4 Essential Steps to Getting a Professional Job in VFXJan 18, 2023
Dreaming of working as an VFX artist? Hundreds of aspiring FX artists have the same dream, so work on learning and elevating your skills to land a job.
We’d like to offer this simple challenge. If you’ve never worked in the games industry and you’re looking to get your first job, these are four steps to get there!
We want to help get you job-ready and into a studio making VFX professionally. No matter your creative background, this challenge and process will get you there. A year is plenty of time if you’re ready to commit!
1. Master VFX Foundations (Months 1-3)
Falling in love with the concept of FX is important. You won’t be making big ambitious projects. For the first month, take some time to get familiar with color, shape design, timing, the physics of an effect - basically just study the actual FX and why they are appealing to you. What makes them beautiful? What makes them work, in your opinion?
For the second and third month, you’re going to start using the tools, tinkering with how to paint digitally, how to use a game engine and animate your particles. This won’t actually be working on your portfolio, that comes later!
- VFX Apprentice Free Training Course
- 5 Must-Know Artistic Principles of Video Game Visual FX
- What Tools Do You Need to Create Video Game VFX?
- What is the Best Animation Software to Create 2D FX?
- How to Use Adobe Photoshop to Create Video Game Visual FX
- Getting Starting with Visual FX in Unreal Engine
2. Practice Your Effects (Months 4-6)
Again, we aren't worried about making effects for your portfolio yet. This is all about learning and perfecting individual pieces within these effects. Most importantly, month four is meant for finding a mentor. This will help you find the topics and subjects you’re interested in within the world of VFX. This phase is about recognizing where you’ve been and where you want to go.
Each month, try to make one effect. That’s right, one! These effects should challenge you and stretch your creative capability in a way that builds towards that central goal. You can follow along with another artist that has done that effect before. So make the effect, then make small adjustments as you go.
- How to Draw Stylized Fire and Flames
- 5 Pro Tips on Drawing Stylized Water and Liquid FX
- Browse Artstation
- VFX Apprentice All Access
3. Target a Specific Studio or Game (Month 7-9)
This might be the most important aspect of this whole challenge. Find a studio or game that you actually enjoy the visuals from. This game is one that you could only dream to work on. No matter the scale, whether it be World of Warcraft, League of Legends, God of War, Horizon Forbidden West, Overwatch, try to mimic the effects from within these games. Now try to make three effects, so three months. If you can have three solid effects in your reel, along with some of the experiments from the other months that show your growth, most studios will love this.
That mentor that you’re going to have will talk you through all the specifics for what it takes to get into a particular studio. Ideally you’d be plugged into a good network of professionals that can put you in touch with the right individual who works on the right team that you want to work on. You’ll be amazed at how friendly everyone is in the industry! Generally speaking it never hurts to reach out and find that mentor or just generally ask if anyone can help you on your journey.
- 10 Design Tips from the League of Legends VFX Style Guide
- 2D FX Artist on Netflix's Arcane
- Working on Fortnite for Epic Games
- Working on Overwatch 2
4. Apply for Jobs (Month 10-12)
By the end of month 9, you should have a decent portfolio with around 3 effects that show promise and are coming together in a good way. Your last 3 months of the year are going to be about application. The application process itself can be very long. When you apply to a studio, they’re going to have a call with you and it's going to be scary, that’s okay! This call will be pretty standard as far as job interviews go. They just want to know if it will be a good culture fit for the studio and that generally speaking everyone is on the same page.
If that goes well, they’ll move you on to the test - assuming your portfolio was good in the first place. That test will take you another couple of weeks (remember I said this was a long process?) to complete. If you’re applying at multiple studios, add a few months to the timeline. This doesn’t happen right away, even if you have an amazing portfolio, just remember that.
Oftentimes artists will ask if their past experience with colleges and other jobs matters, yes to a certain extent, but for the most part this is only about your portfolio, the portfolio is king! So, a lot of times you’ll have a work-in-progress, (and remember they are testing what it's like to work with you) and you’ll go to the studio and say “What is your feedback for me?”. Sometimes they’ll want to just see how you do with the whole thing and won’t require this step, it's really more of a case by case basis.
- 5 Ways to Make Your Visual FX Portfolio Stand Out From Others
- YouTube Got Her Started, VFX Apprentice Helped Her Get an FX Job
- VFX Apprentice Discord Community
So, that’s your year! This is all assuming you devote yourself full time to this career. No matter where you are in life, whether you’re currently in school or working a different job entirely, at the end of the day, portfolio is king! Hopefully this helps! We’d love to hear your own journey with learning VFX! We can’t wait to hear how you do with this one year challenge. Good luck!
Download The Monthly Plan
Want to take a deep dive into these topics? A VFX All Access membership will grant you access to every course we offer for 2D, 3D, and real-time VFX.
Start Your VFX Apprenticeship
Discover cutting-edge 2D, 3D, and Real-time FX training for games and animation.