The world of 3D is great. There are many industries involved in learning 3D. Before you approach the 3D world, it makes sense to know exactly what you want to learn and how to best achieve your learning goals. In this article, you`ll get a crash course on some of the most popular 3D fields like the creation of 3D configurators. This will help you find out exactly what interests you the most, what programs you need, and what first steps you should take in learning 3D.

What exactly do you want to do?

If you read these passages here, you probably already have an idea of what you want to do. The spectrum in 3D ranges from movies, TV shows, games, visual effects, product designs to the creation of your own art.

Content for TV.

The process of producing an animated film can take years, but a typical film can be made in about 3 to 5 years. TV shows, on the other hand, don`t last as long as films, but both TV shows and films usually involve hundreds of well-trained artists. Working in the television or film industry as a 3D artist can mean working on films like Toy Story or Dr. Who. Whether it`s  a fully animated film or a mix of live action and 3D, the disciplines are the same. However, the creation process is different.

With a fully animated film, the story is first worked out. Concepts are then developed for the characters and environments in which the characters will interact later. Then the actual process of 3D world creation begins. Here, the 3D artist can demonstrate all his skills by modelling, texturing, animating and rendering all virtual worlds and characters.

When working on a TV show, the process is similar to that of feature films and the same disciplines are involved. Everything is planned in almost the same way, but the deadlines for TV shows are much shorter. Typically, a TV show is released once a week, while the development process of a film can take up to several years.

If you want to get into this business, you must of course have an idea of where you want it to be in the development process. Choose modeling, model and create 2D concepts in 3D. Once a model is created, things like colors and materials need to be applied to you. This is the texturing process. Before a model can be motioned, a seleton must be built during rigging. Once rigged, a model can be brought to life through animation. After the model has been animated, it needs to be rendered to turn it into a series of still images that can then be seen in the final film. Compositing, on the other hand, is not really a step in 3D work, but compositing is very important in the creation of movies and TV shows. For this reason, we will also discuss compositing in more detail in this article, especially as it can also include 3D work in some cases. In compositing, the rendered images are captured and polished, regardless of whether they are integrated into live footage (VFX) or the final subtleties of a 3D animation.

Gaming Content.

The number of game development studios has increased dramatically in recent years. Game design and development is an exciting field and I`m sure you`ve wondered how your favorite games are made. In contrast to a film, which is played from beginning to end, a game is characterized by a higher degree of interaction. However, this also means that much more is needed for game development than just the 3D aspects. For example, programming plays a very important role in the development process. However, we will neglect these aspects in this article.

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Like in a movie, creating games in every step of the 3D pipeline requires the use of modellers through to renderers. The disciplines used in film production are similar to video games, but the approach is very different. For example, an animated character must not only look good in the software, but also work well in the game engine. This means additional steps to make sure it works well in the game, rather than just for the camera as it does for the movie. But since many aspects of game design are similar to movies, 3D artists can be used in both movies and games.

Learning the disciplines in the pipeline can help you prepare for the game or industry. As with movies, every object must be modeled in games. This is the process of adopting the 2D concepts and creating them in 3D. The games must run on a player`s computer or console, there will inevitably be limitations on the resolution of the models. As a result, a lot of additional details for game models will be faked in the texturing process. Once the model looks good,  the use of rigging is required before it can be motioned. A series of animations must be created for a model. As an example, the running animation of a character can be mentioned here. Only when the run animation has actually been created will the game engine be able to make the character look like it is really moving faster.

Visual Effects.

Working wirh visual effects often means you`ll be working in the movie industry. Visual Effects (VFX) integrates computer-generated visuals with live-action footage. All the scenarios and blood spatter effects of the 300 movie are a great example of VFX artists at work. Many disciplines that are also used in the production of animated films can also be found in VFX. Typically, VFX artists are asked to add additional things that would be either impossible or far too expensive, such as modeling a car that explodes in a live action scene.

Product Design.

Product design is the process of using a computerized representation of a product to visualize a product. This is usually done after a product has been conceived in 2D and before it has been created in real life. In most cases, product designers design the product themselves from start to finish. This means that product designers must have a deep understanding of modeling, texturing and rendering.

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Individual art.

If you are a hobby designer and want to create your own art, you won`t be able to manage the entire creation process from start to finish. However, it makes sense to focus on areas that interest you the most. You should have a clear idea of what kind of art you want to do, so that you can focus on a particular study. Focusing on the things that interest you most can help you realize your projects because you will simply enjoy them.

Which step in the pipeline do you want to focus on first?

In the medium to long term, it is undoubtedly advantageous to learn several steps in the pipeline. However, it is never a good idea to take more than one step at a time. You should approach the learning process step by step. This allows you to work your way step-by-step from modeling to texturing to compositing.


