Estimating 3D Modeling Rates & Cost For Your Project

3D Modeling Rates & Cost

Navigating the intricacies of 3D modeling rates & cost is essential for games and digital media production. The creation of 3D models and content constitutes a significant portion of project timelines, rivaling coding tasks. Hiring skilled 3D modelers becomes paramount, yet studios often face challenges in finding the right expertise. This article aims to guide you through the process of hiring 3D modelers or procuring services, providing insights into average 3D modeling rates and essential considerations when selecting specialists or partners for your project.


3D modeling is a skill that requires expert knowledge, and this factor, coupled with a high level of demand, makes the overall cost of modeling quite high. For example, Glassdoor puts the average yearly salary of a 3D modeler in the U.S. at $62K and £30K in the UK. But these figures don’t tell you much about how much a smaller unit of work costs, do they?

It is much easier to make estimations when you look at hourly rates. Thus, let’s examine some of the median rates of modelers offering their services through Upwork:











Why location is important

Location holds paramount importance in determining rates and the quality of specialists in various fields, notably in the digital arts industry. The substantial disparity in rates across countries, as depicted in the graph, is intricately linked to the cost of labor. Wealthier countries with higher average salaries often have fewer experts willing to work at lower rates. Conversely, regions such as Eastern Europe and Asia, characterized by a lower cost of labor, provide opportunities to cut costs without compromising quality.

3D Modeling Rates & Cost

Moreover, location becomes a significant indicator of specialists’ expertise and education levels. Western countries typically boast a high standard of education in digital arts, ensuring a proficient workforce. However, exceptions like Ukraine emerge, offering a unique blend of relatively low rates and a thriving IT education sector, ensuring specialists bring both cost-effectiveness and substantial knowledge to the table.


Thanks to globalization, it has become easier than ever today to find and hire specialists. Thus, companies have multiple choices available for hiring 3D modelers, each suited to particular situations and circumstances.

Local hires

Local hires are helpful when you know that a constant stream of 3D modeling work will be necessary and when you need someone to be in the office, closely cooperating with your art and development teams. Most of the time, modelers hired locally are given full-time and permanent positions. Still, it is also not unheard of for studios to hire contractors that will stick around for a set period (usually at least a few months).


The great thing about freelancers is that you can hire them quickly and get them working within days. Modern freelance platforms have made it very convenient to find specialists with a tailored set of skills and filter those who are currently open to work. However, working with freelancers also has downsides since “contracts” are often poorly defined, and the repercussions for freelancers who fail to deliver results can be very difficult to enforce.

Development partners

Development partners are companies and studios that provide a nice middle ground between the stability and long-term coverage of local hires and the flexibility & low rates of freelancers. Essentially, you contact such a company and they provide all the resources you need, often giving you freedom in cooperation models.

For example, you may prefer traditional outsourcing when a whole modeling project is done externally and presented to you on a silver platter. Or you might choose a dedicated team that will be under your constant management and guidance. Some partners let you expand your existing team with their specialists, so you have people working side-by-side, albeit in different locations.

3D Modeling Rates & Cost


There are three common approaches to calculating 3D modeling costs. If you are preparing for a project with such tasks or discussing terms with modelers/partners, you don’t necessarily need to choose one of the three and can mix and match them.

Based on Project Scope

Calculating 3D modeling costs based on the project scope involves estimating the overall volume of work required and assigning a comprehensive price. This approach is beneficial for smaller projects, allowing for a straightforward pricing strategy based on industry norms and past experiences.

Based on Work Hours

The most flexible approach, costing based on work hours, enables adaptability to changing project needs. Calculated by multiplying the hourly rate by the number of hours worked, this method ensures agile adjustments to the work schedule. However, effective time management is crucial to ensure productive use of the hours.

Based on Artist’s Experience

While 3D modeling may lack a distinct junior-to-senior classification system, rates can be modulated based on an artist’s experience and their contributions to different types of modeling. Whether calculated hourly or for a set period, this approach recognizes and rewards the expertise and efficiency that experienced artists bring to the project.

Suggested Post: Exploring Advanced 3D Modeling Techniques: Tips and Tricks for Professionals


People tend to have very different notions of 3D modeling work, specifically when it relates to the types of tasks their specialists should carry out. For example, we see some companies that believe a modeler should be a jack-of-all-trades, while others look for a 3D artist (a pretty versatile position), yet limit them to one type of task.

In the end, it will all come down to the specialists you find, what they are capable of, and what work you need done. Naturally, the terms and tasks should be negotiated and formalized before any work begins.

3D Modeling

The fundamental skill of a 3D modeler lies in their ability to work with 3D design programs such as 3Ds Max, Maya, or Blender. They should proficiently deliver both high-poly and low-poly assets, with expertise in creating diverse model types ranging from large environments to unique characters in-game modeling.


While some companies assign texturing as an extension of the modeling task, others allocate this responsibility to 2D artists. Texturing involves determining how to color and add details to the 3D geometry created by modelers, enhancing the visual appeal of the digital assets.

Rigging & Animation

For character rigging and animation, specialists often transition from general design to this more intricate form of content production. Animators, in particular, assign joints and bones to digital assets, dictating their movements with consideration for physics and various forces involved in the animation process.

Renders & Software Integration

Beyond creating 3D assets, additional tasks involve generating renders within the 3D design programs for promotional or testing materials. Knowledgeable modelers or artists can also handle the integration of 3D creations into software and media, setting up lighting for scenes and assigning behaviors to enhance the overall user experience. This multifaceted approach ensures a comprehensive utilization of 3D modeling skills across various aspects of content creation.


If you find that working with a partner is the most effective choice for your company, you shouldn’t rush into the process without thought. We recommend looking at these requisites before beginning any sort of formal discussion:

  • Good reputation (objective reviews and awards available)
  • Substantial 3D portfolio (matching the type of 3D content you need)
  • A broad range of services (in case you need more help than just modeling)
  • Strong tech stack (artists are capable of working with your preferred software, methods, and platforms).

At Nesso, we specialize in 3D/2D content production, ensuring our proficiency across various industries. With a dedicated team of skilled 3D artists, we are well-equipped to meet the diverse needs of your project. Our large team of 3D artists stands ready to tackle projects of any scale, providing the resources and manpower needed to deliver timely and exceptional results. Nesso takes pride in a sterling reputation built on a track record of delivering high-quality outcomes. Our client testimonials and successful projects substantiate our commitment to excellence.


Understanding the intricacies of 3D modeling rates and costs is pivotal for effectively estimating and budgeting your project. By comprehensively evaluating factors like project scope, work hours, and artist experience, you can make informed decisions to ensure both cost-effectiveness and quality in your 3D modeling endeavors. Crafting a detailed plan based on these considerations will empower you to navigate the realm of 3D modeling rates and costs with confidence and precision.