So you’ve done the research, taken a good, long look in the mirror, and come to the conclusion that you’re ready to step out into the wide, scary, wonderful world of freelance rendering. Congratulations! A career in 3D rendering and visualization is an exciting one, providing jobs in a variety of different industries and giving back the satisfaction of creating something important and meaningful.
But, it’s also a lot of hard work.
This guide is designed to give you a few pointers to help guide your way as you get your feet underneath a profession that can come with a rather steep learning curve. Underneath each of these tips is the constant pressure of work and determination that you’ll need in abundance if you’re going to climb this mountain and have enough steam leftover to climb the next one.
The world of 3D rendering and visualization is a vast one. The best way to focus your energy is to pick a niche that interests you, and work on being the absolute best you can be at it. Like architecture? Model and render buildings. Learn programs like SketchUp, Rhino, and maybe even Revit. The more you understand about your niche, the better you’ll be able to tailor your continued education and build a pointed portfolio that will help land future jobs.
3D modeling, rendering, and post-producing is a complex animal that requires years of experience to get grips on. As with anything, your best bet for future success is to start with simplicity and work your way out from there. This is especially true if your self-teaching yourself how to use the software. Once you’ve modeled and rendered something as simple as a bowling ball, then you can start thinking about flying cars and rocket launchers.
No one is going to pay you to work for them unless you’ve already proven to someone your value as a 3D rendering artist. That means you’ll need to have previous work experience and some resemblance of a portfolio under your belt. Start by working for free. This might be a hard pill to swallow, but the best way to jump-start your career as a freelancer is to do as much work for as many people early on. Get that first job, then the second one, and before long people will actually pay you for what you thought could only be a hobby.
Finding which software works best for you early on will give you a huge advantage as you go into your career. In many cases, this happens naturally in school or in talking with friends or colleagues about what they use. Regardless, it’s important you get the most out of the programs you use by dedicating time to learning everything about them. Many of these programs require years to master, so sticking to what you know works for you will help you be a better artist in the long run.
Word of mouth and reputation are great ways to attract new clients, but there are other, more active ways to put your name out there. Job finding services such as Easy Render make connecting with new clients easy, safe, and fruitful. You’ll need to have an established body of work to get the most out of these types of services, but you can always adjust your hourly rate based on how much experience and expertise you have.
3D visualization is a lot of fun, which means the pool of capable and talented artists is incredibly deep. If you’re going to set yourself apart from the field, your work should reflect a daring sense of yourself that is unlike anything else on the market. Don’t force weird just for the sake of it, but try to find a unique angle with your work that will catch eyes and turn heads. Doing things differently can pay off if your technique, approach, and ideas are sound.
At the end of the day, the only way to be successful as a freelance rendering artist is to do as much work as you possibly can. If you’re passionate about the profession, this shouldn’t be easy. Don’t be discouraged by early (or late) failures, and keep doing the work that keeps you interested in the industry. Hard work doesn’t guarantee success, but without it, you’ll find yourself in line begging for a temp job at Staples.