So, you need a 3D model. Or two, or dozens. The modern media landscape is filled to the brim with 3D content, used everywhere from learning materials to games, ads, simulations, and practically every other digital medium you can think of. Demand is booming, but the other end of the lane (supply) is not on the same level. With minimal effort, you can find custom modeling services in a matter of hours, but you might not be happy with the conditions or the price.
Perhaps you will need custom models for a complex setting like VR or one that uses GLB files, but the specialists you find won’t be qualified or will inflate their prices. To help you feel more prepared in your search for modeling services, we have prepared this guide covering everything you need to know, starting with the question of how much does 3D modeling cost.
Standard modeling rates by region
Without a doubt, the process of modeling itself is nowhere near as expensive as paying a 3D artist for their work. Secondary costs like software licenses and hardware used are pretty inconsequential in the long run, when you compare them to the salaries paid to specialists around the globe.
The salary figures below are minimal for positions with middle level experience, based on talent market research.
|Average annual salaries of 3D artists|
3D modelling cost per hour
Before you jump to any conclusions just from looking at the table above, please keep in mind that you won’t need to hire a modeler full-time just to get a limited amount of modeling work done. You can also hire on a freelance or outsourcing basis, paying for just one model, or a set of assets, or another measurable amount of work. The prices tend to be much more favorable in the short-term.
For example, below are some of the average rates of freelancers on popular platforms:
- Upwork - $30-50/hour
- Guru - $15-30/hour
- PeoplePerHour - $50-100/hour
- Freelancer - $10-30/hour
What’s the catch?
While freelance portals seem like they offer unmatchable rates, there is a catch. Oftentimes, the specialists that advertise their services for low rates like $10-20/hour have limited practical experience, lack professional certifications, and sometimes even have major communication skills due to a poor grasp of English.
Does outsourcing provide better 3D modeling rates?
Yes and no. But the outsourced rate will be more precise and fair.
When you choose to outsource modeling tasks to a studio/company, they will provide one or more modelers whose work probably won’t come cheap if they’re qualified experts. The cost advantage here is that the intended work is documented and meticulously planned out, so you get a close estimate of which tasks will take how long before you pay anything, and can set up limits in terms of budget and time.
In contrast, freelancers tend to offer a flat rate with no nuance or flexibility based on the type of modeling required. They can string you along for more paid hours than initially planned with few repercussions other than a minor hit to their individual reputation. Many consider outsourcing to carry less risk, and you can find more information below.
How much does 3D modeling cost for architectural design?
As it is a narrower and more complex branch of general 3D design, the modeling costs may be above average. But not necessarily.
Creating 3D architectural designs generally requires basic knowledge of architectural CAD software and processes, yet it does not always take up more time than other branches of 3D design, such as product visuals.
For example, a designer might create a barebones design of an apartment with little detail, just showing off the structure, while another will spend weeks polishing the design of a clothing accessory. It will all depend on the target and your requirements for the design.
Why is it beneficial to outsource 3D modeling?
Outsourcing in general is an incredibly popular approach at a time when businesses are increasingly working and cooperating remotely, so any company that considers this option has thousands of testimonials and success stories related to modeling projects that they can refer to. While not all outsourcing providers meet a high standard of excellence, many do, and the potential benefits of cooperating with them are clear:
If your business is based in a country or region with high labor costs, outsourcing can be exponentially more affordable than hiring full-time from your local talent market. Furthermore, full-time positions may not be suited for your business if you lack a constant demand for 3D content, so the hires may idle some of the time.
Even if you hire just one outsourcing specialist, you can gain access to knowledge and expertise stemming back years and collectively gathered by many experts. If you choose a great provider, they will not hesitate to give you the best specialists available and support them with the tools and experience that the company as a whole amassed over the years. After all, it is in the provider’s best interest that their candidates do their job at the highest level of excellence.
Greater speed and volume
You might think that it is faster to get rolling on a project with a freelancer than to go through the hoops of partnering with an outsourcing firm, but this is not always the case. For one thing, a firm can offer you multiple specialists with a history of teamwork together and get them working in coordination quickly, while getting 2+ unaffiliated freelancers organized can be more of a hassle. Not only will multiple specialists from one firm be able to do more work faster, but they should have a quick adaptive period due to their company’s experience with jumping into projects of different calibers.
Established management flow
Managing freelancers is not always easy, and it can take some time for everyone to get on the same page. Even after the work begins, you may not have the time or competency to supervise their work and regulate quality, which is certainly different with the outsourcing approach. A partner should provide a transparent management structure, with documented points of contact and responsibilities. This way, you are able to choose your level of involvement in management, and even fully leave it to your partner.
Outsourcing deals tend to offer much more flexible terms than freelance platforms or full-time work contracts. For example, the former make negotiations and communication quite rigid, while the latter involve all kinds of laws and regulations. However, with a partner, you can iron out the terms of cooperation most convenient for you and leave room for changes (such as adding more people down the line, reducing hours, using other services, etc.). What really sweetens the deal is providers’ general openness to signing NDAs ensuring that the terms and results of the cooperation remain fully confidential.
What determines a company’s 3D modeling rate?
For companies that offer modeling services to provide an estimate about the time (and accordingly, cost) of a project or task, they first have to look at multiple key factors. For example, here are some factors that 3D-Ace takes into consideration and estimation:
- Reference materials. It takes longer to bring models based on complex images to life, and the same applies to designs that are created from scratch or rudimentary concepts
- Polygon count. Not only does it take longer to create assets with high poly counts, but it also takes additional time to optimize them for performance in different forms of media.
- Purpose of use. The choice of using the models for rendering or real-time influences our process, e.g. influencing which kinds of software we will apply.
- Versions. A client may request several versions of a model, such as with varying LOD (level of detail).
- Textures. We take into account the quantity of needed textures and their type (diffuse, gloss, emissive, etc.)
- Deadline. An obvious but crucial factor that can drastically drive up costs when tight.
How to find a modeling outsourcing partner
With all of the aforementioned factors impacting cost and task duration, you won’t be able to guess specific pricing without contacting a firm that specializes in these services and asking for an estimate. To make the most of your time and eliminate poor contenders, we can offer a few tips for finding a good partner:
Look for testimonials and feedback
A company’s clients can sometimes give you much more helpful and sincere information about the business than what they post on their website, so don’t be afraid to check out independent review and feedback platforms where the provider has a profile.
Be open about expectations
One of the most effective ways to prevent miscommunications and eliminate unsuitable candidates is to just be thorough and open about what you expect from the project. Be sure to provide plenty of references and information to get your vision across before you sign any paperwork.
Ask about additional support
Outsourcing firms are rarely limited to one specific kind of project work or profession. Thus, during negotiations, you can ask potential providers about any additional services they might be able to provide as part of the package, such as business analysis or animation.
Need an urgent modeling estimate? No pressure, just contact 3D-Ace!
Our studio has been crafting brilliant 3D content (art, models, animation, you name it) for decades, and would love to take a swing at your project. You are welcome to check out our portfolio, read more about our experience, and send us a message when you are ready to get the ball rolling. We would be honored to build beautiful things for you!