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Polydone

Productivity of a 3D artist

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Since I have very limited experience myself with 3D modelling I have no idea how much I should expect a paid 3D artist to deliver.

So - how many hours should I expect he/she would need to create a good model - rigged, textured and ready for animation?
Let's assume the model is a humanoid monster - everything in a single mesh.

Low-medium poly - quality similar to somewhere between Diablo 2 and Diablo 3 (I'm aware Diablo 2 is prerendered, but otherwise the models seem quite similar in quality?)

 

I expect it would be a lot more for a main character along with different weapons, clothing, armor, face textures, hair etc...

If you have experience working professionally - freelance or full time - or if you have any experience hiring artists I would love to hear some rough estimates.

 

Any other examples you might come up with would also be very helpful - like how long it would take to make a single weapon or prop, or how long it would take to make smaller modifications to existing models or create a new texture.

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Thanks - ballpark numbers are of course appreciated - like what would be a typical 1 or 2 day job, what will be a 1 week job etc. :)

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Thanks - ballpark numbers are of course appreciated - like what would be a typical 1 or 2 day job, what will be a 1 week job etc. :)

 

Not a professional artist, and bad with giving ballpark figures... but I do some 3d modelling as a hobby (and to get exactly that "feeling" for how complex a model would be).

 

It depends A LOT on how much details you need, and how closely the model should match your specifications.

 

If all you need is a low poly human character, you don't care about facial features (any would do), you only need some kind of armour, and maybe ONE thing that is a little bit special (a monster arm), yet nothing too detailed (diablo -> isometric viewpoint, tiny characters on screen), I would guess most artist could create the character quite quickly.

They might be able to reuse parts from earlier projects, they don't need to go into too much details, and so on.

 

Of course, retopo might be more challenging for a lower poly character (as every polygon needs to count now), and rigging and animation could still be a lot of work, depending on your needs.

 

What you can expect in what time though will depend a lot on the artist, as is what he would charge you per hour. I guess the ballpark for a very modest low poly model without details and not many animations would be <500$.... could be as low as 250$, IDK. But certainly not the >2000$ I would expect for a moderately detailed AAA (non-character) model.

A highly detailed AAA character could take multiple experts in their field (concept artist, modeller, rigger, animator, texture artist, actor in case of MoCap) many months in combined manhours, which could easely add up to >10'000$ or WAY more....

 

Again, a lot depends on the details.... some of the Online arcade tanks sims currently popular got quite insane with their newer tank models.... 100k tris and more, fully articulated tracks with physical sagging of the tracks themselves, every tiny detail on the tank modelled. Everything built historically correct, sometimes just from documents, sometimes measured on real surviving tanks, sometimes even with photometry.

Even though most of the labour seems to be done by freelancers in low wage countries, you can expect these models to be very, very expensive (and time consuming to produce).

ESPECIALLY if you include EVERYTHING involved, which includes the "concept stage" (measuring or photometry, AND actually negotiating access to the tanks/documents), and the integration / testing stage (there are a TON of things that could and do go wrong with such complex models even during the import and setup in the actual game engine).

 

 

One potential way of "guessing" what artists expect for a single model is to check how much they charge per stock model, and see if you find the sales numbers. That might be completly off for a new artist, but an artist who has been around the block a few times most probably starts to get a feeling how much he can charge. On the other hand, stock art often does not sell like hot cakes, so if an expierienced artist sells something for 50$, and got 5-10 sales, he most probably spent about the time he expected to be paid 250-500$ if doing freelancing jobs on it.

 

 

(Of course, if you are looking for kinda bog standart characters without much details, and are on a budget, you might be better off buying stock art. Will be MUCH cheaper, as long as you are satisfied with the quality provided. Problem then is making the different bought assets fit together. No idea if you can find an artist to fix that for you, and if that would be cheaper than to comission low poly assets really).

 

 

Always keep in mind that with freelancers, you will also pay some overhead to what you would pay an employee. They have their own expenses that the employer would normally take care off, they need to factor in downtime without contracts, and having to do additional work to find contracts.

