3D Assets - What They Are And How To Use Them

3D Assets - What They Are And How To Use Them

26 February 2021 by martin

The demand for top-quality 3D assets is increasing on a daily basis. This is no coincidence as these assets are used in almost every industry. In this blog post we are going to share with you what 3D assets are, who and how uses them and for what purpose. You are also going to find out some of the best 3D stock marketplaces for 3D models out there. So stay with us until the end to discover this and much more. Now it is time to begin!

Female Skeleton 3D Model Rigged

What are 3D assets?

Perhaps you have encountered the term “3D models”. In fact, 3D assets and 3D models are synonyms. In 3D computer graphics, 3D modeling is the process of developing a digital representation in three dimensions via specialized software of any surface or an object.

That object can be a living organism or inanimate. They are known as assets when they are being sold on 3D stock marketplaces like the ones we are going to discuss later in this post. 3D models are created by qualified 3D artists that use specialized 3D modeling software and tools.

Why use 3D models?

3D models, like the world around us, vary in terms of shapes and forms. But unlike mother nature which had millions of years to develop all of the complex forms, 3D artists have only days and hours. That is why everything that can help speed up the process of 3D modeling and designing must be taken into deep consideration. Thus 3D assets enter the scene!

There are 3 primary reasons why 3D assets are used

They save time

3D presentations and animations in particular can be very complex. Even simple 3D models require several steps to bring to fruition. There are many decisions to be made in the creation process. The size, proportions, and shapes are only a small part of everything that has to happen before the model gets created. Then comes the modeling itself as well as the decision of what techniques are to be used.

After the modeling stage is time for the texturing. There are different approaches depending on the end-use of the product. One of the established techniques is called PBR or physically based rendering method. Depending on the size of the asset as well as the amount of details and UV sets, texturing can take anything from an hour or so to several hours and even days. That is why the alternative of getting a pre-made 3D asset will save you that time. Then you can simply focus on the more important actions.

They reduce costs and bring in quality

Any passionate 3D artist will always want to make 3D models with the best quality possible. However, in some cases, there are lots of things that need consideration and preparation.

And again time and effort are part of the investment that needs to be made. When the deadline is near and the client’s requirements are all about quality, then the usage of 3D stock assets on which you can build up your project is the best solution there is.

Also in most cases, the client is on a very tight deadline and at the same time doesn’t have a clear enough vision of the final state of the project that they are after. In those cases, 3D stock assets are a tremendous help to save time and effort. 

They allow you to focus on the big picture

Any professional 3D artist needs to leave behind the temptation to prefer only a specific part of the 3D production pipeline. To have an eye-catching professional 3D portfolio one must have experience in all phases of the creation process. That is why using 3D assets can help you achieve just that without taking too much effort on specific tasks. Of course, there are specific cases in which 3D artists do have a very narrow focus. For example, in big studios, there are 3D modeling artists, texturing artists, riggers, animators, etc. However, they all can benefit from buying 3D assets online to meet the production deadlines.

Also in terms of high-budget projects, 3D assets can help build more detailed 3D scenes with many objects.

USS Saratoga VR Museum 3D

How are 3D assets used?

3D assets are used in various industries. We are going to share with you some of the uses here.

3D assets in Games

3D models play an important role in the 3D video game world. From old-school titles like Super Mario 64 to recent gaming masterpieces such as Cyberpunk 2077, the world of 3D gaming has been constantly evolving. 3D game assets bring the realism of scenes and actions that contributes to the high levels of engagement that every gamer is after.

3D assets in games are used in every aspect imaginable, from production down to the user interface. These assets include characters, streets (in cities, villages, highways, etc.), particle effects, foliage, and others. In a 3D video game, basically, everything that you can interact with is a 3D game asset.

