3d artist

What does a 3D Artist do?

A 3D artist using special programs creates graphics for computer games, websites and mobile applications, movies, commercials, splash screens, explainer videos.

The process of creating graphics may differ depending on the direction and specific project. But most often it includes all or some of the following steps:

  • Modeling is the creation of an object in three-dimensional space.
  • Rigging – building a skeleton to which you can attach a model and create animation.
  • Texturing – painting an object.
  • Animation is bringing an object into motion.
  • Rendering – rendering or creating an image based on a 3D scene.
  • Post-processing is the creation of special visual effects after the main rendering of the scene.

A 3D artist may have a narrow specialization in the stages of creating graphics.

Or he can work with all stages, and then he is called a 3D generalist. A narrower specialist can only deal with character or environment modeling, texturing, post-processing, creating special effects (VFX). The station wagon can make a whole product on a turnkey basis or its completed part – a commercial or a separate scene in a game or movie.

What should a 3D Artist be able to do?

Basic 3D software

The most popular basic 3D programs are Cinema 4D, Blender, Maya and 3Ds Max, Houdini. It is also useful to know programs for rendering (Redshift, Octane Render) and for post-processing (After Effects, Nuke, Fusion).

Many motion design studios are now using Cinema 4D. Blender is also a popular program, especially in game development, but is less commonly used in studios. Maya is used in both game development and cinema.

Specialized software

There are tools that are needed either for narrower specialists, or are good as additional ones in the arsenal of a 3D generalist. For example, ZBrush is used for modeling, Substance Painter is used for creating textures.

Artistic skills

Since the profession of a 3D artist combines technical and creative aspects, in addition to knowledge of programs, it is important to develop artistic skills.

We have already written about the basics of composition and color theory.

Taste and vision

It is important to develop taste and train observation. To do this, you can watch cases on 3D graphics on Behance, a platform for designers, illustrators and photographers.

You can watch movies that won Oscars for visual effects, cinematography, art direction. Additionally, it is useful to take screenshots of frames and analyze them in terms of composition.

There are also YouTube channels where they disassemble the techniques from the movie. For example, “…and Action!” or “Gambling Cinema”.

For 3D artists who specialize in motion design, it’s helpful to check out the best work on the Motionographer website.

Where does 3D Artist work?

The 3D artist can:

  • create 3D for advertising, presentation of goods, IT products and digital communications;
  • specialize in graphics for computer games and work in the field of game development;
  • create 3D graphics, including special effects, for cinema.

At the same time, he can work both freelance and in the studio.


3D generalists often work as freelancers. In general, it is easier for them to find a job, because they are universal specialists who can order the entire project and entrust a variety of tasks.

At the same time, a good specialist with a narrow profile with a high-quality portfolio can receive complex and interesting orders on a particular topic.

Studio or State

In large game development studios and cinema, narrow specialists are more often in demand. They need high quality graphics, so there are separate departments or teams for all stages of 3D creation.

How to become a 3D artist and choose a specialization?


To become a 3D artist, no special art or design higher education is required. You don’t even have to be able to draw to enter the profession. It is important to know the necessary software and develop your skills.

It is easiest to master the main programs, as well as gain practical experience and the first works for the portfolio in a short time with the help of courses.

Unlike self-study, the information is structured there, and incomprehensible moments can always be discussed with curators and mentors.


When there is a base, it is important to decide on specialization. To do this, you first need to understand what you like most: creating character models, doing cool special effects or cool advertising, and so on. In accordance with this, one can move on as a 3D generalist or as a specialist in a narrower profile.

For a start, it is useful to get a job in a studio, because there novice 3D artists continue their education under the guidance of more experienced professionals. This will help to understand how the whole process works from the inside, and make useful contacts.

After that, you can go freelance or continue to work in a team. Then there is the option to undergo additional training in order to expand your arsenal or change specialization.

The course “Profession of 3D Artist” in the online school Contented provides an opportunity to learn the basics of 3D design and animation. At the beginning, students get acquainted with the basic programs and make their first projects for the portfolio.

Then they choose a specialization: a generalist or an artist in computer games. At the end of the training, students create a showreel of their work in After Effects – a demonstration video that presents them as 3D artists.

One of the most important professions in the gaming industry is the 3D artist, aka 3D artist. In short, representatives of this direction create three-dimensional objects and textures for games, films, commercials, etc.

What you can’t do without at first, and what you should start studying as a specialist becomes, what gadgets help in your work – all this is under the cut.

It all starts with gadgets
The main tool for the work of a 3D artist is a graphics tablet. Not necessarily terribly fancy for uber pros, just a basic good model will suffice.

By the way, some beginners mistakenly believe that Apple iPad can be used instead of a graphics tablet. In some cases, they are not so wrong – but this, for the most part, refers to 2D drawing, and not to creating 3D models.

