3D Artist Job Description
A 3D artist creates three-dimensional models, animations, and visual effects to be used in various creative projects such as films, video games, and digital advertising campaigns. This involves creating special effects to match specific briefs using a combination of hand-drawing techniques and computer software. Many 3D artists work in offices, but there is potential with some companies to work remotely. This is often a full-time role, but when deadlines are approaching, there may be a requirement to work late or on weekends. 3D artists are great communicators who are creative and artistic and comfortable collaborating with different teams.
3D Artist Duties and Responsibilities
The type of organization a 3D artist works for will determine the exact duties and tasks they carry out each day. Based on job listings we analyzed, a 3D artist’s duties typically involve:
Creating Graphics and Animations
A key part of working as a 3D artist is creating graphics, effects, or animations using computer programs and editing software. This includes working with a team of animators and other artists to work on movies, games, or visual effects.
Research Upcoming Projects
3D artists research upcoming projects to help find new ways to create designs or animations. This sometimes includes developing storyboards to map out how scenes will look.
In the initial stages of a project, 3D artists help conceptualize ideas and processes to come up with the best plan of action. This is especially the case if a 3D artist specializes in a particular area of 3D effects and their expertise is crucial to the project’s success.
Edit Effects After Feedback
3D artists receive feedback from directors, game designers, clients, or other animators, and edit animations or effects based on these comments or suggestions. Larger projects will often go through many iterations before the final design is approved.
Meet with Clients
Part of a 3D artist’s role is meeting with clients, designers, or directors to review projects and deadlines and agree on development timelines. These meetings may involve collaborating on design ideas and coming up with new suggestions for improving a project.
3D Artist Skills and Qualifications
3D artists should have an aptitude for art and creativity, be skilled in using different and emerging computer software, and be equally comfortable working independently as well as part of a larger team. Typically, employers will require a bachelor’s degree in art or computer graphics, a portfolio, and the following abilities:
- Artistic skills – 3D artists need a talent for art and a strong understanding of color, texture, and light, and how these elements work together
- Time management – when working on projects with tight deadlines, the ability to prioritize tasks is essential to a 3D artist’s job
- Computer skills – using computer software and editing programs is a key part of this role. 3D artists need strong computer skills and must stay on top of the latest technologies and techniques to remain an asset to employers
- Teamwork – 3D artists should have a collaborative personality and be able to work with other members of the team, such as designers or developers
- Creativity – a creative mindset is essential to being a successful 3D artist. This job requires brainstorming new ideas on a regular basis and strategizing ways to stand out from the competition
Tools of the Trade
3D artists often use these tools and should have a firm understanding of how to use them:
- Image editing software (Adobe Photoshop)
- Animation software (3D Max, Autodesk Maya)
3D Artist Education and Training
The minimum requirement to become a 3D artist is a bachelor’s degree in fine art, computer graphics, or a multimedia field, and some students might specialize in subjects such as game design or interactive media. A good portfolio and technical skills are also a must. Many people in this field hone their skills and enhance their portfolios through self-study. 3D artists need great artistic skills and must be fluent in the latest creative software and hardware (such as light boards).
3D Artist Salary and Outlook
The median annual salary for 3D artists is nearly $52,000. 3D artists in the 10th percentile earn around $35,000 annually, while the highest paid earn close to $86,000 a year. Depending on the company, bonus structures and profit-sharing opportunities may be available and could amount to as much as $10,000.
Experience and location have an impact on the pay available for this role, and some employers offer health benefits as part of the remuneration package. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that this sector will grow 8 percent through 2026.
We’ve collected some of the best resources to help you develop a successful career as a 3D artist:
Photoshop for 3D Artists – Photoshop remains a key tool for 3D artists, and here top professionals share their tips and techniques for working in the 3D industry, from initial concept stages to post-production
Anatomy for 3D Artists: The Essential Guide for CG Professionals – an essential guide for anyone working in the industry, this book is filled with everything an aspiring 3D artist needs to know to recreate the human body in 3D
3D Artist – a well-respected source of inspiration for any aspiring 3D artist and those already working in the industry, this site features industry coverage, guides, and a strong community of professionals
Blender Guru – here you’ll find a handy collection of tutorials, articles, and podcasts that highlight tips and tricks for using Blender software
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