How To Become a 3D Modeling Artist in 2023
A 3D Modeling Artist is a relatively new profession, but it is still popular. Not everyone understands what kind of specialty it is and what kind of work needs to be done.
Other profession titles are 3D modeller, 3D modeller, 3D modeling specialist, 3dasher. In any case, the profession always sounds quite solid, and even mysterious for many, since not everyone knows what exactly a 3D modeler does.
Below we will consider what it takes to become a 3D modeler, what are the pros and cons of the profession, how long to study, what skills are needed and whether it is possible to make a career.
Who is a 3D Modeling Artist?
A 3D Modeling Artist is a specialist who can build three-dimensional models based on various objects and characters (fictional or real), knows how to work with textures, work out every detail to make the model as realistic as possible (has the necessary bends, bulges, roughness).
In other words, a 3D Modeling Artist creates a three-dimensional model in virtual space. It should be as similar as possible to the real one, even if in reality this object cannot exist. The model is usually created from a sketch - a two-dimensional blank on a regular sheet of paper. It is prepared by the modeler himself or by the customer of the project.
The better and more realistic the model is, the more qualified the specialist who created it is. However, creating complex and realistic objects in 3D modeling programs is not an easy task, it requires certain skills that can only be obtained with experience.
Pros and Cons of Being a 3D Modeling Artist
We can highlight the following advantages of the specialty:
- Perspective. the 3D modeling industry is just beginning to develop; over time, new companies will appear that will require specialists in 3D design. Possibility of good earnings. With due diligence, you can make this work the main one. Already today a 3D Modeling Artist can make good money, and if there are offers from abroad, the income will be much higher. Orders abroad can be found independently.
- The possibility of learning online, including free lessons that are available on the Internet. It takes several months to get the basic skills with which you can start fulfilling the first orders.
- Ability to work remotely and create a convenient work schedule. Usually a 3D modeler doesn't need to drive to the office every day.
- The ability to combine business with pleasure, for example, if you are interested in video games or you are fond of animation.
Disadvantages of the profession of a 3D Modeling Artist
To become an experienced specialist, you need to take more than one course and gain a lot of experience. You can stay in the rank of beginner for several years, and the income will not be too large.
- Monotony in work. Often 3D designers spend several days at the computer just to draw one texture. The job requires care and patience.
- The need to use paid programs, which can be very repulsive for a beginner who doesn't get much for his first projects anyway.
What do you need to know and be able to do?
A person who chooses this profession must have a developed sense of three-dimensional space. Also, the profession is suitable for those who:
- Able to draw and draw at least at an amateur level, has a craving to develop in this direction;
- Possesses a good imagination, as it is often necessary to come up with both individual elements and models (for example, characters) as a whole;
- Has not only creative abilities, but also has aspirations in the technical direction, for example. Able to work with new software, quickly learns new tools;
- Do not mind spending most of the working day at the computer;
- Has such personal qualities as patience, diligence, perseverance.
Here is an example of one of the vacancies in which the employer indicates the necessary requirements:
- Artistic look, sense of style and composition;
- Attentiveness when working on complex tasks, where you need to take into account many details;
- Teamwork skills;
- Ability to work on strict deadlines;
- Ability to optimize and adjust rendering, work with color and light;
- Good understanding of modeling and sculpting in Maya ZBrush;
- Experience in working with Physically Based Shading, including objects in Substance Painter / Designer.
There can be quite a lot of requirements, which is why it is so difficult to find a job for a beginner, since it takes time to master many programs and techniques.
Key requirements for modelers of three-dimensional objects that even a beginner needs to meet:
- Ability to search for references;
- Knowledge of the basics of PBR-texturing;
- Skills in editing object textures;
- Ability to work in Photoshop to correct maps;
- Knowledge of the basics of rendering;
- Skills of working with color and texture;
- Ability to import objects.
You can get basic skills in special courses. The main thing is to choose the right course. For example, if you want to work in the gaming industry, it is better to choose not a general 3D modeling course, but a program designed specifically for games.
List of 3D Modeling Artist programs
For a beginner in 3D modeling, one of two options is suitable as the main program for completing the first orders:
- Autodesk 3D Max - a program for modeling and visualization of objects;
- Blender 3D is a tool for creating three-dimensional models, preparing animated videos and rendering textures.
However, even at first, you may need to use additional tools, and an experienced modeler needs a dozen different programs, especially if he is a universal specialist, and not a highly specialized one (who draws only on certain topics, for example, equipment or monsters).
Other popular software:
- Autocad - a program for designing two-dimensional and three-dimensional objects;
- CorelDRAW - graphics editor for designing and modeling objects;
- Adobe Photoshop - editor for raster graphics;
- Substance Painter - a tool for texturing three-dimensional objects;
- Autodesk Maya - 3D graphics editor for rendering effects for movies and video games, rendering and texturing objects;
- Houdini - a program for creating three-dimensional animation;
- zBrush - a tool for creating animated objects and modeling for movies and video games;
- Adobe Illustrator - graphic tools, designed to work with vector graphics.
These are only the most popular programs, but an experienced 3D modeler knows much more specialized software. It is not always necessary to know all the programs, but in order to choose the tools that are more suitable for you, you will need to go through quite a lot of products.
Where to study to become a 3D Modeling Artist?
The profession combines skills from various industries, and universities do not teach such a subject as 3D modeling separately. But perhaps you have a related specialty if you studied at the art department, at the department of design and computer graphics, at the engineering or technical departments.
