Anyone who became a successful 3D artist without a degree?


Hello guys!
I don’t know if this is the right forum to post this thread. If not , please just move it :slight_smile: .

So I’m kind of curious to see if there’s anybody who got a job or at least successful made it into the industry without attending any university or if studied , then it was an irrelevant major (e.g. Physics , Business , Linguistics etc.) . Please feel free to share you stories here , I’m trying to get motivation that everything can be possible and trying to cheer up myself.
So while I’m studying abroad and I’m 20 years old (non-UK) at the moment , I thought of a last moment decision of getting into BU(I know made a post about it long long ago) in UK but then I realised that I’ve forgotten the expensive cost of living in UK and that many of my qualifications have expired. So I thought of other ideas in terms of studying and not wasting my time trying decide , but my head has ran out of ideas and sense of logic X/ . So I want some real-life testimonies . And I know that some stuff won’t work for everyone but hearing other people’s story won’t make any bad.

Thanks in advance,

Here’s my portfolio , in case you want to see what I’m all about:



I don’t mean to be flippant here, but I’d say…probably everyone over the age of 45. :wink:

All those “old dudes” working on movies, games, etc? I’d bet most of them didn’t get a degree in "3D’ because there wasn’t really any such thing back when they would have been in college/university. I got my “degrees in 3D” 17 years ago…and at that time, it was still new. Hell, there wasn’t really a separate “Game Artist”…it was just “3D Animator”, and if you wanted to do stuff for games, you kinda had to learn all that stuff on your own (which is why I took an optional 3DS MAX course at the same time I was learning Maya and Softimage|3D (XSI wasn’t out until the very end of my education).

Anyway, from anecdotal evidence, I’d say you don’t need a degree…you need to show you would easily have gotten one. “I have a degree, here’s my stuff!” is less convincing than “I specialize in ZBrush character modeling, here’s my stuff!”. If your portfolio has kick ass stuff, that’s what counts.

What did I get from my education? Experience and contacts, all slammed together in a constant environment of creativity and learning with everyone else. It’s one thing to learn on your own, which works great for some folks…but when you have industry pro’s teaching you and telling you about cool tricks they just figured out while working on the latest Hollywood blockbuster CGI, and a dozen other students right next to you, offering suggestions, critiques, and moral support? That’s something you don’t get sitting at your own computer at home.

Lastly, as an aside; Don’t neglect ‘classical skills’! Life drawing, colour theory, art history (no, really!), and all that ‘non-3D stuff’. Reading stories, watching movies and playing games (video, board, roleplaying…doesn’t matter)… all help. Sculpting, carving, and pretty much anything ‘creative’.

Degree in “3D”? Nice to have, but a kick ass portfolio trumps a piece of paper every day of the week.


Yes , I know that most of the experienced guys made it on their own and everybody else these days can also.I like to think in the that old way (the thing you said that they weren’t Game Artists and animators) . I feel like the animators of my generation have a big access to great stuff , greater than the older generations , but it’s cut and sewed and ready to be served to them, do you get what I mean? The vast majority of them don’t really get in the process to get really tired of the practise , they find the easiest way to learn it and then slack off. The old masters always will be better than the ones these days. The really applies in fine arts as well.

But when happens when other life priorities come in your way? Of course not all of us know how to manage time well . It’s that time after time I feel so dumb that I couldn’t manage for many reasons all the years (either hesitation, conditions that won’t inspire me to do it , life priorities) , to create a decent 3D model . But it’s everyone’s responsibility to manage their priorities. I really want to make it into the industry , although I never really know any software .Therefore I don’t want to end up someone who does anything else other than being a freelancer/working in a studio , in order to make a living. I’m trying to re-mold my mind into thinking that this kind of job is not a hobby which make you happier or that only when inspiration comes then I should create.I want really to connect with people who are also artists. So I really overthink about whether I should go to a university to just study software and get tips and hints for people who are more experienced than me.
But people will find it cooler if you’ve achieved a cool portfolio without attending an institution for that regardless.

