When it comes to games and digital media production, creating 3D models and other 3D content makes up a huge amount of the total time spent on the project, which is certainly comparable to most coding tasks. Obviously, hiring modelers is crucial for fulfilling this need. Still, studios often find themselves in a situation where they don’t have enough 3D modelers, or the ones they have lack some specialized knowledge.

With this article, we hope to assist you in your efforts to hire 3D modelers or order such services in general. It will include the average 3D modeling rates and what to look for when you select a specialist or partner.

Average 3D modeling cost per hour

3D modeling is a skill that requires expert knowledge, and this factor, coupled with a high level of demand, makes the overall cost of modeling relatively high. For example, Glassdoor puts the average yearly salary of a 3D modeler in the U.S. at $62K and £30K in the UK. But these figures don’t tell you much about how much a smaller unit of work costs, do they?

It is much easier to make estimations when you look at hourly rates. Thus, let’s examine some of the median rates of modelers offering their services through Upwork:











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Why location is important

As you might have noticed from the graph above, there is a substantial disparity in rates from one country to another. This is mainly connected to the cost of labor, so wealthier countries have higher average salaries and fewer experts willing to work at low rates. On the other hand, regions like Eastern Europe and Asia tend to have lower labor costs, so it is much easier to find someone from these places who will let you cut costs.

At the same time, location can also say a thing or two about the quality of the specialists—how well they know their work. For example, Western companies tend to have a very high level of education for digital arts like modeling than Asian countries. Interestingly, a select few countries like Ukraine have both relatively low rates and a thriving field of IT education, so most specialists come with good knowledge to boot.

How to hire modelers cost-effectively

Thanks to globalization, finding and hiring specialists has become more accessible today. Thus, companies have multiple choices for hiring 3D modelers, each suited to particular situations and circumstances.

Local hires

Local hires are helpful when you know that a constant stream of 3D modeling work will be necessary and when you need someone to be in the office, closely cooperating with your art and development teams. Most of the time, modelers hired locally are given full-time and permanent positions. Still, it is also not unheard of for studios to hire contractors that will stick around for a set period (usually at least a few months).


The great thing about freelancers is that you can hire them quickly and get them working within days. Modern freelance platforms have made it very convenient to find specialists with a tailored skill set and filter those currently open to work. However, working with freelancers also has downsides, since “contracts” are often poorly defined, and the repercussions for freelancers who fail to deliver results can be very difficult to enforce.

Development partners

Development partners are companies and studios that provide an excellent middle ground between the stability and long-term coverage of local hires and the flexibility & low rates of freelancers. You contact such a company, and they provide all the resources you need, often giving you freedom in cooperation models.

For example, you may prefer traditional outsourcing when a whole modeling project is externally presented on a silver platter. You might also choose a dedicated team under your constant management and guidance. Some partners let you expand your team with their specialists, so you have people working side-by-side, albeit in different locations.

How are modeling costs calculated?

There are three common approaches to calculating 3D modeling costs. If you are preparing for a project with such tasks or discussing terms with modelers/partners, you don’t necessarily need to choose one of the three and can mix and match them.

  • Based on project scope

    In this case, an estimate considers the total volume of work needed and assigns a fair 3d modeling price that should cover all individual and macro needs. This approach is most helpful when you know the project/task is small, and you can quickly put a 3d modeling price tag based on experience/industry norms.

  • Based on work hours

    This most agile approach allows you to adapt to changing project needs and extend the work schedule when needed and calculate the cost quite easily. It’s also easy to calculate: simply multiply the hourly rate by the number of hours. Of course, it will be vital to ensure that the time spent is being put to good use.

  • Based on artist experience

    There is a vital distinction between junior, middle, and senior specialists in coding. Though modeling rarely invokes such a classification system, you can still modulate the rates paid to artists (based on hours cost or a set period) depending on their experience and how much they can contribute through different types of modeling.

Which types of work can 3D modelers do?

People tend to have very different notions of 3D modeling work, specifically regarding the types of tasks their specialists should carry out. For example, some companies believe a modeler should be a jack-of-all-trades, while others look for an online 3D artist (a pretty versatile position) yet limit them to one type of task.

Ultimately, it will all come down to the specialists you find, their capabilities, and what work you need to do. The terms, price and tasks should be negotiated and formalized before any work begins.

3D modeling

3d modeling rates

This is the core qualification of a modeler. They should be able to work with 3D design programs (3Ds Max, Maya, Blender, to name a few) and deliver both high-poly and low-poly assets. Depending on your project type, they may also need to be able to create large environments as well as unique model types (like characters in game modeling).


3d modeling rates

In some companies, texturing is an extension of modeling by the same 3D artists. However, 2D artists are also assigned this task. So, the modelers create the 3D geometry while the other guys figure out how to color it and add new details.

Rigging & animation

3d modeling rates

Most animators also know modeling, but many modelers only graduate from this form of content production after substantial time in general design. For character rigging, animators must assign joints and bones to the digital assets and determine how they move with physics and the forces involved.

Renders & software integration

3d modeling rates

While getting a bundle of completed 3D assets is excellent, more can be done. For example, renders can be created within the same 3D design programs we mentioned and used for promotional/testing materials. It’s also nice when developers or artists know how to integrate the 3D creations into the software and media, assign behaviors, and set up lighting for scenes.

How to choose a reliable partner for 3D modeling

If you find that working with a partner is the most effective choice for your company, you shouldn’t rush into the process without thought. We recommend looking at these requisites before beginning any sort of formal discussion:

  • Good reputation (objective reviews and awards available)
  • Substantial 3D portfolio (matching the type of 3D content you need)
  • Broad range of services (in case you need more help than just modeling)
  • Strong technology stack (artists can work with your preferred software, methods, and platforms).

3D-Ace is a reliable provider ready to help companies with a wide range of 3D/2D content production in any industry. Thus, 3D modeling is right up our alley, and we have a large team of 3D artists ready to create all the content you need for your project. We also have a sterling reputation and all the creds to support our claims about delivering high-quality results.

We encourage you to check out more about our 2D/3D art outsourcing studio and services, and send us a message when you are ready to discuss your project.