Career Areas for 3D Modeling Jobs
As discussed in our other article on “How to be successful as a Freelance 3D designer”, it’s a fact that there is a higher demand for 3D modelers, and can't be ignored, especially if you have an interest in the field, as it’s possible to build a good career in it. But just like any other skill, you have to put in the effort to master any 3D modeling skill that you choose.
In this article, we are going to have a look at the various 3D design jobs you might be interested in as a 3D artist. But before we do that, you need to know that to be successful as a 3D designer, you have to specialize in a specific area.
Specialization helps you get clients who are looking to hire someone specifically good in that area. You should aim at becoming a master in one field by paying proper attention to it alone instead of focusing on different aspects of 3D design. Keep reading to get to know the different areas you can specialize in 3D design.
Careers Paths Available for 3D Designers
Mobius strip holder designed in SelfCAD
Many companies and inventors need the help of 3D modelers to create 3D renders of their products to show their work. Most studios prefer hiring a 3D modeler rather than buying from the 3D modeling store or having their employees design as they are much cheaper.
2. Architectural Design:
Architectural design done in SelfCAD
Architectural designs and 3D Renders help to bring the blueprint of a building to life. These designs can help reveal issues that would be hidden until the construction is done, and it's too late to fix them. It is also important when it comes to remodeling buildings. 3D rendering helps in revealing how the design will look in real life, even before you start the remodeling process. It's also much easier to apply changes to a digital model, which can help reduce spendings that would be required otherwise.
3. 3D Printing:
3D printed pen holder designed and sliced printed:
You can design and 3D print models that solve a particular problem. All you need is a 3D printer and 3D modeling skills. Printing is easier now than few years before as there are many cheaper 3D printers, and even those below $200 can be used to launch an e-commerce store and sell your products. Many 3D printing hobbyists are making a living through 3D printing, and you can also give it a try!
4. 3D animation
3D animation is one of the most interesting fields one can venture into. You can choose to specialize in creating characters and animating them. Under 3D animation, you can further specialize in:
- 3D Motion Capture artist: In this role, a 3D artist is responsible for creating characters that behave and look just like real people.
- Motion Graphic Designer: This is a subset of graphic design, but the difference is that graphic design doesn’t include animation. To venture into this field, you need to have the skills and knowledge related to graphic design.
- Character artist: In this role, you will be creating characters for games, marketing materials, etc.
5. Asset Artist
3D designer artist: Image source: Lynda.com
Asset artists create various elements of a video game, such as 3D models, graphics, icons, and so on. They are important to the game animators during the production process, and they have to be easily accessed. Asset artists need to be skilled in both audio and visual design.
6. Environment artist
Environment artists are 3D designers who create indoor and outdoor settings for video games and films. They create the base for how objects and characters will interact. For example, buildings, roads, furniture, drapes, and so on.
For TV shows and films, the environments are created digitally, especially when it’s not possible to film in real life. In such cases, artists use computer software to create 3D backdrops in which various objects interact.
Environment artists work closely with animators and level designers to design at every stage of development and other sequences. They also create custom art and storyboards for developing environments.
7. Look Dev Artist
Look dev artists overseers all the development processes: Image source: Lynda.com
These artists oversee the development of all the visual elements such as the environments, layouts, objects, characters, assets, and more. They set the color schemes and determine the mood and style of the scenes to ensure that everything has a uniform look.
Look Dev Artists also establish guidelines and format procedures and production schedules for projects. They also ensure that the lighting, special effects, and shading are applied to the textures so that they look believable on the screen. SelfCAD, Maya, Cinema 4D, Houdini are all used by professionals in this specialization for those purposes.
To be a professional Look Dev Artist as a 3D designer, you need to have excellent attention to detail, as well as good interpersonal and communication skills. You also need to have a strong understanding of visual languages. That is color, dimension, shade, and textures.
