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3D Artist vs. 3D Modeler: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

3D artists and 3D modelers are both in demand in today’s market. With the rise of virtual reality and other immersive technologies, there is a need for professionals who can create three-dimensional content. If you’re interested in a career in 3D, you may be wondering what the difference is between a 3D artist and a 3D modeler. In this article, we’ll explain the key differences between these two roles and provide some insight into the skills you’ll need to succeed.

What is a 3D Artist?

3D Artists use computer software to create three-dimensional images, animations and visual effects. They work in a variety of industries, including video game development, movie and television production, advertising and web design. 3D Artists typically specialize in one area, such as modeling, rigging, animation or texturing. They use their skills to create characters, objects, environments and scenes that look realistic and lifelike. 3D Artists must have a strong understanding of anatomy, color theory and lighting to create believable and compelling visuals.

What is a 3D Modeler?

3D Modelers create three-dimensional representations of objects, people or landscapes using specialized computer software. They often work in video game development or movie production studios to create three-dimensional models of characters, sets or props. 3D Modelers use their technical skills to bring two-dimensional concept art to life. They often collaborate with other artists, designers and programmers to ensure that the models they create meet the specific requirements of the project. 3D Modelers typically have a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field.

3D Artist vs. 3D Modeler

Here are the main differences between a 3D artist and a 3D modeler.

Job Duties

3D artists and 3D modelers share some of their job duties. These include creating 3D images, designing characters and objects and building virtual environments. However, the specific duties of a 3D artist and a 3D modeler differ. 3D artists often specialize in different areas, such as animation or visual effects. A 3D artist might use their skills to create 3D renders for advertisements, music videos or movies. They also may work closely with other artists, such as graphic designers or photographers, to produce complete projects.

3D modelers typically focus on creating realistic objects, rather than entire scenes. For example, they may build 3D models of buildings, vehicles or landscapes that 3D artists can use as reference when creating renderings. Some 3D modelers also specialize in certain types of objects, such as medical or scientific models.

Job Requirements

3D artists and 3D modelers typically need a bachelor’s degree in graphic design, computer science or another related field. Some employers prefer candidates to have a master’s degree as well, but it is not required for entry-level positions. Additionally, many 3D artists and 3D modelers pursue certifications through the National Association of Purchasing Management (NAPM) or the Institute of Supply Management (ISM). These organizations offer training programs that teach professionals how to use purchasing software and other tools they might need on the job.

Work Environment

3D artists and 3D modelers work in different environments. While both positions require a lot of time spent at a computer, the environment for an artist is more creative than that of a modeler. Artists may spend their days working on projects from start to finish, but they also have opportunities to collaborate with other team members and brainstorm ideas.

Modelers often work in teams, too, but they usually focus on one aspect of a project rather than the entire thing. They might spend most of their day using specialized software to create models or editing existing ones. Modelers can also expect to spend some time outdoors taking measurements and photographs to use as reference material.


3D artists and 3D modelers share some basic skills, such as an understanding of three-dimensional space and the ability to use software to create three-dimensional images. However, they often have different focuses within the field of 3D design. A 3D artist may be more concerned with the overall look and feel of a 3D image, while a 3D modeler may be more focused on the accuracy and detail of the image.

Both 3D artists and 3D modelers need to have strong visualization skills to be able to create images that are realistic or accurate representations of objects, people or scenes. They also both need to be proficient in using 3D modeling software. However, 3D artists may also need to have skills in other graphic design software, such as Photoshop, to be able to create the overall look they are going for in their work. 3D modelers, on the other hand, may need to have skills in CAD (computer-aided design) software to create detailed models of objects or structures.


3D artists can earn an average salary of $76,499 per year, while 3D modelers can earn an average salary of $60,805 per year. Both of these average salaries may vary depending on the size of the company at which you work, location of your job and the level of experience you have prior to pursuing either position.


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