3D Animation Career: Advice on how to obtain a career in 3D Animation

The primary reason that Elara is a dominant force in the world of 3D Animation and XR Solutions is the people who comprise our Production Team. Our animators and application developers have a true love and passion for their work. Members of our team will work long days and into the night not because they are required to, but because they want to. Assembling and evolving this team was no easy feat, but it was definitely worth the effort. Elara’s team is the best in the business.

Often, we will be approached by aspiring animators and software developers about how they can break into the industry. One of these individuals reached out to our 3D Production Manager, John Miller, to ask about how he got into 3D Animation and modeling. John is a world-class 3D Animation and content producer who, like several other members of the team, is primarily self-taught. Never hesitant to provide advice and recommendations, John was happy to lay out a roadmap into the industry for an enterprising artist. In response to her question, “What can I do to possibly get a career in 3D Animation for medicine?”, John wrote the following:

Hi Sara,

Thanks for reaching out! Networking is going to be something you’ll always want to do, so major props for already having that initiative and getting that started! It will come as a major benefit to you if you keep at it.

A quick intro – My name’s John Miller, I’m the 3D Production Manager here at Elara and I’ve been working in the digital art domain since 2005.

Rather than talk about the smaller industry of 3D medical animation, I want to take a broader view of your question and talk about 3D Animation in general.  The short answer to your question is education, a lot of practice, a great attitude and, truly, some luck.

To break that down a bit more, let’s talk about education. You have to gain some serious skills, but there are many ways to get there – college is a great place to pick that up, and having a curated curriculum will expedite your learning of fundamental techniques and principals, which will ground you in design and 3D art. If you can’t afford it or have other ideas on higher education, it’s also not wholly required, either. In fact, we have an assortment of people that work here that come from both backgrounds. Some have degrees and some are straight from the university of YouTube and online tutorials – but the one thing we all have in common is the passion to learn. 3D Animation is not a static field of skills. You will always need to hone your abilities because the industry is tech and tech is always evolving. Being able to pivot to new skills and always having a willingness to learn will benefit you, and the best artists I’ve worked with have all had that quality.

A couple of great sources of learning for 3D that we use all the time are:

Going through these resources, that are free and available to everyone, will result in self-growth. To quote the clichés: “practice, practice, practice!”, “practice makes perfect!”, and “10,000 hours makes you a master!” These may be cliches, but they hold true when trying to establish yourself as a 3D animator. Embrace effort and you will be rewarded with skill and that will form the foundation of your work ethic.

With respect to networking, you can go about finding artists you respect and admire by determining if they have a Behance, ArtStation or Instagram account and simply follow them. Sometimes they will post a work-in-progress with some lessons and pitfalls from their pipeline. Another avenue that will help you grow, is jumping into the vast array of animation competitions that are held on-line and pushing yourself to develop content that you can enter into multiple contests. Similarly, you could make your own art playground and blog about it. Find incentives to keep you studying hard. It really will pay off!

None of this can be done though without believing in yourself and knowing the bumps in the road aren’t permanent ruts. If you’re lucky, you’ll be amazing at everything you do, but if you’re like the rest of us, you’ll put out content that you hate, receive feedback that will crush you, and have days that are extremely difficult. Pushing through those days and coming out of that experience with a positive outlook will allow you to see your opportunities. This is what separates the people that make it from those that don’t.

The last thing I will say is unless you’re some kind of prodigy, the competition in this industry is going to be fierce, and landing an interview, let alone a job is going to take a lot of attempts and some luck. When you’re ready to find that job, the best thing you can do is reach out, like you already have, show your interest, get on LinkedIn, reach out to recruiters, keep your portfolio up-to-date and just keep at it. Nothing will land in your lap, unfortunately, but when you do get that interview, when you do get that job, you can honestly look back and say you earned it. You worked hard for it. That feeling will be amazing.

I wish you all the best and all the luck! Feel free to reach out once you get started on your journey!