Becoming a 3D artist is an exciting and fulfilling decision for anyone looking to start their career, looking to add an important skill to their CV or just seeking a career change. It's a profession that's becoming ever more popular and it's an amazing skill to have within today's job market. The best part about it is, everyone can learn to be a 3D artist and the career choice offers a wealth of benefits too.
So, what are the benefits of choosing to be a 3D artist?
As long as you have the right equipment, 3D artistry can be done from the comfort of your own home and the time scales for the work you do can be wholly set by you. This means that you can work your projects around your hobbies and family so you're sure to get an excellent work-life balance.
3D art is used in a number of different areas (which we'll discuss later) so you can choose which area you'd like to specialise in. You could even pick a few to keep your workload a little more interesting. The bottom line is, you have the key to accept any type of work that you like, especially if you go freelance. If you get a little tired of doing the same kinds of projects, then you can just switch it up.
The beauty of it is, though, that each and every job that you do will be different, even if it's within the same industry. No client will ever need 3D art that's the same as another client, so you're constantly getting new and exciting things through your door.
· Job Satisfaction
Becoming a 3D artist is bound to give you all the job satisfaction that you're craving. You get the joy of being creative and seeing just how powerful your work can be. The great thing is, the more people use your work, the more people see it and that creates advertising without you having to lift a finger.
Which Industries Could You Go in to?
3D art is used in many industries – some which you might not even have through of. Here are just a few of the avenues that you could take when you're deciding on your 3D art niche.
· Marketing & Manufacturing
Every product that any business ever makes needs to be properly planned out first. Before shelling out on prototypes, each business needs to ensure that everything they're using is fit for purpose and works the way they need it to.
3D designs will need to be created for packaging, advertisements and testing products before the real things are created. The possibilities are endless in marketing work, as each and every project will be different.
3D computer graphic design is a massive industry as games are gradually becoming more realistic. The characters, the backdrops, and the way everything interacts with each other requires intricate planning to ensure the game sells to the ever-demanding gamers out there.
It's a great niche to go into if you have a love of fantasy or sci-fi, as you can really get creative with the world and make it your own. Plus, the gaming industry pays quite highly too.
· Architecture & Interior Design
Before building houses or office blocks, every building business needs to plan out the design, how much it's going to cost and how each piece of brickwork fits together to make it safe.
3D art can help an architect to understand the layout of the building, ensure each section works together and is measured correctly before the builder even lays their hands on the bricks.
You can even help with landscaping the gardens around a planned build by providing aerial views.
If you want to get a little more creative you could branch out into more quirky buildings, such as theatres, or themed shops.
Once the actual building has been built, you could use your 3D design skills to help model the interior too. If the building has a theme or requires some planning before adding a splash of paint, then you can get your design juices flowing by creating 3D mockups of how the room could be designed. This works particularly well in the hospitality industry.
Alternatively, if you're looking for a smaller, closer to home market, then you could work alongside real estate agents, who might need 3D representations of the homes that they're wanting to sell to market online.
Entertainment is possibly the largest industry that requires 3D design. The film industry needs designs to be created to map out every single shot and character before they even get in front of the camera.
Sometimes, for detailed costume design or mythical creatures, a 3D design will need to be made to create masks or prosthetics.
Scenes with lots of people in may also need to be designed using 3D digital programming. This allows for battle scenes to look realistic or crowds of people without the need to hire 100s of extras.
The use of 3D technology such as CGI (computer-generated imagery) is also becoming more and more popular to replicate action scenes. Effects such as explosions or fires can be developed to look real without the safety risks involved in using the real thing.
As technology in these areas advances, there's more and more scope to use 3D art within the entertainment industry.
It's not just the entertainment sector that requires 3D art to entertain the audience. 3D design is used to create all kinds of printed media too. If you flick through a magazine, an illustrated book, or even a school textbook, you'll be amazed at the amount of imagery in there that's been created using a 3D design application.
Lots of images in textbooks or story books look completely real, as though they're from a photograph, but actually, some of these images will have been created using 3D design technology and the subject of the image won't really exist at all.
Science and technology are incredibly closely related. In fact, the most up to date scientific discoveries couldn't have been made without the use of 3D technology.
Scientists can use 3D art to create functioning models and simulations that reflect actual natural phenomena such as volcanoes or avalanches without the danger involved in investigating the real thing.
Lots of science teaching now also requires 3D constructions using CAD software to demonstrate specific reactions and bodily functions too, without having to use a real person.
CAD software modelling is heavily used within dentistry and reconstructive surgery to ensure that bone structure and crown creation fits perfectly for each individual.
As with the entertainment industry, 3D art can also be used to plan out prosthetics. These can be uniquely designed to match each individual, making them almost unnoticeable and ensuring the confidence of the user.
If you're looking for a little bit of a niche within the healthcare area, children's prosthetics is a developing trend. Children who need protheses might want theirs to look like their favourite superhero.
What Does it Take to Become a 3D Artist?
Once you've decided which particular area of 3D artistry you'd like to go into, you'll need to consider the type of 3D art that you need to learn to fully benefit from that niche. There's nothing to stop you branching out into a couple of areas once you get into the swing of things, but it's best to focus on one and grow later. Some of the fields do overlap too, so choose wisely and you could be up and running across a couple of areas faster than you think.
You could look into:
Concept Art – Can work well with a lot of the industries. The entertainment and gaming areas require concept art to understand their scenes and characters prior to sitting down to film. Concept art could also be used in interior design to understand the layout and measurements of a larger scale project.
Animation – Would work well if you're looking to go into the entertainment or gaming fields.
Graphic Design – Is a good all-rounder that works well for interior design, publishing and even marketing if you want to design billboards or packaging.
Visual Effects – Works for the gaming and entertainment industry if you're looking to design large scale CGI and realistic visuals for films.
Architectural Visualisation – Is the obvious choice for building designs, or even landscaping gardening.
Modelling – Healthcare and science are number one niches when it comes to 3D modelling. You'll need to be able to create prosthetics and design realistic models of the human body to allow for teaching demonstrations and experimentation.
You could also use a combination of visual effects and modelling to create elaborate make up and protheses within the filming industry for the fantasy or horror genres.
Printing – 3D printing can be invaluable to a business, and it'd work as a great skill alongside graphic design to help companies build prototypes. You could be a graphic designer for their advertising, then actually print their initial designs into a 3D working model.
Which 3D Artist Role Earns the Most Money?
The amount of money you earn is completely down to how you market yourself and which industry you choose to specialise in.
There are areas which naturally pay a lot more, just because the industries earn more. For example, the gaming and film industry will pay a higher price just because their end product is likely to earn much more than products that result from other areas. However, this type of 3D art may take you a little longer to perfect to get those high paid projects rolling in.
There's a lot of competition in this market too, so yes, you can charge a higher price tag, however, you're less likely to have constant projects coming through.
The architectural industry is also a high-ticket area if you go for the larger hotel or hospitality areas, and they might be slightly more frequent.
If you're a freelancer, wanting to make your own way and a steady income at first until you get some experience, it's a good idea to start within the marketing and manufacturing industries. There's no shortage of businesses that need to print and sell new products and once you get on a business' books, they'll probably come to you with repeat projects. Sure, these projects might pay a little less depending on the size of the business. However, you'll get a steady stream of work through that will allow you to build up your portfolio.
So, if you're a creative looking for a new career, it's clear that becoming a 3D artist is an excellent choice. It offers flexibility, job satisfaction and you can earn a fair bit too. It's definitely worth taking the leap!