Eric Chadwick
Digital Artist
Technical Artist Guidelines
In 2009 as Lead Technical Artist for Blue Fang Games I crafted a document detailing what would be expected of our Technical Artists, working in feedback from the other Technical Artist and the rest of the studio.

Blue Fang

Blue Fang Games
Technical Artist Guidelines

This document is designed:
What is a Technical Artist?
Blue Fang

Technical Artists help Artists and Designers get their content into the game with the least pain possible, and help Engineers and Artists communicate fluidly.

If you are an Artist or Designer and you have a problem with your content or your tools, the Lead Technical Artist is the first person you should go to for help. If you're already working with another Technical Artist then certainly continue to do so, but new issues should always go to the Lead, for the quickest solution.

If you are an Engineer designing a new content feature, it's a good idea to solicit feedback from the Lead Technical Artist, for how it will fit into the content pipeline.

Core Skills

Technical Artists at Blue Fang Games are expected to have a common set of core skills, plus some optional elective skills.

Artist Support and Advocacy

World of Zoo crocodile

Optimization & Performance

Daily Standup
Communication Skills

Experience in Art Disciplines

Technical Artists should have an understanding of each of the major art disciplines. Ideally this knowledge would come from experience in creating art for each discipline. TAs can't provide support or tools unless they understand the process.

Havok physics


Problem Solving

Technical Artists must be good problem-solvers.

Cleanup in aisle seven


Technical Artists should be fluent and comfortable in one or more scripting languages. They should implement code within Blue Fang's coding standards, with an understanding of both Technical Art best practices and Engineering best practices.

Layla's whiteboard

DCC Software Fluency

Technical Artists should be comfortable, preferably fluent, in Blue Fang's core art software packages:

Elective Disciplines

Technical Artists should elect one or more of these additional disciplines, according to what they want to learn. These are not required for every Technical Artist, though Blue Fang should have at least one TA/Engineer/Artist experienced in each of these disciplines.

Character Rigging

Big cat run

Pipeline Backend

Shader Creation

Image Processing

Asset Tracking

3D Math

Programming Languages

Further Reading on the Subject
The Code/Art Divide: How Technical Artists Bridge The Gap
A great Gamasutra read about TAs
Next-Gen Content Pipelines: A Study of 1st Party Titles
(powerpoint + audio from Gamefest 2008)
In-depth look at pipelines used by Rare, Ensemble, and Bungie.
Technical Artist job description at your company thread with TAs dissecting their roles
Growing a Dedicated Tools Programming Team: From Baldur's Gate to Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
BioWare tools dev info, great read.
Effective 3D Exporter Design: How to Make Artists Love You
I wish we could schedule the time to do this properly!
A Software Process for Online Game Tools Development
Turbine's system for MMO dev tools.
Technical Artist: The Keeper of the Pipe
Ross Patel's pass on the role of the TA.
Why Game Development Sucks
Software practices vs. game dev practices, some good notes in here.
Game Unified Process (GUP)
A dissection of agile iterative development.
The Development Abstraction Layer
A Joelonsoftware classic. Technical Artists are fundamentally a Development Abstraction Layer for the Artists and Designers.

Written by Eric Chadwick and Ryan McClure for Blue Fang Games, October 29, 2009.