Field of specialization


Hello everyone!
I’m here to ask you some advice on the learning path I should follow.
I’m a beginner in the 3D field, so I’m a little confused about two things.
I’ve studied industrial design and computer engineering (I love interdisciplinary paths) and worked as graphic designer for 2 years, but in these last years I’ve discovered 3D and I’ve really fallen for it.
I know that the competition is huge and that there are so many amazing artist out there who began at 15 years old, but I’d really love to enter the film industry. I’m searching for a job in line with my degrees now (I’m 25 years old so I need to work, I can’t dream all day xD), so I will be able to study on my own only in the nights and weekends.
I want to premise that even if I’ll never work in this field (I’ve read how it is difficult) I however wanna learn for my own culture and satisfaction.
If I was a 18years old guy I’d just try to learn EVERYTHING 3d-related (I’d like to read stuff about modeling, animating, visual effect,ecc), but having a little time I think that for me it will be good to start with a clear objective in mind, try to build my portfolio step by step in the next years and maybe one day, if I will feel confident, try to enter the industry.
The first question is: In which field of 3D/film industry do you think I could use the knowledge I’ve aquired studying industrial design and computer engineering?
I think I have a good eye for composition and colors, my design studies have thaugth me to project objects considerating function, usability, form, balance (the famous “less is more” rule) and to comunicate with images and forms a certain message (mostly in the graphic design environment, but even with the products’ language). I know programming at college level and I like it (but I’d hate a work in which I have only to code, it’s quite boring for me) but I really hate the hardware stuff. Some people suggested me to try my route in the technical department of the industry, because they need programmers everyday, but I feel I want to be more on the artistic side of the environment.
I want to clarify one thing: I’m not asking you to choose my carreer path, I just want to know if there are some job roles I didn’t ever think about I could aim for and in which I could use my previous education.

For the second question I have:
Now I’m studying on my own modeling (digital tutors) and I really like it even if I’m on my first tutorials, but I’m not able to hand-draw at artistic level (I studied perspective, proportions and how to sketch for design, but I don’t know anything about anatomy and so on) and I fear this could be a HUGE limit. I know I could take anatomy or drawing classes, but I think it’s hard to match up with people who draw from when they were 10 years old and maybe it’s better to work on my skillset to aim for something that is reachable. I often think about specialize in environment-modeling, because for me environments have the same charm of characters and creature (I often fall in love with scenery more than with creatures, some environments steal my heart) and it feels like it would be easier to learn without a traditional artistic education (if it’s not true please disprove me). Should I keep trying both character and environment modeling in equal measure or should I specialize more in the second one from now, trying to be very good only in that field?
Thank you for your time!


Hi SnowyNe!

Look into rigging and environmental modeling. I’m a current MS student at Texas A&M’s Visualization program and from what I’ve been told by many (including a recent Dreamworks vistor) is that it is hard to get a job right out of school as a character modeler. So environment and props is a way to go for modeling. With your background, I think environment modeling might be a good path. Rigging might be too. Both can give opportunities to at least script, and if you get deep into the fields, program. Python and MEL (if using Maya) can be used to build rigs, controls, etc. Riggers set up models for animation.

Pluralsight (formerly Digital Tutors) has some great courses on modeling and rigging. The rigging one I"m watching now is

If you want something of a mix of art and techinical, look up Technical Director (various types such as Character TD, Rendering TD, etc.) and Technical Artist.

If you find it hard to specialize, smaller studios don’t mind generalists. For big studios, like Pixar, you need to specialize and be really good at one field. Always have some skill in other areas though, but with a larger studio you’ll be expected less to be a jack of all trades, and more of a specialist. Once again, this is what I have heard at school. I have yet to work in the field though. One of the BEST things you can do now though is act as if you are looking for a job now. Basically, go to glassdoor, or directly to studio’s websites, both small and big studios, and look at their jobs postings. What are the job duties and requirements? Keep a spread sheet of various jobs, and see what things, such as Python, are asked by numerous jobs. So, if out of 20 jobs, Photoshop is mentioned by 15 of them, you probably need to be proficient at Photoshop. Make sure not to include jobs outside your scope of interest. If you hate programming for example, then “helps write tools…” may not be a good job for you.

If you are not a fan of programming, learn anough to undestand it if you had to read it. I’ve met some people who took programming and in their current job read some C++ but never write any. The CG field is definitely a blend art with math and science. So, even if you are on the art end, you’re workplace will have programmers as well. You’ll have coworkers whose backgrounds are in drawing and painting, while others pursued engeineering, math, and computer science. In the end, both are needed to create a game or movie, and coolaboration means you both need to learn a little bit of the other’s lingo.

If you have any more questions, feel free to reply here.


HarvestrX, thank you so much!
I’m learning Python right now for my bachelor thesis (for which I’ll do some mesh deformations through algorithms) and at the same time I’m studying environment modeling in Maya (I’ve chosen Mata over 3ds max because I’m using Python in Maya so it’s easier to stay focused on one program now).
I’m very glad to hear that both art and math/programming are required in this field. When people ask me why I’ve chosen to study design AND engineering sometimes I feel disappointed cause they all seem to believe that one field excludes the other one. I believe that in our world, where technology is so invasive and is present in every field, is just natural to try to understand it.
Even in other design-fields programming is important: user interfaces, user experience, web design, game development and so on.
So it’s good to hear that even in the film industry learning to program and studying math and physics isn’t wasted time even if you want to work more on the artistic side.
For now I’m focused on environment, in the next year I’ll try to explore also vfx (Houdini and Nuke) and try to integrate it with some good environment portfolio (like particles systems in some scenaries and so on). The road is long but I’m not afraid to learn :3
Thank you so much for your advice

P.s. Yeah, I’m using digital tutors for Maya e Udemy for Python at the moment!