Is 3D and/or painting the difficult commercial art?


Do you guys think that being a good 3D artist or 2D illustrator is harder to get good at than say graphic design or photograpy? The reason i ask is that i went to my schools portfolio day (all of the this quarters graduates display thier work). When i went to the photography and graphic design sections they all looked very professional and i could imagine seeing much of the work published. When i went to the 3D/animation portion, i was somewhat suprised. One thing i noticed were the lack of 2D skills. for example many of the students styles looked very similar (photoshop airbrush), the life drawings werent great, and there were only a few people with good models. maybe i dont understand graphic design and photography but it seems all you need to do is understand how a camera works or photoshop, illustrator, in design etc, and have a good sense of design and composition. with 3d the programs are much more complex and creating things seems much more difficult. you have to model, unwrap, texture, rig, animate, light, etc. for painting or illustration weather it be digital or traditional you not only have to have a good sense of design and composition but you also need to know about color theory, anatomy, use of reference (for 3d too) perspective etc.



It is harder. One, for exactly the reason you listed…lots more to learn. Two, most of the work you saw in the design and photography portfolios was probably very similar to a very good published design. It’s alot easier to find good examples (and therefore good influences) in design or photography…I guess because those commercial art trades are mature. Three, After 15 years as a graphic designer I find that fewer pieces seem publishable to me now…whereas at first everything I saw seemed great. It’s not a matter of getting jaded or a dropoff in the talent pool, just…I guess our eyes are just more enchanted by new things.

When I switch back to graphic design projects I feel like, “That’s it? That’s all there is to it? Has it always been this much easier?”

But I’m really liking the new complexities that 3d brings…


I think one of the reasons is because most people, even creative people, have a hard time telling the difference between really good photography and just above average photography. They don’t understand the superior skill/knowledge that better photography showcases just by looking at the images. It’s the same thing with design–really good design does more than just look cool–it serves purposes beyond that.

On the other hand, representational artworks are far easier to judge for most people, because most people have a definite idea of what good paintings/drawings look like. The average person, even some artistic people, use reality as a measuring stick, and since we all know what reality looks like, we can then look at a drawing/painting and think it either looks close to reality or not.

But even with all that said, it’s really subjective. For example, someone else could go and look at those same pieces you looked at and walk away with a totally different conclusion.


In my opinion it tends to also depend on the person. I do graphic art, photo, illustration, and 3D at my full time position. I’ve seen other people try to pick up 3D and they don’t get the knack for it. It’s hard to do well and some people just can’t seem to get the mind set for working in 3D.

I have to say my other strength is photo. I majored in Art in college, and did a lot of photo work. Traditional black and white, shooting, developing, printing. There were many many hours in the darkroom, but looking at work from first to third semester there were major improvements. I shoot digital now, but all the base skills still apply.

Graphic design and illustration are something I do on and off, but we have other people here that are stronger at it then I am. I still do it, on the side, but it’s different people that have different strengths.

Last summer I was involved with selecting some new designers to fill an expansion in our company. It’s the strength of what you bring that a good eye will pick out. If you have a good foundation that can be built on you will be considered for a position.

With some of the design and photo work, don’t get to crazy about tossing filters on something to make it look cool. Use it if works with the design, but don’t use it just because it’s there.

Coming out of school it may look more professional to you, but through my eyes it’s easy to pick out the flash as apposed to a good design.

This may have gotten a little off topic, but in the end it’s the content and quality that makes the difference.


It’s a great point you are making in here. CG work is as creative as photography for example, and as technical as water color painting. If the question is about how good and easy to accomplish a non-CG art, then I think it is true if you are coming from a traditional media art. But if you have developed with both media in hand, you will see there is no difference. While if you have learned digital tools without proper foundation, you will have a difficult time to develop and mature as an artist.

[li]From a creative standpoint: Reproducing graphic design work from traditional media into CG media does not make it CG. Just like snapping pics from a digital point and shoot camera does not make it digital photography. CG Art requires fundamental understanding of the priciples of human perception of form, light, color, order, etc…But, there is quite unique attributes in the digital process that need to be addressed and yet to be explored. One example, is the potential cross-disciplinary work that extends beynod the traditional norms of art. With CG, music, photography, programming, even databases became more accessible to engage as part of the artwork[/li][/ul]
[li]From a technical side: CG art requires craftsmanship. The automated processes embeded in its tools tend to disengage inexperienced artists from the creative process. I’ve seen students spend a week or two modeling their project, while taking no more than few seconds to decide on which view point to choose for rendering.[/li][/ul]
[li]A good artist or designer is like a good athlete. They can play more than one sport using the same foundation skills, however they can only excel in one or two. As a general observation, most CG artists of today are self taught, with varying backgrounds. Those who are able to excel, have the fundamental understanding of those principles. Formal education does not necessarily give that. [/li][/ul]


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