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How to start building portfolio and find a job as a 3d artist in 2020?

Hello. I'm a 30 years old guy from Russia. I was born in a family of artists, but my parents pushed me into IT field, because they believed that artists life is a life of poor, so they don't want me to be an artist, like them. So I went to the university, then left it because i didn't like my IT related education at all. I was very bad at programming and math, however i enjoyed fixing computers and creating networks, so I decided to work as sysadmin. After 5 years i tired of this job for various reasons and started to think, what i want to do next. When I was 25 or so I bought a new computer and installed some old 3ds max because I was tired of gaming and of my sysadmin job and I decided to try 3d graphics because i was curios about it. I was instantly exited by 3ds max and simple renderings I produced in Vray. I started to think, maybe i can change job and somehow start a new career in 3d graphics field. But i didn't know how to start. I loved games, but i thought that its crazy hard to get a job in game industry, because i thought that if you want to work at creating games, then you need to have a degree in arts, which i haven't, and couldn't afford it. So I thought the easiest way to start to make money from 3d, is to become a 3d architectural visualization artist. I found a 1 year classes in some university and applied it. It was a decent classes that taught me basics of composition, color, lighting, basic polygonal modeling, and how to make a 3d interior visualization in Vray. Shortly after graduating i found a job in a small architectural studio, and worked as a visualization artist for about a year. I tired of vray render and tried Corona and Fstorm render and loved them. I learned how to make a nice interior visualizations but tired of this field. I saved some money, so I left that job as an interior visualization artist and tried to figure out what to do now and where to go. At that moment I still thought that games industry is something top level, and i just don't have enough skills and degree, etc, and don't even need to try to find a way to land a job into this field because I'm couldn't make it. So instead I learned Cinema 4d and Octane and found a job in a product design department of mobile accessories company as a 3d designer. I make simple motion graphics of products, small animations and 3d renders of various products for packaging, landings, commercial, promotional stuff, etc. I'm still there, and my job is not so bad and people are nice, but this is just not what i want to do for the rest of my life. I feel that I need to make a new move.

So finally I began to search a 3d graphics related jobs again, I knew now that i tried interior visualization and well, not really like it. I tried 3d visualization job at commercial, and this maybe a bit more interesting but anyway, I become bored again, so I finally decided to give a try for games. I found some postings for 3d artists jobs in local game studios in my city, like 3d environment artists jobs, props artists, character artists, etc.
So now I think that maybe I could try to find a job as a hard surface modeler, I think that maybe i could make some props, some environment stuff.
I tried polygonal sub-d modeling before, and i can create nice meshes for smoothing. I'm not very fast at it, and it's frustrating most of a time because of topology decisions, but i can do that and i think i like it. However i like to model hard surface stuff at Fusion 360 most of all. This is a CAD modeling package, and i like it a lot, because of ease of boolean operations and fillets and parametric non destructive workflow. I use a combination of Fusion 360 and Cinema 4d at my current workflow at current job. Usually i make models in Fusion 360, then add some modifications at Cinema 4d and then render them in Octane and i happy with a result.

So my question is where to start? I don't know what i need to do in order to find a 3d environment job, or a hard surface modeler job. I don't have experience in game development workflow so I don't know what I need to do with that substance painter, unreal or unity stuff, i just cant get my head around it.

I understand that i need to make a new portfolio first. I guess that my portfolio should consist of "game" 3d models, with special topology? with special textures that were made in what software? I just overwhelmed with questions.

I tried to google and imagine a typical tasks for me as a hypothetical 3d modeler, and I thought that it could be something like this:
a 2d artist give me some artwork or sketches of some prop or part of a level, etc
as a 3d modeler I then begin to creating a 3d model from this sketch in order to convert his 2d idea in a 3d game model. And here is lots of questions: could i make a 3d model from 2d sketch in fusion 360? Looks like i definetely could. What i need to do next? how a model become a "game ready" ? Should i then export it in 3ds max and make a retopology? why i should do a retopology? How i create a materials and textures, if i always worked with such render engines like vray, corona, octane, how they differs from game render engines if they even have them? What i need to learn, unreal engine or unity, or something different? What i should learn about them to get a job as a 3d modeler?

I have so many questions and can't figure out all this stuff. I have a goal to became a hard surface 3d modeler and work at some sort of Sci-fi project like mass effect, doom, or cyberpunk 2077 doing environment stuff, maybe weapons and vehicles too. I love to work in fusion 360 and want to continue using it in future, as well as polygonal programs like 3ds Max, and i don't know how to make a portfolio and what should i learn to pass an interview. Can someone give me some directions please?






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  • TheGabmeister
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    TheGabmeister interpolator
    3dkiddo said:

    So my question is where to start? I don't know what i need to do in order to find a 3d environment job, or a hard surface modeler job. I don't have experience in game development workflow so I don't know what I need to do with that substance painter, unreal or unity stuff, i just cant get my head around it.

    I understand that i need to make a new portfolio first. I guess that my portfolio should consist of "game" 3d models, with special topology? with special textures that were made in what software? I just overwhelmed with questions.
    Yup, make a portfolio first.

    The way I started about 3-4 years ago, I joined an Android game making competition without any knowledge in making games and in 3D modeling. I had 1 month to learn Unity and Blender from zero. The game I ended up creating was so bad that it made the judges' phones crash. On the bright side, I learned a lot about game dev and optimization.

    My advice for you is to go and make a simple game so that you become familiar with the pipeline. When I read you post above, you seem to be asking too many questions. Slow down and focus on one problem at a time. Environment art is a very broad subject. Just keep taking small steps forward and you'll eventually get there.
  • 3dkiddo
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    TheGabmeister, thank you a lot. I think this is a really good advice. I will try to slow down and maybe make a single level first, and while i will work on it i could learn a lot of things naturally.
    My advice for you is to go and make a simple game so that you become familiar with the pipeline. When I read you post above, you seem to be asking too many questions. Slow down and focus on one problem at a time. Environment art is a very broad subject. Just keep taking small steps forward and you'll eventually get there.

  • sacboi
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    sacboi high dynamic range
    If affordable, there are also online education providers such as CGMA with an added bonus of mentoring provided for most online courses.
  • 3dkiddo
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    Thanks, sacboi, I will check it.
  • poopipe
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    poopipe grand marshal polycounter
    It's actually quite simple

    Think of a game you'd like to work on
    Pick a small part of  a level from that game
    Attempt to recreate it in a game engine (unreal is easiest) 

    You will almost immediately find problems to solve and questions to ask/google

    Because you have experience in archvis you already know the basics--what you will learn from this is the specifics of game art.

    Don't be intimidated by all the magic software, work with what you know and ask for feedback/help on here. It's honestly not that difficult - if you're good at archvis, you can be good at environment art, it's just a different set of problems to solve
  • 3dkiddo
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    poopipe, Thank you, just thank you a lot. I have a hope now. You gave me extremely helpful answer as I think. I have some sort of a path now, and I can plan my next step.
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