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Become A Lead Artist

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Working As A Lead Artist

  • Interacting With Computers
  • Thinking Creatively
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
  • Communicating with Persons Outside Organization
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Mostly Sitting

  • Make Decisions

  • Stressful

  • $76,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Lead Artist Do

Multimedia artists and animators create two- and three-dimensional models, animation, and visual effects for television, movies, video games, and other forms of media.

Duties

Multimedia artists and animators typically do the following:

  • Use computer programs and illustrations to create graphics and animation
  • Work with a team of animators and artists to create a movie, game, or visual effect
  • Research upcoming projects to help create realistic designs or animations
  • Develop storyboards that map out key scenes in animations
  • Edit animations and effects on the basis of feedback from directors, other animators, game designers, or clients
  • Meet with clients, other animators, games designers, directors, and other staff (which may include actors) to review deadlines and development time lines

Multimedia artists and animators often work in a specific medium. Some focus on creating animated movies or video games. Others create visual effects for movies and television shows. Creating computer-generated images (known as CGI) may include taking images of an actor’s movements and then animating them into three-dimensional characters. Other animators design scenery or backgrounds for locations.

Artists and animators can further specialize within these fields. Within animated movies and video games, artists often specialize in characters or in scenery and background design. Video game artists may focus on level design: creating the look, feel, and layout for the levels of a video game.

Animators work in teams to develop a movie, a visual effect, or an electronic game. Each animator works on a portion of the project, and then the pieces are put together to create one cohesive animation.

Some multimedia artists and animators create their work primarily by using computer software or by writing their own computer code. Many animation companies have their own computer animation software that artists must learn to use. Video game designers also work in a wide variety of platforms, including mobile gaming and online social networks.

Other artists and animators prefer to work by drawing and painting by hand and then translating the resulting images into computer programs. Some multimedia artists use storyboards or “animatics,” which look like a comic strip, to help visualize the final product during the design process.

Many multimedia artists and animators put their creative work on the Internet. If the images become popular, these artists can gain more recognition, which can lead to future employment or freelance work.

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How To Become A Lead Artist

Most multimedia artists and animators need a bachelor’s degree in computer graphics, art, or a related field to develop both an impressive portfolio of work and the strong technical skills that many employers prefer.

Education

Employers typically require a bachelor’s degree, and they look for workers who have a good portfolio of work and strong technical skills. Multimedia artists and animators typically have a bachelor’s degree in fine art, computer graphics, animation, or a related field. Programs in computer graphics often include courses in computer science in addition to art courses.

Bachelor’s degree programs in art include courses in painting, drawing, and sculpture. Degrees in animation often require classes in drawing, animation, and film. Many schools have specialized degrees in topics such as interactive media or game design.

Training

Some animation studios have their own software and computer applications that they use to create films, and they often provide on-the-job training so that workers can use the specific software and computer applications.

Important Qualities

Artistic talent. Animators and artists should have artistic ability and a good understanding of color, texture, and light. However, they may be able to compensate for artistic shortcomings with better technical skills.

Communication skills. Multimedia artists and animators need to work as part of a complex team and respond well to criticism and feedback.

Computer skills. Many multimedia artists and animators use computer programs or write programming code to do most of their work.

Creativity. Artists and animators must be able to think creatively to develop original ideas and make them come to life.

Time-management skills. The hours required by most studio and game design companies can be long, particularly when there are tight deadlines. Artists and animators need to be able to manage their time effectively when a deadline approaches.

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Average Length of Employment
Designer/Artist 4.3 years
Senior Artist 4.2 years
Lead Artist 3.0 years
Technical Artist 2.9 years
Visual Artist 2.9 years
Animation Artist 2.7 years
Artist 2.6 years
Game Artist 2.0 years
3D Artist 2.0 years
Concept Artist 1.9 years
Artist Assistant 1.8 years
Texture Artist 1.5 years
Top Careers Before Lead Artist
Artist 24.5%
3D Artist 10.9%
Internship 5.9%
Animator 4.0%
Instructor 3.0%
Designer 1.9%
Supervisor 1.9%
Cashier 1.9%
Volunteer 1.8%
Top Careers After Lead Artist
Artist 19.5%
Art Director 10.9%
3D Artist 8.7%
Animator 3.6%
Instructor 3.5%
Supervisor 2.4%
Designer 1.9%
Internship 1.7%

Do you work as a Lead Artist?

Average Yearly Salary
$76,000
Show Salaries
$37,000
Min 10%
$76,000
Median 50%
$76,000
Median 50%
$76,000
Median 50%
$76,000
Median 50%
$76,000
Median 50%
$76,000
Median 50%
$76,000
Median 50%
$159,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Microsoft
Highest Paying City
Foster City, CA
Highest Paying State
District of Columbia
Avg Experience Level
2.9 years
How much does a Lead Artist make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Lead Artist in the United States is $76,925 per year or $37 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $37,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $159,000.

