Go back

3D Design: Best Career Opportunities In 2023

Read in 4 minutes
Published on: 07 Nov 2022

While 3D design in itself is a career, the profession branches out to several other options. This blog discusses various 3D design career opportunities that are growing in 2023.

3D design is a skill based on visual appeal. As a 3D designer, your job is to build 3D elements that can instantly capture attention. Have you watched movies with excellent effects? That's what 3D designers do. They mould imaginations into reality. Want to be a 3D designer? Then you must be wondering about the opportunities this field holds. Shift that bus into the park and step into our office—We've gathered 6 of the best 3D career opportunities.


Without further ado, let's introduce you to the 6 top branches of 3D design you can specialise in.  

Top 6 3D design career opportunities

1. 3D Modeller (Film)

A 3D Moeller helps make a film more ''vibrant'' regarding personality development. The tasks require the modeller to add an overall realistic appeal. As a modeller, you must have a basic understanding of emotions and elements.  This will help in creating life-like scenarios. For instance, creating a scene that shows an explosion.

Moreover, your 3D characters shouldn't only look good. They must also be highly functional. You will also work with other graphic design and motion graphics department. In most cases, modellers need to work with the FX team. The end goal is to ensure that the effects are popularly manipulated. 

Studios may look for the following skills:

-Excellent grasp of colours, forms, and textures and work these elements together. 

-Create detailed and accurate models using reference materials.

-Prominent subdivision modelling skills.

-Sufficient understanding of scale, depth, proportion, and physical dimensions.

-Experience with UV layout using UDIM workflow.

-Basic knowledge of anatomy and zoology to create life-like models.

-Experience with scans like LiDAR and Megascans.

An average 3D modeller's annual income ranges from $75000 to $180,000.

2. Character artist

A 3D character artist creates 3D characters for various purposes. The illustrations are drawn by concept artists. They are later turned into 3D characters for movies and video games.

Character artists are crucial in 3 sectors: movies, animations, and video games. Let'sLet's see how character artists work in each of these categories:

A. Films

Character artists need to create 3D characters for live-action sequences. The work is usually performed post the production process of the film. However, the illustrations, sketches, and concept art will be created beforehand. This is done to integrate the effects as a part of the film.

B. Animations

In animation series or films, character artists need to develop somewhat 3D-animated characters. The work in this sector is done through the production process. The aim is to integrate the characters within the video. Additionally, the character artist works closely with writers, designers, and the director(s). The task requires the character artist to display complex emotions and character development.

C. Video games

Character artists for video games must understand the entire technical process of gamification. This includes grasping how to work with various elements and characters. Hence, this is where maximum creativity is the ultimate requirement. Gaming companies always look forward to hiring different levels of character artists. Junior or intermediate-level artists work on modelling simple elements like gloves or shoes. Mid-level character artists create simpler forms of full characters. Advanced-level character artists work on complex 3D models with powerful life-like features. A senior character artist should have a complete grasp of 3D character design.

Studios may look for the following skills:

-Experience in Polymodelling, sculpting, and UV mapping.

-Experience in baking textures.

-Experience in using software such as Maya, ZBrush, and Blender.

-Knowledge about character art and understanding how to finish and create a model.

-Knowledge of anatomy and physiology.

-Understand character design principles and the use of primary, secondary, and tertiary textures.

-Team-playing with other departments like FX to create sophisticated 3D designs.

Typically, a 3D character artist earns between $32,000 and $98,000

3. Environment Artist

An environment artist is often used for animated films and video game productions. Job responsibilities include making nature-related art like flowing grass and fluffy plants. The foundational skill is, of course, modelling. The art is meant to replicate nature. Hence, it is super important for the artist to push, fold, and twist to create a 3D sculpture. You may need high-quality paid software like ZBrush to stylise your art. The software can also provide chunky and exaggerated textures. However, the more details you add, the more extra geometry you will create. This may slow down your game or movie. This is where you need to create two versions: a high-poly and a low-poly version.

High-poly version: This version carries the small details like cracks, chips, and dents.

Low-poly version: This version will carry the basic shapes of the model. It will have a rough outline with none of the detail.

The two versions are combined through baking. Baking is the process of transferring one object's surface details to another. It is done in the form of a normal map, a 2D image. 

Once that is done, you need to UV map the model and add textures.

Studios may look for the following skills:

-Understand UV unwrapping skills.

-Understand concepts like ''overlapping'' and ''trimsheets''.

-Understand how nature works and how to add textures accordingly.

-Analyse various concepts like rock degradation, forest hierarchy, water flow, and more.

-Understand how to bake trimsheets.

The average salary of a 3D environment artist ranges from $49,000 to $96,000.

4. Asset Artist

A 3D asset artist focuses explicitly on creating game-ready assets. The assets can be transported to video games. For instance, an asset artist will create battle weapons, and various materialistic tools. Thus, an asset artist must have knowledge about various tools and weapons. For instance, if you are working on a sword, you must understand the colour combinations, textures, and tiny details involved. 

Companies may look for the following skills:

-Proficient understanding of Unity.

-Create high-quality for various simulations.

-Integrate, import, and manage assets into game engines.

-Use 3D max to create texture on high-poly models and import it into low-poly models.

Asset Designers earn a standard Game Designer salary which ranges from $45,000 to $93,000.

5. Texture Artist

Each 3D modelling branch requires proficient texture skills. But, there's a fifth branch, the texture artist, specifically dedicated to this field. For any texture artist, a thorough understanding of organic textures is a must. Texture artists work for both characters and assets. In this profession, it is important to understand anatomy, zoology, and material textures. The task of a texture artist is to improvise 3D models and add next-level life-like textures. For instance, earthy surfaces are given more rough textures. Another example is the scales on a crocodile. Other examples include creases on clothes, shadows, and various reflections.

