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Aaron Aikman

Lead Technical Artist, Graphics

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Aaron Aikman is a Lead Technical Artist in graphics who focuses on shaders, performance, procedural art pipelines, and problem-solving.

Aaron has worked on AAA titles, indie games, cinematics, remasters, film, tv, and amusement park rides – often wearing the many hats of a tech art generalist. He now specializes in graphics – from shaders and rendering technology to profiling and optimization. In addition to making and maintaining core shaders for common PBR surfaces, he frequently works on more dynamic surfaces like water, snow, ice, clouds, fog, and lava. Aaron also prioritizes streamlining art pipelines, from content creation to in-engine iteration. He looks for opportunities to improve workflows by creating tooling for Maya, Houdini, Substance, and custom standalone applications. He regularly acts as a bridge between art and engineering – translating needs and goals to facilitate new engine features and improve performance.

As a lead, Aaron plays to team members' strengths, while also finding opportunities to broaden experience. He values team cohesion and growth. He’s forward-thinking, anticipating future problems while balancing rapid production schedules and team-wide troubleshooting. Above all, Aaron seeks to add quality and speed to the art his team makes, and clarity and confidence to the teams they support.


Blizzard Entertainment

  • Lead Technical Artist, Graphics (Oct 2022-Present)
  • Senior Technical Artist II (Sep 2021-Oct 2022)
  • Senior Technical Artist I (Sep 2018-Sep 2021)
  • Creating tools, shaders, and solutions for artists
  • Interfacing with artists and engineers to improve game features and performance
  • Empowering artists by providing graphics knowledge, tooling options, and general troubleshooting
  • Amplifying the work of my team and creating a supportive work environment with high growth potential
  • Anticipating future roadblocks and needs for my team and other disciplines
  • Driving initiatives and creating systems of support for content and engineering teams
ELVTR - Instructor (Dec 2023-Present)
  • Teaching an Introduction to Technical Art class
  • Covering Python, UI for tools, Unreal Engine 5, Nanite, Lumen, blueprints, shaders, VFX, rendering, game performance, building your portfolio, problem-solving, and more
The Mentor Coalition - Shader/Tech Art Mentor (Sep 2021-Present)
  • Mentoring current and prospective tech artists in shaders, rendering, problem-solving and more
Blind Squirrel Games - Senior Technical Artist (Oct 2017-Sep 2018)
  • Created shaders for characters, environments, and vfx
  • Made filters for Substance Painter to improve Character artist workflow
  • Rigged characters and props
  • Created character skill and ambient visual effects
  • Set up anim blueprints and in-engine rig solutions in Unreal Engine 4
  • Created post process materials for screen space effects
  • Profiled and improved performance
  • Developed tools for improved animation workflow
  • Provided troubleshooting support for art team and engine-specific knowledge for engineering
  • Wrote documentation for art pipelines
HALON Entertainment - Engine Technical Artist (Aug 2015-Sep 2017)
  • Established art pipeline for asset creation, shot assembly, lighting, effects and rendering in Unreal
  • Trained team on real-time engine workflow and best practices
  • Wrote extensive documentation for training and troubleshooting
  • Managed project structure and optimization as pertaining to Unreal
  • Created material inheritance system and templates for visual quality and efficiency
  • Developed tools in the engine to aid and expedite the creative process
  • Managed engine troubleshooting challenges across the company
  • Created visual effects including particles, clothing, and destruction for Previs and Postvis
  • Performed motion tracking of cameras and actors for Postvis
  • Integrated motion capture and animation for shot creation
  • Developed tools to aid, manage, and export animation as well as tools for file management
Flatter Than Earth - 3D and Technical Artist (Sep 2014-Jul 2015)
  • Established character and environment art pipeline
  • Created hero characters
  • Created props and modular environment kits
  • Managed scene assembly and worldbuilding
  • Authored VFX and shaders
  • Optimized assets and improved in-engine bottlenecks
  • Developed art tools and workflows to speed up production


Academy of Art University San Francisco, CA (2009-2013)
  • Major: Game Development
  • Degree: Bachelor of Fine Arts

Software Proficiency

Type Packages
3D Maya Icon Maya, Houdini Icon Houdini, Zbrush Icon ZBrush
Surfacing Substance 3D Designer Icon Substance 3D Designer, Substance 3D Painter Icon Substance 3D Painter
Engines Unreal Icon Unreal, Unity Icon Unity, Proprietary
Version Control Git Icon Git, Perforce Icon Perforce
Profiling PIX Icon PIX, RenderDoc Icon RenderDoc, Proprietary
Other Photoshop Icon Photoshop, Qt Designer Icon Qt Designer, Excel Icon Excel, Jenkins Icon Jenkins, Jira Icon Jira​


Type Skills
Art Modeling, Sculpting, Retopology, Unwrapping, Texturing, Lighting, VFX
Tech Shaders, Performance, Art/Animation Pipeline, Version Control, Job Distribution, Automation
Code Python, Qt, C#, HLSL, GLSL, Blueprint, Batch, AutoHotkey
Soft Communication, Coordination, Documentation, Training, Pathfinding


