Three-dimensional (3D) design services use specialized software to create 3D renderings of plans for buildings, rooms, landscapes and products. Final 3D models are photorealistic renderings and can be in the form of illustrations or videos. These models offer much more than simple 2D plans or drawings can show. Real estate developers use them to show potential buyers or owners what a building project will look like when complete. Inventors use 3D modeling services to produce renderings of their final product and how it will operate. The type of 3D modeling you need—architectural, product, mechanical or graphic animation—affects the total cost.
The most significant cost factor is how much time a designer estimates that your project will take. The nationwide average hourly rate for 3D designers is $25–$55. Most 3-D design projects take at least a half day. Flat project fees start around $300 and go up to $2,000 or more, especially if you require multiple revisions.
3D architectural design renderings can bring a 2D overhead floor plan or blueprint to life. These designs often reveal issues that would not otherwise come up until after physical construction begins, such as coordinating fixtures and finishes to ensure that certain windows in your new or remodeled home don’t look straight into those of your neighbor's. Schram Designs specializes in architectural design. Owner Jason Schram was a contractor for more than 20 years before he started his 3D modeling business. He typically bids projects at a flat fee starting at $450, creating a scope of work that lists what his work will include as well as what he needs from clients. Schram can add fly-through or fly-over animations to provide the experience of moving through or over a 3D interior or landscape design for an additional cost starting at $300. Schram’s hourly rate averages about $45, but all projects differ in terms of detail and time required. Here are example cost ranges from Schram Designs for 3D architectural and landscape design:
Standard size kitchen: $450–$650
- Front or backyard landscape: $650 and up
Product and mechanical or industrial design
Inventors and companies that manufacture and sell mechanized products often need the help of 3D designers to create renderings of their inventions and products to demonstrate how they work or to market them to customers and investors. CAD Design Help owner Scott Tarcy primarily works with these types of clients, creating 3D CAD illustrations of products and, as an add-on service, producing physical prototypes with a 3D printer. For each project, Tarcy creates an estimate based on his hourly rate of $50. A full day of his time on a project runs $400–$500.
Graphic animation design
3D (and 2D) animations can be used for a variety of projects, such as how-to videos for consumer products, product overviews and promotional animations. Pruitt Digital specializes in 2D and 3D illustration and animation but can handle almost any kind of project clients need. Owner Joey Pruitt specializes in creating technical, informational, instructional, procedural and product illustrations for clients in entertainment, engineering, publishing and marketing. He tends not to take on projects for less than $1,000, but costs vary widely, depending on how much time is required to complete a job, how much information clients can provide upfront and how quickly clients’ ideas can be turned into finished illustrations or animations. CAD Design Help also does 3D animations.
The best way to lower your project cost for 3D design is to have a clear idea of what you need. For architectural projects, you should provide plans or blueprints. For landscape projects, you should share sample photos that show how you envision the design, and for product design, you need rough sketches and a clear written description of how the product functions.