In today’s video gaming creation process the focus is put on lower polygonal models. This is to ensure that the game runs smoothly and fast while at the same time that there is no loss of quality. The former is one of the most important aspects of a game that each gamer desires to achieve! However thanks to the rapid 3D technology improvements, games may be utilizing high polygonal models and real-time solutions. With the newest versions of Unreal Engine 5 for example we see that games of the future would run smoothly even when using billions of polygons.

3D assets in Movies

3D assets are used in a similar way in Movies. However, there are some key differences. First of all a movie, unlike a game, has a fixed plot structure. This means that the events will follow a chronological order without any changes. This is why movie productions can use highly polygonal models that they can render in advance. With recent technological advances, real-time productions are finding their way into movies as well. Up until recently, real-time content was used by games only. There we have limits of the level of detail and amount of polygons that can be used. Movies generally render out the CGI scenes in advance which allows them to use an insane amount of polygons and details. In that way, most of what we see in 3D CGI scenes is indistinguishable from reality. 

The next thing to take into consideration is the movie budget.

Movies tend to require budgets of hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars. Modern video games rarely exceed $100 M. Therefore it is expected that the 3D assets that are going to be used will be of higher quality than the ones needed in 3D video games.

Next is development time. Unlike a video game where this time is occupied mostly by the creation of 3D models and scenes, a movie with CGI in it will most likely need the, at last, a year before its release - i.e. only the post-production phase is dedicated to the implementation of 3D assets.

Unlike the lower-polygonal 3D assets in video games, movies tend to utilize high-end hyper detailed 3D models. This is absolutely acceptable based on the requirements and budget for a movie compared to the ones for a video game.

And let’s not forget that the main goal for each movie is to be viewed as much as possible in cinemas. So to meet the demand for superb photorealistic quality on the big cinema screen, a modern movie needs high polygonal and hyper-realistic 3D assets.

3D assets in Presentations/Animations

Nowadays a presentation can either grab the viewer’s attention and generate sales or lose the customer. So to achieve the desired goal you have to make it as attractive as possible. It also has to be short in terms of text but rich in visualizations.

That is where 3D assets come to the rescue. Any modern presentation software (like Microsoft Powerpoint) can work with 3D models. So the question is not if they can be used, but why don’t you use them? 3D assets in presentations/animations enhance the experience of the audience and bring it to a whole new level. Last but not least - some presentation programs can even allow you to create your very own 3D models directly inside it and are completely free.

3D assets in Marketing

3D in Marketing is a long-established tradition. It empowers advertising and increases sales. Not a single ad nowadays is created without at least a single usage of a 3D asset. And all of this is due to the immense impact that 3D can create. 3D modeling in advertising has been rising over the years.

With the help of 3D models, art directors can create powerful marketing visualizations. 3D assets allow marketers to customize the product themes and adapt the strategy for any scenario. This allows the easiest creation of seasonal offers, short-term sales offers, new recipes or a complete product modification.

3D models are feature-rich which means that you can integrate all features of the product into its digital representation.

This allows to effectively grab the attention of the ad target group as the audience can get a clear idea of the capabilities of the product.

Last but not least - 3D assets allow marketers to utilize the powerful “white background” presentation method. Various studies have confirmed that people tend to check out a product if it is presented in 3D and on a clear white background

This removes any unnecessary distractions and allows potential customers to focus on the product. Also if the product is not very photogenic, then presenting it with the help of a 3D asset can eliminate the need for a complicated photoshoot process. Another factor is that in 3D you can easily show products rotate, open up, lift up from the ground or assemble and disassemble. This is something that is very hard to achieve without the help of 3D technologies.

3D assets in 3D printing

3D printing is one of the industries that rely on high quality and optimized 3D assets. A 3D model that will be used for 3D printing will have to be prepared according to specific requirements. This is the minimum required thickness that a model should have at any given point and it depends on the printing technology and the choice of material. Also considering the size of the printing area and the final product, the 3D file may have to be split into several interlocking parts.

The best 3D assets for 3D printing are also watertight.

