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Visual Development Artist - Career Profile

Written by Michelle BurtonOctober 3, 2011
Visual Development Artist
Did you know... Each year more than 25% of the student population of The Digital Animation & Visual Effects School (DAVE School) comes from outside the US to attend the school at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. There are currently students attending from Saudi Arabia, England, South Korea, Russia, Venezuela, and Dubai. DAVE School can provide assistance in securing student visas and student housing. Learn more at
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What does a Visual Development Artist do? Where does a Visual Development Artist work? ACR takes a look:

About Visual Development Artists

Visual development artists design and develop the look and feel of feature films, animations, videos, and other types of productions. In animation, they come up with ideas for what the animated world should look like based on the story, characters, and action. Visual development artists also work with character emotions to help assist with the storytelling aspect of the animation.

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Visual Development Artist Jobs

Visual development artists work with the creative departments at any given company to develop backgrounds, colors, lighting, environments, and props for the animated piece. They use animation, illustration, drawing, and design skills to create visuals that convey ideas about how they envision the look of the film. Visual development artists typically work in either 2D or 3D and they use programs such as Linux, Photoshop, and Maya.

Visual development artists work in animation studios, film and video production studios, for game companies, web design companies, graphic design firms, advertising firms, and even mobile technology companies.

Schools to Consider:

Visual Development Artist Salaries

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, visual development artists might average around $43,170 per year on the low end. On the high end, they earn around $77,410 per year. Individual salaries vary by geographic location, type and size of company, industry (gaming, advertising, film), education, and experience.

Becoming a Visual Development Artist

Most animation studios and gaming companies prefer applicants with a degree and experience, especially for intermediate to upper level positions. Some of the most common degrees for this field are animation, fine art, illustration, painting, and visual arts and communications.

In addition to a degree in any of the fields listed above, employers require a minimum of 2 years’ experience for intermediate positions. For upper level positions, employers might require an advanced degree, plus 3-5 years’ professional experience in the industry. For entry-level positions, a degree plus experience through an internship or other support position is acceptable.

Job Trends for Visual Development Artists

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of artists in this field is expected to grow nine percent overall for the 2008-2018 decade. Visual development artists with advanced computer and software skills will continue to dominate the field as the use of images and backgrounds that are more detailed increases.