Everything that exists or could exist in the real world can be created virtually. A 3D modeler can create anything from a character for a movie to a weapon in a video game. For example, the Hulk in the Avengers was built in 3D by modellers. Although modeling for movies and modeling for games may seem like the same task, the process is quite different. A 3D modeler usually only works for the creation of the models and the textures are edited by a texture artist. The limits set for a modeller in a film are comparatively smaller than those of a game modeller. Rather, the modelling of films is more about the production speed and the quality of the finished model.

In game modelling, the 3D model has the potential to interact with the game and view it from all angles. A 3D modeler in games is limited by the game engine and console. You have a very tight polygonal budget that you can`t go through. Creating 3D models for product design is a different approach than creating models for games and movies. Often a product designer will have to work with blueprints and create the model to fit the specific specifications. All of the above fields require a 3D modeler somewhere in the production pipeline.

There are many different software packages on the market to learn 3D modeling. Among the most commonly used software solutions are Maya, 3ds Max, Cinema 4D and Softimage. Which software solution you ultimately choose depends  on a number of factors. Click on the following link to find out more about the various software solutions available.

If you are interested in product design, you can use 3D applications like Maya, Cinema 4D or 3ds Max, but a more specialized program might be better. With inventor and SolidWorks, for example, you can work with dimensions much more accurately than with 3D applications mainly used for media and entertainment such as Maya, Cinema 4D or 3ds Max.


Once a 3D model has been created, the surface is represented with a single flat color. For example, should the wall of a house be wallpapered or painted? Such things are done in the texturing step. Texturing is necessary in all of the above fields. In the film industry, the texture artist often performs a specific task in the pipeline. In the games industry, it is often necessary for a 3D modeler to create textures for the models he creates. Maya, 3ds Max and Cinema 4D are ideal for texturing tasks.

Ironically, however, jumping into a 3D application is not the best first step for an aspiring texture artist. Before you learn how to use 3D software, it`s important to familiarize yourself with an image editing program such as Photoshop. The reason for this is simply that many textures are based on a photo or at least a photographic reference.


In the film and game industry there are artists who are responsible for the skeletons of the characters. These skeletons are called rigg. In order for an animator to bend and deform a 3D assets, a rigging artist must first set up a rig. This involves creating all the control points on the 3D model that are needed for an animator to bend and deform the model to create the animations. Creating the rigs can take weeks to complete and requires a lot of technical skill. The same work processes are required for video games, but the complexity of the animations determines how complex the rig must be. In order to start rigging, a decision must first be made about the software to be used. Programs such as Maya, 3ds Max or Cinema 4D are ideal for creating powerful rigs.


The task of the animator is to move the required 3D assets in a credible way. For example, when a character moves in a 3D animation movie, each movement is created by an animator. Animations are often used in movies and video games. The creation process is always a bit different. When working in an animated movie such as Tangled, animators usually create three to four seconds of animation every week.

With animations in video games, it is common for animators to be asked to create a 20-second animation in a single day. Animations in a live action movie are very similar to animations for fully animated features, except that characters usually need to be animated very realistically because they interact with real actors. Also the animations in the product design differ from the animations in movies or video games. In product design, products are displayed, e. g. the housing of a telephone is visualized. Among the most popular animation tools are Maya, 3ds Max, Cinema 4D and Softimage.


As a rule, rendering is performed at the end of production. Just as a 2D artist renders his drawings by adding light and shadow to his paintings or drawings, 3D rendering allows the 3D artist to incorporate shadow and light into the 3D scenes. Rendering in a 3D movie can be a lenghty process. A single image can take up to 24 hours to render. Rendering in a game must be done in real time. This means that rendering cannot take a single picture hour. The computer`s graphics card must display the rendering itself and must be created while the viewer is playing. Films usually look much better because each image is pre-rendered and so muach time can be invested to achieve a high quality end result.

A decision must also be made in favor of software for rendering. With programs like Maya, 3ds Max, Cinema 4D and Softimage you can create beautiful renderings.


A compositor is most often used in the VFX area. A compositor can be used to insert individual images into an authentic background and thus create the illusion that all elements are present. Behind the scenes, scenes in a science fiction film are shot in a strange green room. If you look at the finished film, it looks like the actors are in a science fiction city or other area. It is the task of a compositor to convey the illusion that the actors are in a different universe. Compositing plays a very important role in the VFX pipeline because without compositors there would be no way to integrate 3D elements into a live action scene. Some of the most important software applications for compositing are NUKE and After Effects.

Final thoughts.

Great 3D artists are not born overnight. It can take several years to master some of the areas presented. It`s important not to lose courage and keep working in your skills, even if your own productions can`t hold a candle to those of Pixar.

A professional animated film usually requires several hundred years of experienced artists. Your creations will improve with practice. Membership in an online community is especially helpful to get constructive feedback for your creations. It is important that you can tolerate constructive criticism well, don`t take it personally. Visit the appropriate forums to post your ongoing work and receive feedback from other artists. On the following page you will find a list of relevant forums in this area.