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3D models are popping up everywhere from university classrooms to architectural visualizations, and every device you’re using. With over 1.3M users, CGTrader is one of the leading 3D stock model marketplaces, where users gather to buy, sell or simply share their 3D models. As a hub of 3D activity, the company has its finger on the pulse of most virtual industries.
This year, the company received more than two million dollars in funding to develop improvements for 3D designers on the site, and is rolling out its Analytics tool first, which synthesizes more than 6 years’ worth of data – one of the largest databases about the global trends related to the adoption of computer graphics in various industries.
While it is true that games and movies have been using computer graphics for years, there are some other, less obvious industries, which have also adopted virtual assets early, while others are just starting to use the seemingly unlimited possibilities of 3D visualizations. And it is all apparent in the marketplace data.
Frontrunners in 3D
There are three titans in 3D modeling: architecture, transportation, and characters.
It might come as no surprise that models related to architecture are leading the marketplace, seeing as it was one of the first industries to widely adopt 3D visualization. Used primarily for architectural visualization, city planning, and movies, architectural models have an established and extensive market with a healthy balance of supply and demand. In recent years, the influx of 3D models into architecture expanded into visualizations of interior design, furniture, and other home accessories.
Transportation is on the lips of every economist and tech analyst, with all major automotive companies developing autonomous vehicle technologies. What many of them miss is the fact that these technologies are also trained virtually and need high-quality 3D assets, like cars, trucks, roads, etc. for simulated environments. It is also true that racing and driving games have always had a strong position in the gaming world and are in need of 3D assets.
The popularity of the character and human models may have been explained by games in the past, but the recent surge in character model popularity points to an emergence of virtual reality (VR), with life-like models gaining a lot more attention in recent years.
Emerging virtual industries
A couple of years ago, character models had a narrower market and were predominantly used by game developers or as stand-ins in architectural visualizations. Now, characters are among the most searched and highest-selling model categories throughout all industries. As VR becomes more popular, the demand for human character models will only grow, as they are needed to develop immersive educational and training experiences, while fantasy characters are already being massively used for social VR, like VRChat.
3D models are used to train both machines and people: pilot studies have shown that training in a VR environment is effective for various tasks, so don’t be surprised when you see videos of soon-to-be surgeons rotating 3D hearts in universities, as anatomically correct heart and brain and whole body models are becoming very popular in the marketplace.
Another area which is being brought back into collective imagination through 3D is outer space. Spaceships, planets, space stations and futuristic interiors are among the trends to watch out for in the near future.
Insights like these are now available to designers on CGTrader, who can now dig into keyword level data and make an educated guess on what adds to their portfolio could make their artwork sell.