Careers Paths

Visual Development Artist: What Is It? (Plus FAQs and responsibilities)

Try exploring a profession as a visual development artist if you enjoy operating in the entertainment sector and have artistic abilities. This career can enable you to fully express your creativity, whether you desire to work in cinema or television. You may decide if this is the perfect career for you by learning about what it involves as well as how to pursue it. In this post, we explain the role of a visual development artist, outline the requirements to become one, and address frequently asked inquiries about this line of work.

A visual development artist is what?

A visual development artist is a media specialist that develops realistic and cinematic settings for a variety of creative entertainment mediums, including feature films, television, and video games. They establish the tone, mood, and color scheme of the setting and make sure that these features adhere to the project’s plot and genre. They let a viewer connect emotionally to the premise and the underlying subject of the movie by making the director’s vision visible.

Visual development artists could explore a range of careers, such as:

  • Animator
  • Costume artist
  • Artistic director
  • Visual development leader
  • Color or lighting designer
  • Artist of character design
  • Artist for environmental design

Visual Development: What Is It?

Visual development is a job in the visual arts that deals with creating a world’s appearance, texture, and atmosphere. Designing an environment, choosing its color palette, and creating the characters that inhabit it are all aspects of visual development. This industry employs people mostly in 2D or 3D cartoon production (for film and television) and video game creation, though they can also use their abilities in live-action movies, application development, and advertising. The pre-production stage of a project is often when visual development work takes place, which establishes the production’s look.

What is the role of a visual development artist?

Visual development artists are responsible for various tasks according to their specific position. For instance, while creating animated content, they offer suggestions for how the world should appear and feel based on the plot, characters, and action. The following are a few responsibilities of a visual development artist:

  • Create and offer concepts for animated projects.
  • Use character emotions to aid in the storytelling part of the animated production.
  • Create environments, backdrops, lighting, colors, and other elements for entertainment media like TV and movies.
  • Collaborate with the creative groups and divisions involved in a project, such as the production team.
  • Make images to illustrate your thoughts on a project.
  • Assist with all visual selections, including those involving settings and the character design
  • Putting together sketches and storyboards to represent ideas for video games, websites, or other visual media
  • Creating character ideas, such as designing new characters or updating existing ones to meet fresh plots or cultural influences
  • Giving the development team visible guidance during the design process
  • Keeping in touch with other members of the production crew, including the producers, directors, writers, actors, musicians, etc.
  • Making intricate sketches and drawings of sequences from storyboards or scripts to serve as templates for the production of films, television programs, advertisements, or other visual media
  • Interacting with the artistic staff in a productive manner, for as by giving them input on how to enhance their work or by requesting clarification on certain topics
  • Examining the sketches that other artists have contributed and commenting on whether or not they adhere to the project’s requirements
  • Working together with other designers and artists to exchange ideas and decide which ideas will be chosen for each project
  • Researching societal and cultural trends that affect the type of art being produced, such as fashion, technology, and popular culture.

How to start a career as a visual development artist

It’s critical to acquire particular qualifications and knowledge if you want to thrive in the career of a visual development artist. If you want to become a visual development artist, follow these steps:

1. Get an education

It’s crucial to have a firm grasp of animation, graphic arts, and design as a visual development artist. Possessing this knowledge can make it easier for you to carry out your responsibilities. Get a bachelor’s or master’s degree in one of the visual arts disciplines, such as animation, fine art, communication, or graphic design. You can gain fundamental information in this area through these degrees.

2. Examine different specialties

Choose your area of expertise as a visual development artist. Think about the design abilities you most like to use. Let your research, coursework, and life experiences guide your decision on the field of visual development that most appeal to you while you work toward a degree. You might select to focus on the artistic direction or environment design, for instance.

You are not required to choose your concentration right immediately. Have some experience with design, and play around with several styles to see which one you prefer. If you are interested in environmental design, artistic direction, or another aspect of visual development, use your education, experiences, or research to enable you to focus.

3. Look into internships

To advance your abilities as a visual development artist and to obtain useful, practical experience, think about interning. An animation company or independent film firm, for instance, may provide internship possibilities. You can strengthen your CV as you join the graphic development industry by having this experience. Also, networking with other creative people in your field can benefit from an internship.

4. Put together a resume-style portfolio.

Make a portfolio that demonstrates your technical expertise for this job efficiently. To demonstrate your abilities as a qualified applicant for the position, provide your most outstanding work, which can include both internship work and professional projects. Include elements that are most relevant to the particular position you are applying for as well. Showcase your prior experience working in a position akin to that if you’re looking for a position with an animated television program, for instance.