It’s sure that the people who practise from a young age are the ones who are most likely to make the most of their work in the industry.
No , I don’t neglect ‘classical skills’ because those are the ones who help me further thinking about “concepts”.



I hear ya’ man. I’m one of those people who isn’t very good…ok, is really bad…no is freaking horrible at time management! sheepishly looks down at own feet

I wish I could manage my time more, but I have some…er…unusual problems that make it even harder nowadays (medical for me, medical for my wife, and neurological for my 7 yo daughter). Still, I enjoy my 3D time when I get ‘all into it’. My time, when I have it (typically between 11pm and 2am…hehe…) is spent either watching/learning/doing 3D stuff, writing (roleplaying game stuff…I’m an old nerd, sue me…), or making DOOM2/Heretic/Hexen levels. Oh, and maybe an hour or so of some of my fave YouTube folks.

I think that some of the online offerings may be just the ticket for folks that have to hold down a full/part time job while learning and honing their 3D skills. Personally I’d LOVE to join “Animation Mentor”! :slight_smile: Don’t have the $$$ though. :frowning: Some of the Gnomon course offerings seem nice too. Those are at least save-up’able.

I’d like for someone to come up with a website specifically for learning via “time restricted industry expectations”. If I have a set goal, and a set time line, I manage my 3d working time MUCH MUCH better. If it’s just me sitting here farting around making cubes with edge bevels and holes in it, I can waste hours just trying different things with different tools, and in the end have nothing to show for it other than an increased knowledge/work-flow. Nice, but doesn’t help with a portfolio. I’d like a website that has a sort of “fake job” posts for learning and practice. “We need some run down, rusty, industrial containers…big dumpsters, boxes, broken crates, wooden pallets, beat up oil drums, etc. We need (list of things and amount), and we need them by (date)”. That’d be nice! Contests are nice too…but there are too many “professional contests” out there, where the stakes are pretty big, which lures in actual long-time pro’s, making any newbies not bother or drop out.

Anyway, just kinda yammering here. Sorry… Off to kill some zombies in State of Decay (oh, I guess that’s another time-sink I partake in).


Hey, I wouldn’t call myself successful since I only entered the industry last year, but I did do so without a degree - I’m currently 21. I was studying 3D in school, but the cost was too much and I didn’t feel I was getting what I wanted out of it, so I left early and just worked on my portfolio for about 8 months or so. Afterwards, I went to Siggraph and started looking for work. You can look up my stuff, it’s not recent work though now. Hope that’s some encouragement.


is that you ?
Or is that you too?

If it’s you , then you work’s pretty decent! Ringling is one the schools , for which I heard the best feedback! Didn’t you really like that school? Why? I mean I can imagine (even I haven’t studied yet) that in the course you do nothing else by learning software and drawing/making projects about Sci-fi and etc.
And what is Siggraph?


Yeah, both are me, the reel’s outdated, as you improve pretty fast once you get real studio experience - but it did get me some interest and a job.

Ringling is definitely one of the few cg schools where the education is not a sham. I do have personal issues with the curriculum, but it’s somewhat detailed stuff I’d only get into if a prospective student really wanted to know, and nothing ultimately dealbreaking. It’s just not worth it to go to a school like Ringling, Art Center, Calarts, RISD, etc. if you cannot afford the high price tag. As a high school student I didn’t fully consider this, as I was pretty worried about my future and thought the ‘top-tier’ education would have been worth it anyways. But you just have to weigh the burden of tens of thousands of dollars in debt against what you would make as a junior to see that it is financially unwise, especially when the expensive degree does not guarantee you anything and there are so many cheaper routes available nowadays. It can definitely accelerate your path to go to one of the well-known schools, but there are many ways to reach the same ends.

Siggraph is a CG convention. I wouldn’t say it’s worth flying out just to go to a convention Siggraph or CTN or GDC (unless you have the cash to spare), but it can be a great way to meet professionals and companies and show your work to people.


