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8 myths about selling 3D models on online marketplaces

February 13th, 2018


8 myths about selling 3D models on online marketplaces

Have you ever thought about starting freelancing or selling your 3D works online, but didn’t? Maybe you’re doing it right now but are unsure if you’re doing it right? Maybe you think…

1. It’s impossible to do if I have a full-time job

First, having a full-time job in no way prevents you from making your own models. Many CG artists create their models after work. Even if you have only an hour to spare each day, you could be on your way to making your own work. Some less technically demanding models can take you under 10 hours to build (if you have the skill, of course), which means you might make dozens of simple models for your portfolio each year! Or you can use your free time like Andrew Krivulya, who told us: ‘When I’m modeling for myself, I don’t worry about time.’

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Cute Hedgehog by Andrew Krivulya AKA Charly

Also, you don’t have to make something completely new: many designers don’t realize that their works from previous projects are great for earning some extra exposure and revenue. The models you already have might be just the thing someone else needs!

2. It’s difficult to start selling

All new beginnings are difficult, but you shouldn’t be discouraged. Of course, it’s very labor-intensive to start by making a personal portfolio website and driving visitors to it. On the other hand, online marketplaces offer you ready payment services, file conversion, technical support and exposure to their users. This is why we would suggest testing them out first: seeing as the whole process is streamlined, the threshold to start selling isn’t that high.

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Casette by Daniel Mozbäuchel

If it goes well, you can start expanding your independent work and move to working on a freelance basis. It’s never too late to do that: Daniel Mozbäuchel told us that he began working with 3D way back in 1993, and only started freelancing in 2013.

3. I have to be a GREAT designer

If you are insecure about your modeling, texturing or lookdev skills – don’t worry. You don’t have to be a Star designer in every field for someone to want your assets. There are many designers who started out by selling only the meshes and developed other skills on the go. 3D markets are great in that way – it’s all up to you to grow, learn and try new things, while finding someone interested in your work along the way.

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The mesh of an open book 3D model my Marlis Streicher

4. I would have to go all-in

Many young designers start freelancing and selling their models right away, while others are discouraged by leaving a gap in their resume. Experienced people in the industry know that it’s not as much about the resume, as it is about your portfolio. Selling 3D models online doesn’t have to be a major life choice – you can always put your models up for sale and just get some additional income.

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Mr Ladybird by Denis Bodart

If you do go all-in, remember that it’s not something final: Denis Bodart told us how, after 8 years of freelancing, he moved to a different city and got a full-time job. Later, he got back into freelancing to work at Nexus Studios, and afterwards created his own studio – Feed Me Light.

5. I would be on my own

While some people pride themselves on learning everything on their own, they still need to find a platform to showcase their work and get feedback from others to improve and grow. Rowena Frenzel told us that interacting with as many people as you can and sharing your work are among the most important things a 3D designer can do, as she put it: ‘Most modeling requests you will get are from someone you know. Be active and communicate with people.’

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Ancient Bride of the Dead by Rowena Frenzel

As you find your niche in the marketplace, you might want to strengthen your network by collaborating with design studios or designer collectives. These are also the groups where you can get some great insights on workflows and the industry.

6. Nobody will want my models

If there’s one thing we know from our experience in the 3D market, it’s that there is no shortage of demand for 3D models in VR/AR, ArchViz, AI training, or Web-GL. From cups to space stations and flowers – you can never know which model will be a bestseller before you put it up on the market. Sure, some customers might have extremely specific technical requirements, but there’s no reason why your game ready model of a water splash cannot bring in more customers than a high poly model of a weird alien.

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3D Water Splash low poly model by ZbrushingMX

7. Who even buys these models?

You’d be surprised how many games and videos are made without wasting in-house designers’ time. Many developers choose to fill the scene with stock 3D models, and focus on creating what really excites them, i.e. architects buy trees, lamp posts or other miscellaneous objects for visualizations of their projects.

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3D Street bench and tree by 3dwint-1

8. My works have to be complex

This is a major misconception. CG is not all about spaceships and exquisite landscapes. For example, one of the fastest-growing categories on CGTrader are game-ready low poly models. It’s also true that movie makers often need a simple rock, while an architect might want a stack of books to place in the apartment, or a tree next to the garage.

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Rubik’s Cube 3D model by megagers

On the other hand, if you make a beautiful complex model, no one might want to use it, but it could still be a great showcase of your talent and skill. Julen Urrutia Perez predicted that realism will not be as important in CG in the future, so there’s no telling where the market might turn.

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G.U.S.T.A.V. by Julen Urrutia

If you want to figure out if these myths have any truth and get some additional income while you're at it, join CGTrader today!

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