Studios may look for the following skills:

-Understanding of computer graphics and 3D animation

-High understanding of the texture of various materials and inanimate objects. 

-Understanding of shadows and light. 

-Draw inspiration from real-life scenarios and imitate them to form a 3D background.

-Understand how to use software like Maya, Blender, and Adobe Substance 3D

The role of a texture artist can be an entry-level or junior position. The average salary of a Texture Artist ranges from $47,000 to $96,000.

6. Look Development Artist

Look development artists are required for both pre- and post-production functioning. The overall responsibility of a look dev artist is to ensure that the end results are to-the-point. Hence, in a way, a look dev artist also has to look into the works of every branch mentioned above. A look dev artist is responsible for the final finishes on a product. They need to analyse the aesthetic appeal of every product. This is why a look dev artist is important to have, regardless of how many 3D artists a company hires. 

Studios may look for the following skills:

-Pro-level understanding of textures, anatomy, zoology, dimension,  scale, and shade.

-Through understanding of composition, perspective, depth of field, lighting, proportion, and spatial awareness. 

-Experience in texturing and minute effects required to mimic real-life details. 

-Ability to produce multiple revisions to create the final and perfect 3D artwork.

-Understanding of simulations for cloth, hair, fur, and more. 

-Understand UV mapping and texture mapping. 

An average look development artist's annual income is around $56000.

The categories given above are sections of 3D designing. There'sThere's more you can do or be with your 3D design skills. Let'sLet's look at the 4 most common job opportunities that can knock on your door with 3D design skills.

3D Design Common Job Opportunities

1. 3D Printing Technician

Round-about salary per year: $35000

Quick brief of the job:

Utilising CAD (Computer-aided Design) information to generate products. Overseeing the printing process in 3D form. Offering ideas, innovations, and optimisations of a product through a 3D printer.

2. Video Game Designer

Round-about salary per year: $31000

Quick brief of the job:

Designing the core aspects of a video game. It includes plots, characters, ideas, elements, visual designs, layouts, and more. Collaborating with other team members to create a cohesive version of the game.

3. 3D Animator

Round-about salary per year: $36000

Quick brief of the job:

Adding life-like animations to a 3D character. Create characters of objects that look alive and breathing for various mediums. Analyse animations for video games, movies, television, and advertisements.

4. Graphic Designer

Round-about salary per year: $47000

Quick brief of the job:

Using 3D tools to create graphic logos and other visually captivating elements. Create various assets using 3D tools to use them through different angles for advertisements, video games, and more.

Complexities in 3D Design Jobs

Want to be a 3D designer? First, you must prepare yourself for various challenges even outside your field. Let's look into the "complexities" you may encounter in your journey:

1. Architectural visualisation

Architectural visualisation, a.k.a. Arc viz, creates visually appealing illustrations of an architectural project. It could be for a video game, a musical video, a real estate business, or a film. 3D architectural visualisation is a basic skill required by most employers.

Here's how this skill can be complex:

-Not knowing the x and y axis that give false dimensions to the room.

-Not considering who could live or use the architectural construction.

-Relying too heavily on photoshop.

-Adding irrelevant items to fill the space.

2. 3D Concept Art

Concept art means sketching out the concept. It means drawing the basic idea based on which a project further grows. It is sketching out any location, construction, character, or vague ideas. The art highlights various imagined iterations to decide which one to go ahead with.

Here's how this skill can be complex:

-Not having fundamental drawing skills.

-Not knowing the colour flow or structure fundamentals.

-Not understanding the laws of VFX, motion design, and post-production.

-Not gathering knowledge about pipeline skills like:
sculpting, texting, rigging, UV mapping, 3D modelling, and more.

Other obstacles in 3D design jobs:

-Not having powerful and rigid hardware.

-Using software that limits creativity.

-Not upgrading according to trends that dictate user demand.

-Repetitive tasks due to lack of research.

On KoolStories, the growing microlearning platform, you can learn 3D in depth. Join the app to go through our 15 minutes micro courses. Watch bite-sized content non-stop relevant to your interests. Chat with learners or connect in real-time with experts through one-to-one sessions. Start your upskilling journey now!

Learn from 100+ experts teaching in demand skills.

Easily book one-to-one sessions with an expert to get tailored learning.

Download KoolStories
Learn for FREE


What are the ways to learn 3D design without a degree?

You can learn 3D design without enrolling yourself into an academic course. Here are some ways
🌸Learn through a skill-training platform.
🌸Learn through YouTube.
🌸Learn through videos provided on software websites.
🌸Learn through a personally-known professional.
🌸Learn through an informal tutor.  
It's true that an academic qualification may push your relevance. But, if you gain the right skills and build a strong portfolio, you can do better than most 3D designers.

In which sectors are 3D artists most in demand?

Currently, these are the fields which demand 3D artists the most:
🔆Game design
🔆Fashion design
🔆Graphic design
🔆Music Production

How can a self-taught 3D artist be successful?

Here's what you can do to build your reputation as a self-taught 3D artist:
💡Hone your skills to face the market competition.
💡Explore various niches related to 3D designing.
💡Get into a 3D design internship.
💡Create a strong portfolio to showcase your talents.
💡Create an outstanding resume using your 3D skills.

Which software can I use to be an excellent 3D designer?

Software is the most important part of a 3D design task. Here are the top software to enhance your 3D skills:
✵ Blender
✵ AutoCAD
✵ AutoDesk Maya
✵ K-3D
✵ FaceGen
✵ Poser