Need some advice as a beginner shader artist

Hey guys,

Apologies if this has been discussed before, but I have a couple of questions about starting out as a tech artist.

I’ve recently started my tech art journey and am specializing in shaders. There’s a lot for me to still study. I’m currently working on learning HLSL with Unity. I don’t know at what point I could consider myself “industry ready”. It’s hard to gauge how much I need to learn before I even think about applying for jobs. What are some key skills that studios mainly look for when hiring a shader artist? Is it feasible to enter the industry with only shader knowledge? I know I will never stop learning as I grow into the industry, but at what point do I take the dive and begin applying to jobs?

Looking at other’s portfolios has been helpful but they all vary alot. There probably isn’t a cookie cutter way of making a portfolio, though what are some good strategies of showcasing my work? Is a demo reel optimal? Or does providing a brief summary of how the shader works alongside a gif good for a beginner to demonstrate an understanding of it?

I appreciate any advice, and thank you for your patience.


I would say the following is important (in no particular order):
Understanding artist workflow
Understanding related math (lots of vector math)
Understanding how to combine different data and math to achieve a specific look
Understanding the limitations and costs of operations

Get a job, any related job, as soon as you can. You learn the most on the job!

Good luck!

Honestly you really do just keep learning when you enter the industry. If you have a good studio you’ll be able to grow with them, and there won’t be a right time to enter the industry.

For now if you have any 3D Art friends that you want to work with, making collab projects to make really nice looking Portfolio pieces or projects would be a great step towards the industry. I know it can be overwhelming when you can make almost anything, but don’t have any of it to show off yet.

*** For showing off your work (I know it’s not easy), but showing off your process, and having a gif or even showing off shaders on different kinds of objects is a great way to go. If you have a personal website, or just put your materials on Artstation. I’m not sure if people use art reels for Shaders, but that seems like a personal choice, or something you’d need if you’re sending your work to a big studio and they specifically ask for one.