3D rendering could drive the success of any engineering, industrial, or architectural design project. However, finding the right modeler could be a challenge, not to mention very expensive. Thankfully, you can turn to crowdsourcing for access to pools of uniquely talented designers without breaking the bank. Here are some of the most popular crowdsourcing sites where you can host contests or challenges for your 3D modeling and computer-aided design (CAD) projects.
Monthly visits: 115,950
Cad Crowd is one of the most popular marketplaces for CAD drafting services and similar work. Through the site, you can view the portfolios of more than 22,000 highly specialized designers from around the world who are skilled in a wide variety of fields, products, and design tools. Or, you can use it as a crowdsourcing platform for design contests. Simply launch a contest, preview submitted designs, and select the one you like most. That way, you pay only for completed work done exactly the way you asked.
Visit: Cad Crowd
Monthly visits: 12,000,000
Freelancer is one of the biggest freelancing and crowdsourcing marketplaces with over 34 million registered employers and freelancers across the world. Employers can post projects of any size or complexity for free. Once approved, a project will be open to bids from the site’s large network of talented freelancers.
As an alternative to posting a project or making a direct offer to a freelancer, employers can opt to start a contest instead. Contests allow employers to receive multiple submissions from freelancers immediately while only paying for winning entries. Contests are also free to post but, as with projects, you can also purchase upgrades to get your contest featured more prominently, set your contest to private, and many more.
Monthly visits: 5,100,000
GrabCAD is a collection of millions of 3D renders shared by over six million designers and engineers worldwide. It also hosts challenges to encourage its members to solve real-world design problems using their engineering and 3D rendering skills. You can work with GrabCAD to sponsor a challenge based on your requirements and judging criteria. At the end of each challenge, you get to pick the winners and work with them to pursue your project.
Monthly visits: 4,500,000
99designs doesn’t specialize in CAD but more on graphic design projects. However, it also has a handful of talented 3D graphic artists and animators that could be helpful to you depending on what you need. For tasks like packaging or even product design services, you can find a good designer by starting a project or launching a contest.
Monthly visits: 2,500,000
MyMiniFactory is a massive gallery of downloadable 3D models that are guaranteed usable for successful 3D printing. Apart from giving you access to their collection, they constantly host design competitions for companies of all sizes. Whether you need prototypes for new consumer products or you’re looking to get plans that’ll go straight to the production line, you can host your own design competition and select from the hundreds of entries you’re bound to receive.
Monthly visits: 1,200,000
Like 99designs, DesignCrowd is a marketplace and crowdsourcing platform for all sorts of graphic design projects. Although it doesn’t specialize in CAD, it claims to house over seven hundred thousand freelancers with 3D design skills. Through the site, you can launch contests and get designers to compete against each other for your prize. After they submit entries based on your project specs, you can choose the best one and you’re all set.
Monthly visits: 544,500
Crowdspring is a crowdsourcing marketplace tailor-made for design and creative projects. Instead of a bidding process, Crowdspring projects work like contests. After choosing from their paid crowd project packages, you are guided through a questionnaire that will create a customized and detailed creative brief for the designers. Once approved, multiple designers will then be able to submit concepts that you can review and give feedback on. Designers can use your feedback to revise their entries. After the project period ends, you choose the winning entry and receive full rights to the work.
Crowdspring has more than two-dozen categories including product design. But if your project doesn’t quite fit in the existing categories, you can contact them and see if they can help out. They take pride in their award-winning support team.
Monthly visits: 176,200
Eyeka! is an online crowdsourcing platform where brands can hold design contests. The company believes in the power of crowdsourcing and co-creation to create the freshest and most creative solutions to marketing and innovation challenges. Boasting of over 400,000 talented creators, Eyeka! has successfully hosted more than a thousand contests and generated over 140,000 creative ideas. Among their many success stories include co-creation contests for such well-known brands as Oral-B, Nescafe, and Doritos.
Monthly visits: 153,800
Design Contest is a crowdsourcing platform for all sorts of graphic design work. For 3D artists, among the most popular categories are product design, including packaging design and character design. To launch a contest, all you need to do is select the appropriate category, describe your requirements, and then select a package and decide on contest upgrades. Once you’ve made your contest public, all you need to do is go through the entries and award your prize to the one you like most. Note that the most affordable package is for $595 (inclusive of prize money), from which you should expect to receive approximately 25 entries.
Visit: Design Contest
Monthly visits: 89,300
HeroX calls itself “the social network for innovation.” It allows you to harness the power of a highly specialized online community looking to solve challenges of all forms. This is a good option for larger competitions that span approximately three to four months. Among its notable partners is the XPRIZE Foundation, which is a world-renowned award-giving body for crowd-sourced solutions to global problems.
Monthly visits: 67,100
Arcbazar is a crowdsourcing site for projects specifically for architectural, interior, and landscape designs. To launch a competition for your project, all you’d need to do is describe what you need and declare your award price. Then, designers from around the world will submit their own designs based on your requirements. Once the contest duration ends, you can choose the one you like most and release the prize.
Monthly visits: 49,500
Desall hosts online contests for all sorts of design projects. It works slightly differently from other crowdsourcing platforms because clients who want to put up contests will need to work with the Desall team directly. The team helps you develop your brief and guides you through the entire crowdsourcing process.
