Introduction into 3D art – UK
3D art is not for the faint of heart – it takes a lot of skill to create something that looks so real, but with patience and persistence (and the right tools) you can achieve stunning results in no time.
It’s amazing how much nuance and detail a 3D rendering might capture that would be missed otherwise. Utilising the correct tools and taking into account how to work correctly to create an incredible artwork concept, image or maybe even a different perspective of natural settings will all be tricks you pick up on the way to becoming a 3D artist.
There is no exact science to this by the way, the secret to success is to keep trying new ideas and technics to truly become a 3D artwork expert.
3D art techniques add an extra level of depth to the final product, making everything feel more real than ever before! If you simply pencil out a sketch from a nature scene for inspiration and then use your selected artist’s tools to make a 3D version of it – do you just stop there?
Or do you then use it as a starting point to move it to the next level to bring the scene to life by adding incredible sculptures, changing perspective, rotating the picture frame or manipulating the forms. An image can be changed or created in unlimited ways; it’s only your imagination that can hold you back.
3D modelling is a big industry, and it can be hard to decide where you should start. Fortunately for you, we’ve addressed some of the most important points to take into account and compiled a list of the best 3D modelling software programmes out there too!
If you work correctly, your 3D modelling career could be a very rewarding one. Learning just a little bit every day will see you amass knowledge and experience in no time, making sure your portfolio is filled with stunning work.
Click to view each illustrator’s full portfolio
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What is 3D art?
3D art refers to the use of 3D computer graphics software in order to create three-dimensional (3D) artwork, usually related to video games. Creative professionals with training in specialized techniques and skills use their talent to generate 3D art.
Some software is more suited for artistic creation while other software is designed specifically to generate the art objects and then render realistic images. 3D art can also be created manually using a traditional technique, for example, sculptures, photography, photo manipulation, paintings or a picture on canvas and drawings.
These traditional methods are linked to understanding the latest software packages and are certainly good tools to have. Basic art techniques such as creating collages using paper or painted cardboard to form a model all have their uses and give an artist a rounded knowledge base from which to work from.
Inspiration for artwork is unlimited and can come from anywhere (a search without end), it’s all about the best place to draw this from whether it be beauty, history, other artists, a course or an event – the concepts and categories are endless.
In the video game industry, 3d modelling of characters and painting objects and environments are done by experienced 3D artists, creating anything from an imaginary world to a scene, event or real life vision from reality.
The art assets or artwork materials they create are then used in many different ways such as by game designers, programmers and animators.
How to get started in this design process?
If you want to be a professional 3d artist then it will take many years of hard work but if you just want to have fun making things then it will take a couple of weeks to get started, but don’t expect to make huge money just from making models for games.
A good place to start is with blender, it’s a free 3D modelling program that will get you started.
You should learn some of the basics like learning how to use an extrude tool and create basic shapes. It does take hours just to make simple models but after a while, you’ll find it easy then after only being able to create small models you’ll be able to make bigger ones.
Tutorials are a great place to learn and find inspiration so after a while when you have learnt some of the basics check out relevant tutorials and websites on Google…there’s many a good website out there if you search for them – just search for that data.
What is the best software to create 3D art?
The best free software
The best free software to use for 3D art are listed below.
Blender 3D Art Illustration Software
- Blender is a 3D illustration software that allows the artist to create their own models
- The program has been around since 1995 and can be used for free
- Users can add textures, materials, lights, cameras, and other effects to the illustrations
- There are many tutorials to search for online to help new users learn more about how it works. Simply google your search enquiry and these services will be brought up in the advertising ads displaying the relevant site
- Daz Studio is a 3D art software that allows users to produce digital image art and animations
- It’s services are used by people all around the world, from beginners to professionals
- The program is available for Windows PC or Mac, with a free trial available on their website
- Users can also purchase additional content services such as props and textures through the Daz Marketplace. Google the Daz services search and contact the site to present the details
- SketchUp is a 3D art design program that allows you, the artist to make virtual reality models and walkthroughs of your designs.
- SketchUp is often used by architects, engineers, interior designers, and landscape architects.
- The software can be downloaded for free but also has a monthly subscription service called Sketchup Make which includes more features than the free version. Good advertising creates good returns.
- If you’re looking for an easy-to-use CAD program with every tool you need and with lots of tutorials available online then this may be the right one for you!
Hexagon 3D art Software
- 3D modelling software for artists
- Free to download and use
- 3Create your own models or import existing ones from the internet
- Share your work with others through social media contact, email, or USB storage devices
Fusion 3D Illustration Software
- Fusion 3D Art Illustration Software is a new and improved version of the popular Sketching Program
- It’s designed to be more user-friendly for artists with no previous experience in graphics design
- The program comes with many stock images, materials, templates, and tutorials that can help you produce beautiful artwork
- If you’re looking for an easy way to make your ideas come to life, this software is perfect for you!
