3D artists Making money on the side...Tell us your ideas..


We all know that there are a ton of side markets for 3d artists to compensate their income.
From Turbosquid to the Unity marketplace.
So tell us what side markets you have found.
And ideas to. legaly, make side money.

I am looking forward to your comments/ideas.



I posted an article about this on my blog the other day. You can see it here: article

I generate a modest amount of income from Istockphoto, Turbosquid and Gumroad. I think the trick to making money this way is good old, quantity, quality and originality. If you can tick those three boxes, you stand a good chance of making a little extra cash per month. Though it can take a few months to build up steam!

Beyond that I’d also recommend cross platform asset creation. By that I mean, create one piece of work that can be sold in multiple ways. For example I created this ship: click here I produced this for multiple platforms; I recording the process of creating the 3d ship and made this available as a tutorial via Gumroad, I rendered/painted the ship as high res matte painting and made that available on istockphoto as a stock image, I also recorded the matte painting process and made that available as a tutorial via Gumroad, I then uploaded the asset itself to Turbosquid. I could go one step further and create an animation and sell to various video libraries. The great thing about creating the image is that when people ask about the image I can tell them that the tutorial and the assets are all available through these platforms; so the image itself is a great vehicle to the other assets.


Great thread Roberto, hope there’s plenty of people with something to say

@Everlite, $1000 is not to be sniffed at!.. really impressive. Has got me thinking how I could use my skills to target markets that aren’t so well catered for. I used to be a wildlife/portrait painter, I have so many paintings sat doing nothing but collecting dust, I need to try and make some money from them, not necessarily by selling them but photographing them, any other ideas gratefully received.

How would I find out what is selling well? - or markets that need more models/visuals etc? - I remember a thread on here some time ago that gave some great insight into exploring these markets but I can’t find it.


Hi Jay,

Great thinking! I see so many people with old work laying around doing nothing that could otherwise be generating cash! :slight_smile:

Regarding the paintings, it’s difficult to say without seeing them. I would scan them at high res, around 8-10k in size, do some very basic processing work, color correct etc, then submit them to any number of stock libraries out there. Another option would be to do a little Photoshop work and turn them into tillable patterns, these tend to sell more on stock libraries for use in the surface design industry (fabric patterns, stationary etc)

Good luck! :slight_smile:


I’m very much just researching this subject at the moment, as I don’t have the tools or Zbrush skills yet to pull it off, for what I want to do for side income.

The main thing for me, would be 3D printing collectable figures or statues. I’ve seen other artists, selling such collectables for a couple hundred dollars each, and they normally sell about 50-100 figures to start off with.


Everlite has the right idea for maximizing your ROI on work. Often I can reuse assets to help me do things quickly.

I used to provide rendered outlines very quickly for illustrators and artists that needed to focus on coloring a creating quick inexpensive commercial art. I also use to lease out my work for multiple purposes.

However, in the past, I used to really get a ton of mileage out of bartering. I traded a lot of designs for work on vehicles, breaks with medical bills.

I support a family of 6 on my income, so I’m always having to find extra channels of income to make ends meet.

I think the biggest problem and biggest cause for burnout though is trading time for money. The way around that is to create your own work, in your own time, your own way and it be something others are willing to pay money for to use.


I’m very much just researching this subject at the moment, as I don’t have the tools or Zbrush skills yet to pull it off, for what I want to do for side income.

The main thing for me, would be 3D printing collectable figures or statues. I’ve seen other artists, selling such collectables for a couple hundred dollars each, and they normally sell about 50-100 figures to start off with.

I’d love to do something similar, give side show collectibles a run for their money! or create your own 40k style game :slight_smile: However I still think the tech has a long way to go before it’s more economical to use, and then you have to find someone that can created a mold tree for reproduction if you cant do this yourself. The Stan Winston school website has a bunch of videos on the subject, here’s a cool video on producing an action video:
and tested has some cool videos too: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiDJtJKMICpb9B1qf7qjEOA


To be honest, I have 3 other ideas for sources of revenue. I could share them, but wary of the market being flooded with 3D artists :stuck_out_tongue: . To be fair you could find this out yourselves too, as it took me a fair amount of time to gather such information. The only hints I’ll give are comics and t-shirt.

