View Full Version : Career in Computer Arts (3D Modelling)

01 January 2010, 06:49 PM
Hello to everyone and would like to firstly say thanks for taking the time to read as well as any replies that are made, and would like to apologize for such a long first post.

I would like to use the first paragraph to explain a little about myself and the situation I am currently in. I'm currently taking computer arts under consideration as a course, however to be more specific my interests focus more upon 3D Modeling for computer games. I'm currently sixteen years old and I have several questions that I have had trouble finding answers for and am hoping that I can gain any information here that will help me. Firstly I would like to state that I live in the United Kingdom where the education system progresses through a large portion of subjects for GCSE examinations, followed by A-Levels which eventually gain entry into university. I'm currently in my first of two years of A-levels where my subjects are Maths, Physics, Chemistry and ICT. Regrettably, I did not take any art-related subjects as one of my GCSE's which evidently has had an effect on my A-Level choices. This is due to my original hope of taking a career more focused on computer programming, however I have reached a split between the two career paths and I am more inclined to move into computer arts. It would be highly beneficial for me to receive feedback from any professionals on this matter, particularly anyone related to 3D modeling in the computer games industry.

1) Is it too late to start now? Obviously not having any previous education or support in computer arts or any art for that matter I believe maybe I'm at quite a disadvantage. If I begin now through online tutorials and ongoing practice with 3D modeling would that be enough to 'catch-up', despite me only having 2 years to do this?

2) Do I actually need Art as a subject to progress/gain entry to universities? I am not quite sure as to whether or not universities or art schools require you to have taken Art as a core subject in either your GCSE's (high-school) or A-Levels (2 years between high-school and university). Would they accept self-taught and proven talent or do they require education in these subjects at school, with given grades and examination results and whatnot.

3) Do I even require skills such as drawing on paper to progress in 3D Modeling? In comparison to students at my current age that have taken art as a core subject, I wouldn't say my drawing skills are exactly brilliant. I imagine if I wanted to work in the games industry I would need to be able to draw on paper at a high standard despite specializing in 3D Modeling, but is it actually true that I need to be able to draw on paper as well as be able to participate in 3D Modeling on industry level? Could I improve to the drawing standard of other students, self-taught, to the standard of other students by the time I'm 18 (in two years)?

4) Where do I start? I don't have an income and I am unable to afford any books, guides etc. so what can I do? Do I even need books and guides, or is it possible that this area could be completely self-taught (I understand there are several free guides on 3D Modelling, but will this on it's own still be enough in comparison to prepared college books?) What software can I use, how can I gain more information on 3D Modeling and techniques used in the computer games industry?

Once again I'd like to thank you for taking the time to read and in advance for any replies. Thanks!

01 January 2010, 08:21 AM
Firstly, welcome to The CG Society.

Second... I am no professional, but I will do my best to provide you with at least some helpful information. I myself and 19 at the moment... I have had no formal training whatsoever in 3Ds Max. I am capable of producing a photo-realistic render, aswell as modeling pretty well. What I know is self taught... I've been following online tutorials and videos, and just practising for about four years now, so to answer your first question, no it is not "too late". The speed at which you pick up on 3D art will be reflected in how seriously you work at it.

It is my knowledge that most universities require at least some knowledge in the fundamentals of art, however I am not positive. I believe, however, that if you have a portfolio that displays at least a basic understanding of artistic concepts, you would be accepted... However again, I am not completely sure.

Whether you would need to be able to draw is something that I have seen to be hotly debated. In my opinion, while it would help immensely, it is not "required" to excel in the 3D field. In the end tho, I suppose it would depend on your modeling skill, and your chosen subject...

Lastly, the Internet has a plethora of free tutorials and guides to help anyone interested in learning 3D. Tutorialized is one of many websites that hosts countless tutorials for many different applications, of all different skill levels. For getting started, I would suggest familiarizing yourself with Gmax. Gmax is a free version of 3Ds Max. The two look very similar, however Gmax is designed for asset creation for game mods. That is the path I took anyway... Start with Gmax to get an idea for what 3D is like, that way you can decide what it is you would like to do.

Good luck to you ! I hope I was able to help you at least a little. If you need anything, feel free to send me a PM.

Gmax can be found here (

Cheers !


01 January 2010, 06:05 PM
1) Is it too late to start now?

As they say, it's never to late, but the longer you wait the harder it does get.

At 16 you need not worry, I started doing 3D at 16 myself with game content, now 5 years ago. I had no formal education. I've gone professional now in 3D for a year but not in games, games are tough to get into professionally but it can be done in the U.K. Not in Belgium I'm afraid.

