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What Does a 3D Modeler Do? Where Does a 3D Modeler Work? ACR Takes a Look.
|Academy of Art University||San Francisco||California|
|American Academy of Art||Chicago||Illinois|
|Fashion Institute of Technology||New York||New York|
|Indiana University||South Bend||Indiana|
|New York Film Academy||New York||New York|
|Platt College||San Diego||California|
|Pratt Institute||San Diego||California|
|Rochester Institute of Technology||Rochester||New York|
|Savannah College of Art and Design||Savannah||Georgia|
|Southern New Hampshire University||Manchester||New Hampshire|
|Truman State University||Kirksville||Missouri|
|University of Massachusetts-Lowell||Lowell||Massachusetts|
What Does a 3D Modeler Do?
3D modelers build 3D characters and environments that are based on the concept art. To create the models’ surfaces or skins, they paint and wrap 2D textures on a digital frame. Modelers also create character skeletons, which animators then control. Modeling is performed using a variety of programs such as Maya, 3DS Max, Pixar's RenderMan, POV-Ray, and many others.
The characters and environments 3D modelers create are used for video games and 3D movies as well as images and modeling for websites, graphic designs, animation, film effects, simulations, broadcast design, special effects, characters and props for film, television effects, CD-Rom design, and location-based entertainment. These multi-talented professionals also create images/models for geologists, architects, scientists, engineers, healthcare agencies, and more.
Where Do 3D Modelers Work?
3D modelers work in film and video production studios, game design companies, advertising and graphic design firms, web design firms, software companies, architecture firms, laboratories (both science and medical), colleges and universities, product design firms, and manufacturing firms (retail, home, tools, etc.). Modelers also work in aerospace and for environmental agencies, automotive companies, retail firms, government agencies, crime labs (forensics), interior design firms, building technology firms, real estate companies, and many others.
How Do I Become 3D Modeler?
3D modelers must have advanced math and computer skills. Other skills may be required depending on where the 3D modeler works. For example, 3D modelers in the film or video game industry must have above average creative and design skills, while 3D modelers in scientific fields may have a strong background in any given area of science.
The major and concentration area you choose will depend entirely on the field you’re interested in entering. For example, if you would like to become a 3D modeler in the video game industry, consider majoring in game design. Want to animate? Major in animation, 3D animation or 3D modeling and animation. If you want to venture off the beaten path, consider majoring in physics with a modeling focus to become a 3D Modeler in a science-related field.
There are literally dozens of majors and minors available for aspiring 3D modelers, so there’s no need to limit yourself. Other options include:
- Computer Games Development
- Computer Graphics and Motion Picture Technology
- Computer Graphics Software Development
- Computer Science
- Data Visualization and Development
- Digital Design
- Digital Illustration
- Film and Media Arts
- Game Art
- Game Development
- Game Programming
- Graphic Design/Concentration 3D Modeling
- Interactive Media
- Visual Computing
- Visual Effects
Speak with a career counselor at the college you are considering to make sure you are enrolling in the right program for your career path. If you do not know which colleges are best for your career path, look into art and design schools, technical colleges, career colleges, or traditional colleges with popular art & design, technology, and mathematics programs.
What are Some of the Top Schools for 3D Modelers?
- Academy of Art University, School of Animation and Visual Effects, AA, BFA, MA, MFA, Certificate in Animation & Visual Effects
- American Academy of Art, College of Art, BFA 3D Modeling and Animation, Digital Illustration or Illustration, Graphic Design
- DePaul University, College of Computing and Digital Media, BFA Animation, BS, MFA Game Design
- Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT NYC), BA Animation, Interactive Media & Game Design
- Flashpoint Chicago, A Campus of Columbia College Hollywood, AFA Animation and Visual Effects, BFA Visual Effects
- Indiana University, Ernestine M. Raclin School of the Arts, BFA in Integrated New Media Studies (INMS), 3D Modeling and Animation
- New York Film Academy, The Animation School, BFA 3D Animation and VFX with a Focus in Modeling
- Platt College, School of Graphic Design, BS Media Arts 3D Modeling and Design
- Pratt Institute, School of Art, BFA 3D Animation and Motion Arts
- Rochester Institute of Technology, School of Design, BFA 3D Digital Design
- Savannah College of Art and Design, BFA, MA, MFA Animation or Visual Effects, BA, BFA, MA, MFA in Illustration or Interactive Design and Game Development
- Southern New Hampshire University, School of Arts and Sciences, BA Graphic Design and Media Arts with a Concentration in 3D Modeling and Animation
- Temple University, School of Theater, Film and Media Arts, BFA with a Concentration in Media Arts (3D Modeling, Animation, Experimental Video, Multimedia Audio, Interactive Narrative, Web Art, Videography, Interdisciplinary Studio Practice)
- Truman State University, Art Department, BFA in Design with a 3D Modeling, Motion-Animation Track
- University of Massachusetts-Lowell, Art & Design Department, BFA in Graphic Design or Studio Arts with a Focus in 3D Modeling
What is the Job Outlook for 3D Modelers?
3D modeling is a highly specialized field. As such, there is a high demand for 3D Modelers in all industries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), depending on the specialization, employment in this field had grown by 8-14% by 2018. For example, employment growth for 3D Artists/Modelers working in the entertainment industry was 14%, while those working in illustration had a 9% increase in employment.
According to a number of career websites, the demand for 3D modelers to create models for research and development purposes is also high. This means, career opportunities in the medical, architecture, engineering, chemistry, and geology fields are plentiful.
How Much Do 3D Modelers Make?
3D modelers average around $68,645 per year, however, individual salaries vary greatly by company, geographic location, experience, education, and more. For example, a 3D modeler working at California-based DreamWorks Animation or Connecticut-based Blue Sky Studios—a Twentieth Century Fox Film affiliate—may earn as much as $100,000 per year. A 3D Modeler working at a smaller company, such as Georgia-based Kiz Toys, may earn around $40,000-$48,000 per year or around $42,500 at Alabama-bases AEgis Technologies Group.
Many 3D modelers are self-employed. In these cases, well-established modelers can earn well over six figures, while those just starting out may only charge a nominal fee while gaining experience. However, this is only temporary as talented artists tend to advance quickly.
Awesome Animation Fact: In 1979, a group of computing students at the New York Institute of Technology began making The Works, which would have been the world's first film made entirely from computer animation. However, according to Computer Science for Fun (published by Queen Mary, University of London), script and technology problems forced the students to abandon the project and the distinction eventually went to Toy Story—more than fifteen years later.