Reel Opportunities

Modelling Artist

Also known as: Model Maker, Modeller

What does a Modelling Artist do?

Modelling Artists build the digital or physical versions of everything that is seen on screen in an animation, film or television project (using VFX). They translate concept art, character designs and environment designs into models ready to be animated.

In stop-motion animation the role is known as ‘model maker’. In 3D computer-generated animation and visual effects, it’s usually known as ‘modeler’.

They start with a brief, which might be 2D or 3D art produced by a Concept Artist. They can also work from reference materials (such as photographs or line drawing sketches) which can then 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 specializes 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.

What's a Modelling Artist good at?
  • Art

    Be able to draw, have a good understanding of form, color 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 modeling programs

    Be adept at using relevant programs such as Blender, Maya and ZBrush, continuously learn new ways to fix problems in your models

  • Organization

    Work within the production schedule, manage files and meet deadlines

Who does a Modelling Artist work with?

Modelling Artists take the brief from the Concept Artist. They draw their models into the work created by Environment Artists, so they work closely with them. They then pass their work onto the Texture Artists, Riggers or Animators.

How do I become a Modelling Artist?

VFX companies or studios generally prefer it if you have a degree in graphic design, or another VFX-specific course. But the thing you need most is a strong portfolio that illustrates your abilities. If you can’t find a junior role as a Modelling Artist, it’s worth looking for one as a Motion Capture Technician and working your way up.

More tips

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Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.