How do you get into 3D motion graphics from the 2D industry?

January 30, 2023
 min read

Why 3D motion graphics might be the right move for you

This section will contextualize why 3D is a good thing to learn, it is implicit in the title that people may already want to but I think it is a good addition nonetheless. It will center on 2 main points, the first is that 2023 design trends are predicted to involve a lot more 3D and that as the creative job market is getting more competitive it is important to have a wider portfolio of work to show potential employers.

There are plenty of reasons why one might want to develop a skillset in 3D graphics. Currently, the job market in creative industries is very competitive for people with traditional skillsets, however on the other hand there is a talent shortage for people with more modern skills such as 3D motion graphics. This, of course, is reflected in the salaries of creative talent as well. According to at the time of writing (Jan 2023) artists with 3D skills on average earn an extra $10,000 a year.

Not only this but a majority of articles predicting UI trends for 2023 list 3D graphics as a predicted UI trend in the upcoming year. This is likely to further increase the need for 3D artists in an industry already facing a skills shortage.

But also even if you aren’t looking for financial motivation, as an artist it is always interesting to explore new media and see how you can apply your creativity in new ways. When it comes to 3D there has never been a better time to branch out. There are now great tools that are affordable, or in some cases free, that will allow you to make great 3D art.

Where are 3D motion graphics being used right now?

This small subsection will focus on examples of industries that are using 3D motion graphics

As more industries want to keep their interfaces, productions, and/or software looking modern, they are making the transition from 2D to 3D. Think about adverts you’re seeing, both still and video adverts, and you’ll realize that many more of them are using 3D assets in their creation. Broadcast TV is increasingly using 3D motion graphics, especially in sports and news, mobile apps are utilizing the power of modern smartphones to display 3D UI instead of traditional 2D UI, also corporate videos are increasingly using 3D graphics as well, and that is only a few examples.

What skills can 2D artists bring with them that give them an edge when getting into 3D?

This section is focussing on drawing parallels between 2D/3D work and how artistic skills such as composition and understanding of basic animation techniques will cross over. Then it will end with a section saying many of the tools that are used for 2D have support for 3D.

As a 2D artist, you are already equipped with many of the skills necessary to succeed in a 3D motion graphics role. Your knowledge of color, composition, animation, design, and communication will give you a solid foundation to build from. Not only this but many of the 3D motion graphics in use today will have 2D elements in conjunction with 3D elements for the final outcome.

Not only are general artistic skills a big advantage, but also a lot of the same toolsets have 3D workflows within them. Your existing knowledge of tools like Photoshop, After Effects, Resolve and more will be needed for the 2D to 3D transition. This experience will look great when applying for roles in 3D.

What tools are best for 3D motion graphics?

This section is self-explanatory, so far good options look like After Effects, Resolve, and Blender. The 3 complement nicely. After Effects is the premium well-known option, Resolve is a free After Effects that is gaining popularity and if they are looking to go fully into 3D Blender is a great way to try that.

There are plenty of great tools that you can use to create 3D motion graphics, to help narrow things down we have chosen 3 tools that we are going to highlight.

Adobe After Effects

For a long time now Adobe has been making some of the best creative software on the market, and After Effects is no exception. You may already use After Effects for its 2D video tools and motion graphics capabilities. After Effects does however also include extensive 3D tools that you can use to create the kind of great 3D motion graphics that would look perfect on any portfolio.

Not only this but its popularity means that quality educational content for this software is easy to find online so you can level up your skills.

The main downside of After Effects is that it comes with a premium price tag, you can get it is part of a $55 all-apps subscription for creative cloud, or as part of a single-app plan for $21 a month. While this is not likely to break the bank for many it is still at least going to cost you over 

$200 a year for a piece of software that has many great alternatives.

DaVinci Resolve

In recent years more people have been drawn to Resolve by Blackmagic Design (formerly DaVinci) It has an impressive set of features that have been pulling people away from After Effects and other premium video editing tools such as Vegas Pro (AKA Sony Vegas). 

And the best part about it… it’s free! It works on Windows, Mac, and Linux and offers a premium version for a one time payment. It uses a node-based UI inside of its FUSE system that allows for the easy creation of great-looking 3D graphics.


A tool that is likely to be unfamiliar to most 2D artists making the 2D to 3D transition is Blender. Blender is a 3D animation software that is is made by the Blender foundation. Those of you familiar with 3D will also be familiar with Blender too in one way or another. It is built from the ground up for 3D, meaning that it is going to offer you the most freedom in the creation of your 3D motion graphics. However, all of the options provided by Blender will make it overwhelming for newcomers to 3D software. But if you’re ready to dip your toes into a fully 3D environment then Blender is a great choice. That is because it has a great community that produces some of the best educational content, and because it is completely free! There are no premium features or royalties to pay, it is fully free and completely funded by donations. 

Where can I learn to do the 2D to 3D transition?

The first part of this section covers traditional ways to learn, the book below for example and the Udemy course as another way to learn for people who are more practical. 3D Motion Graphics for 2D Artists, Udemy Course: 3D Motion Graphics, An Introduction. The second section will focus on how there are great tutorials on Youtube that let you skill up for free.

Ok so if all of that sounds good to you, hopefully, you’re aking yourself “how can I start learning 3D today”. The answer to that question is going to depend on both your budget and learning style.

If you learn best from books then you might want to check out 3D Motion Graphics for 2D Artists as a starting point. The book uses the Adobe suite to take you through the 2D to 3D transition. However, if you learn better from videos and online learning resources then the Udemy Course 3D Motion Graphics: An Introduction might be better for you. This course will teach you After Effects. But if you’re on a budget, or happy to spend time finding the right content for you then there is a wealth of educational material and tutorials available on YouTube for free right now. This will cover all of the tools that we measured today as well as most that you might find after doing your own research.

What kind of computer will I need to do 3D graphics work?

You already know what this section is 🐈‍⬛

One thing to note about 3D graphics is that they can be pretty resource intensive when it comes 

to computing power. A dedicated graphics card in a gaming computer is going to be best when doing this kind of work. However, there is no need to rush out to buy new hardware. In fact, you can use your existing laptop or PC to get cutting edge graphics performance power right from your browser. 

Flaneer is a service that provides virtual workstations for 3D creators. This allows you to access a lot of computing power fast, using a virtual computer. You can easily run 3D graphics software and heavy renders on our virtual workstations, without needing to invest in expensive hardware.

Our virtual workstations are equipped with powerful graphics cards, processors, and memory to handle the demands of 3D graphics work. Additionally, with Flaneer, you can easily scale up or down your computing power as needed, so you can work on large projects without any interruption. With Flaneer, you can work on your 3D graphics projects from anywhere, at any time, and on any device with a internet connection.

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