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Hiring A 3D Game Art Outsourcing Studio: A Starter's Guide

Updated: Feb 8

If you’re reading this, then you’re already in the process of developing that killer new IP or working hard to make an existing one even better. Having done your research, you know how big of a commitment it can be to gather all the key ingredients to create a successful game.


Let's imagine the following: you've got the groundwork laid out for a game; it has a compelling storyline, the gameplay mechanics are on point, but there's one piece of the puzzle that's missing - stunning 3D art to truly bring your game to life. You could buckle down and try to do it yourself, or you could find a kick-ass outsourcing team to work with. But, how do you find the right 3D game art outsourcing studio?

Below are some pro tips from our studio to get you started.


 

How to find a 3D Game Art Outsourcing Studio

(Image Credit: Sierra Division - Industrial Sci-Fi and Modular Oil Rig)


CONSIDERTATIONS FOR USING A 3D GAME ART OUTSOURCING STUDIO:

When deciding whether outsourcing is right for your needs, it's important to consider the benefits that an external partner can provide. Keep the following factors in mind during your evaluation.


EXPERTISE:

Generally, 3D Art Outsourcing Studios consist of experienced professional artists with a strong understanding of 3D tools, techniques, and styles that can either complement an existing in-house art team or act as a full production team through a co-development process. Not all studios are made equal though, and we’ll share some more tips further down on how you can spot quality and assess a team’s expertise while reviewing your different outsourcing options.


COST SAVINGS:

Establishing an in-house team comes at a substantial cost. To attract the best talent, you’ll need to offer competitive salaries and benefits, have infrastructure setup, offer training, hire recruiters, and invest an immense amount of time and money into each person you hire. Then after all of that work, they might end up leaving a year later or potentially provide lower than expected performance on the job. Outsourcing removes all of that headache and cost by saving time, resources, and eventually forming that long lasting relationship with a team that you trust. We also have some recommendations as you continue reading on how you can get the most out of your outsourcing relationships to benefit both you and your project.


TURNAROUND TIME: 

Outsourcing Studios are well-equipped to handle projects with tight deadlines, providing a swift turnaround for the creation and delivery of assets. This agility is crucial in game development, where meeting deadlines is often synonymous with success. 


SCALABILITY:

A studio can easily adjust the size of the outsourced team based on project requirements, ensuring that the right resources are allocated without the long-term commitments associated with hiring an in-house team.


 

VISUALLY IMPRESSIVE 3D ART FOR LASTING IMPRESSIONS

In your consideration, you may ask how necessary high-quality art is to your vision or to creating an immersive experience. Many of the top-selling and highly acclaimed games rely on having incredible visuals that help players to become fully immersed. If you have a great story, then the art will support the game’s narrative, bringing to life everything from the land to the characters, creating an enjoyable player experience. Games like the Uncharted Series, The Last of Us, God of War, Final Fantasy, and many more know this all too well. Having great art is also perfect for marketing the game; the art simply speaks for itself and will leave a lasting impression on the audience.


Naughty Dog works with top 3D artists like Jacob Norris and Javier Perez to create stunning artwork


"Identifying your game's distinct style will steer you towards the right 3D Art Outsourcing company"


Having the best 3D art team you can get makes hitting that high-quality bar a walk in the park. In some cases, hiring in-house makes sense, but keep in mind the time it takes your recruiters to post jobs on your site and on LinkedIn, conduct interviews, not only find that incredible artist from overseas, but get them to relocate and all setup in house. Depending on the project, this approach may be worth the effort, but when the clock is ticking you’ll also want to look into quick solutions even as you build your in-house team. Art Outsourcing starts to look a lot better after considering all this.


Once you’ve established that hiring a 3D art outsourcing studio is the way to go, you’ll need to find the best studio that will meet your needs and that you can rely on to help make your game a success. Finding the perfect 3D Art Outsourcing studio can be daunting. A quick search on Google brings up many sponsored links, and browsing the Studio Directory on ArtStation reveals 400+ studios. Thankfully, there is an approach to quicken this process which we will outline below..


DEFINE YOUR VISION:

Every game has a unique rhythm, a signature style that sets it apart, often defined in the early stages of game development by concept artists. Whether it's a futuristic, alien-inhabited sci-fi world, or a lush fantastical forest waiting for organic sculpting, identifying your game's distinct style will steer you towards the right 3D Art Outsourcing company. In some cases, you can seek out studios that work with you in a “Co-Development” relationship, where they can help provide these concepting services directly to you and find that unique style that you’re looking for.


