Arthur Shapiro

Drawing skills for a 3D modeller

Hi everyone, I'm intrested in your opinion: what is the necessary level of drawing skills for a 3D modeler? I explain my question: many vacancies of 3D want from future empolyee ability to draw and to paint textures at some not low level. And frankly saying... That drives me mad, because I don't draw, I am not talented for that and neither I want to spend much time for approving much these skills (May the Concept Art part of cgcookie forgive me for these awful words).

So, what is the place of drawaing in your modeling workflow? Concept? Textures? Do you make it yourself or use references? Do you use Substance (or sth like that) or just Photoshop for drawing onto UV layout?

What in your opion should be able the modeller to draw if he wants to be a successfull competitor? (At least concept images, I guess. But maybe sth else?) Maybe some experience from your current job placements.

Sorry for too broad question, I'm really now at a crossroads with that drawing stuff.

  • It's an interesting topic, I can definitely relate to it. I don't draw much either, I could easily admit that I lack  basis in this field and it can be a hinder when looking for a job. Indeed nowadays company require the candidate to master the complete "from sketch to final render" suite, which is not an easy task...

    I can of course only speak from my experience, but I choose to get basic knowledge on most of the fields covered in CG, and to strenghten only few aspect of it. I can't draw, that's a fact, but I took sketching lessons so I can at least throw ideas on paper and get a decent perspective for exemple. Same with texture painting, I barely use it, mostly because I chose not to for the moment. But I know how it works and would be able to use it if need be.

    I would suggest to build a portfolio with stuff you're really good at, even if it doesn't include sketching and/or texture painting in your case. But during interviews, when these topics are mentioned it's better not saying "I can't draw" or "I don't do texture painting". Instead emphasize that you know how "Substance works but you may need to refresh your memory quickly", or that you're taking drawing classes. Be positive on your weaknesses.

    Hope it'll help, good luck!

  • Thanks for such an objective and informative answer. I also guess that sketching is kind of must have thing for a 3D artist. I've faced that. So, did you learn sketching at some online resources or did you took classes in school? I'd like to find some useful online courses, especially about digital drawing (I have Wacom).

  • Hey Arthur. I've been in a similar situation (i'm student) and I have asked the same question. I hope than someone pro can answer you more accurately because I am interested myself in that topic but this is what I've found: in big productions the team is specialized enough to divide the work and if you are the modeller you will receive the artwork ready to translate it to 3D. In smaller productions good draw skills have more value because they can't afford a large team but if you are the 3D specialist they will probably apreciate more the ability in others features like rigging, rendering, lightning, animating... Anyways drawing skills have a value within 3D but definitely are not a must, to master them you will need years of practise and if you are not willing to master them then it's not worth. If you are worried about to be interesting for a company then you can cover this deficiency being proficient at other interesting areas of 3D such I've mentioned before.  

  • Drawing is not a must have but, as any form of art, it's important.

    Drawing will help you with proportion analysis and speed sculpting, it will also help you for animation.

    Then you have all these other art form like photgraphy for compositing and lighting.
    Painting for colour management.

    When it comes to 3D, I also think traditional sculpting must be an incredible input.

  • crew

    Great topic zzickkie ! I don't have too much more to add other than learning to draw is, in part, learning how to observe. The muscle memory you won't necessarily need as a modeler, but the practice of really looking at objects and finding their angles, proportions, volume, and 'essence' will be invaluable. 

    I rarely draw, and I think my 3D work suffers because of it, so I'm working on fixing that. 

    That said, I've been able to do plenty of contract jobs just fine with only basic sketching used for finding compositions and such, so it won't necessarily hurt your job prospects right now, but I think it'd be very difficult to really master modelling in the long run without it. 

    Like bbaena3d mentioned, you could always focus on other, more technical aspects of 3D as well like rigging or scripting tools if you really dislike drawing and don't feel like learning it. 

  • Thank you all for excellent advices and thoughts, I think I should master myself and at least watch some eductaional videos about drawing. Moreover, I have Wacom, it is a crime not to use it for drawing.

  • I'd say it's always a plus to somehow master sketching techniques, but I'm sure you can also find examples of successful graphics artist that are not that talented in that. So in the end it's a little up to you and to your goals (funny how this topic echoes the one I opened yesterday :D )

    I went to sketching classes after work, late classes (18:00 to 21:00) once per week for couple of months, it was not free (around 300$). It was a great experience to have 3 hours fully dedicated to one thing: improving your technique. 

    If you choose to go online, depending on your budget you can find a lot of resources. I heard was a good solution for example (this is NOT a sponsored message :D )

  • I think you have to learn how to draw. That's where I feel like I'm at, at this point I could create pretty much anything in 3D, but since I can't draw the concepts I'm stuck. These days I often find myself modeling stuff just because I need a picture of it, I modeled a whole city scene the other day just so I could have a picture to hang on the wall in another scene. And when it comes to character modeling I just can't get further without knowing how to draw properly. I feel as though when I learn how to draw it will be a bit like going from imitating to creating. You might want to check out Yan's Daily Tips #082 on YT for inspiration, helped me.

  • zzickkie In my opinion drawing is not important if you are aiming to be 3d modeler. From what I have researched(not employed yet) companies will give you a concept art which you have to model. For a 3d modeler its more important to convert 2d drawing in 3d than creating concept in 3d. In the texturing phase, you can simply color pick and paint from the concept art. You can get that simply with some practice.

    Now, if you want to model something that is not based on only one image then you can try to model one thing that is inspired from many other things. For example- you can model a hammer with skull at its top and a knife at its bottom. Here, you will need references of different type of hammers, skulls and a knife and then go with whatever you like. This way you can even model a dragon in suit and a tie.
    In this part, you can use photobashing or simply cut paste photos or you can do a simple overpaint on your base model to create a rough concept. Then, make it in 3d and when you reach to the texturing phase do the same step above if you want to.

    One important thing to do as an artist is to study other people artworks- composition, shapes and colors. By study I don't mean that you copy it, trace over it some simple shapes like cubes or cylinder to know its shape or color pick to know what color are used.

    In my case, I draw to create a rough concept. Overpaint a base model. If i can't do that then I will write in as much detail as i can whatever concept comes in my mind then I will research on that topic and write some more notes until I have a rough idea of what I want to create. Then, if something feels off I will research it and then tweak it.

    I have been where you are right now. I did jump to 2d and then back to 3d many times because I have a passion of visual storytelling and I thought that I can do that only with drawing. From what I can tell you from my experience is that Art is a form of expression and the way you express it. What medium or tools you use are only their to divide your art into a category.

    I hope this ESSAY helps you. :)

  • It really did and that's so because I think exactly the same way, and you just expressed my own thoughts in such a clear and smart ESSAY :-)