5. Make connections with other creatives.

Find methods to connect with experts in your field. Attend related conferences or panels, if possible. By engaging with other professionals who share your interests online, you may network as well. You might meet people who can introduce you to work chances in the future.

6. Enhance your abilities

A bachelor’s or master’s degree in an area linked to the visual arts, like animation, graphic arts, fine arts, or communications, can be beneficial to you even though it is not required to pursue this career. To improve your talents, you can also search for seminars or other courses.

Visual development art careers can be very lucrative. It provides the chance to collaborate with and learn from accomplished artists while working on a wide range of tasks with various teams.

It’s crucial to hone your painting, drawing, and sketching abilities if you want to break into this industry. Digital art creation should also be possible with programs like Photoshop and Illustrator. In addition, it’s critical to have a solid grasp of design and color theory.

By enrolling in fine arts and design classes, you can advance your education. You can also develop experience by taking part in online forums and groups where you can show off your work and get criticism from other creatives.

Work Qualifications for Visual Development Artist

The following credentials are normally required for a visual development artist:

  • Education: A bachelor’s degree in fine arts, graphic design, or computer art is often required for Visual Development artists. These students take classes in art history, sculpture, photography, printmaking, painting, computer graphics, and drawing.
  • Experience & Training: Visual development artists often gain on-the-job training through an entry-level role in the entertainment sector. Internships are another avenue for training visual developers. The entertainment sector can be experienced first-hand through internships for aspiring visual developers. In addition, they offer aspiring visual developers the chance to network with experts in the field.
  • Licenses & Certifications: Visual development artists don’t require any licenses or certifications to obtain their employment. To expand their abilities and connect with other professionals, some visual development artists may, nonetheless, look for professional membership organizations.

Skills for Visual Development Artist

For their careers to be successful, visual development artists require the following abilities:

  • Drawing: Visual developers use their drawing abilities to produce conceptual images. They employ this talent to produce storyboards, sketches, and other kinds of visual representations. Also, this ability enables individuals to discuss their views with others.
  • Modeling: The process of generating 3D worlds and objects is known as modeling. Modeling software is used by visual development artists to build models for the environments and characters they design. For visual development artists, modeling is an essential ability since it enables them to produce lifelike visuals that the production team can use.
  • Animation: The process of bringing a motion to a still image is called animation. To make characters and objects move in a scene, visual development artists employ animation techniques. This entails making the hair, clothing, and other scene components move. This data is used by animators to produce the finished work.
  • Storyboarding: Storyboarding is the technique of presenting a narrative in a visual manner. Storyboarding is a common tool used by visual development artists to build concepts for visual projects. This procedure entails putting together a series of images that depict the plot and action of a movie or video.
  • Communication: Visual development artists interact with other members of the production team to explain their ideas and make sure that the finished result reflects their vision. Also, they interact with clients to respond to inquiries and solicit comments on the progress of the project. You can work with others to develop an item that meets the client’s needs by using effective communication.

Work Environment for Visual Development Artists

Visual development artists are employed by a range of organizations, including advertising agencies, design businesses, video game publishers, and film studios. Although they frequently work regular hours, they occasionally have to put in extra time in order to meet deadlines. The majority of the time, they collaborate with authors, producers, and directors in groups along with other designers and artists. To create their works of art, visual development artists employ a range of computer software applications, and in order to succeed in this sector, they must be adept in these programs.

Salaries and future employment prospects for visual development artists

Pay for a visual development artist is not reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), although it does provide statistics on salaries for animators and special effects artists. The typical annual salary for animators and special effects artists is $77,700. Yet, your pay as a visual development artist may vary depending on your background, place of employment, and employer.

For animators and special effects artists, the BLS predicts a 4% increase in employment between 2019 and 2029. This rate is comparable to the average for all other vocations in terms of speed. The BLS claims that this increase in employment is a result of the need for animation and visual effects across a range of media.

Advancement Opportunities

Visual development artists have high career prospects. Artists may advance to higher-level positions like lead artists or creative directors as they gain expertise. Also, as their reputation rises, independent contractors may be able to demand higher rates for their services.

Developments in Visual Development for Artists

The following three trends have an impact on how visual developers create. To keep their knowledge current and keep an edge at work, visual development artists must stay informed about these advances.

