be added depending on the environment and complexity (demo or real game).

    Some other important stuff that will make your work better:

    – Optimize as you go! This is not the last step. You may have to re-do full assets If you didn't think about it earlier. This step can help you save time too by atlassing or using symmetry, etc.

    – Learn how nature works, analyze everything ( forest hierarchy, rock degradation, water flow, etc! ) This will make your scene more believable x1000.

    – Each asset has a story to tell.

    – Learn how real objects are made ( you can use that knowledge, even for stylized assets. You can exaggerate some important parts for the style or bring the eye to it. )

    – Watch what other people do, Share your work.

    – Open old projects. If you ask yourself wth@! did you do, well that's good. It means you have learned to do better. There is always room for improvement, even for veterans.

    5 years in an indie studio, learned alot! still have a lot to learn!

  6. that thumbnail… so beautiful i had to click, honestly just clickbait us with beautiful art or 3d environment art and you'll hook us in no cap

  7. I graduated in my game dev degree back in may. I got hired at my first studio a couple weeks ago. Super stressful and imposter syndrome is very real. But I love it. 😀

  8. Long comment incoming. Important info for students and prospective future professional game artists.

    To any people looking to pursue this as a profession and work at a studio making games, I just want to warn you that while it's totally possible, it isn't easy. The competition is fierce, and if you want a job you're going to have to work your ass off. Also, having a fulltime job while you learn it on the side makes it exponentially harder. It's all possible, but it's hard. It takes time and a lot of effort. I wish it wasn't like this, but it's just the reality of being able to live off making art. I don't want this to discourage anyone, but I don't want anyone to get the wrong idea and think this is an easy thing to do. Put in the time and effort, you'll get there. You can do it, I promise.

    You need to know how to do a huge variety of stuff that ranges all over the board. There's lots of disciplines involved that range from very 'creative' to very 'technical'. The range of what amount of them you'll be doing at wherever you end up ranges wildly as well. It depends if you end up as more of a generalist who does all sorts of stuff, or end up being specialized only doing a few things. Here's a list of a lot of the main ones for environment artists.

    Modeling. Trim sheets. Baking. Texturing baked assets. How to make tileable materials, whether it's in designer, painter, or zbrush. The difference between a baked asset vs an asset made from tileables and trim. How to gather good reference. How smart materials work. Topology. Sculpting. How PBR works. UV mapping. A game engine. Modularity. Texel density. Lighting. Composition. Stylization vs Realism. A modeling package, a sculpting pacakge, a texturing package, photoshop and a engine.

    There's also Protogrammetry, Shaders, Terrain. etc. etc. etc. The list goes on. Some of these you just need a basic understanding of, some of them you need to be very proficient in. It's a lot of stuff as you can see.

    My biggest recommendation would be joining a community that has people like you who are working towards the same goal, as well as industry professionals who can help guide you in the right direction. My #1 recommendation for that is the DiNusty Empire Discord. It's filled with top talent and students alike. There's other options like Experience Points, 3D Fast Track and The Rookies, but DiNusty is where I'd start. The guy who runs DiNusty also streams on twitch regularly which is great for asking questions and seeing an industry veteran's workflow in real time. They also offer mentorships similar to the mentorship coalition shown in the video. Mentorships are amazing for making portfolio pieces and getting intimate knowledge and guidance from professionals. That being said, I wouldn't recommend starting a mentorship until you know the basics of modeling, texturing, uving, baking and sculpting. Also, once you have a prop and basic environment under your belt. You don't want to waste your time and money with a mentor having them show you how to use software that you could learn from a youtube video.

    I also obviously want to recommend watching lots of tutorials, including buying tutorials from professionals in the field. You can get them on youtube, gumroad, artstation, flippednormals, Learn Squared, etc.

    Also, make an Artstation! Post your work on there and ask for critique on discord. Get as much critique as you can. Let it be harsh. It's how you get better.

    Sorry this was long but I hope it will help someone who is on a similar path to the one I was on.

  9. This was mind-blowing, dude ! I just started the Summer of Unreal as a 2D animation film director (with almost 20 years of xp behind me), so I've been completely drown by all the 3D jargon in there (Blueprints, Nodes, PBR, meshes… What the heck are those !?).
    Your vid is a fantastic eye-opener on all of this !

    Thanks a bunch ! It was really a timely video !

  10. I'm delving into 3D modelling and game design at the age of 27 as a big career shift from being a carpenter up until now. I discovered i have a knack and some talent for it, but it's still hard. I know in time I will become better and maybe some day I'll even be able to work with my newfound passion. But i can't help but shake the feeling sometimes that I came into this " game" or industry a bit too late as people my age or even way younger than me are already wildly talented, skillfull and successfull artists while I'm merely beginning. It's sometimes discouraging, but it's just one of many hurdles I'll have to surpass. Atleast I'm done doing things I don't want to do, and I'm starting to focus on the things that I do want to get better at and work with. It's great to see videos like these that inspire me and channels like this that share in their plethora of knowledge on the subject. Keep up the good work guys!

  11. Was Devil May Cry 5 published by square enix in any territory? The video credits them for it at 0:51
    I know capcom made it, at any rate.

  12. How often do environment artists use zbrush?

  13. Your videos are really very helpful and informative.

    Are you able to do all of this solo?

    I really am intrigued by your work and also found new interest in learning environment designing.

