Anthony at work, designing virtual worlds for gamers to enjoy © Anthony McKenzie

We all have our favourite video games, but have you ever wondered how the colourful creatures and otherworldly environments within them come to life? Anthony McKenzie is a Games Environment Artist, spending his time at work devising, designing and creating aspects of many different video and computer games, taking them from rough ideas to the real-life features in the games you see on shelves.

How does the process work? What kind of magical monsters does Anthony create? Let’s find out…

Describe your job in five words.

Innovative, fun, imaginative, diverse, rewarding!

What’s the coolest thing about your job?

The coolest thing is definitely crafting almost unimaginable worlds for players to experience, and then getting to see them interact with those worlds. Now that game-streaming has become popular, I can see how gamers are enjoying the worlds I’ve helped to create.

What kind of games do you work on?

I’ve had the opportunity to work on a diverse range of games, from a creative rollercoaster simulator to a dinosaur park management game!

Anthony with some of the worlds and creatures he has designed © Anthony McKenzie

What sort of things do you design?

I work on creating the details that fill up the worlds. This means digitally sculpting, building and painting the amazing designs from our concept artists that will make the fantasy worlds and landscapes of the games really come to life. One day is never the same as the last!

How did you become a Games Environment Artist?

As a kid I was constantly drawing out stories from my imagination and playing games. Eventually, being surrounded by computers, I went from paper and pens to owning my first digital drawing tablet! I started out designing 2D art, but I felt something was missing – I kept finding myself wanting to bring my flat designs to life, which led me to study and learn 3D design through an Animation Arts degree at university.

What was the most exciting game you’ve ever worked on?

Planet Coaster was great fun – coming into work to research theme parks from around the world, and then translate those iconic features into a stylised game world!

What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever designed?

The coolest thing I’ve ever created was an enormous, pirate-themed, animatronic creature! It was based on the mythical Kraken monster, with enormous tentacles and glowing eyes that could jump out at guests in the virtual theme park.

The Kraken-inspired monster – one of Anthony’s favourite creations © Anthony McKenzie

If you didn’t work in the industry you do, what other career path would you have chosen?

I couldn’t imagine not working in a creative field… Perhaps I would brush the dust off my old camera lens and pursue a career in travel photography. I could explore the world instead of making new virtual ones!

What advice would you give someone who dreams of getting a job like yours?

Practice different kinds of art as much as you can, even in small ways – the most valuable thing in game art is your observational skill, and how well you can integrate elements of the real world into games. Use any inspiration to start getting creative in 3D software packages – there are plenty available on all kinds of platforms these days!

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