3D Oil Rig Interior

Imagine players navigating this sci-fi oil-rig interior level


LOOK AT YOUR OPTIONS:

Your next assignment is to find the industry's best 3D Art Outsourcing Studios. We suggest starting off with ArtStation’s Studio Directory which allows you to filter studios by skills, software and studio size alongside their portfolio, giving you a quick and efficient way to pick or eliminate studios. Do you want a partner that specializes in Unreal Engine or NVIDIA Omniverse? Do they need to have expertise in Adobe Substance’s toolset? Selecting the right filters will eliminate a great deal of studios and save you a lot of time.


ArtStation Studios Directory

ArtStation Studios Directory


If you’re looking for additional options, you can browse LinkedIn, do a Google search, or maybe even ask ChatGPT, but those options will require a greater time commitment as you’ll need to take a couple extra steps to get a good grasp on these studios' art style, skills and expertise. In many cases you may end up right back on ArtStation to view their portfolio. So, it’s usually just the best place to start and save yourself some time.


"Working with a quality team, even if the quote may be slightly higher, can actually save you money if the delivery time is faster, the team is more professional, and the work requires less rounds of feedback."


THE PORTFOLIO:

A potential partner's portfolio is your glimpse into their world. It can give you a good idea of their skill set, creativity, and ability to deliver on your vision. Do they showcase art that matches your game’s style, strong attention to detail, and creativity? If they tick those boxes, go ahead and add them to your consideration list.


Curious to see an example portfolio? You can check out our ArtStation here!


CREATIVITY:

When you're browsing through a studio's portfolio, think of it as peeking into their creative kitchen. What you're looking for is a spark – that special something that shows they're not just good with the tools, but they've also got the imagination to make your project pop. It's all about finding a team that can think outside the box, bring fresh ideas to the table, and really get what you're trying to achieve. This creativity factor is huge because it's what sets apart a project that's just 'okay' from something that's truly engaging and memorable. So, if you come across a studio whose work makes you stop and think, "Wow, that's exactly the kind of vibe I'm going for," then you're on the right track. Remember, you're not just hiring skills; you're hiring vision.


The Rabbiter - Melee Weapon


REPUTATION MATTERS:

A studio’s reputation can often provide really useful insights. Check out which games and projects they’ve previously worked on. Also, reviews and testimonials will provide information about their professionalism, reliability, and work ethic. This is especially important to take into consideration.


GET THE QUOTE:

Once you’ve shortlisted a few potential partners it’s time to reach out to them and get a quote. The more details you can provide about your project, the more precise the estimate will be. But remember - the cheapest isn't always the best.


It’s not unheard of for some studios to give you an unbelievably low price to lock in the contract.  But once the work has started, you may find that they assigned their most junior staff to your project or that quality and communication are not up to expectations. If the price is too good to be true or much lower than your other quotes, make sure to ask them how they got to this number. The last thing you want is to discover that key deliverables were not included as part of the contract and you’ll need to pay extra.


3D assets for 3d game art interior

Ensure that all asset deliverables are included in the contract


Working with a quality team, even if the quote may be slightly higher, can actually save you money if the delivery time is faster, the team is more professional and requires less rounds of feedback, and they may even offer suggestions to improve the product. A cheaper quote from a less reliable studio could end up costing you a lot more in countless hours of feedback, bad communication or missed deadlines, and taking precious time away from you or your art managers just trying to sort it all out. You may even end up simply doing the work yourself as a result.

"If the price is too good to be true or much lower than your other quotes, make sure to ask them how they got to this number."


COMMUNICATION IS KEY:

Effective collaboration depends on clear, consistent communication. You should never be left wondering or worrying about what's being worked. As you are negotiating the contract, have your company's art outsourcing manager or art director meet with the art outsourcing partner and have them discuss communication tools, frequency of updates and project management strategies. You'll also want to ask the studio about their security infrastructure to ensure that your intellectual property is safe with them .


A top-tier partner will be equipped to handle your project and keep you you in the loop at all stages, delivering exactly what you’re looking for.


SEAL THE DEAL:

You've made your choice. Now it's time to formalize the partnership. Make sure the contract covers all essential points - payment terms, delivery timelines, confidentiality, and anything else that may be important for your project.


With these tips, you're ready to find the perfect 3D game art outsourcing company to bring your game to life. Whether it's breathtaking hyper-realistic sci-fi landscapes, stylized characters or anything in between, you're on your way to creating a visually captivating game that will keep players hooked.



If you found this information useful and are interested in learning more or giving our services a try, contact us and we’d be happy to talk more with you and see if Sierra Division would be a good fit for your project, or if we can recommend one of our partners for your needs. We’re looking forward to hearing from you and giving your project the attention it deserves.




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