Mobile devices cannot replace a good desktop PC with a graphics tablet connected to it. Professionals use hot keys, work with a mouse, a stylus, not to mention specialized software.

The first model may be Wacom – the device is connected to a computer or laptop. It makes it possible to sculpt a virtual model, draw, and carry out any iterations with a stylus.

At Wacom, I can immediately recommend three models of devices: Wacom Intuos, Wacom One and Wacom Intuos Pro. Of course, it would be superfluous to say that you also need a laptop or a desktop, and a 3D artist must have a technique powerful enough to cope with “heavy” tasks like rendering a finished model and processing raw data.

Here are the minimum system requirements that I could recommend:

  • The minimum configuration is Ryzen 5 from AMD or Core i5 from Intel.
  • RAM – at least 16 GB, less is not worth it.
  • Video card – starting with GeForce 1080.
  • Memory is better than a fast SSD, which allows the OS and installed software to work faster.

I repeat, these are the minimum recommended system characteristics for a novice specialist, and not a high-level professional.

Although, of course, if there are free funds, you can immediately purchase an “aircraft”. In the end, in your free time from study and work, you can play yourself.


Everything is more complicated here. If gadgets are more or less the same for everyone, then the choice here depends on the classification of specialists starting their journey in 3D. Suppose we are talking about guys who want to create game assets or models – in this case, I can recommend:

  • Blender.
  • Autodesk Maya 3D.
  • Houdini.
  • Cinema 4D.
  • 3D max.

These programs make it possible to close almost any task that may arise before the artist.

There is also specialized software, sharpened for the implementation of specific tasks. These can be game engines – for example, Unity or Unreal Engine (by the way, applications are assembled on it and various projects are made, including cinematographic ones), or, if we are talking about virtual sculpting, then these are ZBrush and Mudbox.

ZBrush allows you to create characters, develop “biological” objects, including trees, organics, surface details. You can also create surface elements of vehicles, weapons, and more.

But back to the main software. The Houdini package was originally positioned as a program for creating effects, including fire, smoke, destruction of solid elements, etc.

But now the program has evolved a lot and it can be used for various kinds of tasks. Here it is appropriate to compare the capabilities of Autodesk Maya 3D and Houdini.

Where to begin?

You can get started with Blender. This is an open-source package developed by a whole community – the perfect way to get to know the world of 3D. Anyone can use Blender to create their own products, even commercial ones.

If you are planning employment in a corporation, then the situation will be different. The companies use their own software.

Most often, the enterprise uses Autodesk Maya 3D (if we are talking about games and movies) and 3D Max (if we are talking about interior visualization). Plus, there are usually accompanying applications.

And even if a novice artist masters Blender 100%, then in a corporate environment he will have to retrain, since it is usually used in indie teams to save the software budget.

Therefore, you need to master Houdini, Maya 3D and other packages mentioned above – they will help you become your own in a professional environment. You can start mastering them at any time, but the sooner you do it, the better.

Therefore, advice – before you start mastering the profession of a 3D artist, think about where you would like to get a job and what exactly to do. It is worth looking at the vacancies of different companies, evaluating the programs and skills that will be needed to work in the enterprise.

Imagine that you are working in Maya and you need to make a nightstand. You made it. But now, in order to make changes, it is necessary to move each individual polygon. It takes a lot of time.

Of course, it is possible to copy elements, clone them, put them next to each other, etc. But still there are more procedural tools in Houdini. This package allows you to build such a hierarchy inside that you can then simply move the sliders, achieving significant changes.

Sliders are numbers, conditionally. Write 1, get one result. Write 10, – instead of one nightstand, you will have 10 pieces. This is called a procedural approach, when you shift most of the work to the program.

The development of such things takes about 20-30% less time. But if the artist needs to make some comments, or use similar developments in other projects, then the procedural approach saves time.

These are not hours, but actually weeks, months and even years. That is why Houdini is becoming an increasingly popular package in the enterprise.

A specialist who creates virtual three-dimensional objects is called a 3D artist. In simple words, a specialist must create a model or texture in 3D from an ordinary photo, drawing or drawing.

These three-dimensional models can then be used in video, games, promotional items, architecture and interior presentations.

Functions and tasks of a 3D artist:

  • creates 3D characters of online games and movies or 3D objects of the environment;
  • draws the landscape, scenes;
  • working on texture: detailing, texture, elaboration of edges;
  • in interior design: creates interior design elements;
  • sets up models for baking and flattening maps;
  • works in specialized programs;

A specialist in this field can deal with almost everything related to 3D: from the development of jewelry to the creation of architectural objects.

Possible areas of work: game development, interior design, advertising design, film production, construction and architecture.

Mastering 3D techniques on your own is a laborious, lengthy and not always effective process. It is much more effective to undergo specialized training.