Houdini Apprentice 3D Illustration Software
- Houdini Apprentice 3D Illustration Software is a software for creating 3D illustration art. The program enables the artist to produce artwork quickly and easily, without any need for programming or scripting skills.
- The intuitive interface allows you to create stunning visuals in just minutes, with no prior experience required! Features include the ability to import your own images and textures, realistic lighting effects, an extensive library of materials and settings – all combined into one powerful package.
- Houdini Apprentice 3D Illustration Software also comes with over 200 pre-made templates that are great starting points for new projects. You can edit these templates by adding more content such as text or graphics, changing colors or modifying shapes until they’re perfect! This software will help you bring your ideas to life in a matter of minutes.
- Houdini Apprentice 3D Illustration Software is extremely easy to learn and use, and can be used by anyone – from students, teachers and hobbyists, all the way up to professional artists! If you’re looking for an affordable alternative to 3D design software such as Maya or Daz Studio, then Houdini Apprentice will provide you with every tool you need to make stunning, professional-quality 3D image illustrations!
Wings 3D Illustration Software
- Wings3D is an open-source software that can be used to create 3D computer graphics
- It features a simple user interface and supports various 3D file formats. (Google search for details)
- The program was developed by Jiri Klenka in 1995, who continues to maintain it as of 2017
- Wings3D runs on Linux, Windows, macOS and other operating systems
Rocket 3F 3D Illustration Software
- A 3D illustration art software that allows artists to create 3D models for printing, animation, and video
- Rocket is a powerful yet affordable 3D illustration software that makes it easy to design your own creations. It also has features like the ability to export files in different formats and sizes, so there’s no need to learn or account for how other programs work.
- The program includes all of the tools needed for creating high-quality designs while keeping the interface simple enough even beginners can use it with ease. The best part about Rocket is that it comes at an affordable price when compared to its competitors. Great advertising, creates great sales therefore great marketing.
- The interface is optimized for those who want to produce illustrations without having to worry about the technical details. The software also includes a number of ready-made tools for your designs including cars, buildings, and other useful objects. You can also choose from a variety of scene presets and structures that are pre-built with customizable materials.
SelfCAD-3D Art Illustration Software
- SelfCAD is a 3D modeling software that allows artists to create 3D designs and high-quality realistic image renders.
- It’s beginner-friendly and powerful enough for use by professionals.
- What sets SelfCAD apart from other programs is the presence of Interactive Tutorials. Unlike the video tutorials which sometimes are hard to follow when learning, SelfCAD’s built-in Interactive Tutorials have step-by-step guidelines so users don’t need to leave the app and refer to external resources.
- SelfCAD has powerful sculpting brushes that help you as an artist to sculpt almost anything and bring out your inner artist.
- There is an online and downloadable version. You can be able to create and access your designs anytime anywhere.
- SelfCAD also has a complete package of tools you will ever need as an artist for your design task. That is, modeling, drawing, sketching, free state of the art rendering, and FDM slicer, something not available in most 3D programs.
- The software has been designed for everyone. Whether you are a beginner, professional artist, business owner, educator, or even a student, SelfCAD is ideal for you.
- It’s affordable. There is a free version though it’s limited in functionality. To access all the features you will need to pay only $14.99/m after a 10-day free pro account. You can also get a lifetime license to all features and future updates for a one-time payment of $599.
A full review of each of these can be found using the link below:
The best professional 3D illustration software
If you want to get into 3D art in a more professional way then you need to start investing in some of the higher-end software programmes out there such as:
1. Maya is a professional 3D illustration software
2. It was originally developed by Alias Systems Corporation, which was acquired by Autodesk in 2005
3. Maya has been used for many high-profile animated films and video games
4. The latest version of the software is available to download as a beta from the company’s website
Zbrush – 3D illustration
- Zbrush is a 3D illustration software that has been around for over 20 years. It’s used by professionals in the fields of architecture, engineering, and more!
- Zbrush is available on Mac or PC, so you can bring your ideas to life no matter what type of computer you have. You can also use ZBrush on Adobe CC programs like Photoshop without any problems.
- You don’t need to be an expert artist to get started with ZBrush – there are tons of tutorials online if you want help getting started with the basics. Plus, there’s a ton of user-generated content that will give you even more insight into how other people produce their designs in order to inspire your own creativity!
- The best part is that ZBrush comes with a ton of brushes and textures, so even if you don’t want to buy more content, you can still get tons of use out of the program.
