User Interface Artist

  • User Interface Artist

The user interface artist is responsible for the design, implementation, and optimization of UI assets for a video game. This person works under the supervision of the art director, assistant producer, and game designers to create interfaces that are graphically interesting, but also intuitive and player-friendly.


Duties

To design and implement user interface assets, the UI artist first works with game designers to understand necessary capabilities of the interface, including navigation, menu options, player modes, and weapon selection. The first step of the design process is to create a series of flowcharts that outline how the player will be able to navigate options through different levels and modes. These outlines may go through a number of revisions before the UI artist arrives at a final plan. Next, the UI artist designs the graphic elements of the interface, including menu animation, colors, fonts, textures, and other variables. He or she may begin with paper sketches that are reviewed in design meetings, and then deliver several digital mockups for final approval. With the go-ahead from the art director and assistant producer, 2-D and 3-D digital art is created and ported to the game engine. The UI artist will work closely with the UI programmer at this stage to integrate the interface assets and work out any visual or usability issues that arise.

Skills & Education

A college degree in game art, graphic design, or related field is recommended, and a formal education or equivalent professional experience as a UI artist is required. Courses in fine art or industrial design are encouraged, and classes in developmental psychology are useful in understanding how the potential player will best interact with your UI. You must be highly proficient with industry standard 3-D art tools like Maya, 3ds Max, or Softimage, and equally comfortable with 2-D tools like Flash. A UI artist should be a methodical person who is able to conceptualize a logic tree and then guide others through a flowchart of menu options, game levels, or modes.

What to Expect

This job requires at least three years of game industry experience in an art department and credits on at least one shipped title. Any art role in a game studio can lead to a lateral move to this midlevel position, though, and rookies can work to climb the ladder from game tester or texture artist by demonstrating to team leads that you have strong design skills and you understand the studio’s prevailing theories of user interface models. Because UI integrates the work of programmers, designers, and other artists, it is important that the UI artist be diplomatic and capable of working well in a collaborative environment. While it is your job to design and execute the UI plan, you will be expected to take input from several different sources and assimilate those many ideas into one interface that is visually and logically consistent.

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