A Greater Demand for Technical Skills

Visual development artists with technical talents are increasingly and more in demand as technology becomes more complex. This is because visual development artists are frequently in charge of producing animations and other effects that demand a thorough knowledge of code.

Visual developers who learn to code will be able to produce effects that are more intriguing and complicated, increasing the value of their work in the market. Additionally, they can leverage their coding expertise to assist them land positions in other design-related fields, like product or building style.

The Significance of User Experience (UX) Design

In the commercial sector, user experience (UX) design has grown increasingly significant. This is because technology enables companies to produce goods that are more user-friendly and pleasant for consumers.

Visual development artists will have to understand how to produce designs that are beautiful and practical as UX design gains popularity. This necessitates a thorough knowledge of consumer psychology and how individuals engage with various media.

Increased cooperation between developers and designers

The trend of designers and developers working together has grown over the past few years. This is because both sides have a lot of knowledge and suggestions to share with one another.

By forging close bonds with developers, visual development artists can profit from this trend. As a result, they will be able to collaborate on projects and develop original solutions that are superior to anything either side could come up with on their own.

What Kind of Positions Are Offered in Visual Development?

Visual development artists can perform a wide range of duties and are in charge of lots of different tasks. A list of some of the jobs a visual development artist might perform is shown below.

  1. Character designers: Character designers develop concept artists’ early sketches into more fully realized characters. To give a character a more realistic or complete appearance, a character design artist can create physical characteristics, quirks, habits, and other aspects.
  2. Animators: Animators produce cartoons and other forms of digital art for both personal and commercial use in industries like television, cinema, and advertising. Both 2D and 3D artists can act as animators to bring pictures to life. To create a project’s world, they also work together with other members of the production staff, such as writers and producers.
  3. Art directors: The development of every one of the artistic components of a movie, video game, or marketing campaign is overseen by an art director. The art director in the film creates sets, manages artists and construction crews, and contributes to a production’s overall aesthetic. For a client, art directors in advertising define the visual style and eventually direct all visual elements of a campaign.
  4. Environment design artist: An environment design artist builds the settings and backdrops for TV shows, computer games, and motion pictures in order to fit the project’s genre and plot. They frequently have a strong background in geography, architecture, and landscape design and are skilled in setting the scene and conveying the mood of a place using color theory and props.


It’s uncommon to move directly into a career as a visual development artist, but it’s feasible through an apprentice or internship position. There is, nevertheless, intense rivalry for these posts. If you have adequate experience, another choice is to take a junior position where you may network and develop a solid portfolio.

Any experience that enables you to develop your craft and build a solid portfolio is advised and will aid in your ability to find employment as a visual development artist. This can entail taking on entry-level creative jobs, possibilities for shadowing, or even participating in pertinent classes, groups, and contests.

Visual development artists frequently begin their careers in roles like studio runner, art program assistant, or junior assistant/design agency, all of which offer invaluable knowledge, contacts, and experience.

Although few openings are announced, it’s customary to obtain expertise in a creative position through exploratory applications. Your application should be supported by a cover letter, a portfolio, and a resume. In the letter, please explain why you are interested in the opportunity and how you might help. Make it clear that working as a visual development artist is your ultimate objective, but also demonstrate your eagerness and readiness to assist with less artistic duties.

Frequently Asked Questions about Visual Development Artists

  • What distinguishes a visual developer from a concept artist?

For a particular sort of media, such as a television program or computer game, concept artists develop the initial visual display of an artwork. A visual development artist, on the other hand, creates a more accurate portrayal of a cinematic depiction. They could draw inspiration from a concept artist’s first creation for their own.

  • What qualifications or expertise are required of a visual development artist?

Several of the same abilities needed by graphic designers and animators, such as original thought and familiarity with color theory, are also needed by visual development artists. Also, they are familiar with illustration, digital design tools, production procedures, and 2D and 3D art forms. They also comprehend lighting and visual effects. When visual development artists collaborate with different creative teams, like the production crew of a movie or television show, it’s also critical that they have great teamwork skills.

  • Where can you find visual development artists?

Visual developers create a range of artistic platforms. A game design company employs certain people, while others operate in the film sector. Visual development artists can be found in the following sectors:

  • Film
  • Advertising
  • Creation of video games
  • Website and mobile app design
  • Publishing
  • Public relations, marketing, and publishing
  • Graphic design
  • Public relations
  • Marketing

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