View Full Version : 3D Artist wanting info on Programming

07 July 2005, 03:53 AM

This is actually my first post here on CgTalk. I do come here a lot to look at the artwork though. I wanted to know how valuable to a company is an artist who can also program, and are there people who do this?

Second, which direction in the programming realm should a 3d artist go? Meaning, which programs, languages, schooling etc?

Im wondering these things because I'm at a critical point in my career vs. future family life. I've been animating and designing for about 6 years, and I make a decent living for myself and my wife to live on, but as an artist I dont see myself making enough to support kids etc. So I was thinking of adding some programming skills as well as being an artist, and maybe I would have more options to make a better living in the future.

Has anyone else been through this before? I would also appreciate some thoughts on this, and if anyone else has been through this before.


07 July 2005, 08:31 PM
Let me preface this by saying, I think this is a really personal choice and there aren't any hard answers that will be true for every company/person. That said, I went to college to be an artist, and I'm a self taught programmer, so I've struggled with similar questions. From my experiences at a larger company, they will value a programmer who can understand an artistic mindset (ie. what kind of tools an artist would like) Or an artist who understands the technical aspects (ie. improve/maintain the pipeline, etc.) Larger companies tend to be a little more black and white. You will likely do one or the other. From what I have seen the games industry tends to compensate programmers better, the film industry tends to treat artists better. If you wish to remain more on the artistic side it would be helpful for you to focus on scripting for your chosen software and on learning some of the more technical aspects of 3D....particle effects, lighting, setup...try to become as knowledgeable as you can about the software and the current cutting edge techniques. If you want to go more of the programmer route I would suggest you concentrate on Maya, 3DS, or Softimage API and/or Mental ray. Study C++, MEL or Maxscript, and node networking. Or get in at a small company where jacks of all trades are more valuable. In a small company your employer will be more likely to let you jump around to different areas to fill the gaps.

From a strictly personal standpoint....I have found it is much easier to get work as a programmer and continue my artwork on my spare time. So that is the route I chose. I can do both, and I like to do both, but in the end it's more beneficial for me to stick with a career in programming. Starting programming salaries tend to be higher than starting artist salaries. However, I have heard that it equals out a bit as you get further in your career....? So I guess my advice would be, as long as you are SURE you would enjoy it either way. Pick the most niche in demand skill (that you enjoy and are capable of) at the type of company you would like to work at for....large/small/game/film/other. And you can always change your mind one way or the other, the skills are very transferable

07 July 2005, 04:09 PM

Thanks for replying to my questions and thoughts. It's good to know that others like yourself have struggled with these same thoughts. I think I'm just going to have to do some reasearch into the programming side, try it out and see if I even like straight programming. For now I'll just keep working as an animator/compositor, and slowly try to add the more technical aspects of my line of work into my skillset. The only concern I have is with being stretched to thin between knowing a lot of different things and not really honeing in on one thing. Anyways, you've given me some insight as someone whos been done this road before.


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07 July 2005, 04:09 PM
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