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3D Artists: Job Description and Career Outlook for a 3D Artist

Research the educational and skill requirements needed to become a 3D artist, as well as the job description and employment and salary outlook. Read on to decide if this career is right for you.

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Career Defined for a 3D Artist

Three-dimensional (3D) artists may find employment in a variety of places, using computer and film technology to create still or moving 3D creations. A 3D artist may work in media production to create elements for video games or 3D movies. Some 3D artists have the flexibility to work from home. These artists may also work in the growing field of medical illustration, creating 3D images of anatomy for research and diagnostics. Fine 3D artists may produce large or small sculptures from any material, such as clay, wood or metals. These fine 3D artists usually work from a studio and may be found in any city in the country.

Job duties include the original creation of animation and graphics, using both illustration and computer programs. 3D artists often work in teams, dividing project workloads according to strengths. Artists are often consulted on the development of storyboards that are used for creating an overview of a project's final form. Some artists edit animation and its corresponding effects after receiving feedback from managerial animators, clients, directors or game designers. Artists must also be present for concept pitches with new clients in order to sell their abilities and demonstrate their talent to potential employers.

Education Certificate, associate, or bachelor's degree recommended, but not required
Job Skills Creativity, computer knowledge, networking ability, broad portfolio
Median Salary (2015) $63,970 for multimedia artists and animators
Job Growth (2014-2024) 6% for multimedia artists and animators

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Educational Requirements

Some 3D artists working in graphic or media art, such as video or movie production, may find positions without formal education, but most companies now require a certificate, associate's degree or bachelor's degree in graphic design or a related field. Applicable coursework that can prepare a student for a career as a 3D artist includes computer design, technical drawing and animation. Those 3D artists who serve as medical illustrators must hold a bachelor's or master's degree and must have knowledge of biology, in addition to computer design and art. Fine 3D artists pursuing employment as professional sculptors could be self-taught or take lessons from an established artist. Some colleges and universities teach networking and business skills to aspiring 3D artists.

Required Skills

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that 3D artists must hold the following traits:

  • Networking and business skills
  • Ability to showcase artistic works in a portfolio
  • Collaborative personality and willingness to work with other artists
  • Artistic talent and computer skills
  • Creativity

Employment and Salary Outlook

According to the BLS, the job market for multimedia artists and animators was expected to grow 6% from 2014-2024. With large numbers of self-employment 3D artists and the intense competition for salaried positions, earnings vary widely and are difficult to predict. The BLS reported that the median annual salary for multimedia artists and animators was $63,970 in May 2015.

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