Real Lead Artist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Lead Flame Artist Psyop Inc. D/B/A Mass Market New York, NY Jan 28, 2011 $178,500
Lead Artist Riot Games Inc. Los Angeles, CA Aug 02, 2016 $175,000
Digital Environments Supervisor, Lead CG Artist The Mill Group, Inc. Los Angeles, CA Dec 01, 2014 $158,080
Lead CG FX TD Artist A52, LLC Santa Monica, CA Apr 25, 2016 $156,000
Artist (Lead World Artist) Microsoft Corporation Redmond, WA May 07, 2016 $144,600 -
$164,600
Lead Lighting Artist Microsoft Corporation Kirkland, WA Oct 01, 2014 $141,047
Lead Lighting Artist Microsoft Corporation Kirkland, WA Jan 10, 2014 $141,047
Lead Dynamic Artist Microsoft Corporation Redmond, WA Aug 07, 2016 $135,127 -
$155,127
Lead Dynamic Artist Microsoft Corporation Redmond, WA Aug 29, 2016 $135,127
Lead Character Artist Microsoft Corporation Redmond, WA Feb 01, 2013 $124,933
Lead Vehicle Artist Microsoft Corporation Redmond, WA Feb 01, 2013 $122,299
Lead VFX Artist Ascent Media Group, LLC New York, NY Nov 01, 2009 $120,000 -
$180,000
Lead Environment Artist Microsoft Corporation Redmond, WA Sep 01, 2010 $120,000
Lead Artist Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. Irvine, CA Jan 08, 2012 $112,000
Lead User Interface Artist Activision Publishing Inc. Foster City, CA Nov 19, 2015 $111,000
Lead Environment Artist, Interactive Games Neversoft Entertainment, Inc. Los Angeles, CA Feb 15, 2013 $110,885 -
$111,736
Lead Character Artist Crystal Dynamics, Inc. Redwood City, CA Oct 01, 2010 $110,000
Lead Character Artist Microsoft Corporation Redmond, WA Feb 01, 2010 $110,000
Lead Artist Disney Online Palo Alto, CA Sep 16, 2014 $107,000
Lead Environment Artist Electronic Arts, Inc. Redwood City, CA Aug 21, 2013 $106,827
CG Supervisor/Lead Artist Carbon Visual Effects LLC Santa Monica, CA Apr 28, 2014 $105,000
CG Supervisor/Lead Artist Carbon Visual Effects LLC Santa Monica, CA Apr 28, 2014 $89,648 -
$120,000
Lead Nuke Artist The Mill Group, Inc. New York, NY May 01, 2014 $87,152 -
$200,000
Lead Vehicle Artist Microsoft Corporation Redmond, WA Feb 01, 2010 $85,500
Lead FX Artist Dreamworks Animation Television, Inc. Glendale, CA Nov 02, 2016 $83,480
Lead FX Artist Dreamworks Animation Television, Inc. Glendale, CA Feb 11, 2016 $83,480
Lead Artist Melody Street LLC Los Angeles, CA Sep 25, 2012 $83,480 -
$93,915
Lead Artist Melody Street LLC Los Angeles, CA Oct 01, 2011 $83,480 -
$93,915

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Top Skills for A Lead Artist

  1. Environment Artists
  2. Concept Art
  3. User Interface
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Provide art test to prospective environment artists.
  • Created fun, stylized 3D environment assets using 3D Studio Max based on concept art provided to our team.
  • Created the User Interface for Madden 25's Coach Glass application, and in-Game menus.
  • Designed and created graphics for ESPN's High School baseball mobile site in Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator.
  • Crafted development materials for numerous network projects as well as designing and producing web-based content and video games.

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Top 10 Best States for Lead Artists

  1. District of Columbia
  2. Minnesota
  3. Maine
  4. Washington
  5. Nebraska
  6. Iowa
  7. North Dakota
  8. Vermont
  9. South Dakota
  10. Alabama
  • (17 jobs)
  • (24 jobs)
  • (3 jobs)
  • (69 jobs)
  • (7 jobs)
  • (20 jobs)
  • (1 jobs)
  • (1 jobs)
  • (1 jobs)
  • (21 jobs)

Lead Artist Demographics

Gender

Male

59.8%

Female

27.4%

Unknown

12.9%
Ethnicity

White

60.0%

Hispanic or Latino

18.0%

Black or African American

9.8%

Asian

8.1%

Unknown

4.0%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

48.6%

German

8.6%

Japanese

8.6%

French

8.6%

Portuguese

5.7%

Mandarin

5.7%

Chinese

2.9%

Russian

2.9%

Tagalog

2.9%

Korean

2.9%

Thai

2.9%
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Lead Artist Education

Schools

Savannah College of Art and Design

12.5%

Academy of Art University

11.5%

Full Sail University

11.5%

Art Institute of California - Inland

7.5%

Art Institute of Pittsburgh

6.1%

School of Visual Arts

5.4%

Art Center College of Design

5.1%

Columbia College Chicago

5.1%

Ringling College of Art and Design

4.4%

Art Institute of Seattle

4.1%

San Jose State University

3.7%

New York University

3.4%

School of the Art Institute of Chicago

3.1%

University of Advancing Technology

3.1%

Rhode Island School of Design

2.7%

DigiPen Institute of Technology

2.4%

University of Phoenix

2.4%

Champlain College

2.0%

California Institute of the Arts

2.0%

Illinois Institute of Art - Chicago

2.0%
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Majors

Graphic Design

28.5%

Fine Arts

17.7%

Animation

15.5%

Computer Science

7.9%

Design And Visual Communication

4.6%

Photography

4.1%

Computer Applications

3.5%

Visual And Performing Arts

2.6%

Business

2.5%

Communication

2.1%

General Education, Specific Areas

1.5%

Marketing

1.5%

Entertainment Business

1.4%

Cosmetology

1.4%

Digital Media

1.1%

Drafting And Design

0.9%

Education

0.9%

Psychology

0.9%

Architecture

0.8%

Music

0.8%
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Degrees

Bachelors

54.6%

Other

18.1%

Associate

11.3%

Masters

9.8%

Certificate

4.3%

Diploma

0.8%

License

0.6%

Doctorate

0.4%
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