There are millions of active users of Blender now around the world. Many of them are hobbyists who use Blender for fun designing whatever they want, and it’s a great hobby to have, but there is also a section of the community that asks the question, Can I actually get a job by learning how to use Blender?
Many companies now use Blender in some capacity and require artists or designers that know how to use Blender to help with their production. Blender is used in multiple industries such as construction, manufacturing, 3D printing, animation, and game design. As there are no official degrees relating to Blender, companies often ask to see a portfolio of the artist’s work.
It is a broad question because Blender is a broad topic area that offers many different skillsets and its versatility and availability are just two reasons why you can potentially find employment as a Blender artist, but there are also alternatives that may be better suited to you in a certain industry.
How Does Learning Blender Give Me A Chance Of Employment?
The world is evolving all the time and it is becoming more and more reliant on technology and being able to use digital applications. Learning to code, for example, is becoming one of the top ways of gaining employment because every company has a website at this point, and you need programmers for both front end and back end development to expand a company’s digital footprint.
I use this example because you can learn programming to a degree in Blendr itself. Yes, the 3D modeling application also has the feature set necessary to write code, python code to be more specific. The file editor in Blender allows users to create add-ons that offer improved functionality on the base Blender experience.
Blender allows you to develop skills in a variety of different fields and it’s this versatility that makes it incredible as a learning tool. Below we have listed the main skillsets that you can develop just by using Blender 3D:
- 3D Modelling
- 2D Modelling
- 2D Design
- 3D Art For Rendering
- Material And Texture Design
- Concept Design
- 3D Printing
- Motion Capture
- Coding With Python
- Video Editing
As you can see there are a lot of skills that you can pick up here and virtually any industry will be looking for someone who can possess at least one or more of these skill sets, and the more of these skill sets that you have, the more attractive your resume looks to a potential employer.
Should You Learn All Of These Skill Sets?
You should avoid stretching yourself too thin trying to learn everything that Blender has to offer. Most job roles may only require that you possess two or three of the skills from this list, so you need to ask the question of what sort of jobs are you looking for and in what industry?
For example, if you are looking to get a job as a character artist for an animation company then you will need to learn skill sets such as concept design, 3D modeling, and animation to be able to design and create your characters. However, there is no reason for you to learn skills such as Video Editing, 3D printing, or Coding With Python in order to do this job role well.
We only have a limited amount of time to learn new skills, so we need to be realistic in what skills we are able to learn in the time that we have. Pick anywhere from 3-5 skills from the list and dedicate your time to practicing those skills, but keep in mind that these skill sets should be able to come together as a set to allow you to perform a job role of your choice, like character modeling.
What Industries Is Blender 3D Used In?
We know that there are many industries that use an application such as Blender 3D to create 3D designs and models, but which industries are they? and in what industries is Blender used most? Blender is predominantly a 3D design application but as we know its functionality stretches far beyond simply creating 3D models. Let’s take a look at some of the industries where Blender is more likely to be used and therefore what industries the associated skill sets are best suited for.
This is the obvious one for most people that start using Blender. When they ask the question of if learning Blender can get them employment in the industry, they are normally referring to the video game industry. Like many of the other industries, Blender is becoming a growing force in game design and is being used more and more by small-scale developers on the independent scene.
As a 3D modeling suite, Blender can go head to head with any of the powerhouse options like Maya and 3Ds Max and even come out on top in some comparisons. This is extremely attractive to small teams who don’t have the budget to spend on a yearly subscription to Maya which can set you back almost $2000 for a single independent license, as Blender is free, open-source software that is accessible to anyone.
Blender 3D is used to create the 3D assets used in video games as well as the environments and scenes. These assets are then exported over to the main game engine, such as Unreal engine, for testing by a game developer. The model then gets sent back to the Blender artist who makes revisions to the asset, and the process is repeated until the asset is perfect for the game.
The second obvious industry is 3D animation, an industry that has made its name off the back of some brilliant movies from Disney and Pixar. Pixar, in particular, uses its own in-house tools to achieve extraordinary detail in its animations, but even in the larger companies in the field Blender is still used for certain tasks, such as creating concept designs.
The skills that are required to use Blender for animation are similar to that of creating assets for a video game, except the assets tend to be much higher detail for animations and an added importance is applied to getting the correct lighting and material setup in Blender, which is not necessary in game production to the same extent as lighting and materials are normally done in the game engine itself.
A young industry that has been growing at an incredible rate in recent years, to the point that there is even a company dedicated to creating a 3D model entirely from 3D printed parts and sending it into low earth orbit. Blender is a great tool for creating 3D printable objects and there are also a few addons to help improve the general workflow.
Much like animation and video games, 3D printing requires knowledge of being able to create 3D models, but they all differ from each other in how those models are made. A video game asset for example needs to be a low poly asset that can be used in real-time by a game engine (although this is becoming less of a factor now). A 3D printable model has to follow its own set of rules so that it can be printed to the highest quality without breaking.
