Starting out as a 3D artist – 10 killer tips to drive you to success


Welcome to the sixth and final part in a series of posts helping you get started as a 3D artist. The series includes delving into software, hardware, resources and tutorials – everything that will get you going in the right direction as you embark upon this super exciting journey. I entered the world of 3D visualization as a fresh faced 19-year-old,absolutely clueless in so many ways. I was grateful for others helping me on that journey. Hopefully this series will be like the many tour guides that I had in the early days.

When you’re starting out as a 3D artist it can be easy to get discouraged. You’ve got a super steep learning curve ahead of you, you look at the beautiful work produced by the pros and you see the Grand Canyon like gap between where you’re at and where they’re at. Will you ever bridge it? Will you be average or not even get that far? Do I have what it takes? These questions are completely normal to have. There is no harm in reaching for the stars but at the outset it is helpful to be realistic. If it takes thousands of hours to master anything then you’ll have a long road ahead of you. It’ll be full of ups and downs, stress and joy. At times you’ll feel like you’re motoring and at other times you’ll wonder why you started in the first place. These killer tips will hopefully help you through the difficult times and keep you focused on what you set out to achieve.

Killer tips that will help you keep improving as a 3D artist.
Image credit supplied by Mike Winkelmann

Practice daily

If you want to get better then you’re going to have to commit yourself to learning and practicing daily. Dipping your toes in here and there is not the way to get better at any type of art. You’ve got to immerse yourself in it and spend as much time as you can on it. If you’re employed as a 3D artist then this is easier because you’ll be doing this every day but if it’s something you do on the side then you’ll need to make time in the evenings and on the weekends to practice. One of the ways to get better faster is to be faster at creating. Learn to use shortcuts to really speed up your workflow.

Practicing every day will improve your skills rapidly.
Image credit supplied by Sigmund

Get feedback

I come across so many artists who are anxious about showing off their work. They think it needs to be perfect before anyone can see it but unfortunately this leaves them unable to get their work out there. The best thing you can do is to get your art work out there on forums and galleries so that others can look. Not only does this force you into actually finishing work but it also enables other to leave comments. This feedback is invaluable and should be welcomed as an artist.

Post your work on a forum like CG Architect and ask for feedback
Image credit supplied by CG Architect

Share regularly

Share work as often as you can. The more you can create the better you will become and the quicker you will get there. One of the most inspiring artists out there is Mike Winkelmann who creates and shares an image on his blog every single day of the year. Incredible! He’s obviously determined and understandably not everyone will have the time to create this amount of work but what it does show is how important it is to be regularly creating work and sharing it with the public.

Share your work regularly
Image credit supplied by Mike Winkelmann

Don’t do what’s boring

One of the reasons you might be tempted to give up is because it gets boring. I understand that there are some elements of the creative process which are tedious and time consuming. These tasks can suck the fun out of the process. You therefore want to do as little of this boring stuff as possible. One way to reduce it is to automate common tasks by either writing your own scripts or by downloading them. You also don’t want to have to recreate the wheel; make use of other models you’ve created, taking what you can from those to act as a base for your new scene.

Use scripts to cut out as much of the boring repetitive tasks as possible
Image credit supplied by ScriptSpot

Keep learning new things

For me, I really feel the enjoyment when I know I’m learning something new. To go from a point of not understanding to the point of not only understanding but also implementing is at time exhilarating. You can see yourself improving. Try, therefore, to learn as many new things as possible. Keep your eye on new features being released for your software or new techniques and ways of doing things. Implement these into your routine of practicing daily and you’ll keep the enjoyment level high.

Keeping an eye on blogs like Ronen Bekerman’s will help you keep up to date with new
software and techniques.
Image credit supplied by Ronen Bekerman

Don’t procrastinate

We all need to heed this advice, don’t we?! With so much to titillate our senses right at our fingertips we can quickly find ourselves wasting not only minutes but hours of our days. If you want to stay committed to becoming the best 3D artist you can then you’ll want to cut out as much procrastination as possible. Download apps that monitor and restrict your use of certain websites and apps. Be disciplined and remember what your goal is.

Use apps like RescueTime to keep a handle on what you’re spending your time doing.
Image credit supplied by RescueTime

Practice what you learn

It’s good to watch tutorials and read blogs but unless you’re actually putting it into practice you’ll never actually improve. Get in the habit of actually implementing what you’re learning. Do it as part of your next project or integrate it into your daily learning. And don’t forget, practice makes practicing easier!

Put into practice what you’re learning in tutorials
Image credit supplied by Autodesk

Make use of plugins

As part of the resources part of this series we highlighted the importance of using plugins to carry out tasks that would either be impossible to carry out yourself or so time consuming that it wouldn’t be worth it. Make use of free and paid plugins that enable you to spend time on the important aspects of the creation process.

Make the most of plugins such as Forest Pack Pro to speed up your workflow
Image credit supplied by Itoo Software

Use post-production

When I started out as a 3D artist I thought I had to create everything to the finished standard right within the renderer. What a mistake that was! For me, it stifled creativity and meant I spent far too long trying to create things and effects in the renderer that could have been achieved in a fraction of the time in something like Photoshop or After Effects. If using postproduction tools make sure you use a non-destructive workflow so that you can bring new renders in at the end without having to go through the whole post-production process again.

Use post-production tools to take your renders to the next level.
Image credit supplied by Nejc Soklič

Enjoy the journey

And finally, make sure you enjoy the journey. If you’re not enjoying the journey then what’s the point?! Life is to be enjoyed. Do as much of what you enjoy and for the things that you don’t enjoy try to keep them in perspective and find ways to enjoy even those things. And as you journey through becoming a better 3D artist remember that you probably started out because it was something that you enjoyed doing. Don’t lose that flame!

Enjoy the journey as you look to become the best 3D artist you can be
Image credit supplied by Averie Woodard


As always, please encourage the rest of us by leaving your killer tips in the comments section. We’ve made it to the end of our ‘Starting Out’ series. We’ve weaved our way through software, hardware, tutorials, resources and ended things off with some killer tips to help keep you going in the right direction towards the 3D artist that you aspire to be.

Read part one of this article tutorial: Starting out as a 3D artist – 3D modeling software
Read part two of this article tutorial: Starting out as a 3D artist – rendering software
Read part three of this article tutorial: Starting out as a 3D artist – hardware
Read part four of this article tutorial: Starting out as a 3D artist – tutorials
Read part five of this article tutorial: Starting out as a 3D artist – resources

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