Edited by Gian-Reto

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So, with freelance you pay for what you get. A good artist can range from 35 - 80$ an hour for their work. Some will work less depending on the project and if they need cash now; while others will hold out and stay true to their pricing model. So lets break down how long it takes to make a generalized model:

 

3d character model that is 10k polygon or less (semi low poly) would take roughly 3 - 8hrs for a decent modeler. This is assuming you are only blocking out the mesh and not doing any high polygon normal map renders. (this would be making a high poly and then baking that to a normal map on the low poly cage. Making the high poly takes time and adds to the overall cost)

 

Once complete with the model you will need to UV map it. This can be a fairly long process or a short one depending on the model complexity and the program the artist is using to UV map. If you had somebody who knows what they are doing a simple UV map could take 1 - 5 hrs. If you dont you could take 5 - 15 hours UV mapping depending on the skill of the person and their knowledge of edges and such.

 

From there you need to take the model into the modeling program again and setup the rig. This process is fairly simple again, so long as you have a simple mesh. Sub 10k poly would probably take anywhere from 2 - 5 hrs for a good artist. After you have created the bones and bound them to the skin you need to add skin weights. This timeframe can change drastically based off of the type of model. Humans are fluid and require a bit of finesse to weight properly. Rigid objects that dont move are fairly simple and easy to skin weight. A general rule of thumb for this is the more polys the more complex, so for argument sake lets say it takes 3hrs to weight it. Once the object has been rigged and weighted you can make the control rig. The control rig is what is used by animators to easily animate the rig and create robust complex set driven keys. You could do this without make a control rig but if you do the complexity of animation down the road compounds. So, setting up the control rig is 1 - 5 hours depending on complexity.

 

Lets recap some of our time right now:

  • 3-8 hrs - (for a model)
  • 1-5 hrs - (for uv map)
  • 2-5 hrs - (for the rig)
  • 3 hrs - (for the weighting)
  • 1-5 hrs - (for the control rig)

This brings your total to (10 - 26 hrs) depending on the skill level and complexity.

 

At this point you have 0 work done on the textures and the animations. Assuming everything jives from here on you would need to make the texture. This can be fairly long and depending on the pipeline you are working will take some serious time. A good texture artist can create work in roughly 5 - 10 hours for a basic object. Seriously complex objects would require amplified amounts of time.

 

As for animations, with a good quality control rig in place you can pump these babies out pretty fast. So unless you required 40 - 50 animations you are looking at a fairly cheap process to create stuff. I personally can block out 5 - 10 animations in 2 hrs depending on the control rig in place. So....

 

All in all we are talking roughly 15 - 36 hrs of work. At a going rate of $50 an hour your total for an asset fully rigged, animated, and up to industry standard in quality would be ( 750 - 1800 ). Costs will vary depending on complexity and skill of the artist, so take this with a grain of salt.

 

(EDIT: After reading gian's stuff)

It might be a better idea, depending on the project, to get the pregenerated stuff, but in doing so it is hard for an artist who didnt make it to modify it. Keep that in mind. not all artists are created the same and not all work the same.

Edited by riuthamus

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For something fairly cheap and terrible (which I guess you might consider 'good' if your game is super humble in production values) maybe 15 hours of work. For nice AAA quality, maybe 200 hours of work. As you can see, there is a tremendous range of how long it might take, depending on many factors.

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The review by riuthamus is fairly accurate.

Most of the better modelers and artists I've worked with can turn out rigged model for adjustable game objects in about a week, then another week or two of fine tuning.  Simpler models a little faster, more complex models a little more time.  Animation is a separate work, done by others.  If you're looking for generic non-rigged objects like rocks or props then a bit less time, 1-3 days depending on what is needed.

 

Higher quality critical work on big games, such as for main characters you will be watching for hours on end, those models, rigs, and textures can take months going back and forth with animators and character designers to ensure they do everything needed plus several more months to fine tune. 

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