As you can imagine, given just how far-reaching the scope of this work is and how many industries, both huge and niche, that it can be used in, 3D visualization is used in just about everything you can think of, and the rapid advancement in rendering technologies means that 3D visualizers can be found working in almost any area which requires digital images. While 3D visualization is most noticeable in industries such as architecture and consumer product design, the rapid advancement in rendering technologies means that 3D visualizers can be found working in almost any area which requires digital images. Whether freelance or members of a professional service, careers can be carved out in such diverse areas as events planning, stage and set design, pharmaceutical and medical research, robotics, automation, automotive design and production and geological surveying. If there is a need for 3D digital content to be created, there’s a good chance a 3D visualization artist is there, hard at work.
Some of the most popular areas for a 3D artist to work in are as follows:
Architecture: Just do a google search for ‘CGI architectural render’ and you’ll understand why architects are leading the charge in the use of 3D software. They render stunning visualisations of their designs, far exceeding traditional hand drawn or watercolour architectural rendering.
Product design: These days, everything from Pepsi can to Lamborghinis are designed using 3D graphics engines, as the advantages CGI software gives design teams is astronomical. Even bespoke and custom designers use modelling programs like Sculptris to test out their designs. 3D visualisers render photorealistic depictions of their concepts without having to go through expense and effort of a conventional photo shoot, and the ability to alter minor details, such as colours or surface textures, allows for products to be refined and tweaked long before a working prototype is built.
Robotics/Automation: Robotics are becoming ever more prevalent in our lives, and skilled 3D visualisers are indispensible in the development cycle when it comes to designing new round refining them. While humanity still seems a long way of making giant anthropomorphic robots, producing automatons for factories, unmanned flight devices for the military and agricultural robots keeps this $135 Billion industry ticking along nicely.
Data science: Our modern world is built on data, and one of the keys skills employers are looking for in data managers and analysts is the ability to visualise data in 3D, and they are looking to hire professionals with backgrounds in 3D visualisation. It might not be the most rock’n’roll use of 3D graphics software, but it’s a burgeoning industry, and companies are headhunting ivy league graduates for internships..
Stage and set design: Hollywood blockbusters, Broadway shows and pyrotechnic-laden rock shows all have one thing in common; 3D visualisers are designing their sets and stages long before the carpenters and engineers are on the scene.
Mobile App development: Smart phones are getting smarter every generation, and their capacity for 3D graphics has become so great that you can even run fully 3D video games in the latest versions of ios and Android. As such, companies developing mobile apps are looking to bring 3D capabilities onto their teams for all manner of purposes, from 3D visualisations of data and programming to the graphics of the apps themselves.
Medical research and modelling: Not the most obvious choice on our list, but you’d be surprised to know how many 3D artists work in medicine. They could be designing prosthetic limbs, creating medical models to help doctors examine patients or visualising data on the spreads of infections, and you shouldn’t forget that doctors are not the only ones who are saving lives.
Getting started in 3D visualization
There may be a few maverick 3D artists who managed to establish themselves purely on their own talent and self-taught skills, but the majority of professional visualizers out there started off with a university or college degree in a related field, such as graphic design, £D animation or computing. After graduation, securing an internship at an established studio or company is is going to be the most beneficial way to both kick start a career and get more skills and training, as companies invest in their interns by providing them with industry-specific training, whether in house or outsourced. After the internship, most choose to stay on with that company, although you’ll have training and experience under your belt so you’ll have the option of looking elsewhere as most companies look minimum 2 years experience in their specific field for new employees. Some may even choose to take the plunge and go self-employed, either on their own or by starting their own company.
3D visualizer salary
While a visualizer’s salary will of course vary between different companies and depending upon the employee’s experience and qualifications, 3D visualizers can expect to earn well, with many junior positions starting at around $40-$65K per year and many senior positions with a starting salary of over $65K.
A casual survey of freelancers online shows that a freelance 3D visualizer can charge anything from $10-$120 per hour, although rates vary a lot depending on location, experience and the quality of the artists’ portfolio. However, it should be borne in mind that while a freelance artist might have a high-hourly rate, this is often to balance the huge overheads working for yourself can have in this industry, as the licenses for the software and a computer powerful enough to run them don’t come cheap.