Student work by Joana Lelito
3D character artists create digital 3D models of characters for films and video games. Models are often based on illustrations drawn by a concept artist.
In film, character artists create 3D characters that are integrated into live-action. Their work primarily takes place during the post-production process, but sketches and concept art will be developed from pre-production stages as part of the film or series’ production design.
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 games, character artists work closely with creative and technical teams to drive the visual quality of the game and maintain a consistent character style. In the competitive gaming market players now expect high-standard graphics, it is up to the character artist to deliver on the overall artistic quality of the game. The processes are the same as in gaming, however as film has a linear structure, they will not incorporate interactive elements or behaviors.
Character artists transform 2D illustrations and concept art, or scans of live-action actors, into 3D models with a framework that can be rigged, anatomical limbs, and finished textures. This work is vital to the believability of the production as these elements need to fit seamlessly into the footage for the final product to be believable.
Role & responsibilities of a character artist in the film and games industry:
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 up a portfolio of original 3D character work.
Film and game studios may look for the following skills in a 3D character artist:
Character artists work in the virtual space using computer software but some artists many may have more hands-on, practical experience, which is always useful.
Character artists may need knowledge of a combination of the following software:
The average salary of a 3D character artist is between USD $32,000 and USD $98,000. (Source: Payscale)
To learn more about this field, visit: What is 3D Modeling?
3 months - 20hrs weekly
3D modeling for beginners starts with the essentials: navigating Maya, setting up workflows and building 3D assets from scratch. See the differences between film and game models and find out how to work with your models in Unreal Engine and texture in Substance Painter.
9 months - 20hrs weekly
Learn 3D character modeling and create a game ready character complete with hair, clothing and accessories. Then build a 3D environment which you'll texture, light, import into Unreal Engine. Note: Term 1 of this course is the same as the Introduction course. So if you've already completed it, you’ll skip to term 2.
9 months - 20hrs weekly
Speed up your workflow and further your environment and character design skills by creating more detailed fully rendered models, including a creature with skin, scales and fur. This course focuses on portfolio prep and career development so you graduate studio-ready.