How you can make money as a 3D modeler

Turn your stock 3d models into cash

If you are a 3D modeler, then the odds are great that you have a few models which are personal projects. But what do you do with the projects once you have finished them. Yes, you can post them on a social media site or showcase them to friends and family, but beyond that there is little use for them apart from taking up space on your external hard drive. At least that is how it would appear. However, for the 3D modeler there are a number of ways that you can make money.

Put your model on a CGI site

Models which have not had the copyright transferred to a client and are not in violation of any copyright laws (such as creating a model of a DC or Marvel Character which may do so) can usually be uploaded onto CGI sites such as CGTrader. It should be noted that when you post the file to these sort of sites, you are collecting a royalty on the file. The site makes money from selling the model and you make money from the percentage agreed upon with the site. In order to be successful in this sort of 3D selling your models should:

  • Be in demand – if you are modeling out turtle shells and elephants in ballet shoes the odds are that you will have low purchases. However, if you have gamer related assets, electronics, and such your odds increase a great deal.
  • Have it in a universal format – In order to get more hits use .obj. Most 3D programs can use .obj imports, even if the final output is .stl or software specific.
  • Have a model free of mistakes – One of the quickest ways to kill your reputation as a 3D modeler is to have models which are flawed. Take the time to look over the model for errors.

The selling of 3D models is ideal for teenagers, novice companies, and entrepreneurs. Larger studios can benefit from such sites. Yet, for the most part the larger companies will find that their 3D Models are tied up in copyrights, NDAs, and such which would hinder the uploading and usage policies of most sites.

Freelancing as a 3D Modeler

Breaking into freelancing is exhausting work, especially if you do not have a number of degrees from an accredited school and a ton of examples to present to potential studios. Most studios require that a person be seasoned in the industry before they even consider you for the job. Where this is great for the studio (as they will have qualified and proven modelers), it is problematic for the recent graduate or novice. To get around this problem, consider using a 3D model site which posts one-on jobs. This will allow you to build up your reputation online as a 3D modeler while at the same time gaining experience and portfolio pieces to showcase to your dream studio in the future. When choosing a one-on job (meaning that you are under no long term contract with the individual hiring you). Ensure that:

  • You have a signed contract between all parties involved
  • That the job is pre-funded and that there is a dispute process for escrow
  • That you keep a log of your work progress

Thinking about 3D modeling from a Technology standpoint

Technology and innovation are dependent upon being able to formulate and present an idea visually to an investor. Yes, the data and the intention of the innovation and technology is critical to the presentation as well, but without something tangible for the investor, the technology and innovations generally are left alone. People want something physical that they can identify with. 3D models provide the means for the potential investor to see how a product will function, a 360 of the design to analyze for strengths and weaknesses, and user interaction if the model is coupled with coding. Even if only a 10 second video is presented, it is far more effective than a 100-page report telling the person how the technology, design, or innovation will benefit them and society as a whole. We judge first with our eyes and then our mind.

As a 3D modeler it is your responsibility to present the designs and models to your clients in the best methodology for showcasing their ideas. This is especially true for the technology and design industry as the idea which you are helping with may or may not be in existence yet.

So polish up your modeling skills, break out the old models, look for the supply and demand factor and get started. The only thing limiting your ability to make money as a 3D modeler is your time, your ambition, and your dedication.

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