The Technical Artist acts as a bridge between the Artists and Programmers working on a game. They ensure art assets can be easily integrated into a game without sacrificing either the overall artistic vision or exceeding the technical limits of the chosen platform.
The role is a relatively new one for the games industry, but is becoming increasingly important as consoles and PC hardware becomes more complex.
Despite their technical knowledge, the Technical Artist works part of the art team, working closely with the Lead Artist and the Creative Director, as well as the Lead Programmers.
Their main areas of responsibility include setting up and maintaining the art production workflow, and making decisions about which art packages and tools a studio should use.
They are also charged with investigating new techniques and implementing them. The job often includes a teaching element, with the Technical Artist sharing their knowledge via training and mentoring sessions with other Artists.
The Technical Artist is not typically directly involved in the creation of game art assets. Instead they act in more of an advisory position, setting up the systems of production as well as dealing with problems as they arise.
One large part of the job involves keeping up to date with changes in technology, both hardware and software, as well as new techniques. They are expected to be able to create custom tools to improve the efficiency of their team. This is usually carried out using the scripting languages included in the main modelling and animation packages.
They oversee work in response to feedback or debugging complex assets such as character skeleton rigs and skinning systems. They also research and oversee the implementation of rendering techniques such as normal and specular maps, particle systems and pixel shaders.