How To Become A VFX Artist (With Duties, Skills And Salary)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 6 December 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Many movies and television shows include some form of visual effects. From lighting to the movement of background elements, these effects can help viewers feel immersed in the story they are watching, which can also increase the success of the program.

Creating these effects can be an exciting and pleasant career for people who enjoy working with technology and have artistic skills. In this article, we discuss how to become a VFX artist, outline their roles and responsibilities and explore their skills, work environment and average salary.

What is a VFX artist?

A VFX artist, or visual effects artist, is a member of the team that creates visual images for movies and television. These professionals use computer software to produce animation and special effects, which help add realism to films. They are sometimes also called multimedia artists or animators, and they might have different duties depending on their specific roles and employer. Studios of all sizes and purposes hire VFX artists to help support their creative video efforts.

How to become a VFX artist

Follow these steps if you are wondering how to become a VFX artist:

1. Get a bachelor's degree

Attending college might give you an advantage when applying for a job as a visual effects artist. Consider attending a college or academy programme that emphasises VFX, animation, media, along with other skills and tools you may need on the job in your visual effects career. Some jobs may even require a specific certification or degree, so try exploring open VFX roles and taking note of their educational requirements.

2. Develop your skills

While pursuing your education, focus on developing your artistic abilities. Create good art whenever you get an opportunity. Experiment with technology and incorporate video animation tools into your practice. Look for opportunities to learn new skills. Consider learning through online and in-person programmes to develop your artistic abilities.

3. Pursue an internship

Internships are an excellent way to gain significant experience as a visual effects artist while pursuing education. You may seek an experienced mentor who can guide you through the VFX career and connect you with other experts who can assist you in finding an intern position. Apart from providing you with the skills for success, internships can also act as an excellent resume enhancer when you apply for full-time, permanent positions.

Related: What Are Internships And How Do You Find One?

4. Try freelancing

Freelancing may provide you with the opportunity to gain expertise as a visual effects artist. Consider freelance employment in a range of styles and for a variety of media companies. Working on a variety of real projects can help you narrow down a field of interest and hone your technical and aesthetic abilities. Freelance work can also help you improve your CV if you plan to pursue a full-time VFX career in the future.

Related: What Does Freelance Mean? Definition, Tips And Popular Jobs

5. Explore open roles

Look for visual effects artist opportunities in your area of expertise and other specialities. Try keeping an open mind about the type of career you are interested in and willing to pursue. Taking up similar roles may help you uncover other possibilities as you enter the VFX industry.

Pay close attention to the job specifications and consider getting any additional certifications that may be beneficial. If it helps, you may use a spreadsheet or note-taking tool to keep track of the information you find.

Related: Types of 3D Modelling Jobs (Career Tips, Skills And Salary)

6. Prepare your resume and apply

Create a resume and cover letter emphasising your competence as a visual effects artist. Try to tailor your resume to the position for which you are applying. Certain organisations use applicant tracking systems that scan resumes or cover letters for particular keywords and organise them for review by a hiring manager. You may utilise this for your benefit by incorporating keywords from each job listing into your resume and cover letter. You may also benefit from performing a study on each company's mission and objectives and addressing how you can directly aid them in accomplishing their goals in your application materials.

Related: How To Make A Video Resume (With Tips And Example)

What does a VFX artist do?

Visual effects artists handle several duties, including graphic design and animation generation using computer tools. VFX artists might meet with production teams, which may include directors, writers and creative directors, to discuss their concepts and ensure that their designs adhere to production requirements and are consistent with the creator's vision for the project. Another critical role of a VFX artist is to supervise any adjustments that a team may make to their designs in case other specialised parts require to be adjusted. Here are a few more responsibilities that a VFX artist can have:

  • designing special effects like dynamic simulations and shader effects

  • meeting deadlines for project designs

  • scheduling meetings with other artists and developers

  • taking directions from VFX supervisors and composite leads

  • testing visual effects to ensure they function and appear correctly

  • keeping track of progress through daily and weekly reports

  • researching to find inspiration and references

  • working independently on designs and programs

Essential skills for a VFX artist

As their job can require advanced work on complex projects, VFX artists typically need a robust set of specialised visual art and technology skills to succeed in their field. Here are some skills that a VFX artist can benefit from having:

  • Drawing: As VFX is fundamentally an art form, learning the basics of drawing could be beneficial. Also, creating certain types of animation often requires sketching and drawing skills.

  • Visual aesthetics: Understanding visual aesthetics helps to know what the audience may find aesthetically pleasing, along with aspects like effective focal points and attractiveness of different colours, shapes, and designs.

  • Composition and light: In-depth knowledge of lighting and composition helps a VTX artist create exciting animation and images. They often require using customised visual effects in every frame of the production.

  • Photography: Knowing the discipline of photography can help a budding VFX artist tremendously. Just as a photographer uses their camera to extract their vision, a VFX artist uses their computer to create a visual effect.

  • Sculpture and anatomy: Understanding how characters and objects move in relation to their unique anatomy helps visual effects artists to add realism to their subjects. It also simplifies their task and makes the scene more realistic for the audience.

  • Mechanics and movement: When combined with anatomies, understanding the various physics and mechanics of how things move enhances a VFX artist's capabilities.

  • Critical thinking: Having strong critical thinking skills enables a VFX artist to identify, analyse and adapt to changes in VFX workflows and job requirements.

  • Creativity: Creative thinking skills and imagination drive the core work of visual effects. It can help create stunning visual effects for a film or video clip that can stay in the audience's mind forever.

  • Communication: A VFX artist often works as part of a team with filmmakers, editors and other professionals. Having strong communication skills help them to give and receive feedback, voice their opinions and communicate their ideas.

  • Project management: Managing a VFX project often requires building a competent team, allocating tasks, monitoring progress, arranging shoot permits and managing castings. All of this requires good project management skills.

Related: 19 Essential Project Management Skills To Master

The work environment of VFX artists

As VFX artists do most of their work on a computer, most of them work from an office or studio where they can focus on designing a project's technical and creative components. They may also occasionally travel to look for a suitable shooting location for a filmmaker or cinematographer. As a VFX artist, you can work independently and collaboratively with other professionals, such as artists, editors and other members of a creative team.

Since it is a highly skilled career, particularly if you specialise in a specific design area, it often requires full-time hours with frequent overtime. This is because studios frequently require VFX artists to fulfil strict schedules, which may cause working overtime.

Average salary of a VFX Artist

Most visual effects artists are freelancers, which means they work for multiple clients. Others work for film studios or media companies. The national average salary of a VFX Artist is ₹338,462 per year.

Salary figures reflect data listed on the quoted websites at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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