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Why 2D artists need to learn 3D

Art software has revolutionised how illustrators create 2D work, thanks to features that give users greater control over their creations. Alongside these tools, software tailored towards show-stopping 3D art has also changed people’s creative ambitions and opened up new career opportunities.

Yet, despite the two disciplines having skill sets that overlap and feed into one another, some artists have initially struggled to move between 2D and 3D. It’s not hard to see why either, on first look the best 3D modelling software can seem incredibly daunting. So we spoke to artists who have made the leap to find out how they managed it, and discover how you can get started in 3D.

Even a relatively early introduction to animation and motion graphics software Maya 3.0 couldn’t help it click with Imaginism Studios cofounder Bobby Chiu. “It didn’t really feel like sculpting to me back then,” says the concept and character designer.

“As an artist, you’ll benefit from knowing and using 3D because everything you build in 3D can be used in combination with anything else, like digital kit-bashing,” says Bobby Chiu

“It wasn’t until 2017 when I asked a sculptor friend of mine, Justin Goby Fields, to put together an introduction to ZBrush course for artists that ZBrush finally made sense to me. I’ve been learning and using ZBrush ever since.”

For 2000 AD artist Thomas Foster, picking up 3D software skills helped improve his confidence in creating realistic backgrounds and vehicles. “Upon discovering SketchUp, I spent  a lot of time designing background elements from scratch, or utilising existing assets in order to round out my repertoire.”

A page of comic panels

Thomas points out that the usefulness of 3D depends on the career route. “Those illustrating children’s picture books or working in portraiture may not see any significant benefit.”

The further discovery of DAZ 3D, which specialises in rigged 3D human models, enabled Foster to create full 3D scenes with minimal modelling involved, before he even put pencil to paper. “This meant I always had a solid foundation on which to build my images. The time spent exploring these methods has greatly improved my versatility and the range of resources at my disposal.”

Career benefits

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