  14. Thank you so very much for featuring my work! 😊💛

  15. I'd like to see automatic subtitles, could you set it up?

  16. Modeling, unwarping, sculpting, baking, texturing lighting I know these just someone help me get these stuffs to unreal and create that beautiful secene

  17. Thank you very much for this useful video!

  18. Good topology is only needed in deforming meshes, not hard surface models.

  19. For all sculptors out there! Retopology trainig is key for animation ready characters& creatures

  20. My personal thought is unreal has the best graphic from all other game engines, Very cool video for environment artists. Thanks

  21. I want to be an environment artist so bad, but I need a good PC for it, Substance and Marmoset doesn't work at all for me which makes the texuring very hard, and on top of that when I tried UE I couldn't get past 10fps. Anyway I loved you video and subed

  22. "49 dollars forever" already at 60+, so much about credibility

  23. this video needs subtitle that's exactly what i need

  24. Thanks for this video, I learned a lot. I have some questions though. Do you think the skills mentioned would apply for films as well as games? Do you think an environmental artist should start with basic 2D skills such as sketching and shading? (I have many ideas that I can't illustrate very well) Is there a difference between "baking" vs applying textures to simple model? Will technology advance to the point that baking is no longer necessary? If I have a bunch of ideas (for a scene) but poor artistry skills, can I cobble together a bunch of pre-made assets? Thanks again

  25. Do you think its necessary to learn substance designer to be an environment artist?

  26. Point to be noted UE5 will give you the ability to directly import sculpts so if that is also an option if viable for your project.

  27. An awesome video! All aspiring env artists should totally see this. Thank you for the advice <3

  28. The real question is: Is it better to learn environment art or character art? if you are trying to find a job. I know people will say do what you love the most but I'm talking about job opportunities.

  29. Topology in the beginning is pretty useless, just get familiar with making things and finishing them. Good topology comes with time further down the line and for environments sometimes completely useless. People don't make things perfectly in the beginning and neither should you. What you should be focusing on is modeling, texturing, design and story, everything else will be replaced. Some even say retopo is a thing of the past.

  30. This man is a legend so much free information and really well explained well done my friend

  31. I clicked this video specifically for information on 3D Environment Artists; i.e. terrain design and creation….it ended up being way too general and not at all what I clicked the video for…

  32. What a fantastic video… I was a uni student and now solo artist of over 5 years… and everything you said in the very beginning and throughout rings true… The reasons why I got to where I am as an E.A. down to everything my professors and real world industry instructors taught us in class… I am a member of stylized station by way of the 3d artist coloring book… and I look forward to everything you have coming in the future… cheers…

  33. This is an amazing video. Something I wish I had seen it was created a long time ago. Nothing against you, the video is just that good. It told me things I already knew (hence why I wish I saw it earlier), told me things I sort of understood and reinforced my understanding of it, and taught me new things.
    Incredible video. Thank you for creating it.

  34. Just to bear in mind that Environment artist job like UI designer, graphic designer, 3d weapon modeler etc… like any creative job are especially, especially competitive. You will have many more people who want to be an Environment artist than the number of Environment artist openings. And to the folks without a degree in game art/design/animation some type of art or game art degree it is that much harder. Think of it from an HR perspective, HR is probably not going to judge the quality of your portfolio but they will be the first gatekeeper before your the senior artists take a look at your work. So if person A has an unrelated degree, a resume and a portfolio and candidate B has a related degree (some type of game art degree) a resume and portfolio, chances are very high candidate A's application may not make it past HR's desk.

    Now to be clear my post is not meant to discourage anyone from pursing their artistic dream, if you are passionate about X then you should pursue X. It is just a heads up that the journey to the Environment artist, the prop artist, really any type of creative job (much less in video games) will be extremely competitive and most likely you will have to work a "boring" job in the interim. Don't stop working on the portfolio, don't stop acquiring new skills but be prepared for the long haul, video games are a very popular industry and as a result there is a lot of competition even at the entry or intern level.

  35. And this is one of the reasons of why being a solo game dev feels so overwhelming (the word itself is such an understatement).

    I like to mostly do the game design and game developing part, but the (visual) art plays such a huge role that can also make or break a game, and I will not even start about the sound, animations, story, etc.

    ps: Keep bringing high quality content like this, your videos are highly appreciated. Now I need to get back into my cave, my game won't finish itself.

  36. Non programmers use blueprints. I believe your statement is incorrect. I personally use both c++ and blueprints. At the end blueprints is just faster

  37. When I was a kid, video game landscapes were a solid color…

  38. I swear this video is truely deeply well explained …how to become artist i have seen soo many video with thumbnail how to become game artist but they never deeply talk about modeling uvs and texture …their all just like ….blockout models picture refrence lighting thats all and they end up their video …you never going to understand from where you should began with …

  39. You explain it so well! T_T Even though I've done most of these things separately, I never got how to put it all together. Trying to make a short film in C4D by myself with random tutorials was a living nightmare. The way you explain it makes it so easy to understand. Man if this video had been around when I was still in school, I might've actually finished that film LOL

  40. I like character and asset creation. Is asset modeller in enviorment or character field? So I am both

  41. This is actually pretty relevant for other things besides environments

  42. No love for Modo? As a modelling suite it absolutely puts anything from Autodesk to shame.

  43. Only critic to this video is "Zbrush is user friendly" the joke 😀 its more like a further off apple compared to every standard in our society hahah, but yeah best for sculpt for sure.

  44. With only Unreal Engine 5, do I need to learn any of this or can I create/model the items in UE5?

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