Special Effects Artist








What is a Special Effects (FX) Artist?

Special Effects Artist is a person who works in the theatre, television and/or the movie industry. The can work for a FX company or work as a freelancer.

A Special Effects Artist is a very creative person who creates realistic scenes using a broad variety of mediums.  Some FX Artists specialise in a certain field like:

  • Make up
  • Mechanics
  • Moulding and plaster casts
  • Robotics
  • Trick camera work
  • Computer graphics

Movies that would definitely use FX would be:

  • Sci-fi
  • Monster
  • Fantasy
  • Animation etc

Other effects such as smoke, lightening, flying objects, snow, rain and fire are just a few more FX created by special effects artists.

What does a Special Effects Artist do?

  • meets with directors, producers and scriptwriters to discuss detailing and special effects required
  • researches the background to the production
  • sources materials
  • continually invents new and creative special FX
  • constructs the required items: through materials, moulds, mechanics etc
  • paints in detail so it all looks extremely realistic
  • works as part of a team to make the whole project come together
  • works the mechanics if necessary when shooting

Are you … ?

  • passionate about the movies?
  • extremely creative?
  • good with your hands?
  • practical?
  • inventive?
  • an out-the-box thinker?
  • willing to work unusual and long hours?
  • mechanically minded?
  • detail orientated?
  • deadline driven?

How do I become a Special Effects Artist?

As there are no formal courses in special effects in South Africa, you could start early by getting involved in the drama department/club at your school or in your community.  There is a lot to learn and the more skills you can gather while volunteering at your school or local dramatic society, the better. 

It will also assist you in your studies at a later date if you are seriously considering a job as a Special Effects Artist.

A good Special Effects Artist has a sound knowledge of various art forms, building and making things. An understanding of design and construction would be extremely beneficial.

Many Special Effect Artists start by getting on-the-job training or supplementing their skill set by doing a related design course at college or university.


  • CLICK HERE to check for a training institution near you to see what they offer.
  • Make sure you understand their entry requirements for each course.
  • To avoid scams, make sure your institution is registered with the Department of Higher Education. 
  • CLICK HERE to check accredited Private Higher Education Institutions. 


For some short courses:



OTHER CAREERS TO CONSIDER:  Fine Artist … or … Set Designer

Is becoming a Special Effects Artist the right career choice for me?