Or once I’ve made my bucket load I’ll tell you LOL.

Well this depends, I think there’s another alternative, is that is to hire a designer. You be paying the designer to design graphics for your products that you sell.

There’s already a 3D printing company, who convert 3D prints to highly finished collectables, exactly like Side Show. I do believe they can manufacture quite a volume of statues too.


There’s already a 3D printing company, who convert 3D prints to highly finished collectables, exactly like Side Show. I do believe they can manufacture quite a volume of statues too.

I’m sure it’s pretty costly! :slight_smile:

T-shirts and 3d … 3d printed T-shirts? :smiley:


Yes, that is always a good way. I’ve done that on the contracting side. On occasion, I’ve been able to secure a nice whale size project that 3-5 can feed on. I’d like to master finding those jobs and just being a producer. At least then you are the one in control of finding the work and negotiating the numbers.

A foundry style of producting would be the ultimate though, you are right. Come up with the IP and pay others to handle production. It makes the world go around


I think I got in trouble last time I talked about this. But I digress.

Okay so you want to make side money.

Let me put it out there. I make about 40K in side money. If I wanted to make more it would be around 150k quite honestly. So let us just say I’m experienced at making money online and using artistic stuff. So let me share about a few ways to make money.

I want to say if you have skill as an artist you should not be starving. I don’t have your skill and yet have made money part time. You have to think of the market and the big picture.

I’ve seen one big problem. Artists overcharging and forgetting low lying fruit. Now we don’t mean work for super cheap or things that aren’t worth your time but also look for the quick low lying fruit that you can take advantage of. Keep that in mind. Also read the 4 hour work week book to increase your productivity. Also think of bulk as well.

So here goes.

  1. Create generic videos that can be customized and sell to businesses.

Need a plumber, need an electrician, need a Dr? You could create a whole bunch of generic videos with animations, 3d characters and spokespeople. Make it generic and customizable. Use your graphics powers to create several of these. Pick 100 businesses and create videos for it. Keep it simple and outsource a few aspects if necessary. Bundle them and sale them. First sell them yourself for yourself.
Basically after creating several videos or even one specific to a group like Electricans sell it to electricians. Here is where the outsourcing comes in. Go on craigslist and find sales reps who work on commission. Have them sale the generic videos to all Electricians in the US. Then move to plumbers, dentists, hvac, etc. Charge 500-1000 USD per generic video. Give a 20% commission to the sales reps, then customize it in After Effects with their name and number and pocket the 400-800 in commission. Of course you can then make a full customized video for more.
Here is an example of what I’m talking about. The pretty lady in the video is actually my wife. :slight_smile:
Basically you make ready made videos and resell them. Look at some of the prices.
Your sales team that works for commissions will make the sales and you take 10 minutes to customize the name and number and render it.

  1. Once you have created videos, bundle them and sell them.

Once you have a library of videos that you have created bundle them and sell them as a business in a box. Sell them as a bundle to people wanting to start their own online business. Sell them here for example www.warriorforum.com. Boom! Keep making some generics along the way use them then resell them.

  1. Do a virtual 3d animated puppet spokesperson

Put that bad boy on Fiverr and watch the orders come in. Look I know some folks hate working on Fiverr but truth be told you don’t have to work for 5 dollars anymore. You can even start out at $900.

  1. Here is an idea for awesomeness. Kids books

Find a writer and do a series of illustrated kids books and sale on Kindle and Amazon.