Print On Demand
You may not have heard of this one, but print on demand is an increasingly thriving online industry where we sell products that have not even been made yet. the idea is that you create designs that are then placed on physical products such as t-shirts or coffee mugs, and then when someone purchases the product from a store, a factory will print the design onto that product and ship it out to the customer.
In this industry, the skills required to be successful include 3D modeling and concept design, sculpting, and 3D art for rendering. There are many companies out there across a wide range of industries that are looking to expand their own brands and take advantage of print on demand, and so their need for graphic designers, both 2D and 3D is never in short supply.
At first glance, you may not think that Blender has anything to do with building houses, but you would be wrong. As I said, all industries are becoming more and more dependent on technology. Blender 3D can be used for architectural design meaning that you can use the software to design the plans for a new building, and there are addons that can allow for much faster modeling of these buildings to speed up the workflow, like the archviz addon.
You will notice a common trend in that all of these industries will require the skill of 3D design when working with Blender, so you are probably thinking that it’s a skill you should pay close attention to.
But once again the workflow changes for exactly how you create your models, as for construction and architecture there is a much greater emphasis on the design phase and on things like the measurement system. This industry also leans on Blender to produce VR and AR content.
For example, companies are looking at ways to use a virtual reality headset to demonstrate to clients what a home or building can look like when it is finished, which is a definite evolution from showing a few renders on a page. The ability to almost walk through your ideal home in virtual reality is an incredibly powerful tool in this industry.
Programming And Web Development
We have touched upon this topic already as an example of the versatility of using Blender 3D as a learning tool and what it is capable of doing. Web development and programming in general is a huge industry skill that almost every major business is interested in recruiting.
With Blender, you are able to create Python scripts within the software itself using the file editor and the python console. A small issue is that this is a form of python that is specific to the use of 3D applications. So if you were planning on learning python script and then applying that knowledge outside of Blender in any way then you may want to look for alternative options to build up that skill set.
Going beyond the 3D modeling and animation toolkits you can even use Blender to help with film production. The software has a relatively simple video sequence editor that can be used to edit imported video content like mp4 files and then export the edits when finished.
It’s an underused area of Blender because it has very little connection itself to 3D modeling but video editing is another skill that a lot of companies look for if they are interested in using video content to promote their brand.
In addition to the video sequence editor you also have access to a suite of tools for motion capture and VFX to add visual effects to your movie files, as well as a compositor used to edit both images and movies alike.
The problem here is that very few companies are looking for editors who use Blender for any of these skills and prefer looking for people who use DaVinci resolve or Adobe Premier.
Working As A Freelancer
If all else fails then you can always look towards the option of working for yourself, and this can actually tie into many of the other industries on the list as companies may look to hire out independent artists or video editors if what they require does not need to be done on a regular basis.
I actually recommend that you try freelancing first covering your services to companies and individuals looking for help on their own projects. You can use a site like Fiverr or UpWork to promote yourself and get gigs that you can complete for a little bit of money.
But while you can earn an income as a freelancer the real reason to do this is to build up two things. Number one, you are building up your reputation as an artist as your profile on these sites gains more reviews as you complete more jobs, and can be used as an example of your reliability and capability when you do apply to work for someone else.
Number two, completing projects means you are gradually building up a portfolio of renders, models etc that you can use to showcase what you are able to do.
The One Bad Thing About Blender That All Industries Share
There is one factor that each industry has in common with regards to Blender’s use in that industry, and that is the fact that Blender is not considered in many cases to be an industry-standard application. When we use the term industry standard we are referring to an application or a workflow that is considered the norm in an industry, that provides the highest quality content as well as continued support from the developers of the application.
Blender has all the tools needed to be an industry-standard software, it has both quantity and quality in terms of its feature set, and you can download specific versions of Blender that provide long-term support for companies when they have issues with the software or are trying to restore lost projects.
The problem is that this all came too late for Blender to break into the very top of each industry, and there are often dedicated applications that work just as well if not better for what they need to do. In the video game industry for example most of the major players that design the blockbuster AAA games will use either Maya or 3Ds Max to create their game assets instead of Blender and will require artists with experience in using those applications.
In animation, Pixar uses its own software applications like Renderman to produce its world-class content, while Disney also uses in house content for the bulk of its workflow. Blender is used here, but not as much as other applications.
In 3D printing again we see the same thing, as while Blender can provide everyone that you need other options like AutoCad just does it better. Blenders greatest strength is its greatest weakness, it’s a jack of all trades application that is not built for use in a specific industry, and so falls behind in nearly all industries.
Does this mean you should ignore Blender entire? Of course not! While the software may not be used at the highest level too much, the skills that you learn are certainly transferrable, and in many industries, you will find that Blender is the software of choice for smaller companies on a budget and that they are looking for artists that use Blender.
For more information on where Blender is being used, and how the LTS principle affects an applications standing in the industry, check out our article on the topic here.
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