What does an artist REALLY need to know to be competent for being a real-time shader and lighter TD, especially for next gen hardware in game development?
There is SO much info out there that it's overwhelming. I have almost no background in scripting or programming (currently I've been an environmental artist for 6 years who knows Maya and Max) but am very interested in learning and diving into this field. I tooled around with RenderMonkey which was very intuitive and gave me a glimse of some of the cool features and what shaders can do and have the requisite beginner books on C++, etc.. The thing is that I feel that maybe I'm getting too much in the programming area which overlaps most graphics prgrammmers and maybe I'm missing the forest for the trees and there is a simpler way.
Do I really need to be a competent graphics programmer and 3d app scripter to get into a job position such as Shader/Lighter or could I just learn/use some graphics tools for shaders that are already out there such as the plug-in for Photoshop for normal mapping or RenderMonkey etc and focus more on the art and lighting side of things?
Any info or direction would be greatly appreciated.