What to Specialise In as a 3D Artist (With Skills Guide)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 26 December 2022

Published 3 January 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Three-dimensional (3D) design involves creating animations, visual effects and models for a wide range of projects, such as video games and films. As a 3D artist, you may also research upcoming projects, which can allow you to gain experience and advance in your career. If you're interested in a career in 3D design, there are a variety of options to choose from. In this article, we discuss what to specialise in as a 3D artist, explore the types of jobs and salaries and describe the desirable skills for this profession.

What to specialise in as a 3D artist

Knowing the options of what to specialise in as a 3D artist may be beneficial when considering this profession. Individuals wishing to work in this field can specialise in several areas. The decision depends on the individual's passion, preferences and interests. Being a 3D generalist might be beneficial because you can learn to perform all the functions. The generalist specialisation lets you explore all aspects of 3D artistry. It can help if you can specialise in one specific area or style.

To become an excellent 3D designer, you require a bachelor's degree in a relevant discipline in this field. Some universities offer more specialised design programs, including game or video design. Try concentrating on one field, focusing on model development if you wish to work in the scientific area. Students can gain hands-on exposure while learning to use the essential software tools and applications to develop their prototypes and ideas in several arts, communications and design-focused university courses.

Related: What Does a Game Designer Do? (Plus Common Skills)

What does a 3D design profession entail?

A 3D artist's occupation may involve creating three-dimensional animations and images using a combination of hand-drawing skills and electronic tools. A 3D Artist also investigates prospective tasks to help develop innovative concepts or animations. They can also assist in the conceptualisation of ideas and procedures at the beginning of a job to determine the optimal way to achieve objectives. They may also get feedback from managers, customers or other designers towards the project's conclusion and make requested changes until the final product meets the required standards.

Careers in 3D design that you can choose from

The following are some of the various careers that you can specialise in as a 3D artist:

1. Video game designer

National average salary: $76,641 per year

Primary duties: By conceptualising game elements, and coding and testing products for effectiveness, video game designers create user-friendly games for computers, tablets, phones and the internet. These specialists can make game layouts and control charts to arrange their thoughts. Video game designers might also overcome functionality and technical standard issues that arise in early game development. They focus on specific aspects of game design, like the setting and may collaborate with other gaming experts to develop and evaluate games.

2. 3D printing technicians

National average salary: $73,635 per year

Primary duties: 3D printing technicians help design and develop various items, from prosthetics to 3D figurines. They might also perform 3D printing services, examine client 3D models and conduct 3D printing tests. Technicians that work with 3D printers can also fix, service and clean them. Because 3D printing has become such an essential part of the 3D modelling and design field, most individuals who want to work in this profession might be familiar with the technology and hardware used. In entry-level employment, a job as a 3D printing technician might offer hands-on training.

3. Graphic designer

National average salary: $73,725 per year

Primary duties: Graphic designers use computer software applications to develop visual designs that motivate, instruct and engage customers. They design the general arrangement and set design for commercials, publications, journals and presentations. Through designing brochures, magazines, commercials and reports, graphic designers frequently collaborate with different marketing experts to engage, educate and motivate clients. Three-dimensional visual elements, like a brand logo, sketches and product representations, often emphasise 3D graphics.

4. 3D Animator

National average salary: $65,934 per year

Primary duties: 3D animators transform artistic renderings into three-dimensional animations employing computer-generated designs (CAD) and computer-generated imagery (CGI) tools. 3D animators create three-dimensional graphics. They might create graphics and motion graphics for movies, television shows, computer games, commercials and web pages. Other 3D animators specialise in pictures, including creating objects, characters or sceneries, whereas others adopt a broader approach and make animations of all varieties.

5. 3D designer

National average salary: $81,911 per year

Primary duties: 3D designers' primary responsibility is to develop and produce three-dimensional models depending on the requirements and specifications. Their responsibilities might include creating 3D designs for innovative products, evaluating and improving existing 3D designs and comprehending client needs. Using computer-aided design (CAD) tools, they make design layouts for complicated tasks, basic techniques and drawings for finished product architecture. They also take part in panel discussions and staff meetings to know the requirements for their projects or to present their ultimate designs.

6. Architectural designer

National average salary: $95,069 per year

Primary duties: Architectural designers plan and design construction and environmental designs. They operate under the supervision of certified architects. Architectural designers communicate with customers to get design standards, details and costs for their construction projects. They can also collaborate extensively with clients and other team members to understand their requirements and desires. They then create designs that meet these clients' goals and expectations. Architectural designers also ensure that planners' designs follow current construction laws and standards and develop detailed drawings and simulations.

7. Art directors

National average salary: $95,833 per year

Primary duties: Art directors determine the style of animations. They design the figures, accessories and backgrounds and lay the groundwork for the rest of the arts' duties. Art directors start by reading the screenplay and discussing the concept of the television show with the filmmaker. They can then generate their models and choose the demeanour, atmosphere and colour palettes. They collaborate with concept artists to create designs and graphics that convey the team's creative sensibility.

8. Web designer

National average salary: $75,626 per year

Primary duties: Web designers create and maintain websites. They're also responsible for the platform's specialised components, such as stability and efficiency, which are measures of a site's responsiveness and traffic-management capabilities. Web designers plan, develop and evaluate the layout, features and accessibility of a website or application for efficiency. They handle the website's interface appearance and operations.

Skills of an excellent 3D artist

The following are the desirable skills for a 3D artist:

Creativity

Because of the unique nature of graphics, aspiring 3D designers may have a deep understanding of creative knowledge to draw and design projects. A 3D artist might take a virtual environment and make it feel like it belongs in the imaginary world. When people want to see something they've never seen before, they usually turn to graphics. A 3D animator can make actions distinctive enough to accomplish this.

Read more: Creative Thinking: How To Start Thinking Creatively

Teamwork

Many animation firms employ enormous teams working on a single project. The ability to work in a team is an essential skill for 3D animators. Teamwork skills could ensure you reach the goals of your team and finish projects in good time. This may mean completing many projects efficiently and within a short period. There might be debates over how to approach a project when many creative individuals collaborate on the same project. Managing such a situation requires teamwork skills. When assignments span several years, it's critical to manage your team's conflicts carefully and maintain strong relationships with each member.

Quick learning

Because there are so many programming tools available, 3D animators can learn and understand those most relevant to their individual work and keep updated with emerging software. The ability to absorb information is relevant when changing firms and beginning a new assignment. 3D animators may use good attention to detail to learn new software quickly. Artists who learn new technologies easily may have many opportunities.

Memory

A 3D artist might employ old software or approach to replicate a particular style at any point in their profession. The artist may use their strong memory to operate old tools efficiently. This attribute may also help them remember key details from a brief.

Organisational

Excellent organisational skills simplify a 3D animator's everyday responsibilities. 3D artists typically create many minor documents in their projects. 3D artists can optimise their workspace and computer by filing their work according to categories or clients. Correctly organising design documents makes it easier for 3D artists to locate them and use their time efficiently.

Problem-solving

Determination and perseverance can help overcome 3D design challenges. 3D artists often collaborate on projects in a team. Teams comprise people from different backgrounds. As part of the team, you may use problem-solving skills to address conflict and develop shared solutions.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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