Three Dimensional Artist: Job Duties and Information

Learn about the work responsibilities of a three-dimensional artist. Explore skills and education necessary, as well as employment outlook and salary potential, in order to make an informed career decision.

Career Definition for a Three-Dimensional Artist

Three dimensional arts professionals typically work in three-dimensional animation, sculpture, game design, and graphic design. Other occupations include jewelry artist and fiber artist. Thus, duties for a three-dimensional artist will vary depending on his or her specific field. Responsibilities may include creating characters and story lines, designing video game scenarios and storyboards, or laying out online publications. Three dimensional artists also may fabricate three-dimensional models or design product packaging.

Education Associate, bachelor's or master's degrees available in several areas such as graphic design or media arts
Job Skills Story line conception, connection of theory and art, coding for game designers, established portfolio
Median Salary (2017)* $49,520 for fine artists, $48,700 for graphic designers, and $70,530 for multimedia artists and animators
Job Growth (2016-2026)* 7% for fine artists, 4% for graphic designers, and 8% for multimedia artists and animators

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Three dimensional artists usually have a 2-year associate's degree in Graphic Design, a 4-year Bachelor of Fine Arts or bachelor's degree in Art or Media Arts, or a Master of Fine Arts. Courses for these programs may include character animation, modeling, forging, gaming technology, and story development. It's important for three-dimensional artists to develop a portfolio highlighting their talents.

Skills Required

While all three-dimensional artists must be creative, other skills vary based on one's chosen field. Three dimensional animators must be able to conceive story lines, design cartoons and characters, and create film and animation concepts. Sculptors should be able to connect art and theory and create visual representations of concepts. Game designers must have the technical know-how to code games and be able to conceive a game from concept to reality, designing characters and levels, and developing rules. Graphic designers must be able to create concepts for product packaging, transform their ideas into graphics, and understand editorial design.

Career and Economic Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the projected 2016-2026 employment growth of graphic designers is 4% overall, with the greatest increase in computer systems design (20%), where three-dimensional skills would be most used. For fine artists, including sculpture artists, a 7% growth was predicted. Multimedia artists and animators should see better growth of 8%. Realistic computer graphics, video games, and three-dimensional movies are in demand, but many jobs are outsourced.

BLS figures show the median annual income for salaried fine artists, including sculptors, was $49,520; for graphic designers was $48,700; and for multimedia artists and animators was $70,530 in May 2017.

Alternative Careers

You might want to look into these other careers in three-dimensional crafting:


For those who want a career drawing three-dimensional images but prefer to focus on mechanical or architectural drawings instead of fine art, becoming a drafter may be a good choice. Drafters take rough architectural or engineering sketches and use computer software to create detailed blueprints and other diagrams. A drafting associate degree from a technical school or community college is how most enter this field, and professional certification is available for workers who want to be competitive. According to the BLS, a 7% increase for drafters is predicted during the 2016-2026 period. Based on BLS figures from May of 2017, mechanical drafters received a median wage of $55,130, while architectural and civil drafters earned $52,870.

Industrial Designer

Somewhat similar to other three-dimensional illustrators and drafters, industrial designers take new commercial and industrial product concepts and create three dimensional drawings. Going beyond that, they use these drawings to develop prototypes, consult with manufacturers and engineers, plan what materials will be used and evaluate the success of the design. To gain entry-level work, a bachelor's degree in architecture, engineering or industrial design is required, and a professional portfolio is necessary. The BLS projects 1,800 new positions will open for industrial designers between 2016 and 2026. These designers earned a median salary of $65,970, as reported by the BLS in 2017.

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