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What They Do

Graphic Designers Career Video

Insider Info

We live in a 3D world. You can thank 3D renderers and designers for bringing those three dimensions to life in the commercial and entertainment worlds.

3D renderers gather hand-drawn sketches, blueprints or other materials that show dimensions, positioning and detail to construct realistic 3D models. The renderer incorporates graphic computer files into the work.

Photos can be scanned and changed to create all types of lighting, animate figures or drawings, select a point of view or make objects move.

The actual rendering process converts all the data to an image that the renderer can manipulate and shape into a crisp image. For example, the products you see on store shelves all started as a 3D image on a computer screen.

"Designing is hard work," says Mary Khoun, an industrial designer at Conair Corporation. "There's so much that goes into it.

"It's not just drawing, model making, and 3D modeling," says Khoun. "It is a way of thinking and seeing things that normal everyday people can't think of. You will eat, live, and breathe it. You won't be able to stop yourself from designing."

The level of the work is often somewhat dependent on the quality and limitations of the chosen computer program. Therefore, 3D renderers need to master specialized computer software.

"It's a lot of dedicated hours learning software and staying current with software," says Chris Kowal, a 3D renderer and designer. "Twenty percent of my time is probably spent doing unpaid R and D [research and development].

"I'm watching new stuff that's coming out, I'm demo-ing new stuff, I'm beta testing stuff for people, because it's just part of the industry," says Kowal.

"It moves really, really fast. To stay relevant, and to stay employed, you kind of need to do that. You need to be fast, efficient, good, and always using the latest software."

There is a wide variety of opportunities for the 3D renderer. Three-dimensional services are used in magazine and book covers, logos, animation and virtual reality. A lot of 3D rendering work is needed in product illustration, packaging illustration, website design and illustration, information graphics and video title sequences. Technical illustration, computer game design, kiosks, architectural renderings, and interior design renderings are also sources that use 3D technology.

3D rendering for video, such as for television commercials, is a big source of work for 3D renderers and designers. Product design is also huge.

"For product design, you're very cheap compared to what it used to cost to make a prototype," says Kowal. "Now I can make a prototype, I can run simulations on it, we can even digitally print out something to take a look at it. You can do all these things that before cost a lot of money."

As in all jobs where the worker is sitting on a computer for the most part of the day, repetitive motion injuries are common. But the work is not otherwise physically demanding.

At a Glance

Use specialized computer software to create 3D models

  • There are opportunities in engineering, architecture, business and interior design
  • Renderers gather sketches, blueprints or other materials that show dimensions, positioning and detail
  • A solid design background is essential


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