What does a modelling artist do?
Modelling artists create characters, weapons, plants and animals on a computer in 3D.
They start with a brief, which might be 2D or 3D art produced by a concept artist. Or they can work from reference materials, such as photographs or line drawing sketches, which can be scanned into 3D software.
They first create a ‘wireframe’, commonly referred to as a ‘mesh,’ of the object. This looks like a series of overlapping lines in the shape of the intended 3D model. From the mesh, they are able to sculpt the model of the object to closely resemble what’s intended. They use digital tools, such as sculpting brushes, and a physical graphics pen and tablet.
Modelling artists work at an early stage of the CG and 3D part of the VFX pipeline. The 3D models that they produce can then move on to be animated, given texture and lit.
If a modelling artist specialises in creating a specific type of 3D model, for instance, characters, then they may refer to themselves as a character artist. In this case, they will likely create both the models and textures for characters.
Modelling artists work for VFX companies or studios or as freelancers. Smaller VFX companies or studios may not distinguish between modelling and texturing artist roles, and instead advertise for one position to do both roles.
What's a modelling artist good at?
- Art: be able to draw, have a good understanding of form, colour and texture, and know how these elements work together
- Interpretation: be able to create a 3D model from a 2D brief, decide upon the best method to complete a 3D model quickly, while having a required level of detail and quality
- Knowledge of 3D modelling programs: be adept at using relevant programs such as Blender, Maya and ZBrush, continuously learn new ways to fix problems in your models
- Organisation: work within the production schedule, manage files and meet deadlines
- Collaboration: be able to work with other VFX artists in the pipeline, use each other’s resources and work effectively