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I am an architectural designer moving onto 3D Environmental Design. Any advice? What to expect?

Long story short, one degree and 2 years of professional experience later, I am going to move away from my architectural designer job and will study a different career path that will give me more creative opportunities in the workplace. I am starving for more creative work that will make my day-to-day desk job more enjoyable. My current job is just not satisfying at all and by looking at the job requirements of higher ranked architect positions make me feel more depressed. I'd rather take a risk and try out something new to see what it is like to be a 3D Environmental artist. I studied other jobs like set design, VFX, character modeler, animators, and they all do not sound right to me, so I am very on-board with the environmental artist career category.

Obviously I'm not quitting my current job yet until I get hired by a company that fits my creative needs (gaming? film?). I live in Los Angeles so I am in a good area for jobs. Maybe I'll end up just doing freelance as a side gig without quitting my architecture career completely. Who knows? I am very happy and excited to discover more about myself and how I want to enjoy my career life ahead.

My goal in the next 9 months is to pay for an online night class (CG Spectrum) to learn Maya and Zbrush to hopefully have a serious portfolio to be considered for work. I have zero experience with those programs and I know this software is what most job postings require. My architecture portfolio does not meet the visual appeal of how other 3D Environmentalist portfolios look. By the time I'm done with that class I'll already have a good enough portfolio to start job hunting.


  1. How often do 3D Environmental Artists have to model characters? I know my preference is to model landscapes, buildings, and small random objects, but not so much into character design. Does it just depend on the company you work for?
  2. I have heard employers will generally look into your portfolio first. And if they are interested they will look at your resume. Will having an architecture degree be a bad thing? I know in some ways it could be good, or even very beneficial, but I would only have one year's worth of non-educational/non-professional software experience. How can I ensure my resume looks better than others who actually spent years in college to this specific field?
  3. Are different programs universal / similar to use? If I learn how to use Blender and add that to my portfolio/resume, would that ever help my chances of getting hired? Would it be safer to only show work in Maya/Zbrush? I heard they are the same but the layout is different. And also heard that adding personal projects in your portfolio shows you have an added interest in the industry outside of your classes (podcast).
  4. What are the chances I can get hired now? Without Maya, Max, Zbrush, Blender, and V-ray experience? I'm expecting it is slim to none, but please let me know if you agree or disagree.
  5. What other creative jobs I can seek out that also focuses on 3D design? Any

Thank you for reading. If you have any advice that you think I may not know, please drop a reply. I don't know anyone in this career to seek advice from so any encouragement/guidance is appreciated. I'm listening to the Game Dev podcast and it is so amazingly helpful to learn from professionals. I am continuing to do more research before I start my class in a few weeks. I am already looking at ArtStation too to see what I am up against. I love the idea of competitions and want to be good enough to participate in those too.



  • Neox
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    Neox godlike master sticky
    1. unless its some indie or very small studio, pretty much never. at most you'd have to make some statues. but usually if you find the right argument why not to do them, nobody will force you. likely others in a company will be better and faster than you, you not being interested will not help with the product at all...
    2. portfolio is king, i think if you work in the environment art, or leveldesign field your knowledge as an architect can only be positive
    3. if you are really good in one software, chances are you will be able to adapt into another. employers usually do give time, say for some really good max user to go into maya or vice versa, i think with blender it should be about the same, prejudices shouldnt be much of a thing here anymore. but they likely exist in some studios. i think in your position, knowing unreal engine or unity will be much more valuable than knowing zbrush for instance.
    4. slim, very slim
    5. well there is arch vis, advertisement, you could work in serious games or simulation etc. there are plenty of fields, some more creative than others, some better paid than others

    just my thoughts on the topics

  • poopipe
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    poopipe grand marshal polycounter

    I was going to add some advice but neox seems to have nailed it.

    If you have to pick a DCC to learn I'd suggest Maya. The industry is not yet ready for Blender and Max simply doesn't have the coverage that Maya does.

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