Things you should know before becoming the 3D Artist

Story in By Magdalena Szydło, Posted 9 sierpnia, 2022

What you should know before becoming a 3D artist?

In this text, we will describe a couple of important aspects of the 3D artist job: the tasks, required skills, software, places where 3D artists can find job, and how they can survive in this business. We will mention both the advantages and drawbacks of this job. In the end, we will share a couple of thoughts on what the 3D artists’ job will be in the future.

Who is a 3D artist?

Let’s start with the definition of a 3D artist and what’s the scope of this job. The 3D Artist produces the graphics, effects, or animations using specific software for 3D visualizations, rendering, modeling, or animation. 3D artists can find a job in the gaming industry, architectural industry, IT, in engineering, where the 2D blueprints are not enough. Speaking of 2D, there are also the 2D Artists positions in some companies, so what is the difference between them? If we put it into the 3D architectural visualization studio’s reality, the 3D artist does the modeling and rendering, whereas the 2D artist is able to do the post-production, so the last stage of a 3D visualization production process consists of editing the image showing the complete visualization. As we’ve mentioned above, the 3D artist can find a job in many industries, but we will essentially concentrate on the architectural visualization industry. What skills do the 3D artists need?

Is graduating from a particular field of study mandatory to learn 3D graphics or to get a 3D artist job? Not necessarily. Speaking of education, there are particular faculties of Graphic Design, however, this is not the only option. There are fields of study, not necessarily related to fine arts, in which graphic design is one of the subjects. Here we could mention Architecture, City Planning, or Landscape Architecture.

Nowadays, graduation is not always required by the employer, because the skills or portfolio are more important here. Usually, the recruitment process starts with the portfolio review (it’s usually required together with the resume). During the interview, the soft skills of the candidate are reviewed. Another way to check a candidate’s skills is to produce a test project.

What if someone is about to start as a 3D artist and doesn’t have any experience yet? Then the portfolio even if it consists only of the random projects produced at home would be sufficient for recruitment purposes. The portfolio can be located on a separate website (for example using a WordPress domain) or a Behance, Squarespace. There are a lot of architectural forums that enable the addition of projects with descriptions and multiple pictures. We are for example present on CGSociety, CGArchitect, Artstation and Behance. Make sure to be present on social media as well – on Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest. People often ask if they would be able to learn the 3D graphics skills on their own, just with the tutorials available online, without taking classes. In fact, the tutorials can be easily found on the internet. There are also online classes available. Is it sufficient to start? Yes, the practice is very important at the beginning, however, it’s good to gain professional experience to be able to realize different and more complex projects.

But apart from the education and software, what are other qualities the promising 3D artist should have? As this job requires producing images based on the plans delivered by the client, analytical skills are very important. Because the 3D visualizations need to be photorealistic, the photography knowledge (about light, and shadow) is also a big plus. Regarding soft skills, patience is nice to have as the software is troublesome.

Which software do the 3D artists use?

In the previous post, we mentioned the software we use for 3D visualization at Viscato: 3ds Max, Corona, and Photoshop. But which software is the best to start with?

Blender is very often mentioned when it comes to software for beginners. This is an open-source 3D software that seems to be right for those who are just starting with 3D visualization or for freelancers. The weak point of Blender is the limited cooperativeness with CAD software, so it may be troublesome when collaborating with clients. Another basic software is SketchUp – it’s compatible, relatively cheap, and has the assets included. Regarding 3Ds Max, this software is a lot more complicated and has numerous options included. It may take a few years to achieve proficiency in 3ds Max and the best way to learn it, it’s just daily work. The more projects, the more experiences with this software one has. It may be possible to learn some basic functionalities using YouTube, but frankly speaking, it won’t replace the working experience. In the case of Blender or SketchUp, it’s possible to learn the software just based on available tutorials.

Regarding the equipment, it’s important to mention that the laptop may not manage the very long rendering process. The computer should be equipped with a high-quality graphics card, RAM, and multicore processor. Company or freelance: what is better for 3D artists?

3D Artist is an independent profession, so it is possible to work on contracts, run your own business activity, or be hired by a company. The choice depends on one’s preferences. 3D artists, while looking for a job, pay much attention to finding the place they would make interesting projects, using new solutions, because that brings them many possibilities for the future. Their ambition is not only to have stable work but to gain important experience.

Freelance work means more freedom and more independence. The freelancers have a chance to choose only the projects which aesthetics and style they like, but it can be a trap. Producing “a particular type of interior or exterior only” makes the portfolio less interesting and less competitive. This may attract fewer clients in the future.

Working for a company may not be comfortable for everyone, but seems to have many advantages. First, this is more stable. Bigger companies don’t struggle to survive, as they are able to run many projects simultaneously. Doing multiple projects, though in most cases this is all about giving what clients want, is a great chance to gain experience quickly. Companies usually offer complex services, so the employees are trained to be able to deliver them. Working with others in the team makes the knowledge spread easier and faster. Last, but not least, in a 3D agency, there are team members responsible for administration, accounting, customer service, and sales, so the 3D artists are not distracted by those tasks. They can just focus on producing the visualizations!Is the competition big between 3D artists?

Another thing worth considering while choosing to work as a freelancer or not is the competition on the market.

Technology became accessible to everyone, so the number of companies offering 3D services has increased. As mentioned above, everyone is able to start their own studio and offer services to clients. Learning 3D may take some time, but the experience of team members summarizes. In other words: the competition in the 3D market is huge! Following up on the previous paragraph, there is competition inside the company. Working in a group, makes employees learn faster, based on others’ experiences, on software issues.

Is the 3D artist a „job of the future”?

This question is often asked nowadays, and there are few factors that can help identify the job of the future. There are more and more tasks that can be programmed and done automatically, so fewer people are required for this. Also, it is important to find the industry or niche that will be developing in the future.

What’s the future of the 3D industry, then? For sure, the software and tools will become more powerful.

One of the latest 3D visualization trends is real-time rendering. Producing such projects will be based on the rendering in real-time. The final product of a 3D project would be the walkthrough, a game-like movie where it will be possible to change the design elements, like the textures, and colors. This means some parts of the project would need to be programmed first. This also means, that some projects could be completed faster, as the long rendering phase will be skipped. Software such as Unreal Engine enables to get such effects. There are many more trends in a 3D world right now, such as the world’s first digitally planned house, which we’ve lately heard about. It’s not a surprise that 3D technology will be bringing new possibilities constantly. Another piece of advice for the future is to keep up with current trends and to keep high standards of services because the whole industry is very competitive. To remain a trusting partner for 3D services, it’s good to have transparent pricing, client references, the specific aesthetics. It’s crucial to follow the technology updates and observe the trends. Right now, it’s necessary to produce high-quality, photorealistic images (this is our case). Just like in other industries – it’s important to watch what the competition does – also on a pricing level.

A 3D artist is then an interesting profession that gives the possibility to change the world and to work on innovative solutions.

If you are interested in pursuing a 3D artist career, if you have a working knowledge of 3Ds Max, Corona, Photoshop, and CAD drawings, make sure to visit our Career page. We are constantly looking for 3D visualization talents!

The images featured in this post are all Viscato’s projects, and you can see some of them in our Portfolio section. If any of the projects are inspirational for you, feel free to contact us at [email protected]

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