Cinematics Illustrator

  • Cinematics Illustrator

Cinematic sequences, or cut scenes, are incorporated between segments of regular gameplay to further the plot and deepen the player’s overall experience and interaction with the characters and story. These sequences have become increasingly sophisticated, with greater attention to film-quality animation, requiring specialists dedicated solely to the creation of art assets for cut scenes. 


The illustrator works under the direction of the cinematics designer and cinematics director to produce original art for cut scenes in accordance with the established style and aesthetic set forth by the art director. He or she will complete assigned work that can include contributions to background and environment (interiors and exteriors), vehicles, characters, objects, and other elements present in the cut scenes. In accordance with the tools and systems in place, this person will use digital art software such as Maya or 3ds Max to create cut scene art assets. In addition to delivering finished production artwork, the illustrator may be tasked with producing concept art, storyboards, and other non-production assets. This person will act within existing pipelines and cooperate with other members of the cinematics team as well as the larger art department in the completion of delegated tasks. When necessary, he or she may be called upon to assist with various other art efforts related to the game’s production. The development of cinematic sequences varies in process and procedure depending on the studio, but operates much like a feature animation studio, separate from the playable elements of the game.

Skills & Education

A college degree in game design, graphic design, or fine art is recommended for this career. The applicant should have expert-level proficiency in the use of software like Photoshop and After Effects, and be able to quickly adapt to other art tools or proprietary digital art programs. The cinematics illustrator must possess solid traditional drawing and painting skills in addition to being a talented digital artist. Familiarity with the elements of lighting, texture, shading, and similar actions is required. This position demands a firm understanding of storytelling with virtual camera placement and movement; therefore, courses in animation or cinematography are useful. Knowledge of the Unreal Engine and similar game engines is necessary, as is an understanding of animation and game production pipelines.

What to Expect

This position may be an entry-level to midlevel role, depending on the requirements of the individual studio; therefore, a highly talented artist can seek employment without relevant professional experience. Consideration is generally based on a portfolio of digital and traditional artwork. The lead art department staff will be concerned with identifying your personal style, mastery of technique, and creative inspiration. As a rule, game studio art departments would rather hire a skilled pen-and-paper artist who can be taught the software than a digital whiz who lacks basic drawing ability. It should take no longer than 10 minutes to view your portfolio in a digital format online, and the portfolio should only display your best work. Put the good stuff up front, because an art lead decides in the first two minutes whether he or she likes your style.


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