3D Artist, how do you spend 40 hours sitting at a desk?


I am a 3d artist, and I would like to get a job and make a living off it. I am pretty skilled in 3d modeling, animation ,etc. The problem is, I cant imagine working 40 hours a week sitting at a desk. It’s hard for me to sit still for many hours. After 2 hours I start to become anxious and need to move around. And the longer the day becomes, the more frequently I need breaks. 15 minute breaks every 3 hours is not enough.

I can do ok with 6 hours a day. But that only comes out to 30 hours a week per week day. I have tried working 8 hour days with my freelance jobs, but after the 3rd and 4th day I am fed up with it and my schedule starts to collapse.

Is this job really for me? What are the expectations of the boss for 3d artist jobs or similar? How much of those 8 hours a day need to be spent fully concentrated on the work? How long can you walk around the office until your boss tells you to sit down again and get back to work?


For starters, the 40 hour work week is pretty much dead across a variety of industries. Most professional “desk jockeys” tend to work a 50h week (8-6) and don’t get paid by the hour, negating the idea of overtime. The more advanced your role, the less likely that you’ll be on the clock. I know a number of people who, because of their role, are just about always on call 7 days a week.

As a CG artist, regardless of your role, it’s never going to a be a 9-5 job. If you’re “only” working 40 hours then you’re probably a unicorn. It’s not uncommon, especially in the stretch of a project, to put in 60-80 hours and work the full 7 day week. At the very least, 50+ hour weeks are the norm. You never really get paid what you’re worth. Then again, if you’re doing it to get rich then you’re in the wrong biz. :slight_smile:

Most bosses probably won’t scream at you to sit back down or stop stretching. Whip cracking rarely motivates. That said, because you’re expected to be a team player, you’re never going to be that artist who puts in only 30 hours when the rest of your team is putting in 60. There’s always this unspoken rule of, “Get with the program or find another job.” Again, nobody really says that directly and, if anything, might openly say the opposite to avoid lawsuits and such, but that’s the score. As an at-will employee, they’ll just terminate you and find somebody else who WILL get with the program. FWIW, this is also very much the mentality overseas in anime studios too.

Even if you were to avoid a formal studio situation and just work freelance, it’s almost never 40 hours either. I had one project that, over the course of 18 days, had me working 16 hour days. Brutal. On the surface, the pay was decent. Broken down to an hourly rate, it was barely minimum wage. I’ve since learned to price better, but the hours are rarely ideal or conducive to having a decently active personal life.

CG art… ANY art… takes time. Art is a process and rarely something that you can just egg timer your way through. Being a CG artist is not like working checkout at Walmart. It’s also VERY easy to lose time on the simplest of tasks and not notice until your stomach grumbles or you have to go to the bathroom. Worse than that, there are just some tasks that you can’t stop in the middle just because it’s quitting time.

Being a CG artist requires hardcore dedication. Passion and enthusiasm for the art won’t last forever. In fact, they disappear pretty early into the process. What’ll get you through are focus, structure, and discipline. If you find that you cannot maintain focus no matter hard you try then I strongly suggest that you seek professional help. Your problem might well be medical. No shame in having ADHD. I know a number of successful artists who do.

If it’s not medical and just you… I’m going to offer you a bit of friendly advice wrapped in anecdote.

I know a guy. Let’s call him Bill for the sake of this discussion. Bill is the sort of guy who will go in for a job and absolutely nail the interview. Total pro. When he gets in, he loves it [the job] more than life itself.

Then, after 2 or 3 weeks, the enthusiasm fades and his professionalism begins to wane. He starts to look for reasons, however trivial, to quit. Maybe Bill doesn’t like the commute. Maye he doesn’t feel that working more than 35 hours is appropriate given his role. Maybe he just doesn’t like a co-worker. To make matters worse, Bill often self-sabotages to the point where, by month 3, he gets fired. Bill rarely lasts beyond that 3 month probation period typical to most jobs.

The thing is, Bill isn’t a bad employee. No. He’s actually rather brilliant and amazing at what he does. Bill has focus issues and always makes excuses. He’ll start a job, love it, hate it, quit or get fired, and then start the cycle all over again. I’ve known Bill for decades. Consistently, Bill has had 3-4 jobs a year - every year - for his entire adult life. I don’t know the exact total, but I would conservatively estimate that Bill has had 100-150 jobs in his lifetime. Maybe more. His full unedited CV reads like a magazine.

Bill has focus issues. Bill has issues with self-discipline and structure. Bill may be talented, but he is also his own undoing. Bill is what I like to call a “permanent temp” and that’s really no way to live. Decades of doing what he’s great at, but ultimately nothing to show for it.

The lessons here:

  1. Work is work. If it were fun then it wouldn’t be called work.
  2. In any field, a 35-40 hour week is a big nothing burger. It is the least that any full time job will ask of you. Welcome to the adult world.
  3. Don’t have the discipline? Find some. Quickly. You don’t want to be like Bill and find it late in life.
  4. There are ALWAYS reasons to hate your job. Your co-worker is nosy. Your boss is an ass. The expectations are unreasonable. The commute sucks. The schedule isn’t perfect. There’s always something. HOWEVER, there’s always one reason to stay. A stable, adult life.

