How to get started in 3D digital art

Jun 25, 2020 at 10:00 am by Warlord720

Getting started in 3D digital art

You've finally decided to take the plunge and see about this 3D art thing that's going on out there. Maybe you are a frustrated creative or maybe you have friends that have 3D side hustles or maybe you just want to play with cartoons as it were.  Why not? It's a great way to blow off creative steam. If my inbox is an indication there is as much interest as ever in getting started in 3D art.

All of this possible. You CAN become a 3D or 3D based 2D artist. You CAN become an animator. You can create new worlds with new possibilities or just help to populate somewhere else's world. You can tell stories with images, slideshows, and videos. If you don't want to animate, you can compose still images from cartoonish to photorealtic. You can sell 3D assets online for extra income.

Now whether you will be good at it is another story as that is up to a lot of factors like innate creative talent (no matter how slight), effort expended, and the ability to constantly learn and evolve skills. You don't have to be the next Picasso or Spielberg to have a great time. In some cases, it can be life-changing, cathartic, and maybe even therapeutic to some degree while for others it's a great diversion from boredom in downtime.

Best of all though, you can get started for free. Stick your toes in the water before you dive in. There are powerful tools out there just waiting to be downloaded and used if you have a decent computer platform. If you game on it then chances are it's more than adequate.  It doesn't take a mega computer to do this stuff but if you are still on Win 7 era hardware you may find it challenging as real-time can be a resource hog.

3D art is a wide-open field with many niches, so we are homing in on character and scene creation to make images, memes, or videos. You'll soon find out that not any one piece of software really does it all. There is a workflow to it but don't let the terminology scare you. Workflows vary from artist to artist.

You will quickly find out that there is a lot to creating digital art like props, people, animals, special effects, and so forth. All of these require certain kinds of software to create but there are thousands of 3D artists out there that provide us with free and affordable 3D assets like these so all we have to focus on are specific kinds of 3D software like:

  • 3D Application for creating the content (animation/image render).
  • Image Editor for manipulating or promoting the content.
  • Video Editor for putting together animated clips, VFX, and music to create a video.

Even trying to spell out exactly what software to use can get complicated as some applications can do it all from modeling/sculpting to animation while others specialize in character and prop creation.

Free and Trial Software:

  • Poser (Free Trial – 3D Application)
  • DAZ – (Free Trial – 3D Application)
  • Blender – (Free Trial – Advanced 3D Application)
  • GIMP (Free Image Editor)
  • iClone (Free Trial 3D Application)
  • HitFilm Express (Free Video Editor SFX Editor)
  • DaVinci Resolve (Free and Commercial Video, SFX Editor)
  • OpenShot (Free Video Editor SFX Editor)
  • Patience (Can come in Limited Supply)

There is a lot of software left off this list like Sketchup, Wings 3D both free with lots of close cousins. We haven't covered architectural, CAD, and other 3D areas because they aren't pertinent to get started with characters and scenes. The info provided here is just a starting point on what might be a lifelong journey to creativity you've never thought possible.

Now you can put together images and videos that will astound your friends and neighbors. Why bore them with vacation photos when you can pull out your last 400 renders for them to peruse? Ok… maybe you don't want to be that person… but you can take a break from boredom by checking out some of the applications to see if 3D artwork is for you.


M.D. McCallum, aka WarLord, is an international award-winning commercial graphics artist, 3D animator, published author, project director, and webmaster with a freelance career that spans over 20 years.  Now retired, M.D. is currently working part-time on writing and select character development projects. You can learn more about MD on his website






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