7 Major Factors in Computing the Cost for 3D Rendering
Back to pricing. Seeking the services of a freelancer is no doubt the cheapest 3D solution available. However, is it true all the time? Well, we must check it out:
A freelancer often works from home. Of course, there’s no problem with that. For freelancers to make both ends meet, they’ll need money. The question is—how much? Here’s how to calculate:
1. Location: A freelancer’s location along with their experience in 3D rendering (on average, a 3D artist can become pro after having 10 years of experience). We’ll just assume that he/she won’t accept a rate that is equivalent to the minimum salary in his/her residence. At least, they’d like to get a mid-range salary, or even higher.
2. Salary: The first step is to study the mid-range salary in their residence. Let’s apply the numbers to Estonia where I’m from. Here in Estonia, the mid-range salary is 1,200 euros per month (year 2016).
3. Equipment: The next step is to figure out what he needs to do his work well. A computer, of course. However, it’s not just an ordinary computer. 3D visualization eats up a huge amount of computer resources, so they’ll need a high-end unit. The average price for such a computer is around 3,500 euros.
4. Software: That doesn’t end there. To render, the 3D artist will need software specifically designed for 3D rendering—a lot of software. There’s no single software capable of handling various 3D projects. Your 3D artist will need to include the following:
- 3DsMax (or USD $1,545 or 1,936 euro/year)
- V-Ray (USD $835 or 750 euro)
- Photoshop (USD $55 or 50 euro/month)
5. Plugins: And there are lots of them, but to understand why they’re needed, let’s highlight an example from my experience. In some cases, we need to outsource our projects and seek help from other companies or 3D freelancer experts. In one project for a landscape creation, our estimation was around 8 hours for the project to complete. However, those who we outsourced our work to gave us a 32-hour estimate. This is four times our estimated duration, and it’s because they didn’t know which specific plugins to use. The work can be completed a lot faster with the help of plugins. Hence, investing in them is necessary. For a bunch of plugins, the cost is around 1,500 euros or more.
6. Photorealism: Afterward, you will need a photorealistic result. In this case, the artist or 3D studio will require photorealistic textures such as stone, wood, walls, or whatever is required in your image. In most cases, it is a lot better and more cost-efficient to buy, say a sofa, compared to creating it from scratch. Hence, a 3D artist will need bundles of textures and objects. There are a number of websites to buy from, such as https://www.turbosquid.com or https://www.viz-people.com/shop/3d-seating-furniture. To work comfortably, a 3D artist often has to spend around USD $5,550 or 5,000 euros (sometimes more) to create their very own small objects library.
7. Repairs and Updates: Before we compute the total, we also need to factor in computer updates and repairs. On average, a computer should be replaced every 4 years. The same goes for software licenses, which you have to update every 2 years. Putting all these factors together, we can calculate how much a 3D artist should charge for his rendering service to be profitable in a span of 4 years:
- Computer—USD $3,890 or 3,500 euros
- Software licenses (3DsMax, V-Ray, Photoshop)—USD $12,900 or 11,600 euros
- Objects and textures library—USD $5,900 or 5,000 euros
All in all, you have a grand total of USD $22,360 or 20100 euros. To pay for such credit within 4 years, a 3D artist should have a monthly payment of at least USD $560 or 500 euros. However, the artist also needs to pay for property credit including communal expenses. That’s another USD $445 or 400 euros per month. I haven’t even included the expenses for food and other stuff. Also, I didn’t include taxes, which can be up to 50% as well.
Therefore, to live in a property with a computer (not computing expenses for food), a 3D freelancer living in Estonia should pay around 1,000 euros per month. You see, the mid-range salary here isn’t enough for a 3D artist in Estonia. He will need at least 2,500 euros or even higher per month.
Now, for a 3D freelancer to create the 1st image for your project, he/she will need to spend at least 1 week (this doesn’t include any possible revisions, etc.) That means the average price per render shouldn’t be lower than 600 euros. Of course, a freelancer will also need time to look for clients. This would mean spending at least 1 week every month just looking for new clients. If you include that factor, it would mean the average price for a single render is somewhere between 500 and 800 euros (USD $560 to $940) (calculated in 2019).