  • Implementing advanced shaders and rendering techniques
  • Paving the way for artists and directors through look development
  • Driving cross-team initiatives through planning and building lines of communication
  • Documenting and improving art processes
  • Evaluating low-level rendering and optimizing performance
  • Mentoring and promoting individual growth
  • Force multiplying through organizing production schedules and skill facilitation
  • Building and maintaining efficient art pipelines
  • Problem-solving and providing expert support for artists and engineers
  • Understanding advanced modeling, sculpting, texturing, lighting, and cinematic workflows
  • Understanding fundamental rigging, simulation, automation, animation, and VFX pipelines
  • Prioritizing development and gameplay experiences





Amusement Park Rides

Auxilliary Experience

Game Developers Conference [link] (2024)
Featured Academy of Art Game Development Story [link] (2021)
  • Spoke about career journey and the skills necessary to succeed
Guest Speaker for Loyola Marymount University Tech Art Class (2020)
  • Spoke to students about tech art as a career and valuable tools for the job
  • Spoke to students from Saddleback NEXT academy about industry opportunities and trends
  • Broke out into targeted session for teaching game industry technology and practices
  • Spoke to educators from across Orange County, CA about industry opportunities and trends
  • Broke out into targeted session for teaching game industry technology and practices
  • Spoke to educators from across Orange County, CA about industry opportunities and trends
  • Broke out into targeted session for teaching game industry technology and practices
  • Spoke about building a previs pipeline in Unreal Engine 4 on War for the Planet of the Apes
Academy of Art Spring Show Winner (2013)
  • First Place for 3D Character Art

Recommendation Highlights

While I sadly only worked with Aaron for a short time at Blizzard I was instantly struck by how talented and professional he was. Aaron would take all my wacky shader requests in stride and always create more than I had hoped for. Aaron is very easy to work with and brings a massive amount of knowledge to a project. Any team would be lucky to have him.

Jesse Brophy (Art Director at Frost Giant Studios)


Aaron was one of my main points of contact while working on Diablo IV. Aaron is so knowledgeable and was instrumental in teaching me several technical aspects of the engine as well as the shader workflows on the project. On top of that, Aaron was always open to helping and is an extremely nice person to work with.

Jason Johnston (VFX Director at Beyond-FX)


Aaron is one of the best people I ever worked with! Very easy to work with, especially on tech material and better workflow requests we artists always as for. Top notch on tech knowledge, performance knowledge and able to adapt/provide quality tech art for multiple departments. Aaron is always open for suggestions and brings up a can do attitude all the time, which is something a lot of us Artists always ask for on tech side. He is also an amazing guy to hang out with and a proven leader. With him, we we’re able to push the limits of Diablo 4’s quality bar and make our art process efficient and not complicated. I would also say, he makes workflows a lot easier for us, which is something big for most teams! Aaron you’re the best!

Genesis Prado (Lead/Principal Environment Artist and Material Artist)

Aaron is an extraordinary game developer. He is willing to tackle anything with enthusiasm and carries a “whatever it takes” attitude. I and the team was very fortunate to have him do tech art, shaders, and even VFX. He was thrown into the VFX realm and tackled it with both technical know how and with artful eyes. His timing for VFX animation was impeccable. He was able to author everything with the utmost efficiency, speed, and pleases the eye. Everything he touched was always delivered with perfection. A true craftsman.

Alan Lee (Environment Technical Art Director at Counterplay Games)


Aaron reached out to me looking for a new opportunity, and he exceeded my expectations when he joined the Technical Art team. He ramped up quickly on several projects, not only learning what he needed to complete his assigned tasks, but also going outside his comfort zone to contribute to other areas like VFX. His work not only showed technical prowess, but he has a good eye for art as well. He gained the trust of Art Directors and team members as a go-to artist when they needed to improve art tools, to create new pipeline processes, or to solve problems. He will be a great asset on any project lucky enough to have him on board. And the ultimate compliment, he is a colleague I hope to work with again.

Mike Popovich (Lead Technical Artist)


“Aaron stood out immediately among other candidates when he was hired at Halon. His technical knowledge and ability to find ways to make anything work was impressive, and even has the eye to make the work look good and polished. His desire to learn and grow was apparent to me when we briefly worked together on the same project - very easy to work with and trustworthy. I’d work with you again, Aaron, any place, any time!

Jason Choi (Technical Director, Game Engine Production at Frame Machine)


Aaron is one of the most talented and dedicated to his craft that have I ever worked with. We worked together at Flatter Than Earth, where Aaron lead the team of 3D and 2D artists and engineers. Aaron is a very passionate and knowledgeable specialist that can resolve any pipeline related and code related issues which is why another of his responsibilities was to design the art pipeline and write the explanatory documentation for programmers who would work on visual effects and create new shaders based on his designs. Aaron was also part of the design group and was responsible for designing and implementing new game mechanics from paper prototype to polished in-game experience. Over all, he worked very hard, over 12 hours a day and on weekends if needed. He knew his stuff so well that he would spend lots of time teaching the rest of the team on better ways of doing things. He would passionately show how and explain why it is necessary to do so. All I can say is that he is a great artist, teacher and technical lead and it was an honor to work with him.

Andry Fedorchuk (AR VR Lead Developer R&D at Innovation Group WellsFargo)


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Aaron Aikman is a Lead Technical Artist, Graphics with over a decade of experience. He focuses mainly on shaders, pipeline, and problem-solving.