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Difference between Environment and Prop Artists?

polycounter lvl 11
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aajohnny polycounter lvl 11

Is there really a difference between Environment Artists and Prop Artists? There are many people that say Environment Art include props, but others seperate it as making scenes or more organics.

I myself make props seperate more then anything else... does that make me a Prop Artist? or am I included as an Environment Artist?


  • Mark Dygert
    It really depends on the studio.

    In some places environment artists just take the pieces and stitch them into usable levels, creating lighting, proper pacing and spacing, terrain, placing triggers and basically using the level editors to make things playable.

    In some places environment artists do it all, create props and stitch levels.

    In some places environment artists only create props and layout artists, set dressers or level designers take care of placing things.

    Often its all lumped under one umbrella, "environment art" and there are several sub-branches that can have different names and meanings based on the company. That's why with every job posting there is a description and with every resume there is a "job duties entailed" section.

    I haven't bothered to look around at job postings in 4-5 years but it might be a good idea to look over the titles and descriptions and get a general sense, I could be a dinosaur and just filtering things through my narrow perspective.
  • Shogun3d
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    Shogun3d polycounter lvl 12
    No, Mark I think you've pretty much nailed it. We have a team of Env artists but i'm split for example into a modeling team that is dedicated to key assets, collision/physics, outsourced assets, etc working directly with asset components vs the Env Team that handles the level pushing.
  • aajohnny
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    aajohnny polycounter lvl 11
    So i'd apply as an Environment Artist and probably be placed with just the modelers?
  • Ghostscape
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    Ghostscape polycounter lvl 13
    At my company we've got Terrain Artists, Structure Artists, and Prop Artists.

    We make open world and third person shooter games.

    Terrain Artists are responsible for the terrain sculpting, rocks, texturing, etc. Anything natural, more or less.

    Structure Artists build actual buildings, things you can go inside, etc.

    Prop artists build all the little tchotkes that populate the world, signs, lampposts, tables and chairs, etc.

    We have several weapon artists that have been called prop artists in the past, but we don't really do much stuff that is environmental.
  • Shogun3d
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    Shogun3d polycounter lvl 12
    Depends on what they really need. But yes its safe to apply as an Environment Artist unless they have a specific job opening for "Prop Artist" in which you would want to apply for that if you want to do props.
  • [HP]
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    [HP] polycounter lvl 13
    Nah Vig, you nailed it.

    It does vary from company to company for sure, but you covered almost all possibilities.
    Some companies even have "set dressers" and "texture artists" position, it really depends on the game your making, and the company needs.

    If what you enjoy doing is just go through a list of "to-do props" and nail one after another without no consideration for where are they're gonna be put in the levels, you just wanna make them look good as a solo prop, then that's it.
    Environment Artists care more about overall composition of the scene, and how it looks as a whole. (Generally speaking)
  • Justin Meisse
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    Justin Meisse polycounter lvl 17
    In MMOs I've seen some standardization

    World Builders: the people who work in the editor sculpting terrain, painting down terrain textures, placing assets, lighting the world, etc...

    Environment artist: build all the world assets - trees, castles, terrain textures, props
  • JacqueChoi
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    JacqueChoi polycounter

    I work for a company with that still has the title 3D Artist.
    And theoretically everyone does everything.

    Thankfully though, within most teams, there is a divide between Characters and Environments.
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