How to Become a 3D Animator – Interview with an Expert

3D animation converts ideas into three-dimensional motions and visuals. It may seem complex at first, but with time and focus, it can be done. The valuation for this field is forecasted to reach $27 billion by 2026.

When you’re starting out as a 3D animator, you might feel perplexed about where to start and what to learn.

We had an opportunity to sit down with Salman Alam, MotionCue’s head of 3D animation, to talk about how he began his career in this field, his favorite animators, the tools he uses to get the work done, and more.

3D animator at work

MotionCue HQ

If you’re a beginner, you may find this interview valuable, so let’s get into it.


In conversation with MotionCue’s head of 3D animation, Salman Alam


So, Salman, how did you get into 3D animation? 

I’ve loved watching cartoons ever since I can remember. Bugs Bunny is my all-time favorite, he always made me laugh like crazy.

After spending countless hours watching, researching, and talking to people about cartoons, I knew I wanted to make my own. I think 3D animation has always been my calling.

After that epiphany, I started taking online tutorials to learn animation. A few of my past colleagues also helped me develop my skills.

Read more: 3D vs 2D animation


Finding your calling at such a young age is brilliant. Tell us about some of your favorite animators.

Oh, that’s a tough question. If I had to narrow it down to a list, then I’d say Jason Ryan, Jamaal Bradley, Frank E. Abney, Marlon Nowe, and Zach Parrish.

I would love it if they noticed my work somehow. I mean, they might have, who knows? One can only hope that that’s the case.



Well, we hope you’ll hear from your heroes someday. Now, talk to us about the work you’ve done at MotionCue. Do you have a project you loved working on? 

Oh, that’s an easy one. Since we got into 3D animation recently, I got to work on Web XD, which is a video we made for our own portfolio. I had a lot of fun bringing this to life. The script was written in-house as well!



This was the very first 3D animation project we completed at MotionCue, and I’m very proud of that fact. We created an original character for it and I tried to give the character animation a modern and trendy vibe.

Hey! If you liked our 3D video and want to explore what we can create for your business, get in touch. Our video experts will be happy to help.

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Web XD was a lot of fun. What software did you use to bring this to life? 

I use Autodesk Maya. It’s the standard industry software and it’s pretty easy to learn. There are loads of other options, such as Cinema 4D, but I have my preferences.

3D animation autodesk maya workspace


Are there any free alternatives to Autodesk Maya and Cinema 4D? 

Blender is a free, open-source software for 3D animations. It contains VFX, sculpting, modeling, and rigging resources.

free 3D animation tool - Blender

Credits: Blender


Let’s get into the nitty-gritty details. What steps can the 3D animation process be divided into?

The 3D animation process has several steps and it takes a team of professionals in a 3D department to complete one project. Some of the steps include 3D environment modeling, character modeling and animation rigging, object animation, texturing, lighting, rendering, compositing, sound designing, editing, VFX, and sculpting.

It’s always recommended to get really good at a few skills rather than trying to do it all. So, make sure to stay focused and deliberate when it comes to developing your skills.

3D animation - Autodesk maya workspace


What sort of system/computer do you use?  And what are the minimum system requirements for animation?

I’m using an i7 9th generation desktop PC with NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 6 GB 16 GB.

If you’re looking to get into animation, then you’ll need an NVIDIA 1050 graphics card with at least 16 GB RAM. The thing is that with 3D animation, better specs equal better performance and results.

And that’s the drawback of getting into this field. You’ll need to spend a hefty sum on a system to get the job done.


What courses would you recommend to aspiring animators? 

Animschool and Animation Mentor are great places to start if you’ve decided to learn 3D animation from scratch. These courses teach everything you’ll need to learn but are quite expensive.

Animation mentor

Credits: Animation Mentor


So, if you’re not looking to pay top dollar to learn, then the internet is your oyster. There are loads of tutorials available on YouTube.

Apart from that, you can also find some affordable courses on Udemy and Skillshare.


How can a beginner hone their craft? 

Practice, practice, and practice.

You need to be consistent and focused. I’ve seen people lose track of their goals when they begin their journey into the world of 3D animation. There’s a lot to learn and understand and it can get a bit overwhelming if you don’t have a steady approach.

So, make sure that when you’re learning, practice your skills every day.



We’re working on a cool new 3D animated series, and this is a sneak peek of one of the characters 😁 Stay tuned for more ✨ #animation #3danimation #officelife #fyp #worklife #work #3d #animationstudio #motioncue

♬ Start Again – OVSKY


Any advice for aspiring animators before they begin their journey? 

Everything you learn and choose to pursue requires discipline. While you’re at it, make sure you’re always following the animation principles. Also, always remain passionate about 3D animation. It’s an ever-changing industry that accepts new trends, styles, software, and protocols.

Keep that passion alive and pay attention to modern and trendy 3D animations by watching movies, checking out online tutorials, and going through your favorite animators’ portfolios.

Get inspired: 10 Best 3D Animated Videos


That’s some great advice, Salman. Talk to us about some of the challenges you’ve faced as a professional 3D animator. It’ll help our viewers know what to expect when they enter this field.

A major challenge is convincing people that there are many aspects of 3D animation and that one person can’t be expected to handle them all. That’s not how it’s supposed to work.

Companies need to realize that if a person is good at character animation, then they have to hire other people who can take care of the modeling or lighting.

Another factor that is a challenge is the expensive computer. You’ll need to save up a hefty amount to purchase a system that can help with high-quality 3D renders.

And finally, the work itself can be challenging. Here’s how I look at it though, if the work is too easy, I wouldn’t get better at what I do.

So I invite challenges and actively step out of my comfort zone to hone my skills further. That’s a great mindset to have as a 3D animator.


Thanks for taking out the time to speak to us, Salman!

Thanks for having me. I hope the readers find this information useful.

So, folks, that’s a wrap. If you’re more interested in 2D animation, then check out our interview with MotionCue’s 2D/motion graphics expert.

If you’d like to connect with us, follow us on LinkedIn and Instagram. To check out some of our work, visit our website.

And good luck on your 3D animation journey!

Posted by Adil Ashraf

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