This means that the models are completely closed and this is achieved by creating a 3D mesh suitable for 3D printing. This must be done before exporting the asset to an STL, OBJ, or a different 3D print-compatible file.

To make sure that the 3D print will meet the requirements, the creation of 3D assets has to take into consideration the printing technology’s limitations as well. Again this is related to the choice of material. The best 3D assets are strong, robust, and durable and aim at the creation of a strong base when they are designed.

This ensures that the first layer of 3D printing will not fail due to a lack of adhesion. Such 3D assets are also ensuring that vulnerable areas will be thickened. This will reduce the possibility for outstretched appendages from the core of the model to snap off during printing.

3D assets in VR/AR

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are rapidly growing industries that heavily rely on high-quality 3D assets. Thanks to them the viewers can get a photo-realistic experience when watching a VR/AR presentation, playing a favorite VR video game or by using the app to determine the new in-house redesign.

However 3D assets for VR/AR must take into consideration the limitation of polygons so that their usage will be effective. In this aspect, the preparation of 3D models for AR or VR is similar to the one currently used for video game production.

3D assets in Design

From using them as references to the improvement of the bigger picture, 3D assets are in help of the design process. It will save up time and effort and will allow 3D artists to create complex and detailed scenes.

3D assets are versatile, easy to work with, and can be changed very easily. With them, you can easily re-design an already created and selling product. The 3D model can be used for factor manipulation like the size of each component and many others

3D assets in Prototyping

Thanks to 3D modeling, prototyping has entered a new era. Never before was it so effective and fast. 3D assets help with time and cost reduction for the creation of product prototypes. And the product can be tested via simulations digitally way before it is produced in actuality.

They also reduce the flaws and allow creators to focus on potential problem areas with ease. An accurate 3D model that is used for a prototype is of supreme quality.

This reduces human errors for physical prototypes and as we all know - there is no room for mistakes especially if the prototype is aimed at a product that has to protect human lives.

With the usage of 3D multiple variations of the prototype can be created with ease. This allows for fast testing of the product and making effective decisions about design, usage, and strength. 

3D assets in Simulations

Prototyping is one thing, but testing the product is the next step that ensures its effectiveness and safety. Thus enter 3D simulations. They utilize 3D models that are created with extreme accuracy. This allows the engineers to take the prototype into several testing phases by reducing costs.

It is also safer as no real-life interaction will be performed during the tests. Thus a product can be checked multiple times from different angles with extreme precision and it will guarantee that the final physical version will be of the highest quality and effectiveness. Such simulations range from the creation of endurance tests, crash tests, functionality tests, ergonomics, etc.

Who buys 3D assets?

One of the key customers of 3D models is 3D studios. The reason for purchasing an already created asset instead of developing one from scratch, as stated above, is because this is cheaper and more time effective.

When a complex gaming or movie project is at hand or deadlines are causing pressure in the team, the best way is to purchase some 3D assets and to integrate them besides your own. Some studios focus solely on the creation of animations or presentations and do not create their own 3D models. They buy them for their specific needs and in some cases modify them before usage.

That is why in such cases 3D studios are hiring specialists for the position of Asset Manager or Creative (Art) Director. In some cases, especially if we are talking about small to medium level studios, even the CEO can be the one who searches for high-quality 3D models and purchases them for the needs of the studio.

Another key customer type for 3D assets is advertising agencies. They need high-quality 3D models for marketing purposes, as stated above. And again it is more cost-effective to purchase an already created 3D model instead of paying for the creation of one.

If a company develops or markets products, then it is most likely for them to search for 3D assets in some of the best 3D stock marketplaces around the world.

Designers and 2D/3D freelance artists are also key customer types for 3D assets. Especially if we are talking about individuals who have taken the responsibility to develop an entire project on their own. In such cases finding the needed 3D assets is a breath-taking experience.

Turbosquid Home Page 3D

Where to buy 3D Models?