40 hours is a lot to ask if you’re not used to it. However, make no mistakes, you WILL have to get used to it. Doesn’t matter if you’re an artist, a cable TV repairman, a dock worker, or a CEO for a pharma company.

I’m almost 48 now. Not OLD old, but old enough. One of the super powers of getting older is the power of hindsight. I did stuff when I was, say, 23 I now just facepalm at. Stuff that didn’t seem to matter at the time, but had a lasting impact down the road. Ultimately, there’s no UNDO button on mistakes you’ll make or the years you’ll screw up.

I need you to know that you can still avoid becoming Bill through one magic phrase: “Suck it up.” That’s what my dad always told me when I was a kid and things got too hard, too unpleasant, or my anxiety started to weigh me down at the worst times. “Suck it up.” Yeah. It sounds nasty to say and worse to hear, but that’s the long and short of it. Part of living in the adult world is doing stuff that is inconvenient and out of your comfort zone. That includes, minimally, working 9-5 to bring home that bacon to ensure that you won’t end up eating cat food when you’re old.

Nobody (reasonable) is going to REALLY scream at you for getting up to stretch or take your HR/state mandated break. However, f***ing around too much to break up the monotony will surely cost you your job or reputation for quality and professionalism.

My final pieces of advice are simple:

  1. Take your lunch break away from your desk even when you’re not hungry. Just take a walk. It’s a sanity thing. Work time is work time. Lunch time is your time.
  2. Use that vacation time, or whatever they opt to call it. Your mental health is important. Giving the job you time is one thing. Giving them your sanity is something else.
  3. At the end of the day, no matter much you love what you do, remind yourself that there is more to you and your life than your job. Get lost in the work and you stand to lose a bit of yourself. Having hobbies or things to look forward to outside of work can help keep you sane.

Nobody’s telling you to be a doormat or allow yourself to be abused by your boss. It’s just… push comes to shove… There are necessary evils in life and work is one of them. 40 hours is nothing. ESPECIALLY for CG artists. If the idea of long weeks, well beyond 40, is too much for you then… yeah… CG might not be your best job option. Just saying.


just curious

have you also spoke to those artist about their career, also feel free to send them some message on inlinked about what is it like in the job.

this job as 3d artist in any part of the industry, no one can give you a actual answer, most of the time is not predictable. i had my exposure of both flexible time, to strict working schedule and then freelance. all this depends of person. quite sure that even someone that still in their academy time will spend their weekday or weekend more trying to complete their own task and glued to the chair.


I mean, the bottom line here is that he’s kvetching about something as simple as a 40 hour work week. Even 30 hours seems too hard for him. It doesn’t matter if you work at Pixar or Target, that’s a regular work week. Anything less is part-time work.

I could understand if he had some physical ailment that prevented him from full-time work, but his seems to be an issue of focus and discipline. This is something that he could and SHOULD work on.

Freelance can’t solve his problem either. He’s already made it clear that he loses focus and struggles to continue beyond 3 or 4 days. That’s a massive issue too. Whether you’re in a studio or working in you pajamas, there are always deadlines to meet and budgets to be maintained. Just as he has to answer to his client, it’s as likely that his client may have to answer to somebody else.

I started doing CG over 30 years ago. It was fun. I got to make cool stuff and bring my imagination to life. It was and still is my passion. However, CG is very much like basketball. There’s a decidedly large difference between playing in your backyard and going to the NBA. The moment that you turn pro, it becomes a real job.

When you’re doing it for fun, you can take breaks whenever you want, skip practice whenever you want, and even just stop because you don’t feel like it. Going pro, everything changes. You have to hit that court even when it’s not fun, you’re tired, or your head’s not into it. When your passion becomes your work, what you want isn’t always as important as what has to be done and what you’ve committed yourself to delivering.

I’m not sure that talking to a wide variety of people will help him here. In any regular full-time office job, he’ll be asked to work 40 hours with 30 or 60 minutes each day allotted to lunch, usually the former. 35-37.5 hours of solid work each week isn’t a lot to ask. It is normal. That’s what full-time is.

Working in CG, whether its in a studio of on freelance project, the hours aren’t going to go down. They’re more than likely going to go up. I’ve never known any full-time CG artist to put in less than 35 hours a week. The work itself requires attention to detail.

Look. Yes. He can get part-time work doing CG. There are lots of jobs like that online. They’re usually temporary assignments that might include jumping onto the end of some big project to help finish or do menial, repetitive tasks that not even the juniors want to do. However, you can’t earn proper living with part-time work alone. As it is, full-time artists work more hours than they’re really paid for, making the rate of pay a little sad in the big picture.

Again, the bottom line here is that he’s objecting to the bare minimum required by nearly every full-time job on the planet. Look. I get it. If he’s not used to working a 40 hour week then it CAN feel uncomfortable and painful. However, in time you build up a tolerance. You get use to it. You’ll find a way because you have no choice.

