How to improve your income as a 3d artist

Make a living as a 3D artist isn’t that simple, as you can read from our 3D artists portraits

For my concern, I started my career as a freelancer in 2012, and during that time, seriously, it has been an emotional rollercoaster, for good and for bad. I was always splitting my time between creating new personal projects to promote myself, and trying to find new clients who never give me enough money to secure my finances for a long time.

When you have work to do, great projects, and money at the end, 3D artist is the best work ever. But it can also become a real nightmare when you are struggling to get paid and to find new contracts. And many of us are living this terrible situation. So, it’s essential to any 3D artist to find ways to improve their income and to get more visibility thanks to their artistic skills. And some solutions hopefully exist.

With hindsight, I come to realize that my problem was that I was only focusing my income on my 3D illustrations. I never thought I could add new incomes, even smaller, to improve my financial situation, and also creating additional content that could improve my visibility, increase my income and help me to promote my artistic career.

So my duty here is to help you finding 10 ways to improve your income as a 3D artist. As you’ll see, some can be easy to do, some are more demanding. These ideas won’t make you super rich, but will help you to diversify your revenues. Even small amounts can be helpful and rewarding. So take a look. It’s not a “hey you’ll become a millionaire just like me”. I’m not a millionaire actually. Just a dude looking for ideas to keep doing what he loves to do: 3D illustrations. But anyhow, here are 10 ways:

  1. Make materials
  2. Sell 3D models
  3. Sell tutorials
  4. Make plugins and tools
  5. 3D print your art
  6. Sell your goodies
  7. Open a blog
  8. Open a Youtube channel
  9. Kickstart your projects
  10. Sell to stock images


1# Make materials

All 3D artists are lazy. When you go on Google, many people are looking for new materials for their third-part rendering engine. And you know what? That’s not a bad business to create a bunch of materials. You have plenty of websites providing to you free textures to help you create great materials. People can sell $50 only for 20 to 30 materials. You can create a great number of materials in no time, and improve your skills and your bank account in the same time

2# Sell 3D models

Everybody needs new models and cool stuff already made for their projects. I myself sometimes have to buy models, even though I could make them. But I don’t have time to spend on modeling, like most of us. If you do affordable models with nice UVs and textures, you can sell them at a really good price. And sell them more than once maybe! And if you create models who are wanted, you can make great incomes. Sell them on Turbosquid right now and earn your first dollars

3# Sell tutorials

If you’re a 3D artist, you have to master several softwares and plugins. You have learned many things over the years that I’m pretty sure people would put money on the table to learn too. If I could have spent $100 to learn all I know in a one or two months tutorials, I would have put that money without any hesitation!

The key for your tutorials is to detect what people need or their biggest problem. The best tutorials are focused on answering a big issue or great desire, like helping people create great renderings or becoming a great motion designer You can sell tutorials on websites like Udemy or Gumroad

4# Make plugins and tools

This business is trickier, and you may have to find a buddy to help you in this journey. But look at the success of GreyscaleGorilla for Cinema 4D users. They are selling plugins that help people creating great renderings and easy-to-use lighting tools. If you can find and develop a tool that is missing in your favorite 3D software, it’s a win! And it can may also become your #1 job

5# 3D Print your art

Many characters artists are selling their art by printing figurines of their own digital sculptures. It can be a great asset for your art. It will help you to grow your incomes and to promote your technic. But can do more : creating rings, objects, anything indeed. Only your imagination is the limitation

6# Sell your goodies

If you want to diversify your incomes, you have to open a shop on your website and sell goodies. You can subscribe on websites like Society6 and start to promote your artworks on teeshirts, iPhone covers, bags, stickers or pillows. The more expensive the object bought is, the more you earn. And you don’t have to take care of the shipping. Now, the list of the available goodies is quite endless. So enjoy!

7# Open a blog

With a blog, you can achieve several goals : talk to an audience about a subject you like, showing to your future clients that you know what you’re doing, promote your portfolio by gathering people which are here at first to read one of your articles, and pretty much selling anything mentioned above.

Buy a WordPress theme that looks ok on ThemeForest, by an url, and start as fast as you can. You won’t regret it.

Few months back, I had the idea to interview all my favorite artists in the world. That’s how I created this website. Even though my audience isn’t huge, it’s a great chance to learn from talented people, and to talk to them about their projects. And I have no great website skills, I’m only using WordPress and some free plugins inside.

The other great value of a blog is that you can write about anything, and get more traffic to your portfolio

8# Open a Youtube channel

Open a Youtube channel and start to create great content that will help people. Don’t go straight to the advertisement of yourself. Try to create videos between 7 to 10 minutes, to answer exactly what you wrote on your video title, and to do something that you would have loved to watch too. Then in the video description, you can send people back to your website. The easiest way to do that is to offer some free content to motivate people to click. Why wouldn’t you give free materials or free models? After all, now you should have a dozen of each 🙂

9# Kickstart your projects

That’s an effective way to help promoting your art. You can find people that can pay and help you in the same time for your projects, like building an exhibition, or printing on great scale you illustration book

10# Sell to stock images

You probably don’t know, but most stock-images are paying 3D artists to create new illustrations. So if you have any 3D projects unfinished on your hard-drive, why wouldn’t you give it a shot?