What is a 3D Modeling Artist?

Written by 90 Seconds
Last updated: October 4, 2023
What is a 3D Modeling Artist?

A 3D modeling artist is responsible for bringing characters and animations to live through a vigorous artistic process. Often the production for an animated movie will take many years, typically 3 or more.

3D modeling for television still requires the same work, yet is usually accomplished much more quickly.

A 3D modeling artist can also produce work for live action movies and television. The art of animating a 3D character will be the same no matter what sort of television or movie is being made.

3D modeling artists are skilled at marketing and networking and have to be team players.

They are artistic, creative, and have the appropriate computer skills for the job.

Most 3D modeling artists today must be certified or have a degree in graphic design to find any work. 3D modeling artists create broad portfolios of their work, as it is essential for obtaining jobs.

The market for qualified 3D modeling artists is fierce and 3D modeling artists must have excellent networking skills to make a living in their career field.

Primary roles


The first thing a 3D modeling artist does is model what they will be creating. This is done through computer programs and careful attention to details.

What has been designed in 2D through storyboards and the like is carefully recreated in 3D. This can be a lengthy process depending on what is being created.

Artists use simple and complex polygons formed together to make realistic looking objects.

The more detailed the 3D model, the more realistic it looks. All this takes place on a virtual “set” where length, width, and depth can be visually represented.


After 3D modeling artists create 3D shapes, they then apply textures to the surfaces of those shapes.

Textures are 2D images that are either drawn by artists or imported as pictures. For example, the skin color of a 3D animated person is in fact a two-dimensional picture applied to the surface of a multifaceted polygon.

Textures, like polygons, can be as detailed as the 3D modeling artist wants, and much of the artist’s creative abilities can be seen in the texture process.

Animation Rigging

After a 3D object is created and then textured, it must be rigged for animation.

Animated films involve complex movements of 3D animated objects, from a character running away from broiling flames to the humanlike facial movements of a fictional animal.

Animators control these movements by selecting which parts of the polygon will move or react to their environment.

There are all kinds of controls and advanced techniques to orchestrate the movement of 3D animation, and only experienced animators can pull it off in a convincing manner.


After 3D objects are created, textured, and animated, they must be rendered. This process involves taking a 3D object and turning it back into a 2D representation.

For example, an animated movie displays animation in 2D to audiences even though it was created in 3D. Lighting and other aesthetic considerations are also taken into account during rendering.