Eventually AI will probably replace 3D artists for the most part, but it will happen gradually in stages over several years. AI won't instantly make human 3D artists obsolete.
In this article, we'll have a look at how AI will affect 3D artists in the upcoming years. We'll also answer some common questions people have about 3D artists and AI, such as how to use AI tools to help with 3D modeling, whether you can see if something is AI-generated, and more.
The bottom line is that AI will significantly impact the work of 3D artists down the road. But there will be opportunities for artists to evolve along with the technology and make lots of money too. Keep reading to learn more!
How will AI affect 3D artists?
AI will impact 3D artists in several stages. This shift will likely happen gradually over the next 10 years.
It's important to note that the stages described below are just predictions. The actual effects of AI on 3D artists could play out differently in reality. It’s hard to determine the future of technological progress.
But based on current AI capabilities and trends, here is an overview of the expected phases of how 3D artists' work will be affected as AI continues to advance.
Stage 1: Time Saver
In the first stage, AI will mainly act as a time-saving tool for 3D artists. It will automate repetitive, basic tasks related to modeling, texturing, rigging, and animation.
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This stage will most likely be helpful for 3D artists, especially those working on commercial projects with tight deadlines. The time savings from AI assistance could allow artists to get more done in less time.
The early capabilities of AI will be limited to simple tasks that don't require much creative judgment. So at this stage, AI will just help speed up workflow rather than replace artists. It will handle the busywork while artists focus on higher-level creative direction.
This first phase will enable 3D artists to work faster and be more productive. The technology will be more of an asset than a threat in these early days.
Stage 2: Great Opportunity
In this stage, AI will expand beyond basic tasks and start automating more complex 3D work. Artists may need to learn new technical skills to leverage these advanced AI tools.
The technology will be able to generate full 3D models with less human input. Artists will mainly need to provide high-level creative direction and refine the AI output.
Many companies and clients will find it more efficient to use AI for their 3D needs rather than hiring traditional artists. The technology will become capable of partially replacing human work across both simple and complex tasks.
However, in the early part of this stage, there will still be lots of demand for 3D artists who know how to utilize these new AI tools. Skilled artists who master the latest technology will have great opportunities to earn an extremely high hourly income.
The combination of human creative direction and AI automation will result in a really fast workflow. For artists who adapt, this could mean the ability to take on more projects and charge higher rates.
So at this point, while AI starts to displace some roles, it also creates profitable opportunities for 3D artists staying up to date with new AI technologies.
Stage 3: Serious Consequences
In this final stage, basic and routine 3D work will be completely automated by advanced AI. Companies will universally adopt these technologies for most of their 3D needs.
Tasks like modeling objects or environments will be fully handled by AI. There will be little demand left for entry-level 3D artists focused on fundamental work.
However, some new roles for artists will open up in this stage too. Although AI can produce detailed 3D assets, there is still a need for human creativity and quality oversight.
Experienced 3D artists who specialize in creative direction, quality control, and leveraging AI tools in innovative ways will remain valuable. Their expertise in bringing something aesthetically unique and refined to life will be hard to replace.
So advanced artists who adapt their skills to complement AI capabilities can still thrive. But those sticking to traditional 3D design will unfortunately struggle as automation expands. The serious consequences in this stage will be career disruption for traditional artists.
How to make use of AI for 3D modeling?
We are currently entering Stage 1, where AI has started impacting the work of 3D artists in a positive way.
There are already AI tools available that can help 3D artists speed up parts of their workflow. However, none of these tools yet produce perfect 3D models.
Here are a few of the AI-powered tools that can accelerate different steps in the 3D modeling process:
Blockade Labs Allows you to create high-quality HDRIs.
Midjourney Generates detailed textures and concept ideas.
ChatGPT Can help you with all your 3D modeling related questions.
Spline AI Allows you to use text prompts to create 3D models.
The key is finding ways to strategically incorporate these AI tools into your existing creative process. Treat the technology as a helpful asset which also has the potential to make you some money.
Can you tell if something is AI generated?
In many cases, you can determine whether an image or 3D model was AI-generated by examining it closely. The key is looking for subtle imperfections that reveal the lack of human touch.
For example, an AI-generated picture of a person may accidentally give them six fingers or other anatomical anomalies. A 3D model of a chair from an AI system could have slightly off proportions or awkward asymmetric shapes.
These kinds of small flaws make sense from a mathematical perspective for AI systems. But they would look obviously wrong to the eye of a human 3D artist.
So if you notice details in a visual work that seem logically clumsy in a way people wouldn't mess up, that's a strong sign it came from an AI. The easiest way to tell is by paying close attention to precision of form, symmetry, anatomy, and other areas where AI still struggles compared to human judgment.
With time, AI-generated art will become more convincingly refined. But for now, the subtle disconnects from human logic and aesthetics can give it away if you look hard enough. The tiny imperfections are a dead giveaway.
Is AI stealing from artists?
There's a common concern that AI is "stealing" from human artists when generating new works. But the reality is more nuanced.
AI systems don't actually steal creative work. The technology just observes and analyzes large datasets of art to detect patterns, similar to how a human brain absorbs inspiration.
When we see amazing works of art, we instinctively learn from them. Our brain picks up techniques, visual motifs, compositions, and more. Which we can later use to create something
So in essence, AI is replicating the same learning process artists engage in, not stealing completed products. It aims to build on patterns, not copy full works.
However, some AI companies have used copyrighted art in their datasets without permission, which might raise legal issues in the future. The data should only include public domain and properly licensed works.
In summary, AI will impact 3D artists in various phases over the coming years.
Eventually, AI will probably become so advanced that it's more cost-effective for companies than hiring traditional digital artists. At that point, many traditional 3D roles could become obsolete.
But this shift will open up new opportunities too. New creative jobs will emerge centered on using AI tools to bring something innovative to life.
It's impossible to predict exactly when AI will displace traditional 3D artists entirely. This future could arrive in 20 years, or even as little as 5 years from now. The pace of progress is uncertain.
For now, the best way for 3D artists to prepare is to start incorporating existing AI tools into their workflows. Become familiar with the technology's capabilities and limitations. Experiment with how AI can enhance your process rather than replace it.