In today’s high-tech world, 3D modeling is one of the most in-demand artistic specialties around. 3D modelers are responsible for crafting three-dimensional computer graphics for a wide variety of uses, including animation, special effects, video games, 3D printing, and even scientific research. 3D models have a distinct advantage over their traditional counterparts, as computer-generated models are much easier to modify and to duplicate. Since quality 3D modeling is expensive, finding the perfect freelancer for the job the first time will save you a lot of time and money.
What to look for
Does the freelancer have a strong background in 3D modeling?
Traditional art skills don’t always translate well to 3D modeling, especially not without a lot of practice. While some 3D modelers may also do 2D concept art, the freelancer’s portfolio should focus on their 3D work.
Does the freelancer's portfolio demonstrate technical skills?
3D modeling is a highly technical field. Portfolio pieces should be polished and show off a diverse range of skills, both in asset types and software used.
What about creative skills?
At the same time, you probably don’t want to hire someone who can’t come up with their own original ideas.
Know what you need
What aspect(s) of the project will the 3D modeling artist be working on?
For example, the best person for 3D-modeled special effects in a live-action video probably won’t be the same person for a fully computer-animated video.
What type of style will lend itself best to your project?
Whether you’re looking for a cute cartoon mascot or a photorealistic landscape, make sure the freelancer’s abilities match the job description.
What is your budget?
This will determine who you can hire (experience and quality) and to do what (a week’s worth of dedicated work vs. a month’s).
Questions to ask a potential candidate
Have you worked on any similar projects?
The field of 3D modeling is diverse and most experienced artists are highly specialized. You’ll want a modeler with a relevant work history.
How did you learn to be a 3D modeler?
While many 3D modeling artists are self-taught or learned on the job, it’s increasingly common for careers to start with formal education. Although the quality of their portfolio is still more important, finding out about their educational background in their own words is a good idea.
How adaptable are you as an artist?
Whether it’s taking constructive criticism from team members or changing up their art style to better match existing assets, flexibility is always a plus in video production.
Will you be able to meet our production timeline?
Freelancers have a lot of irons in the fire and many early in their careers may also be juggling a day job. Make sure the candidate has enough time to commit to your project.
Have you ever had a project that didn't work out the way you envisioned?
This question works in two ways: 1) You’ll find out how honest they are — 3D modeling takes a ton of experience and trial and error to get right. It’s unlikely that a modeler will be able to truthfully answer “no” to this question. 2) You’ll be able to gauge how well the artist can handle pressure and setbacks.