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The Complex Career of a 3D Artist - What to Specialize in and Why

Are you interested in becoming a 3D artist but you have no idea what to specialize in? There are so many different fields you can master, so choosing one can be quite challenging. Here are some of the most exciting and lucrative fields you can specialize in as a 3D artist.

There’s a huge demand for 3D artists these days, so finding a great job is rarely an issue. However, the problem arises when you come across an outstanding job but you realize that you’re not specialized enough for the position because you’re a 3D generalist.

Of course, being a 3D generalist can be fantastic, as you can do a bit of everything. You can focus on learning everything about several different fields and perform perfectly in each.

But as a 3D specialist, you can focus on one thing and become really good at it. You can become so good at what you do that people start asking specifically for you to help them achieve certain goals. Instead of being the “jack of all trades, master of none,” you can be the true master of one specific field you absolutely love.

This is why you might want to specialize. Here are some of the best fields to specialize in as a 3D artist.

Architectural Visualization

This is the most common field of work for 3D artists, but it doesn’t mean it can’t be lucrative. Whatever field you specialize in, you can really become its master.

If architectural wonders leave you in awe, and you’re interested in playing a part in the creative process of their construction, then architectural visualization might be perfect for you. Not only can it help you bring your clients’ ideas to life, but it can also enable you to get your creative juices flowing and build upon those ideas, like an actual architect.

3D Modeling

With 3D modeling, you can create 3D digital representations of literally any object or surface using 3D computer graphics. You need to have both great technical skills and natural artistic abilities to stand out as a 3D modeler, and there are plenty of subsets that you can further specialize in.

You can create 3D models for the gaming industry, film, TV, architecture, engineering, advertising, websites, you name it. With the constant advances in technology, more and more people are looking to implement quality 3D models pretty much everywhere.

3D Concept Artist

3D concept artists create illustrations to convey various ideas for video games, movies, comic books, animations, and many other types of media. Concept artists usually rely only on sketches, whereas 3D concept artists use computer graphics to visualize ideas and create art for digital environments, characters, creatures, and many other assets.

As a 3D concept artist, you are an extremely important link in the production chain, because 3D modelers, animators, and VFX compositors rely on you to bring their ideas to life and get them ready for production.

3D Animation

3D animation is one of the most interesting fields you can specialize in. It includes digitally generating animated images and comes with plenty of different opportunities you can seize. Here are some of the most exciting ones.

3D Motion Capture Artist

As a 3D motion capture artist, your job is to create computer-generated characters who behave exactly like real people. You work closely with actors, directors, and technicians to capture the actors’ movements so that you can create their digital characters.

The most obvious applications of 3D motion capture include film and TV production, but it is also widely used in robotics, military, medical applications, sports, and many other fields.

Character Artist

As the name suggests, character artists create characters for games and various marketing materials. They work with an art director to bring an idea, or rather a character, to life by creating 3D illustrations using computer graphics.

This can be an incredibly exciting job, as you can create pretty much any character for video games, from robots and various fairytale-like characters to a whole world of fantasy creatures.

Environment Artist

Environment artists work in the video game industry as 3D modelers who create indoor and outdoor settings for video games. They’re responsible for modeling, texture, lighting, composition, and a lot of other tasks necessary for creating a game environment.

By specializing in this field, you can learn how to create a city streetscape for a game, a fantasy city, a dungeon, a sci-fi space station and, literally, anything else you and your clients can imagine.

Motion Graphics Designer

Many argue that motion graphics is a subset of graphic design, and it can be, but it’s also a necessary part of the animation process. It does require graphic design knowledge and skills, but it also requires the use of animation and digital footage to create motion illusions.

As a motion graphics designer, you can create animated logos, or moving text for TV commercials, movies, TV shows, video games, and a whole other world of media presentations. One great example is the Star Wars franchise, where every movie starts with that famous opening storyline of mixed text and motion.

Visual Effects

Being a VFX artist is also incredibly exciting, as you can create a lot of different motion graphics and animations. You can create various visual effects for video games, TV shows, and movies that consist of photoreal, digitally-generated imagery.

It really isn’t necessary to go into detail about what you can create as a VFX artist. You know how these artists have completely transformed the film and video game industries. If you specialize in this field, you too can have a chance to see your name in the credits of blockbusters such as Avatar, Interstellar, and Inception, or hit TV shows such as Game of Thrones.

3D Graphic Design

3D graphic design is a broad field with lots of subsets to specialize in. At its core, the job of a 3D graphic designer involves creating 3D visual images to communicate various messages to specific audiences. Here are some of the most lucrative job titles you can choose from.

Marketing & Advertising Graphic Designer

Quite obviously, this job requires utilizing graphic design skills to create various marketing and advertising materials. You can create designs for magazines, billboards, brochures, menus, business signage, vehicle wraps, banner ads, social media ads, websites, etc.

This may sound basic, and it’s definitely less complex than being a character artist, for instance, but it can really be fun. Add your 3D design skills to the equation and you get a very exciting, rewarding, and completely stress-free job.

UI Graphic Designer

UI graphic designers also create various visual displays for both print and digital media, but they are primarily focused on the user interface. They usually work on websites and apps and are focused on their look and layout, making sure their work creates excellent user experiences.

You need to know a lot about motion graphics design here as well, because UI graphic designers focus on designing various graphic elements, such as menus and buttons on websites and apps. Their job is to make sure all the technical details function properly and are perfectly aligned with the aesthetic appeal.

Publication Graphic Designer

As a publication graphic designer, you can design various print medium publications, such as magazines, brochures, catalogs, newspapers, and books. You can create beautiful graphics and illustrations, and bring any idea to life.

You can create 3D photorealistic visualizations for print medium publications, and make them truly stand out.

Packaging Graphic Designer

Packaging design is one of the most crucial marketing tools, and you can help various brands harness its power. As a packaging graphic designer, you can design packages for all kinds of products, and help every company you collaborate with tell the story of its brand.

You need to have a bit of industrial design and manufacturing knowledge to be a successful packaging graphic designer so that you can always create high-quality assets for products.

3D Printing

3D printing is yet another great field you can specialize in as a 3D artist. If you’re not interested in creating various visualizations, illustrations, and animations, but rather in 3D models that you can literally bring to life, 3D printing might be your way to go.

You need to have an understanding of 3D modeling and rendering to be a successful 3D printing artist. You simply need those two to be able to create your designs so that you can use proper digital files to bring all the visualizations you’ve created using computer graphics to life.

There’s not a shortage of items you can 3D print, but some of the most interesting things you can create are movie props. With 3D printing, you can become a 3D prop artist and make your way to the film industry.

Being a 3D artist is one of the best jobs in the world, but specializing in one field can bring you plenty more benefits. There are a lot more fields to choose from than the aforementioned ones, so be sure to dig a little deeper before you make your final career decision. But whatever you choose in the vast 3D world, you can be sure that it will be absolutely fantastic.

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