3D artist: salary, software, and job requirements

Who is 3d artist? Applet3D 3D Rendering


Computer technology’s active development opens up more possibilities for us. Just look around and you’ll realize that you’re living in a world of computer graphics. 3D digital art is everywhere: in feature films, on the street billboards, web pages, advertisements, and architectural projects. It’s a thriving and constantly evolving industry. That’s why 3D artists are increasingly in demand and recognized both in the digital world and in art. But although the profession of the 3D artist is now well-known, not everyone understands what exactly he does and what prospects he has. Read the article and find out what a 3D artist is, what skills and tools he needs to work in the field of CG, how much 3D artists make, what kind of demands companies have on potential employees, and many more that you might be interested in.

What is a 3D Artist?

A 3D artist is a specialist who creates artistic 3D images. Using 3D computer graphics, they create various models, animations, and visual effects. 3D artists are also called CGI artists. With the help of specialized programs, they make 3D art digital. 

Let’s go back a little and remember what 3D art is. 3D art includes a variety of graffiti, three-dimensional computer graphics, and realistic drawings that create the illusion of a three-dimensional scene. This type of 3D design art can be completed in various ways, including paintings, sculptures, and photographs. It’s the 3D artists who make these breathtaking images and videos.

3D artists are especially in demand in the computer and mobile games industry, as well as in film production, advertising, architecture, interior design, and e-commerce. The 3D art design of objects can be developed independently by artists from scratch or provided by the customer in the form of a sketch or drawing. Such virtual 3D objects may include animated characters, product models for an online store, or interior elements for a design project. 

Artists have always strived for a believable representation of nature and surrounding things. In our modern age, this is easily achieved with the help of advanced technologies. Creating 3D art is an exciting but hard process. Digital 3D art requires a lot of skill and patience, not to mention talent. An artist 3D has to combine the traits of a creative person and an experienced design engineer. He creates the most realistic images and environments that make games and other graphic products more realistic. To become an amazing 3D artist, you need to have a good imagination, be creative, and at the same time be attentive to details and understand complex tools.

3D artist specializations

There are many different types of 3D art jobs, but here are the main ones you should know about:

3D modelers

A 3D model artist creates directly three-dimensional models of objects. These can be elements of the real world – buildings, vehicles, furniture, and living beings. Or virtual – fictional objects and characters. Drawing skills will be useful to the modeler since, to create an object in 3D, it is often necessary to first sketch it. It is also desirable to be able to read drawings – often 3D models of buildings, furniture, and various goods are created from them. 3D model art is the first and critical link in the 3D graphics creation chain. 3D modeling artist develops a base with which specialists of different profiles can work in the future. Learn more about 3D modeler.

3D visualizers

These specialists make beautiful and realistic images using existing 3D models. For example, to prepare a photorealistic presentation of an interior design project, you need to create a 3D scene of a room, set up lighting and materials in it, and correctly position the models of furniture and decor. You also need to masterfully choose the angle, putting a virtual camera according to all the rules of composition – as in classical photography. This is what the 3D visualizer does. In addition, he retouches the finished image (render) using Photoshop and other programs. In the process, the 3D render artist can change the background, adjust lighting and saturation, add secondary elements to the picture, and so on.

3D generalists

3D generalists are people who have a wide range of skills and a large set of mastered programs. They know how to make 3D art memorable. 3D generalists can model, render, draw concepts and make 3D animations.

What does a 3D artist do?

The tasks of a 3D artist depend on the genre of work, visual style, or graphic design features. A specialist in this field can deal with almost everything related to 3D visual art: from the development of jewelry to the creation of architectural objects. 3D artist job description often contains such main tasks:

  • Set up 3D art models of different objects from scratch
  • Render textures and backgrounds
  • Make edits and finalize finished objects
  • Create own design concepts and implement other people’s ideas
  • Adapt 3D objects to the needs of the customer
  • Work in specialized programs
  • Draw the landscape, and scenes
  • Create design elements
  • Work in a team: sometimes several 3D artists draw one object at once.

Is 3D artist an artist?

Definitely Yes. 3D design art requires all the skills that graphic artists have. However, a 3D designer must also have some technical knowledge to work in certain programs and to be familiar with various areas of design, architecture, and production. Also, such specialists need to have a good imagination. Here are the qualities of a professional artist needed to create 3D artistic designs.