  1. Create a IP online and do affiliate marketing or own product marketing

It has worked for decades. You create something that gets views. With those views you advertise something. There are plenty of affiliate items you can advertise off your cartoon, comic, animation, etc. Webtoons is really popular now and some folks are getting paid 100k as a featured artist. You remember those old advertisements in comics? Well do that. Create an online series, comic, etc and then advertise something via affiliate or create your own product. For example my next project is creating a children’s show for Youtube. I’m doing adsense but will also be advertising heavily my children’s books Why advertise someone else when I can advertise my own products? Digital and print on demand books or make a deal with an actual writer who has books out and needs promotion.

  1. Poser and DAZ are your friend!

Okay this is one that gets me. How many of you have 100s of models just sitting on your hard drive collecting digital dust. Look DAZ gets 3 Million viewers a month. Out of those 3 million viewers there are tons of buyers and yet you don’t have as much competition as you would think on DAZ.com. You have people specifically looking for models in a very specific format. They want models. I see too many artists doing a 3dmax format and selling off of Turbosquid for 100-2000 USD. Truth be told those most people who use Max or Maya are not looking for models as much as you think they are. But EVERY Daz or Poser user is looking for 3d models. That is the whole point. Why are there not more 3d artists catering to this group and just lettting their 3d models collect dust. Format that character for DAZ and sell it at the store. And don’t think you are above selling a model for 19.99. Sell 1 turboquid model for 2,000 USD or sell 1,000 of the same model at 19.99. Do the math. Bulk and market.

  1. Invest in someone who has more business sense than you.

Find someone who has a business plan but can use your help as an artist. Team up and create something awesome. You are going to be modeling 3d Wolverines all day long, why not model something original that is going to be used in a comic or something that could make money. Remember the artist who worked for Facebook stock and is now worth 500,000,000. He was going to charge 60K for doing art at Facebook. He went ahead and invested his time in the company for worthless stock that is now worth 500 million dollars. Do your research and learn about the person but there are people who have better business sense than you and investing in them could lead to some nice profit.

  1. Create a media company

People are always looking for fresh content. This is what I’m working on now. I’m creating 2 brands. 1 is for kids nursery rhymes (have you seen how many views they get). It is not an over saturated market. And I have a ton of musicians who are working for royalties plus a small upfront pay. We will be creating pubic domain nursery rhymes in 10 languages and doing some original content. Think Rooster teeth for children. I’m also working on a separate media company creating more adult comics and animations including “Bad video songs” where I find horrible songs and make a video of it acting as if it is an awesome song. Countdowns, Yoko read Manga, Anime Covers in Spanish/English, Crazy Songs, Bad Alien Rantz About Stuff and then some Individual IP as WEBTOONs and Cineatic comics and Youtube Animations. Just think RoosterTeeth. Then do adsense and sell my own products that are not totally related. Lots of work and if anyone wants to help and be a millionaire down the road please contact me or try doing it yourself. Look at these guys on socialblade…these videos take like 5 minutes to make but look.
You can do as bad or way better than this can’t you.

  1. Create a mockbuster

Look if you animate and can create nice pictures, make a few mockbuster movies. Look the Asylum has been doing it for years. They wouldn’t be in business for 20+ years if the business model didn’t work.
Look Rattattoing is the most awful CG I’ve ever seen. Yet the infamous company that is creating this has been in business for 20 years. They make garbage and your still trying to find a job. How bout make something that is not perfect but not garbage and sell it like the Asylum does. Here is an idea for you.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles = Adolescent Kappa Samurai Warriors, well that is mine. But you get the gist.
I mean look at this.


You and 3 other animators couldn’t do better than this and make money?
Like I said these folks have been in business for 20 years. That is a good record. Love them or hate them we all know what Sharknado is. They get to have fun making stupid movies. Why can’t you who actually has skills?

Just to depress you more. These folks made money. These had a budget.


You can’t do better than this? Money is just waiting to be made.

  1. Furry pics

There is a need for 3d furry pics. Bundle them and sell them.

