Also known as: Character artist, Games artist, Vehicle artist, 3D artist
3D modelling artists create the models for all 3D art assets within the game – characters, weapons, vehicles, furniture, trees, rocks and so on. They often start with a brief or 2D drawing from a concept artist and build their 3D models from that.
Sometimes 3D modelling artists will specialise in a given area, depending on the individual game studio or game project requirements. Then they are called environment artists, character artists or vehicle artists. In other studios 3D modelling artists are responsible for modelling several types of art asset or a whole level.
These are some of the tools used by professionals, but you can develop your skills using free software. Go to build your games portfolio for a list.
3D modelling artists work with all the other members of the art department – the concept artists, environment artists, texturing artists and so on. They also work with the designers and programmers. 3D modelling artists usually report to the art director though their own project’s lead artist.
At school or college:
Learning traditional drawing, painting and sculpting is useful as a way to demonstrate artistic flair outside software.
If you want to go to university, it would be useful to take A-levels or Highers in:
Or you might want to take any of the following vocational Level 3 qualifications:
If you can add some physics or computer science into the mix, that will give you a rounded set of skills that are ideal for a career in games.
If you want to straight into a job or apprenticeship, these Level 3 qualifications will equip you with relevant skills:
Build a portfolio:
Learn the software, experiment with games engines and start creating work that you can show to admissions tutors or employers. This is essential. Go to build your games portfolio to learn how.
Create a level of a game using software provided by the publishers.
Look for an apprenticeship:
At the moment, there aren’t any apprenticeships for 3D modelling artists specifically. However, it might be possible to find an apprenticeship as a 2D artist and move into 3D art from there. Go to how to become an apprentice to learn how to find apprenticeships in your region or approach companies directly.
Get a degree:
Most people in the games industry have a degree. Get one in games art, graphic design or any 3D digital art. Have a look at ScreenSkills’ list of recommended courses in games. We recognise courses with our ScreenSkills Select award where they offer training in the relevant software, dedicated time to building a portfolio and have strong links with the games industry.
Get to know people in the games industry by attending events, including games conferences and expos. Meet professionals and ask them questions about their work, while demonstrating interest and knowledge in the industry. Offer to provide them with your professional contact details and try to stay in touch with them. Go to how to network well to learn how to do this.
Search for jobs:
Use the UK Games Map to find out if there are games companies near you, then go to their websites directly and check out their open roles. Even if they are not advertising the right role, if you like a specific company it’s worth emailing them to let them know you are looking in case something suitable comes up in future. Some employers will take on a junior 3D modelling artist if they have a strong portfolio, showing creativity, flair and software skills.
Look outside games:
It’s also worth considering computer artist roles in any other industry as using similar software will build up your skills. You can use this and any professional artwork you produce to continually improve your games art portfolio, putting you in a stronger position for an entry-level role in games.
Being an environment artist or texturing artist in the games industry. You might also be interested in being a modelling artist, texture artist or an environment artist in visual effects (VFX), or a modeller in the animation industry.
Covers genres ranging from period dramas to epic fantasies screened at the cinema, on TV or on streaming sites
Involves making sequences on a computer that can't be created on set, like enormous crowds and fire-breathing dragons
Creates the illusion of movement, includes computer-generated, stop-motion and hand-drawn animation