2) Do I actually need Art as a subject to progress/gain entry to universities?

I'm not sure, I am considering going back to education myself one day and I didn't even finish high school. I think if you can show you're serious with a portfolio you have a chance of getting in but i'm not sure.

3) Do I even require skills such as drawing on paper to progress in 3D modeling?

No. It's that simple :)
It can help though, but it's not a requirement.

4) Where do I start? I don't have an income and I am unable to afford any books, guides etc. so what can I do?

Difficult question that I can't quite answer. Because there is no cookie-cutter answer, let's just say it takes perseverence and some luck. Experiment with software, sign up on lots of forums, work on some mod peojects or do some level designs, read through technical wikis like the valve developer wiki, look on linkedin for professional UK game developers and make connections.

Best of luck!

01 January 2010, 08:55 AM
the internet has a abudence of tutorials whether it is here, youtube,, all you have to do is experiment with various software to adapt for the learning process. I'd say 3D Studio Max, or Maya, or XSI. Those are preferences of a lot of companies. As for education, There are schools with 1-2yr programs here in North America. They teach you the software then help you with the development of your demoreel. But it's very short time so you'd be working 8+ hours a day to make sure that your reel comes out right. for the most part, art isn't required but it would be an asset, understanding the fundementals of proportions, lighting, and science of shapes and angles plays a huge importants, but they would teach you all that. what really sucks though is that it's so bloody kills me inside.I think these days you can find practically everythring that you'll, in essence, need for modeling.

since you are still very young start reading about applications, techniques, modeling, texturing, rendering. Check a library for books on anatomy, sculpting, etc. speed model, moch model, if you can get into a lifedrawing class, I'd highly recommend that. The industry is always changing so you'll have to work hard to keep up with it, and also start making friends in the industry also. they could be your way in ;)

Good luck!

01 January 2010, 04:40 AM
You're actually in a great position. Some people start making this decision when they just have a year or two to actually learn anything, but you're young so you've got a lot of time (but don't slack off) use the time to learn as much as you can.

Usually only Universities for art specifically need you to have good art to be accepted--but for 3D animation the few universities that offer a degree don't have that--however, if you really have no skill then you're not going to be able to get through the work, you will have to take some traditional art classes, plus spend a lot of time outside of class learning new things--just what you learn in class isn't nearly enough.

That's another thing to consider--do you even want to go to College? Most jobs have a requirement of a degree, but if you have a really good portfolio it doesn't matter, so consider whether you might want to take the time and money you would have spent at college and just spend the time with tutorials and developing a portfolio.

As far as actually drawing stuff, it's a good skill to have, and I'd work on it anyways, but unless you're working for a small company where you have more than one role in production, then you're only going to be doing one thing. But again, studios really like it if you have the drawing skills.

01 January 2010, 09:33 AM
1) Is it too late to start now?

2) Do I actually need Art as a subject to progress/gain entry to universities?

1) Is it too late to start now?

It's never to late to start, i was 18 when i got in to 3D modelling, i am now 23 and currently working as a modeller/animator. However i produce animations of mechanical objects for training purposes not in the games industry.

2) Do I actually need Art as a subject to progress/gain entry to universities?

Depends if it is an Art course or a Computing one. Keep working on a 3D portfolio and that might be enough to convince an Art course to take you on.

01 January 2010, 07:17 PM
There are several ways to go. As posted earlier, the only really important thing is your demo reel. I've only been asked about my degree only once during my career... when I went for a college teaching gig. If your work is good, you'll get hired. With that being said, I am self taught and even though I would do it all over again, I did spend many years sending out demo reels and getting rejected. One thing that a good school can offer is a straight shot into a company through their placement programs (you should keep this in mind when picking a school). Getting your foot in the door is the hardest step, then after that you will have experience and a work history on your side.
It's never too late... I didn't even touch 3d until my late 20's... so, trust me, you are in a good spot to start. As long as you have the motivation to keep at it you should be fine.

02 February 2010, 10:00 PM
What kind of modelling do you want to do? If you want to do character modelling you might want to learn as much about anatomy as possible. Drawing it's self is nice but not required but you need to know proportions and things like that.

Funny thing, Dragon's poly modelling tutorial was my intro to learning polys a few years ago. :)

I have friends that made it both ways, self taught and college. It's really all about what you want to do.. there are benifits to either way so I guess you gotta figure out which one is better for you.

02 February 2010, 06:30 AM
Too late? Some day you'll look back on that question and laugh your head off. The biggest thing about drawing is that it forces you to see the world the way is really is and not how you presuppose it. I recommend a couple (at least) semesters of figure drawing. This has the added benefit of being fun. Beware that you won't get rich.

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