How to Become a Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) Artist

By The Arty Teacher - July 4, 2022

What is a CGI Artist?

A computer-generated imagery (CGI) artist is skilled in producing digital visuals, animations, or effects using specialised computer software and techniques.

What Skills does a CGI Artist need?

To become a CGI artist, you’ll need to be good at computer technology, have a creative imagination, and learn how to use special software to create amazing 3D graphics and animations for movies, video games, and more. It’s like making awesome digital worlds come to life!

What Qualification does a CGI Artist Need?

You will need a bachelor’s degree or equivalent in computer graphics, animation, fine arts, or a related field. Proficiency in industry-standard software like Maya, 3ds Max, or Blender is crucial. (Blender is free and you can start learning now.) Additionally, a strong grasp of design principles, colour theory, and composition is necessary for creating visually appealing work. Practical experience through internships, personal projects, or entry-level positions helps develop skills and build a portfolio. Continuous learning to stay updated on emerging technologies and trends within the CGI industry is also vital. Strong communication skills and the ability to work collaboratively in a team are beneficial for success in this dynamic and creative field.

Roles within a CGI Career

CGI artists may do a range of tasks within their job or specialise in a specific area. Here are some key roles:

  1. 3D Modeling: Creating three-dimensional models of characters, objects, or environments based on conceptual designs or references.
  2. Texturing: Applying surface textures, colors, and materials to 3D models to enhance their realism or achieve specific visual styles.
  3. Animation: Bringing 3D models to life by animating movement, expressions, and interactions, contributing to storytelling or visual effects.
  4. Rigging: Building skeletons or rigs for 3D models, enabling them to move realistically during animation by defining joints and movement controls.
  5. Lighting: Designing and setting up lighting in digital scenes to create atmosphere, mood, and realism, ensuring proper illumination of the scene.
  6. VFX (Visual Effects): Creating computer-generated effects like explosions, fire, weather, or fantastical elements, often used in movies, games, or advertisements.
  7. Environment Design: Crafting detailed and immersive backgrounds or settings for 3D scenes, including landscapes, cities, or interior spaces.
  8. Compositing: Merging different visual elements or layers into a cohesive final image or sequence, ensuring consistency and seamless integration.
  9. Simulation: Generating realistic simulations of natural phenomena such as water, fire, smoke, or cloth dynamics to enhance visual realism.
  10. Concept Art: Sketching or illustrating initial design ideas for characters, environments, or objects before translating them into digital form.

These roles often intertwine and collaborate throughout the production process, contributing to the creation of visually captivating and engaging digital content for various industries, including film, gaming, advertising, architecture, and more.

Building a CV

Whilst you are still in school, you can start building a CV for a career as a CGI artist.

  1. Opt for Art: Make sure you do as many art and creative courses as you can.
  2. Download the free software Blender or you may be able to get a free or discounted version of the Adobe Creative Suite.
  3. Create a Portfolio: Develop a portfolio showcasing personal projects, digital art, 3D models, or animations to demonstrate creativity, technical proficiency, and growth in CGI skills.
  4. Online Learning: Explore online tutorials, courses, or workshops related to CGI and digital artistry to expand knowledge and gain additional skills.
  5. Participate in Competitions: Enter CGI or digital art competitions, both locally and online, to challenge yourself, receive feedback, and showcase your abilities.
  6. Join Clubs or Groups: Participate in art clubs, computer graphics clubs, or relevant extracurricular activities to collaborate with peers, learn from others, and gain exposure to CGI techniques and trends.
  7. Seek Mentorship or Internships: Reach out to CGI professionals or studios for mentorship opportunities, internships, or shadowing experiences to gain industry insights and practical skills.
  8. Personal Projects: Undertake personal CGI projects, such as creating 3D models, animations, or digital art, to build a diverse portfolio and showcase your evolving skills.

By actively engaging in these activities, students can develop a solid foundation, acquire essential skills, build a portfolio, and demonstrate their passion and commitment to pursuing a career as a CGI artist.

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The Arty Teacher

Sarah Crowther is The Arty Teacher. She is a high school art teacher in the North West of England. She strives to share her enthusiasm for art by providing art teachers around the globe with high-quality resources and by sharing her expertise through this blog.

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