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3D Character Artist



What does a 3D character artist do?


3D character artists create digital models of characters for films and video games, often based on concept art.


In the world of film, character artists are responsible for creating 3D characters that are seamlessly integrated into live-action scenes. Although their work mainly occurs during the post-production stage, sketches, and concept art are often developed in the pre-production phase to incorporate the characters into the overall production design of the film or series.


In animated features, series, or shorts character artists develop and create the character art that is used throughout the production. They work closely with directors, writers, and design departments to bring the characters to life. Sophisticated character development and artistry are required to elicit emotion from drawn images.


In animated features, series, or shorts character artists develop and create the character art that is used throughout the production. They work closely with directors, writers, and design departments to bring the characters to life. Sophisticated character development and artistry are required to elicit emotion from drawn images.


3D character artist job description


The role of character artists is to transform 2D illustrations, concept art, or scans of live-action actors into 3D models. These models are created with a framework that can be rigged and anatomical limbs, and finished with textures. The work of character artists is crucial to the believability of the production. The 3D models they create need to seamlessly fit into the footage to make the final product look realistic.


Role & responsibilities of a character artist in the film and games industry:

  • Producing high-quality, anatomically feasible, photo-real or stylized CG character models in line with brief and/or reference material

  • Interpret abstract ideas or concept art into the creation of compelling photo-real or stylized character

  • Presenting work in a turntable-style environment with acceptable lighting for progress reviews and approval (including scale reference)

  • Ensuring consistency of UV mapping and polygonal subdivisions

  • Facilitate the creation of high-quality photo-real texture maps

  • Researching reference materials for aesthetics and genre of game, film, or animation



Skills required to become a 3D character artist


A 3D character artist role is not generally an entry-level position. While some junior positions are available in the industry, most character artists have years of character creation, sculpture, and design experience. A good way to break into this field is to learn 3D modeling and build a portfolio of original 3D character work.

Film and game studios may look for the following skills in a 3D character artist:

  • Experience in digital sculpting, modeling, UV mapping, texturing

  • Excellent understanding of shading, lighting, structure, texturing, and silhouette

  • Understanding of mesh topology and edge loops

  • Knowledge of anatomy - proportions, muscle, and skeletal structures

  • Ability to work from reference materials such as photography or concept art



What software and tools do 3D character artists use?


Character artists work in the virtual space using computer software but some artists may have more hands-on, practical experience, which is always useful.

Character artists may need knowledge of a combination of the following software:

  • Maya

  • ZBrush

  • Blender

  • Mari

  • Substance Painter

  • Unreal Engine (and other real-time engines)

  • Houdini





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