  1. Record while you work

Create some tutorials while you work. Model something cool or animate something cool while recording yourself and then sell it on Gumroad. Record all your work and show people how to do something and create a channel like Draw with Jazza. You’ll get viewers, clients and can sell tutorials for more in depth stuff. If you have skills sell that knowledge of your skills.

Roberto asked so I answered. I hope this helps some of you. Many of these ways I have personally used, am using or have helped friends make money doing. Hope this helps and I hope I don’t get in trouble for posting this.

PS EVERLITE feel free to contact me. I can share in more detail how to make more than 2600 a month. I work 2 days a week and make about 2600-4300 a month now. I also move around to cheaper pastures. :slight_smile: I lived in Tokyo last year and this year live in Ecuador. Next year is Thailand and Taiwan. Mexico after that. Then back to Japan. This is literally my life now. I read your blog and found it interesting. I think you could get that. :slight_smile: I do this cause boy it is fun to live this life and when you know something you share it. Oh and if you have kids your kids would probably do awesome to get a bigger world view. So many families here living in Ecuador who are so much happier spending 5 days a week with their kids and exploring the world vs the 9 to 5 and you see your kids at night just because you think your country is the best place because you don’t know better. :slight_smile: Wow, sorry for that. Anyone if you have any questions feel free to ask. I’m not selling anything. So don’t buy anything from me. I give out info for free.


Doing freelance work unrelated to what your employer does. That is the easiest way and it can be anything.

Cobra 6


Great post @ilovekaiju! I remember you posted something similar in the past. I remember then it catching my eye as well. I believe in that post, you may have posted a link to another announcer guy, the dude with the great accent that will plug anything for you for $5.

You are right on about the sales reps for commissions. Shoot, even high school students will jump at that to make cash and its easier than the typical minimum wage job.

Low hanging fruit is exactly right. Typically on the easiest most plain super fast turn around work, I make the highest hourly rate. On project that require more stamina with lots of detail and a heavier workload, I make less per hour because the rate gets negotiated so much more. Plus, getting paid seems to take a bit longer.

I’ve noticed more of my longer standing graphics veterans are opting for some of the more basic fast turn around work as well. It can be less stress and when you are fast, you can make out like a bandit.

Back in the day, we called your style of building a product for masses with simple customization, “Name Drops”. We would create a basic template that allowed the “Name drop” and logo. We also provided a list with basic changes available for small change. If you build that stuff up, it can be real bread and butter work.

One of my first bosses in graphics owned the t-shirt shop where I was working. When I moved on he said “remember Jon, you are a commercial artist now, you will always be able to create revenue for yourself with your skillset”

More artists need to embrace an entrepreneurial mindset if they want to succeed in their career. Don’t just be a tool or a gear in someone else’s money making machine. Create your own money making machine and control your future!


Sometimes I look at the artists here, devivantart, artstation, etc. And how awesome they are. I wish I was that awesome.

I’m horrible at art and yet still make money as a commercial “artist”, lol. It inadvertently happened.

I was thinking what I could accomplish if I was actually talented. I just don’t have and no amount of practice is going to get it for me. (Another discussion from another time). But man I see some of these artists and think I would be rich if I was you. But that comes from my entrepreneurial mindset combined with my artistic knowledge working for me.

I wish I could get 3 modelers to let me direct them and I would get them into the 100,000 per year range with no problem. My talent is taking talent and pointing it in the right direction.

But yeah there are tons of ways to make money if you think outside the box of business.

I love that term “name drop” I didn’t know that is what it was called. It’s awesome. Well I hope someone tries some suggestions here and would share their experience.

Personally I want to go the Tshirt route. Has anyone here had success in the Tshirt route? Any tips on tshirt money or comic creation money?


I started out in t-shirts. There isn’t much money in contracting for businesses, but there can be good money found in “pre-print” designs with “name-drop” flexibility. I would make out well with tourism shirts. We’d come up with a bunch of designs that we knew would sell well for a particular area and then the specific locations would drop their name in the design.