1. Good imagination. Even in the first stage of work, you need to imagine what the finished object will look like and what tools will be needed to implement it.

2. Creativity. Working with visual objects requires a developed taste, a sense of beauty, and the ability to notice small design flaws.

3. Meticulousness.  3D modeling art is computer work that requires self-discipline and composure. In the process, you have to solve many small tasks of the same type, redo ready-made elements, and make changes.

Pros and cons to be a 3D artist

There are positives and negatives to being a 3D artist. 


  • Creative work;
  • Meeting interesting people;
  • High pay;
  • Remote work opportunity;
  • High demand;
  • Many open-access training courses, software, and literature that will help get the necessary knowledge to work.


  • Irregular schedule;
  • Creative disagreements with customers and members of the work team;
  • Eye strain;
  • Difficult to master the field on your own.

Do I need a degree to be a 3D artist?

You don’t need a degree to become a 3D artist. For most CG companies, it is not education that is essential, but skill and the ability to perform specific tasks on a project. In addition, companies need to hire a 3D artist who likes his work – he is easy to train, hardworking and persistent. Therefore, in interviews, they look at the interest of a specialist in what he does.

A diploma from an art university does not guarantee the availability of the necessary knowledge, but a portfolio demonstrates everything. The main conclusions about the candidate before the interview are made precisely based on his portfolio and/or test task. It is an excellent 3D model portfolio that can impress your potential employers and get you the job of your dreams. You can post your portfolio on Behance, or your resume on Upwork. These are two popular platforms for 3D artists, where you will be noticed and appreciated. You also can find some 3D artist portfolio examples on Behance and Instagram to get inspired.

However, you should still have some basic knowledge of the work of a 3D artist. The most successful option is to take online and offline 3D design and modeling courses. In a short time, you get a systematic package of knowledge, and in the process of learning, you work on real projects, which guarantees initial work experience, understanding of processes, and the basis for a portfolio. If you have a degree in art design, graphic design, and computer animation, it will be much easier for you to move to 3D graphics.

You can also self-teach and get a set of 3D art skills on your own, however, this will be much more difficult and require much more time and effort. It’s important to take into account the industry you want to work in and the type of 3D artist you want to become. In this case, you will need specific knowledge in a particular area. Learn how to become a 3D artist below.

How much do 3D artists make?

3D artist salaries in the USA depend on the state you find in. According to Zippia, the average 3D Artist makes $87,946 in the United States. Highest paying states for 3D Artist are Connecticut ($127,872), Rhode Island ($121,186), Delaware ($127,872) and Nevada ($127,872). The highest paying cities for 3D artists are Reno, NV ($124,039), Jersey City, NJ, Berkeley, CA, Seattle, WA, and New York, NY. 

The average hourly pay for a 3D Artist is $42.28. The average entry-level 3D designer salary is $59,000. Industries with the highest 3D artist salaries are Technology, Media, and Utilities.

Here are the top states with the highest 3D Artist Average Salary:

The top 10 highest paying cities for the 3D artist in the USA:

How to become a 3D artist

With the growing popularity and demand for 3D artists, there are more and more online and offline 3D art classes and courses that allow you to master the profession in a short time. The duration of training depends on the level you want to get:

1. Basic (beginner) – 2-4 months;
2. Medium – 6 months – 1 year;
3. High (professional) – from 1 year. On this level, you can start to build a great 3D career.

Also, many articles, forums, and videos that will help you to learn 3D digital art have become available. You can study the material on your own, download programs, and start practicing. However, whatever way of learning you choose, 3D artists need to engage in constant self-development: master new techniques and work methods; study new 3D programs or their new versions; follow the trends in art and any other field in which you work. Use various 3D art websites to always be one step ahead.

Check out the video with top tips on how to become a 3D artist.