The best option to learn the basics of 3D modeling is to go to face-to-face or online courses. They are paid, but there in a few months you will receive basic knowledge and skills, and understand in which direction to move in order to improve the acquired skills. Today there are quite a few schools and courses in 3D modeling. It is more convenient to study online, but there are classes offline.
Another way to gain the necessary knowledge from scratch is self-study. The advantage of the method is that you can learn the basic principles of 3D modeling for free. Although, in fact, some training videos or courses can still be paid. Plus, specialized books on 3D modeling are available today, both online and in bookstores.
You can also study on thematic sites, YouTube channels, useful information on social networks, etc. The minus of an independent approach is that it will take a lot of time to learn, moreover, you will not always know exactly what knowledge you need more, and what - less. Roughly speaking, at first you will “absorb” all the available information, and perhaps some of it will turn out to be superfluous.
How long does it take to learn the profession?
Studying in courses and online schools usually takes several months. Self-study takes more time. In 2-3 months, you can get basic skills that will allow you to find the first, most simple, orders. By completing them, you will gain the necessary experience, gain additional knowledge and be able to start creating a personal portfolio, which makes it much easier to find a good client.
Where to look for a job as a 3D Modeling Artist?
3D modeling specialists are required in companies that develop computer games, belong to the field of cinematography, create animation, advertising, interior design, architectural forms of buildings, etc.
To find a job, there are several options:
- To choose a suitable outsourcing studio and work with it remotely (freelancing) or get a job in an office. The advantage of this method is that the modeler does not need to look for customers on his own, the studio itself offers projects from them. Therefore, an outsourcing company is the best option for beginners. By working in this way, you can gain the necessary experience and prepare a portfolio. Plus, there will be a stable, although not always large, income.
- To search for customers yourself. You can work directly with clients, however, in order for them to trust you with their projects, you need to have a good portfolio. This option is suitable for more experienced 3D modelers who already have the necessary skills, are confident in their abilities, and want to find higher paying jobs.
- To find jobs through job boards. Some companies recruit 3-dashers even without experience. This is a good option for a beginner, but of course, the salary will not be too high. But it's good enough to get the experience you need. True, finding such a job through special sites is not always easy. If a company leaves a vacancy, the competition will be high. If you place an ad yourself, it is not a fact that someone will respond to it.
- To sell 3D models on marketplaces. There are specialized sites where you can display the created 3D models. However, such resources are available only to experienced professionals. There is high competition on marketplaces, but there is an opportunity for good earnings. Creative specialists earn from 5 thousand dollars a month. Plus, here you can be invited to a full-fledged project or offered to completely switch to working with one company.
Important: it is quite possible for a novice 3D modeler to find a job. The fact is that the customer may have a simple task. And the services of experienced professionals have a high cost. Therefore, it is much more profitable to contact a person with little experience, who has loyal prices.
3D Modeling Artist working hours
Usually, employers require specialists in the office for the whole day with the possibility of occasional work remotely. On average, the figures are:
- full day - 85%;
- remotely – 9%;
- flexible schedule - 6%.
However, if you have always wanted to work remotely, and at the same time want to earn good money, there is such an opportunity. The main thing is to be a good specialist, constantly grow and develop in the profession. Then the customers themselves will offer profitable projects for you.
How much does a beginner and experienced specialist earn?
Income primarily depends on the qualifications of the specialist, as in any other industry. A specialist who works for a company earns 1000-1500$ and more.
On average, a novice 3D modeling specialist earns 300-500$, an experienced one - 2000-3000$. However, salaries vary by country. The best salaries are in the gaming industry. You can also make good money in the film and animation industry.
Preparing a portfolio is an important step towards getting a better paying job. It is not necessary to place in it all completed projects in a row, but only the best of them. And it is desirable that the models are not of the same type, but belong to different industries, for example, the gaming industry, architectural design, etc. This will show that you are a versatile specialist who is capable of performing various tasks.
Although if you decide to focus on a narrow area, such as the creation of monsters, the presence of architectural forms in the portfolio will be superfluous. However, even in this case, you need to choose more diverse models for the portfolio, in terms of complexity, volume, etc.
Is it possible to make a career?
The profession of a 3D Modeling Artist is becoming more and more in demand. However, already today there is a rather high competition, higher than that of other specialists who create visual effects. The reason is that it is 3D modeling that attracts many, and the demand for a specialty on the market is still less than the supply.
However, there are more and more areas where 3D modeling is used, and there is room for development in the industry. And in general, the profession is very promising, so it is quite possible to make a career in it. We can distinguish the following steps on the career ladder of a 3D modeler:
- a trainee who has completed only basic training or is just studying;
- junior modeler - a specialist who already has little experience;
- modeler (mid-modeler) - middle-level modeler, which is the majority.
and more serious steps:
- senior modeler;
- lead modeler;
- head of department.
It is easier to make a career in a company rather than working through an outsource studio or searching for projects yourself. Responsibilities change as you move up the career ladder. For example, a lead modeler would mainly check the work of other 3D modellers or write assignments for them.
By understanding how to become a 3D Modeling Artist, you can evaluate if the profession is right for you. If you think you can succeed in this specialty, go for it. For starters, you can take courses. This can be done even if you have another permanent job. However, then the profession usually becomes the main one, since it is quite difficult to partially immerse yourself in it (projects may require strong immersion).