8. 3D Texture Artist
As a 3D designer, you can specialize in coming up with unique textures to use in 3D designs or even animation. 3D texture artists require an understanding of the textures of skins of animals and humans, as well as that of textiles, landscapes, architectural finishes, and geographic elements.
The role of 3D texture artists is increasing, especially now when 3D games require truly photorealistic finishes. 3D texture artists also scan photographs and later apply them to the environments or 3D models created by 3D modelers.
3D artists working on animations and live actions work closely with 3D modelers to create textures to be used throughout the production process. These professionals need an eye for detail and the ability to create inspiration from real-world references.
9. Digital posters and Prints:
You can render awesome images, print and sell them to people.
10. UX/UI Designer:
3D modeling and animation skills are important for designing user interactions and interfaces and workflows that map the users’ expectations and needs. Designers who specialize in UX/UI design are needed when customers need an understanding of 3D artifacts in an augmented or virtual reality sense. But despite that, this field is not as popular as the rest.
UI designers also create both digital and print media, though they are much focused on the user interface. They also design various visual elements like buttons and menus, and they ensure that all the technical details of the designs are working as expected and are arranged properly.
11. Sell plugins and tools for 3D programs:
If you have some programming skills and you already are familiar with 3D design, you could try writing scripts and plugins that you could sell to make 3D modeling easier for others. For example, you can write scripts that optimize accessibility, speed up repetitive tasks, or even ones to optimize workflows. You can sell your scripts on websites like AEScripts, Unity Asset Store, and even Blender market.
12. Make money selling your courses:
You can prepare tutorials and courses teaching 3D modeling and sell them on the platforms like Udemy. All you need is a microphone and screen recording software, and you will be all set. You can research what people are interested in and prepare a structure and plan for your courses.
A good example of a 3D modeling course is the SelfCAD course on Udemy offered by John Paul Cortes. If you need help in learning SelfCAD and even launching your 3D modeling courses, you can reach out to us through email@example.com, and we will be glad to guide you.
13. Industrial design:
In this field, you will be creating and executing design solutions for product development, marketing, sales, and even for solving problems usability.
Once you have visualized a product in the head, 3D modeling can help you generate a complete picture and structure of the product. As a freelance 3D artist, you can focus on helping clients produce advertising content for their products.
Also, as a 3D artist, you can produce something almost similar to the final product and even share it with the companies that produce such products and be able to get immediate feedback on how it can be changed based on the customers’ needs.
Having looked at different areas of specialization, you might be wondering which one is the best for you? Keep on reading to get the answer.
How to Choose the Best Career Path in 3D design that suits you
Explore the options available
Go through each of the career paths we have explained above and learn what each of them entails. While exploring the options, you can even organize and meet the professionals in that field to get to know what a typical day in their job looks like.
When getting the details, you will learn how much a professional in each field gets paid, employment requirements for beginners, and so on. Through this, you will be able to decide on which path to take.
You need to know who you are, what you enjoy doing, and what you want to become after learning 3D design. This will help you in choosing the path that fascinates you.
To help you in your decision, you can ask yourself;
- What am I aiming at designing?
- What field of 3D design have I done well?
- What are your passions? Or what makes you glad in 3D design?
Know your Strengths
Each 3D artist has their own strengths and weaknesses. It is hard to find a 3D designer who is a jack of all trades in 3D design. As mentioned earlier, it’s good to specialize in a particular field and be a master in it. The idea is to pick an area that you can best.
When you have tried different areas in 3D design, as we have discussed, you will realize that there will be an area passionate about. You can always list several areas you feel you are interested in and pick the best among them.
When you decide on the path for your career, you should set up both short, and long-term goals. They should specify how are you planning to learn different skills, outline possible challenges you might face as well as how you will address them, and the resources that you will need to do so.
Just like any career, you need to set goals that are realistic, attainable, and flexible within a specified period of time.
Enjoy powerful modeling, rendering, and 3D printing tools without the steep learning curve.
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