Requirements for 3D artists

The specialist in 3D art must have the following professional skills:

  • Has an idea about creating 3D objects, and perfectly applying it in practice;
  • Able to realistically depict the anatomy of a person or animal;
  • Knows the principles and techniques of creating a character from scratch;
  • Can create realistic textures (online games, landscape design, architecture);
  • Knows how to use tools for working with components: splitting polygons, beveling corners, advanced tools;
  • Ability to work in special programs, for example, 3ds Max/Maya, Substance Painter, Blender, Autodesk Maya, ZBrush, Houdini, Foundry Mari;
  • Knows the principles of working with layers and masks;
  • Proficiency with Photoshop tools;
  • Ability to create objects in different styles: from realistic to cartoon;
  • In addition, an artist needs to be able to work in a team so that well-coordinated activities bring a high-quality result.

Also, in the work of a 3D artist, personal qualities are important, such as:

  • Imagination
  • Creativity
  • Spatial thinking
  • Attention to small details
  • Observation
  • Artistic taste
  • Punctuality
  • Perseverance
  • The ability to take responsibility for decisions made

3D artist resume templates

An important part of getting the position of a 3D artist is a beautiful and well-written resume. You must add your portfolio to it, which will speak for you. Here is an example of a good 3D artist resume:

You can find this and more templates of 3D artist resume on Resume Worded.

3D Artist Software

Among the programs required by a 3D artist, the most popular are 3Ds Max, Maya, and Blender. They allow you to perform most of the tasks of creating 3D graphics. If you need a program for personal use, the best way to choose is to try one or the other package. For studio work, Maya and 3Ds Max will also come in handy.

3Ds Max is widely used in the modeling and visualization of architectural objects and computer games, and less often in animation and special effects. For a photorealistic effect of your 3D artistic designs, you must also use one of the engines for 3Ds Max – Corona Renderer or V-Ray.

Maya is most commonly used in the film industry for character animation, modeling, and scene assembly. A universal product with a wide range of add-ons and plug-ins that expand the program’s functionality and add features. For example, smoke and fire simulation, hair dynamics, sculpting, and more.

Among digital sculpting software, ZBrush is the leader. The program is used to create high-poly detailed objects. Most often it is used to model characters, animals, and other organics, but it has quite powerful tools for creating solid objects (Hard Surface).

There are also programs for texturing and creating materials, the most popular of which is Photoshop. 3D visualizers prefer to use this program for post-production renderings and fixing minor bugs.

Recently, game engines have been added to the programs necessary for 3D illustrators (even if we are talking about not only a game artist). There are two major engines: Unreal Engine and Unity.

In general, the choice of tools depends on the tasks and does not have universal requirements. However, no matter what tools a 3D graphic artist uses, the main thing for him is his imagination, creativity, and sense of composition.

Learn more about the Best 3D rendering software.

Who is a famous 3D artist?

The best 3D artist of our time is considered to be Mike Winklemann, aka Beeple. If you are interested in 3D art and motion design, you must have heard this name. This 3D artist models are truly stunning. Beeple has a lot of 3D art ideas and shows the world his publications every day. His portfolio is filled with many playful images of pop culture icons. He became famous for selling the NFT of his work for $69 million. 

Here is a list of other well-known names in the 3D space that can serve as an example for you. Check out their social media. Portfolios of these 3D artists can definitely inspire you. 

1. Roger Magrini 

2. Visualdon

3. Studio-JQ

4. Annibale Siconolfi

5. Leticia Gillett 

6. Antoni Tudisco

7. Skeeva 

8. Beeple

9. Billelis 

10. Fvckrender

Check out our 3D Portfolio. 3D artists in our company make each image with an incredible sense of taste and attention to detail.  The photorealism and beauty of these images speak for themselves.


In this article, we told you who a 3D artist is, what qualities he needs to work, what tools he needs to have, and much more. We also put together a list of states and cities in the USA with the highest rate that a 3D artist can get. If you are looking for 3D jobs, this post will help you. We also recommend you use such services as Indeed, ZipRecruiter, Glassdoor, and LinkedIn for your 3D artist jobs search. In case you are someone who looking for 3D artists for hire, the best platform for you to choose will be Upwork

Ira maksymova author

Author of Applet 3D articles. In passion about art, so writing about design, architecture, the animation is a great chance to enjoy my work. Rule of life - set little goals but achieve big results.

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  1. zoritole

    I got what you intend, regards for putting up.Woh I am lucky to find this website through google.

    1. Ira maksymova author
      Ira Maksymova author

      Thank you a lot! Have you read our other articles?

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