For freelancers and small rendering firms looking to bolster their library of 3D character models, these resources are the first and best place to start.
For rendering firms working in animation and videogame design, having access to high-quality 3D character models is absolutely essential. Of course, modeling your own characters in house will result in a better, more authentic final product, but this isn’t always the option that aligns best with the budget of any given job.
So, for those jobs that require a bit more industriousness when it comes to researching and allocating assets to help move along things along, it’s important to have a variety of resources at one’s fingertips to build out a scene or render with as little resistance as possible. The websites on this list of 3D character model libraries vary in price from the very expensive to the very free. There is sure to be something for you to dig into whether you’re a lone wolf freelancer or a member of a larger team looking to bolster their available assets.
Here’s where you find the best 3D character models.
1 | TurboSquid
If you’re used to searching the web for any variety of 3D model assets, chances are you’ve run into TurboSquid once or twice. Not only does it carry one of the largest libraries of 3D characters, it comes equipped with a user-friendly interface and a dedicated community of artists and modelers that are constantly contributing to the resource.
The character models range in price from around $30 to upwards of $400 depending on quality and complexity. There are few places where you can find the wealth of outstanding modeling work on display with TurboSquid. And if you’re a modeler yourself, you might consider joining their marketplace and start earning a bit of extra passive income while you’re at it.
2 | CGTrader
CGTrader has long been the go-to resource for freelance rendering artists. Its library is vast and easy to navigate, and its prices are reasonable priced considering how much content there is, and how incredibly detailed it all is. Many of their character models even come pre-animated, which can help you cut corners if there’s something very specific you’re looking for.
If there’s something very unique you don’t have the time to model yourself, chances are you’ll find it on CGTrader. Even if you don’t, you’re sure to run into something you can either use in its place or save away for a rainy day.
3 | Free 3D
If free is the price you’ve got budgeted for 3rd party 3D character assets, than Free 3D is the place to start. The online database is 100% user supported, and has a surprisingly robust collection of high-quality character models that can be downloaded with as little as an email address.
The price is certainly right, but there’s much more to Free 3D than the absence of a price tag. The site is easy to navigate, and supported by a talented pool of freelance artists who are just trying to make a name for themselves. Every download they get is another person reading their name and building their brand, something that feels good being a part of even if you aren’t throwing them a bit of lunch money, to boot.
Unity is a powerful engine used by many video game companies to produce some of the most well-respected games on the market (when Nintendo is using your engine, that pretty much says it all). Unity 3D’s asset store hosts a range of 3D model assets available for purchase and perpetual use.
And while you probably won’t be getting your hands on Mario or Yoshi anytime soon, the Asset Store still has plenty of high-quality 3D character models to go around. Most of the models are best used for the creation of video games using Unity itself, so just be warned that the proprietary nature of the Asset Store could turn some freelancers off.
5 | All 3D Free
Much like Free 3D, each and every asset you find here can be downloaded without a single cent leaving your design budget. The database isn’t quite as large as some of the others on this list, but it is still another great resource to have in your back pocket if you can’t find what you’re looking for elsewhere.
And considering how the models are all completely free to download, their quality is incredibly high. They are easy to work with and will assist in helping build out architectural presentation animations in particular. All 3D Free lends instant personality to your renders, and shouldn't be overlooked as one of your most frequented resources.