There are many 3D stock marketplaces worldwide. In this post, we are going to mention some of the best ones that have proven themselves and earned their reputation.


We are going to start with the very best marketplace - Turbosquid. This marketplace offers the best price guarantee for 3D models exacting the specifications of the 3D industry’s quality standard CheckMate as well as world-class protection for your purchase. In case you need a refund for a non-suitable 3D model or support, the reliable Turbosquid team will have you covered 24/7.

Turbosquid is the best choice for game developers, news agencies, architects, visual effect studios, advertisers, and creative professionals worldwide. Some of the top 3D studios in the world regularly purchase models from Turbosquid. The main goals behind this marketplace are: saving 3D artists time to make a great model whilst letting them add their own personality to their creations and focusing the 3D artists’ creativity for continuous library model improvements. Turbosquid is the marketplace that we have chosen to sell our 3D assets and we couldn’t be happier about that. We signed an exclusivity contract which gives us the opportunity to receive higher revenues and gives us access to the best perks that Turbosquid has to offer.


Next in our top selection of marketplaces for 3D assets is CGTrader. You are able to find the most suitable 3D model from thousands of high-quality ones already available for sale.

This website also offers 3D services for your enterprise needs. CGTrader’s team can turn any number of products into photorealistic 3D models for your e-commerce website or app or for other specific business needs.

This is a place to discover great 3D assets for your gaming, AR/VR, advertising, animation, movie, or 3D printing projects.


One of the leading platforms for 3D assets and AR is Sketchfab. With it you can manage your 3D assets and distribute 3D & AR experiences. There are also collaborative options as well as showcasing for your work.

On Sketchfab you can buy or sell various 3D models. This marketplace is the choice of millions of 3D artists and businesses around the world. One of the distinct features of the platform is the possibility to share & embed 3D models anywhere online. Sketchfab has earned the trust of leading brands such as Nike, Dell, Yamaha, Tefal, and others.


Any 3D artist is privileged to have their portfolio shown on Artstation with its simple, yet powerful presentation style. This opens the doors for many possibilities to get noticed by the right people in the 3D industry. Some artists even prefer to host their own websites on Artstation. And let’s not forget the wonderful 3D community that has grown thanks to the platform.

Customers on the other hand can search and discover high-quality 3D assets on demand for their business needs. On Artstation you can find models, brushes, tutorials, reference packs, assets, and many other digital products.

Unity Asset Store

If you need high-quality 3D gaming assets for the leading Unity engine, there is no place like the Unity Asset Store. Here you can find top-quality free and paid assets and you can kickstart or empower your gaming projects with ease. Besides that, you can find many other tools and services on the Unity Asset Store.


If your project is aimed at 3D printing then probably you will be able to find the most suitable 3D assets on Shapeways. With its various categories and options for purchase, you can really consider yourself to be at the right place!

We are proud to share with you that our collection of 3D assets can be found on Turbosquid!

During the past 15 years, we have created various 3D assets for different themes and topics. We are committed to the creation of photorealistic 3D assets that can be used across the industry in games, movies, animations, presentations, etc.

Our catalog on Turbosquid contains more than 10 000 products (by the date of this blog post) and is rapidly growing. Make sure to check it out from this link.

We are also happy to announce that Tornado Studios' team is one of the top artists on Turbosquid and our studio is also an exclusive vendor there. Our library is in second place for the most certified 3D models with Checkmate Pro/Lite.

Like we mentioned above, Turbosquid is the biggest 3D marketplace in the world and the only one with certification for quality (created by the top minds in the industry). This means that our team is among the top producers of high-quality 3D assets in the world!

This concludes the topic of 3D assets.

You found out what they are, who creates them, and where you can buy and sell them. You also discovered who uses 3D assets and how they are used in various industries.

If you have any questions do not hesitate to contact us. If you like our collection of 3D assets or you are in need of specific 3D models, our professional team will be delighted to assist you in any way possible! See you soon!

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