It’s tough with screen print because of the setup times and amount of materials needed to produce a printed shirt. However, screenprint is the king when it comes to high volume work.

A good alternative is to seek out contract printers that use DTG (Direct to Garment) printing.

Another cheap solution is to buy a heat press and a $1500 laser printer and print your own transfer designs and press on the shirts yourself. Right now the technology is getting better and better to create apparel in low volume. I’ve got a heat press and do some transfers with inkjet, but they are just for fun, not profit. I need to pickup the laser printer so I can start doing it for profit.

With the shirts, if you can find the demand and what trend is currently hot, you might be able to jump on it. Some people do well with the online market. In the past, I worked at a company that worked with sales reps. They would get a nice commision. The artists would get a decent royalty plus a small upfront fee. The reps would tell us what is moving the most and supply the tourism shops with our product. Some of the reps even created their own designs but had our shop polish them up a bit and separate the art for print. Then they got the sales commision and the royalty fee or they just negotiated a flat production fee and sold it for what they wanted.


Yup, Fivrr definitely get’s bad name because it’s assumed the going rate is $5 (or pounds, i forget) this definitely isnt’ the case. I use Fivrr more from a buyers perspective. There’s one girl on there that does voice overs for something like $5 for 75 words, the last I spoke with her, she had 80 jobs to do in 2 days most of which were in the 200 word range, do the math on that! around $400-800 every two days, not so bad! Here’s her page: https://www.fiverr.com/linneas88

Low lying fruit - i’d expand upon that by saying; when you have enough fruits, plant a fruit tree! :slight_smile:

Regarding the tshirts, beyond submitting to various POD sites I have no experience in this. Though i think the solution would be hiring someone else to actively promote your content with a commission.

Childrens content - Yes, this opens a lot of cross platform selling. Also one of the top 10 most viewed youtube videos of all time is one of those crappy animated shorts aimed at kids :slight_smile: Should note, I worked with a high profile youtube star some years ago and one thing i discovered, not sure if this still exists, but at the time (around 2012) youtube was paying very differently depending on your profile level … ie; the person I was working with was getting paid a much higher percentage than average to push people into the system of doing the same. So be careful with this as a business model. I guess getting third party sponsors would be the answer.


This thread is full of inspiring info, @ilovekaiju, it was your post some time ago I referred to earlier, you said you got into trouble for it, does that mean it was deleted? - anyway thank you for sharing your knowledge.

I have some talents as a traditional and 3d artist, though I do lack that entrepreneurial spirit, I guess it’s not my nature - though I think if I saw something I was doing produce the bucks in royalties or gave me a steady stream of cash it would give me the impetus I need. I certainly need to venture out from what I’m doing, to safe-guard my future as much as anything.

How important is it to be passionate about what you’re doing for this money on the side? - I see these great ideas and think I could conceivably do them but I have doubts when my heart isn’t in something, perhaps it’s important to find that happy medium between the two.


How important is it to be passionate about what you’re doing for this money on the side?

It’s a slow burning process. Whenever I put content onto Istock for example it takes around 3-6 months for them to build up a steady flow. Not sure quite why this is, maybe something to do with their search engine.

Gumroad has a more immediate impact, but slowly dies off. It’s best to have an existing audience, followers etc

Typically if it depends on a search engine, be prepared to wait a while. If you can promote your content, then sales will steadily begin more immediately, then slow down.

So do you need passion? is it important? Absolutely! :slight_smile:


thank you for taking the time ilovekaiju to write this!

This is the information I have been looking for, supply and demand! Its so easy to get stuck down the rabbit hole of how things should be (or what our ideal world in CG could be), instead of what the market needs. Thanks again for the reality check and your due diligence.


I get that, sounds absolutely logical but when I watch those plumber spokesperson videos posted by ilovekaiju I can’t fathom how anyone had passion for that process, money must be a large motivating factor. You said on your blog that you experienced a ‘giddy’ feeling when the money came started to come in, doesn’t that change the mind-set a little?