I’m going to make this even simpler on the OP. Imagine yourself in 10 years. Ask yourself what you want out of life.

  • You want a house.
  • You want a family.
  • You want a good car.
  • You want to take that occasional vacation.
  • You want little to no debt.

That all costs money. That house? Expect to pay $1,500-$3,000 every month for your mortgage. At least. Feeding a family of four? Good luck spending less than $800 a month these days. That car payment? $400+ each month - usually. ETC and so on.

I’ve got, on average, about $6k in bills every month. I don’t spend very much and I’m 100% debt free. Seems like a lot, but stuff costs money. Living costs money. That’s why Target is increasing its minimum wage to $24/hr - which comes out to just under $50k a year. $50k for swiping items over a bar scanner. Think about that.

Part-time work alone won’t cut it. Freelance alone won’t cut it; As anybody can tell you, it’s a “feast or famine” sort of lifestyle that requires massive self-discipline when it comes to budgeting and structure. Some weeks, you’re swamped with work. Other weeks, you’re playing Dying Light or taking naps between personal pieces. It’s not a super stable way to live/work.

To the OP… Even if your part of the world is super affordable, can you REALLY earn a living working only 4 or 5 hours each day? I’m not questioning your maturity, but the adult world does have some very basic requirements. 40 hours a week? Not so bad.

And, yes, if your boss screams out you for getting up and stretching than he’s a tyrannical ass-hat.


Wow…cookepuss layed out alot of valid info & much of it applies to a vast majority of OTHER occupations as well…

My theme has always been “If you like-love something then DON’T have it as a career”. Younger days I always wanted to be a comic book artist (I am 61) but after digging about I found there was no way I was fast enough & I also could not sit for long periods of time…

i ended up being a millwright & mechanic of all types thus physically satisfying with the millwright jobs being somewhat creative…

But I must say…6,000.00$ in bills a month!!!..At that rate ANYBODY needs to trim the fat…I live off small pension under 1,000 a month live fine, cabin in the boondocks, burn firewood, haul water, have chickens, work on own vehicles, fix own plumbing, etc…

You are BEST these days to CUT your expenses, get out of the cities as they are toxic with frequencies beamed everywhere & WiFRY from neighbors & businesses cooking you even if you don’t have it yourself, Water treatment plants going ‘toilet-to-tap’ everywhere…This last year San Diego & Orange County went online…Look for IQs to start dropping in those areas. Where I live there are several spots I can fill up clean fresh PRIMARY water coming right out of the ground that is not processed nor flouridated & is ‘LIVE’ water, which is good for you. There are no cell towers which is what people call them, they are actually death towers as many do not serve a cell function but are capable of 500,000 to 1,000,000 watts of power which could vaporize anything for miles…Think about it!..Your phone only puts out a watt of power! So only perhaps 5-10 watts would be sufficient for a return signal…

I could go on, but just remember that earth is a shithole, don’t be attached to ANY career, hurry & make a better, simpler life & learn self-sufficiency, the fiat money system will soon be over. What will you do when your cards, numbers, cellphones & laptops no longer work? Do you even know how to start a fire?..

Get where you need to go FIRST, then live off pennies while you work FOR YOURSELF in self-sufficiency, then do CG just for fun or laughs or for others to ridicule…


During pandemic I found out that going to the gym even twice a week makes a difference, though prior to pandemic I was attending lots of physical activities, namely ballroom latin dance classes, yoga, jogging. Then 2 years ensued of confined life. Now it’s getting even more complex, adding survival and possibility of being killed at any moment. Imagine this, you drink coffee, planning your next day of calm and normal life, and then you hear the missiles and all that in just one day your life has changed.
Currently we have curfew from 7 PM to 8 AM, and it’s getting warmer outside, so perhaps I could jog a bit.
I live on 2 meters most of the time in the corridor, as it’s unsafe approaching the windows. They get blown away with doors altogether due to missiles attacks every single day. on our city Sirens alarm half of the time. Still, I try to exercise on my mat, trying to abstract from this hell. It does help.
I think it’s important exercising, as 3d artists are very passionate about their job, but this sacrifice isn’t wise. Work is just work, and no amount of money can get you back easily if you get out of shape. If I could get back in time, I would start attending gyms earlier in my life. They are a much better option, if available, to keep yourself in a good shape. As it’s difficult exercising at home, due to lots of distraction.


I mean, it’s New York. Nothing is cheap. Even a crappy 840-sqft apartment in the Bronx can still cost you $3,500/month. It is what it is. And if you think that $6k/month is bad… That doesn’t even cover my younger brother’s mortgage payment. Welcome to living in the tri-state. :stuck_out_tongue:


Developing good time management skills is essential for success in life. So check https://papersowl.com/examples/time-management this articles for more info, It reduces stress and promotes academic achievement. It also helps keep a person organized. However, if a person does not have control over their time, he/she is likely to encounter problems in their professional and social life.


I can do ok with 10 hours a day. But that only comes out to 70 hours a week per week day. I have tried working 4 hour days with my freelance jobs, but after the 3rd and 4th day I am fed up with it and my schedule starts to collapse. Best Video Camera