The Journey to Becoming a Skilled 3D Modeler
As 3D printing becomes more and more popular, businesses find themselves in need of professional 3D artists more than ever before. Industries such as healthcare and education have already found a place for 3D printing, and other industries are following suit. Marketing and design agencies are the best examples of them, as they delve into 3D more frequently.
Whether you are a fresh graduate or an enthusiastic hobbyist, becoming a 3D modeler can be both lucrative, as well as a very exciting career prospect in 2020. However, before you start writing your resume, you might think of developing certain skills and qualifications to stand out from your colleagues during the candidate selection. With that said, let us take a look at some of the skills you can develop to become a successful 3D modeler, and that will help you kick-start your career.
3D Modeling Specializations and What They Can Mean for You
But before we get down to the skills, it is important to discuss what the big deal is when it comes to 3D modeling and its appeal for so many industries and hobbyists alike. As its name suggests, 3D modeling is the art of creating and manipulating 3D objects in a digital environment.
In 2020, 3D models are all around us. They are most commonly seen in the form of video games and the film industry, but they are not the only ones.
Similarly to 3D modeling, 3D printing is becoming more popular than ever before. It allows artists and product designers to bring outstanding 3D models to life for the common good.
It doesn't matter if you are from an architectural, designing, or strictly modeling background, 3D modeling can open new career doors in a variety of ways. There are many niches associated with modeling that one skilled enough can take advantage of and occupy a share of the market for themselves. Here are a few niches most commonly associated with 3D modeling:
- Film and TV production
- Video game development
- VR/AR software development
- 3D printing
- Architecture and landscape modeling
- Home-based freelance 3D modeling
As you can see, there is a variety of industries that can guarantee you a successful 3D modeling career moving forward. What matters most is that you chose your path early on, and stick to it, to build a reputation for yourself as well as a portfolio. It is a good idea to check the industries in your local area and see what kind of 3D modeling opportunities you can find there. Knowing what services are in demand could help you to make this decision.
With that, let’s discuss the skills and qualifications you should look into before you search for employment.
- Affinity for Creative Brainstorming
More than anyone, 3D modelers are the modern problem-solvers, more than ever before. Given that 3D modeling and printing, in general, allows businesses to test products and designs, as well as marketing ideas before committing to any option, 3D modelers often have to get creative.
Having an affinity for creative problem-solving, brainstorming, and outside-the-box thinking can significantly improve your odds at building a 3D modeling career. While this skill is more innate than taught, you can still practice it by doing graphic design and 3D modeling in your spare time. The products of your brainstorming can then find their way into your portfolio to increase the likelihood of you getting hired.
- 3D Spatial Awareness
3D modeling differs from traditional design, software development, and other computer-based career paths. There is only one simple reason for this - it adds the third dimension to the equation. It can be an issue for some of the professionals dealing in web design or some illustration-based niches since 3D space is much more difficult to work with.
You can improve your spatial awareness by working with clay in your off time. Likewise, you can devote time to 3D modeling tutorials to get a better idea of what the industry standards are, compared to other creative niches. Don’t treat the 3rd dimension lightly, and you will quickly grow more adept at creating solutions for 3D printing.
- 3D Modeling Software Familiarity
One of the requirements to become a 3D modeler is to know how to use specialized 3D software. That's a condition that you should fulfill first. There is plenty of different software on the market, each offering their services to a particular niche for people with different level of experience.
Some of the 3D software is dedicated mostly to video game development and character modeling, while others offer their services to architects and landscape designers. It goes without saying that such specialized software requires you to have a certain understanding of the modeling process to use it to its full capabilities. However, some software tries to breach this gap. 3D modeling platforms such as SelfCAD, for example, can help you express your ideas quickly and effectively regardless of your prior modeling experience. The more familiar you are with popular modeling software, the better your chances of kickstarting the career you've dreamt about!
- Life-Long-Learning Mentality
Similar to other design niches, 3D modeling requires a certain proactive mentality from its enthusiasts. If you want to devote your career to 3D modeling, then you should be ready to expand your knowledge at all times. There is no point where you should just stop and proclaim that you've learned everything that you needed. New modeling trends, 3D printing tools, or even visual design styles pop up on the market constantly.
Even as we speak, remote work conditions are practiced across the globe, prompting 3D modelers to work away from their traditional office stations. Life-long-learning is one of the greatest challenges of being a 3D modeler, but it is also one of its core strengths. If you adopt such an approach to your career development, you will never stagnate in terms of your style of work or its final results.
- Teamwork & Collaboration Mentality
Regardless of what path you choose as a 3D modeler, you will, without a doubt, have to work with others on design-based projects. Whether you opt for video game design, 3D printing, architectural design, or any other modeling field, odds are that you will not work independently from others. This makes it essential that you develop and foster teamwork-oriented skills going forward.
Work on your verbal communication, writing, active listening, and team collaboration skills. Prepare to work with individuals who love 3D modeling as much as you do in order to create projects which will benefit all of you. While you may not see eye-to-eye with all of your creative industry colleagues, all of you will share the same passion and goals. This alone should be enough to convince you that collaboration is the way to go moving forward into your 3D modeling career.
- 3D Modeling Certification
Even though you may be familiar with 3D modeling and have a portfolio to show for it, many companies will still ask you for certification. Certificates, diplomas, and other formal documentation of your knowledge about 3D modeling is a de facto proof of your skills as a modeler. Companies with a need for a 3D artist will be more willing to give you a chance and hire you if you present them with certificates.
You can look for certification in basic 3D modeling or one specialized in specific software applications. You can also look for a certificate proving your expertise within a specific 3D modeling industry. It’s also good practice to have an internship or two under your belt when it comes to applying for full-time positions, as they are a great way to get real-world 3D modeling experience in a semi-professional manner without the pressure of formal employment. Look for 3D modeling opportunities and certifications in your local area and try to match what’s available with your career aspirations.
- Digital Asset Management Skills
Depending on the type of job or a position that you want, as a 3D modeler, you may be the only one employed in this section, especially if you found employment in a smaller company. It can be both good and bad, depending on what your career goals are. Small businesses such as those that manage eCommerce platforms often need 3D modelers to create models to help them sell digital products. Businesses that specialize in marketing and design, however, often need 3D modelers that will become part of a larger team of creative and like-minded individuals to work on larger projects.
You need very good organizational skills to 'keep your ducks in a row', so to speak. 3D modelers often manage multiple projects with hundreds of visual assets, so proper file management and indexing are essential. Make sure to practice your digital organizational skills to better manage your 3D modeling files in the future.
A Constant Forward Momentum (Conclusion)
It’s good practice to update your portfolio and resume with new skills and qualifications as you acquire them. The deeper you delve into 3D modeling, the more professional opportunities will open up to you. 3D modeling requires a constant learning process, one which will demand a lot from you but also reward you with genuine growth. Invest time into some, or all, of the skills and qualifications we’ve discussed and applied them to the 3D modeling niche you feel passionate about. In time, the results of your dedication will speak for themselves.
Enjoy powerful modeling, rendering, and 3D printing tools without the steep learning curve.
Need to learn 3D Modeling? Get started with interactive tutorials.
About the Author
Dorian Martin is an Editor, Writer, and Educational Advisor with academic education in Computer Sciences and Mass Communication. He has a keen interest in merging writing with education in every publication under his name. Dorian enjoys working on academic papers and writing thesis statements for students in need of assistance. He is a professional content creator and aficionado of digital marketing, data science, and AI development.