3D Design Careers: Job Duties, Salary and Training Information
3-D design is a broad artistic field used for a variety of projects. Possible careers include 3-D animator, 3-D graphic designer and Web designer. 3-D design is used by many industries, and employment demand is expected to increase.
The duties of a 3-D design artist generally involve using computer software to create 3-dimensional visual images. These images are used in a variety of media, such as motion pictures, video games or advertisements. 3-D artists may work with others in multidisciplinary teams to conceptualize ideas, write scripts and story lines, create layouts and develop the final 3-D product.
Beyond this general creative process, job duties vary by specific career. For example, 3-D animators use computers and specialized software, such as Maya and MotionBuilder, to add movement to characters and objects. 3-D graphic designers also use specialized software, such as CINEMA 4D, to create life-like images. These images are used to promote brands and products, illustrate books and magazines or demonstrate a process, such as may be found in an online instruction manual. Similarly, Web designers incorporate 3-D imagery to Web content to add utility and appeal. 3-D designers also work in the areas of medical and scientific imaging, engineering and broadcasting.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that, as of May 2010, multimedia artists and animators earned a median annual salary of $58,510, with most earning between $33,840 and $99,830 (www.bls.gov).
Most careers in 3-D design require a bachelor's degree and knowledge of art and design principles. A Bachelor of Fine Arts degree (BFA) generally requires core art courses in drawing, design and art history. Some colleges offer concentrations in graphic design, animation, video game design, Web design or illustration. These programs provide instruction in visual communication, multimedia, typography, 3-D imaging, digital photography, Web animation and illustration.
Students are often required to complete a senior thesis or capstone project in digital imaging and 3-D design. They also have the opportunity to develop a professional physical or Web-based portfolio to use to market themselves in the workplace after graduation. Completion of an internship is often a key component of the program, helping students to gain the work experience that employers highly value.
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