Houdini – 3D illustration software
1. Houdini is a 3D illustration software that offers tools for digital artists
2. It’s used by professional illustrators and animators to produce stunning art
3. The program has been around since 1993, but it continues to evolve with new features being added all the time
4. With Houdini, you can model any object imaginable in high detail without having to learn complex modelling programs like Maya or 3ds Max
Cinema 4D – software
1. Cinema 4D is a professional 3D illustration software
2. It’s used by designers, animators, and architects to produce stunning graphics
3. The interface is designed for professionals with many advanced features that make it easy to work on projects of any size or complexity
4. There are plenty of videos available online to help you learn how to use it quickly and efficiently
Autodesk 3ds Max
1. Autodesk 3ds Max is a professional 3D illustration software
2. It can be used for many purposes, such as game development, product design and architecture visualization
3. Users can utilise painting techniques in both realistic and abstract models with it
4. The interface is easy to use so even beginners will deliver great results when using this software
Modo – 3D illustration
1. Modo is a professional 3D modelling, texturing and rendering software package
2. It offers an integrated solution for creating high-quality 3D content from concept to final render
3. The user interface of the application is easy to learn with intuitive features
4. Modo’s latest version has been designed with an emphasis on artist workflow and creative freedom
Lightwave 3D – illustration software
1. Lightwave 3D is a professional-grade illustration software that can be used in many industries and applications, including video games, movies, commercials, and print design
2. The program offers an interactive environment with tools for modelling in three dimensions from scratch or by using models created by others
3. It also has powerful rendering capabilities to produce photorealistic imagery of the final product
4. LightWave’s interface includes 2D drawing tools so users can work on surfaces like paper or canvas to sketch out ideas before bringing them to account in the 3D space
Unreal Engine – 3D illustration software
1. Unreal Engine is a professional 3D illustration software that was designed to help you create and share your ideas in real-time
2. It has been used by many big companies, such as EA, Disney, Ubisoft, and Square Enix
3. The program is very versatile – it can be used for 2D games or 3D games
4. You can also use the program to design environments, props, characters and vehicles
All of which once again has been reviewed by us in more depth. Check them out using the link below:
What kind of hardware should I use for my software to work correctly?
Once you know what programme you want to work with you now need to ensure your hardware is up to the task of being able to run it. Software upgrades generally require the most up to date OS or windows which in turn means that the desktop, laptop, tablet whether it be mac or android that you’re using must also meet the required spec.
Trying to create artwork in 3D requires a lot of processor and RAM speed along with good storage capacity as the files will be very large. Cutting corners (or budget) at this stage may result in an awful user experience if you’re unable to work quickly without ‘drag’ or ‘refresh time’ whilst trying to create your piece.
Minimum hardware requirements
The minimum hardware you need in order to run Blender is a PC with at least a dual-core processor, 2 GB RAM and a good graphics card. You can use a lower specification computer to work on 3D art, but it will be slow and difficult to do anything more than a very basic mesh or texture (or both).
For modelling and sculptures, you need some way to input coordinates. This could be by using a graphic tablet or mouse and keyboard that has been properly configured for such input.
The most common input methods are:
- Mouse/shortcuts — Mouse gestures and keyboard shortcuts can be used for basic modelling tasks (such as extruding, scaling, and rotating). However, a graphics tablet is substantially faster for creating meshes than a mouse or typing keyboard shortcuts.
- Tablet — These are tablets that are optimized for inputting coordinates, e.g., Wacom and Trust (and several others). They have a pen-like device that is used to input coordinates.
- 3D mouse — These are like ordinary mice, but with three additional degrees of freedom (so they work similarly to a graphics tablet).
- Joystick — These are like controllers, but with several additional degrees of freedom. 3Dconnexion makes these (the SpaceNavigator series).
How to get qualified to make a career in 3D art.
First, you need to be creative, then you need to enjoy creating art. It helps to have a good eye for detail and beautiful things, Things like enjoying painting, working with paper and collages can also add to your understanding of concept, materials and artwork in general. The ability to use spatial reasoning in 3D space is the most important skill I think is needed when working in this field. You have to also know the tool/tools you will be using as an artist and have the knowledge of how they work.
Now what you do is find a software package that will allow you to create 3D art. There are many to choose from and I suggest trying them out, see which one feels most comfortable for you. You can visit google and review articles or watch some tutorials on different packages in action.
As I mentioned earlier, there are some popular packages that you can use online for free if you don’t want to buy any software.
Here is a site where you can get started using Blender:
Here is another one where you can learn how to use 3DS Max:
I suggest getting a setup that is easy to use and remember, art is supposed to be fun!
Making a Career
Now if you want to make money at it, you need to learn not only how to be good but also how to promote yourself.
That means good branding skills and social media marketing. You may need an artist site on the web or blog where you can showcase your art. You also need to have an offline presence, which means you can’t just be behind a computer all day as often clients will want to get a sense of who you are as a person as well as taking into account your 3D skills.
Basically, it’s going to take hard work and dedication. If you are truly serious about 3D art, I suggest getting some training in art or 3D design at school or even by taking some classes from online colleges or universities and using that knowledge as a starting point.
And Learn by Doing
For me personally, I’ve learned so much about 3D art just by doing it and watching tutorials on YouTube. I also found some great books and materials at my local shops and library.
Google is your friend too! If you are really serious about this career path then you should be keeping an eye on any relevant event and staying up to date with what’s new in the 3D art world.
Keeping in contact with like-minded creatives is always a good idea too and by reading articles on the subject to help you achieve.