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Texture Artists and Texture Mapping

Don't be surprised if you visit a video game development team and find the texture artist just standing and staring at the wall. The wall is a very important element in video game environment and the video game texture designer has to know exactly what different walls and materials look like in all kinds of light. Remember, the texture on a wall, a vehicle, or even on a creature's scaly skin is one of the elements that makes a difference between a really three-dimensional video game and just another kiddie cartoon.

The texture artist may scan actual photographs of the appropriate textures into the computer and then apply that texture to the creatures, environments or objects created by other members of the team.

Some texture designers find ways of creating exotic, new textures that may go far beyond any surfaces occurring in nature-at least in this planet's nature.

These textures have to be mapped onto the 3D objects, environments, and characters in the game. A sloppy job of texture mapping in a game will take away the visual edge. You can have great 3D environments, but the textures have to back them up. Boring repetitive textures will make the levels seem blah and give the gamer the "been there, done that" feel. This can be a game killer. There are just countless textures in a game such as The Battle for Middle Earth (shown on the left)

The video game texture artist has to understand the technical limitations of the systems for which the games are being designed. Textures have to fit within the memory and processing ability of the machines being used. Texture designers learn various tricks to give the illusion of intricate textures without using up the memory cache needed for other parts of the video game.

Salaries for texture artists depend on experience and where you work. In the first few years, you can expect to get on average $40,000+, with an increase to $60,000+ with 4 or 5 years of experience under your belt.

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