I’ve been thinking the same about the ‘top-tier’ education too . The thing is that I wanted to the Bournemouth University of UK or the Caledonian University of Scotland but my financial background isn’t the best and many relatives/acquaintances told me that it’s really Expensive to study there as they say , although I’m trying to find clue against their point and I’m allowed to make a student loan as a European student.

So I’m in Germany right now , 20 years old and I’m kinda in a weird mood because everybody’s passed the test , even the worst guys and I was the only who hasn’t passed and it got a hold on me. So I’m in between “staying in this country for 3D animation , even though mostly private schools can be found” , “moving to UK and study that damn Major” or “stay in that country , study something irrelevant to 3D animation while attending online courses” . And I’m indecisive , so that makes it worse.
To be honest I’ve been really thinking about attending online tutorials (e.g. Lynda , DigitalTutors etc) while studying a degree irrelevant to 3D Animation and that may be Interior Design/Architecture/Landscape Architecture , just to have more chances in case the “Plan A” doesn’t work , which is getting a degree in 3D Animation . But as far as I know , my skills in time management suck balls. I’m indecisive of what has priority in my life sometimes that I just get mind blocked. So that means I develop my 3d software skills REALLY SLOW. And as I have been getting feedback from people , they would say to me that it’s better to study what you really want to study rather just studying for a job because "your parents said to " or “to make great joyful living”. Therefore I’m the type of person who wants to have a nice living (who doesn’t haha) and most of the people know that money sometimes is the needed for that (but mostly depends on every person’s personality what really a nice living means). I wish could give me a feedback on this idea of mine.

I don’t want to sound cheesy or anything but how’s life behind the job in the studio? I mean by the terms of financial and time managment. I know you may react to me like “Oh so you want to go for money!! Then get the f out! This job need sacrifices and stuff…”.


This is absolutely more than possible. It’s the same with 2D concept art, animation, character design, rigging, modeling, programming… people just care that you can do the job and get it done well. Nobody cares how you learned to do it.

But I will say a degree can lend credence outside of a portfolio. Not to mention the connections you can make at school.

If you have the drive to teach yourself and make an amazing portfolio then you can absolutely get into the biz without a degree.


Don’t fret dude, it is possible. I had a friend in highschool who was very popular and didn’t socialize much. So after he pirated some 3D software he became well versed in animating all on his own. His first job was to animate Marcus in his vampire form in Underworld 2. He has since worked on a ton of films over the last 10 years like XMen, Prometheus, Avengers and more. All it took was time, patience and dedication to the craft.

Here’s his IMDB profile

Now go get some!


Ok , is it me or you’re to trying to tell me to quit nagging? :argh: And you tell me “Now get some” like you mean “Now get your ass off to work”

Well I don’t really fret , even though I’m often anxious. I’m trying to find a solution to my indecisiveness. Well I downloaded illegaly these software when I was 13 too (now I’m 20,5 years old, lol how time flies) , but the thing is the only software that I really focused on was…Photoshop. The Computer which I was working on had an Intel Graphics that whenever I was going to play a Game that demanded AMD or Nvidia graphics , shut the software down.

And my computer was so also slow ( “EXCUSES , EXCUSES!!” that’s what you’ll say to me I guess…) . You know , it’s just time after time I really regret that I didn’t focused myself on these software and I blame myself exclusively but then I remember that there were also other things in life that kind of avoided me to do it. But now I have a laptop which slightly does a better work , at least for Zbrush , which is the main software I want to focus on. I’m trying to get as much information as I can about this topic , online and offline and I wonder sometimes why I haven’t done it before. Heh , that’s why I have cgsociety account.

Yeah , the thing that he made up his mind , made things on the right time . Well , it’s not too late at my age too but the thing is that it takes some time to learn that stuff and only in intensive training I guess I will be able to make it.

But let me ask you , did study in an insitution or did he just found a job straight after the high school?


The topic is already quite old, I don’t even know how I came across it on the forum. I want to say that education can be useful to you in learning animation, but often it is very expensive and does not guarantee results. If I were you, I would work on my own portfolio, it’s much more important than a degree. I would like to add that a good environment and mentors can be found without a college or university, you just have to look well.


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