Ready to find the best 3D animation jobs? Here are 10 3D animation jobs to get your foot in the door!
By Felicity Flesher
What 3D Animation Jobs Are Right For You?
You have your degree and a stellar portfolio, but what’s the next step? Although 3D animation is a highly specialized field, the demand for new talent is high. The animation, gaming, and VFX fields are steadily growing, and talented artists and engineers can advance quickly. Globally, production companies and studios are keen to fill their burgeoning slate of 3D animation jobs. You can now get an excellent starter 3D animation job with zero experience, based on your portfolio alone.
Here are just a few examples of the kinds of entry-level 3D animation jobs you might pursue:
1. Production Assistant
One of the most common entry-level 3D animation jobs is that of the production assistant or PA. Being a PA generally means no job is too small. That may mean preparing for meetings, maintaining the office, taking notes, ordering food and coffee, researching, and ready for anything. In 3D animation specifically, a PA may assist in maintaining assets, which can require some appropriate software knowledge. A PA keeps production moving without any hiccups and anticipates concerns before they happen.
This role is a great place to get to know everyone in the office while developing your skills and eventually show that you are ready for promotion. If you’re unsure what kind of 3D animation jobs you want to pursue, this role give you a better idea of what each position’s day is like. While you may not get much hands-on animation experience as a PA, you will still have to showcase your organizational abilities, attention to detail, teamwork, and problem-solving, all of which will serve you well throughout the rest of your career.
2. Junior Concept Artist
Concept artists create the first sketches of a project. They work off of a creative brief to generate an early visual look for the project. This is the stage you can experiment with various ideas before finding the right visual style. The findings will serve as a reference for further designers and animators in the pipeline. The junior artist then reports to the lead artist and uses their guidance to refine pieces of developmental or marketing art. It can take patience and good communication skills to execute multiple iterations of an idea. You should be a skilled artist, imaginative, and able to take direction well to succeed in this role.
3. Junior Storyboard Artist
Storyboard artists are crucial when considering 3D animation jobs. Creating a storyboard is often one of the earliest steps in production as they take a script or concept and pave the way for visual storytelling. The rest of the team will use these storyboard panels as reference and inspiration. Storyboard artists sketch out scenes, blocking, and camera movement, which may be done digitally or by hand. Often, there are multiple artists working together in a uniform style under a Head of Story, who work closely with a director. An artist may have to work on the same scene over and over until the team is happy with the direction. A junior member of the team may be tasked with cleaning up or detailing more senior artists’ work. This job requires significant drawing ability, some cinematography knowledge, and most importantly, the ability to communicate visually and clearly.
4. Junior Previs Artist
Previsualization (previs) artists use concept art and storyboards to create rough 3D animatics of scenes. These are drafts to plan outsize, scale, movement, and timing for locations and characters. It is also a good way to the layout camera position and identifies any problems that may arise in the production. The previs artist then communicates to the team. When used in live-action, previs artists plan how VFX will work within a scene. Previs artists should have proficient knowledge of cinematographic composition, movement, 3D animation, perspective, and VFX software. Knowledge of architecture and coding may also be helpful.
5. Junior Environment Modeler
An environment modeler creates models to fit the requirements of the production to help build virtual worlds. A great modeler should have an artistic and spatial eye and the ability to accurately interpret 2D reference material. Ideally, a modeler should have experience with software such as Maya, Photoshop, Zbrush, Unreal Engine, and Substance Painter. You should also have a good technical understanding of space, texture, color, light, and shadow. Software knowledge is important, but artistic knowledge and the ability to be prolific and quick maybe even more valuable. A modeler will have to work with a variety of different personalities and should be flexible and able to translate feedback effectively.
6. Junior Props Modeler
A junior props modeler applies similar skills to render props assets within the digital environment. You may start with simpler props and then move on to more complex hero objects. A props modeler is able to ensure objects work from every angle within a space. Although you may want to show off your style in your portfolio, you will work with the art department to maintain a consistent vision. Artistic practice and observation in the real world will only make you a better modeler.
7. Junior Animator
Junior animator is one of the most popular 3D animation jobs to consider. This position responsible for creating animated content for a studio. A junior animator will work with senior animators, supervisors, and directors to recreate believable motion within a scene. You will brainstorm new ideas, research a specific subject’s motion, and improve the quality of the overall animation accordingly. An animator should have excellent drawing skills and knowledge of 3D animation software. Additionally, the expertise understanding of anatomy, movement, composition, shot construction, storyboards, timing, and continuity.
8. Junior Shading Artist
Along with the range of 3D animation jobs, junior shading artists work to replicate real-world lighting within the animation. Proper lighting, shading, and texture will not only help make an animation look real, but can also enhance the storytelling, mood, and look of the product. Shading artists must have the same skills as a cinematographer with the additional challenge of translating through digital technology. This role is essential in corralling the many assets and ensuring the quality remains consistent.
9. Render Wrangler
The render wrangler is a systems engineer responsible for monitoring computers (render farms) and data during the rendering process for animation and turning CG data into imagery. This process can take a lot of time during which much can go wrong. In the end, it’s the wrangler’s job to keep everything running smoothly. Render wranglers prioritize data and allocate disk space to ensure efficient optimized output. Because rendering happens around the clock, this job often requires after-hours work and may involve a lot of independent problem-solving. Among all 3D animation jobs, this position requires the most knowledge of 3D animation software, a high degree of computer literacy and coding is a plus for this position.
10. Animation Fix
An animation fix looks for problem shots in animation renders and finds ways to fix them. This job takes a keen eye to review dailies to find. For example, lip-sync or eye line problems, or just details that need polish. This job takes a great animation generalist to understand what elements need finessing and how to correct them. Quality control is an essential part of the animation workflow.
Among all of the 3D animation jobs, you should look to develop your skills and learn how to work well with your team. It’s only the beginning of your career, but soon you’ll be ready for advancement.