One of the site’s most unique and valuable features is that, once your project is closed for entries, you have the option to allow for social research. Through this process, you can open your project up for international voting, giving you insight on mass appeal and marketability. Then, Desall can also vet entries and provide you with a shortlist based on your design brief to aid you in making the final selection.
Monthly visits: 35,400
VOUBS is an online contest hub with over a thousand running events at any given time. It has over 120,000 members across almost 200 countries worldwide. The contests cut across all subjects, but among the most active categories are 3D computer graphics and industrial design. To access their active users for your project, all you need to do is create a custom contest.
Monthly visits: 21,400
GoPillar is a crowdsourcing platform specifically for construction and renovation projects. Accordingly, it is most popular among architects, engineers, interior designers, and landscape artists. Like most crowdsourcing platforms, you’ll be able to access the site’s specialized community by launching a project. Then, once you reach your deadline for entries, select the design you like the most.
If you’re not too keen on crowdsourcing, you might want to try finding freelancers or even taking on part-time or full-time staff. Unlike crowdsourcing, you’ll need to select them based on their profile and previous work. Should this be the arrangement you prefer, try posting your requirements on freelancing websites as well as job boards specifically for 3D rendering services and other design work. Here are some you might want to consider:
Monthly visits: 40,200,000
Fiverr is an online marketplace that connects clients to skilled freelancers from around the world. The platform is marketed toward lean entrepreneurs looking to save some money while still getting quality work.
Hiring a freelancer on Fiverr is a little different from most popular job sites. Employers don’t post job ads. Instead, they browse through freelancers’ profiles and work samples, choose the service that the freelancer provides that best fits their needs, and then buy that service or “Gig.” Gigs on Fiverr start at $5.00, but expect to pay more for complex work, especially under the 3D Models & Product Design category.
Monthly visits: 36,100,000
ArtStation is known for its immense talent pool of 3D artists that specialize in entertainment and media requirements such as game and character design. Apart from a marketplace for pre-built models, it hosts a jobs board for gigs as well as longer-term assignments. Through the site, you can create your own studio or company page, put up feature-rich job ads, and open yourself up to its 400,000 talented members.
Monthly visits: 39,200,000
Upwork is the largest freelancing platform on the web and boasts of having 12 million registered freelancers. On the website, clients can post short-term tasks, recurring projects, and even full-time contract work. As a freemium service, a basic Upwork account allows you to post jobs for free while paid monthly plans unlock more features such as dedicated account managers, detailed reporting, and many others. Upwork has a dedicated sub-category for 3D Modeling & CAD, which you can find under the Engineering & Architecture category.
Monthly visits: 4,900,000
CGtrader is a marketplace for ready-made 3D models as well as a job site for specialized CAD projects. You can browse their gallery of over 800,000 models. You can also opt to post a project and receive quotes from their pool of over two million designers. Additionally, if you happen to have a large project, you can work with CGTrader directly to sponsor one of the 3D modeling challenges they often host on their site.
Monthly visits: 982,000
Archinect is an active online resource for news and editorials on everything related to architecture. It is also a platform for connecting with architects. As such, its jobs board and talent finder service is one of the most effective ways to find high-quality talent in architecture. The site also has a section for competitions where it features interesting architecture and civil engineering contests from around the world.
Monthly visits: 718,100
Coroflot is a community of designers from around the world. It works like a social networking platform for designers where users build their portfolios and publish their design projects. Users can “like” projects, follow designs, and connect with them either through direct messaging or through other social networks. As a client, you can peruse their directory of designers, view their stats, browse their portfolios, and hire on the site. Otherwise, you can also post a job to be featured on their Design Jobs board.
Monthly visits: 613,200
3DPrint.com is an online publication dedicated to news and events related to 3D printing. It also has a jobs board that’s perfect if you’re looking for someone specifically for a 3D printing project. The jobs, however, are for full-time or part-time employment and not typically contractual or project-based. Nevertheless, this is a good place to look for talent across all 3D printing disciplines.
Monthly visits: Unknown
Archability is an online platform mainly for connecting clients and service contractors in the field of architecture. Their most popular categories include CAD, 3D rendering, and interior design. To use it, all you need to do is post your project requirements and evaluate the proposals submitted to you. Once you’ve selected a contractor, you award your project and manage it as you see fit. Archability keeps your payment on escrow so that both parties are protected from non-performance situations.
For 3D designers looking to participate in projects other than contests on crowdsourcing and freelancing sites, there are also a number of events and art competitions to watch out for. These are great for winning not just bragging rights but also cash, hardware, and software licenses. Here are some of the most interesting ones:
Monthly visits: 6,200,000
Every year, Turbo Squid hosts an art competition and judges entries based on the composition and quality of each 3D rendering, as well as how well they adhere to the theme. Their 2019 contest theme was Dystopia/Utopia. The first prize winner took home $1,500 in cash and some coveted hardware including 1 Wacom Intuos Pro Paper and 1 Radeon Pro WX 7100 video card. The prize also included a $200 Marmoset coupon code as well as access to one Archmodels Content Collection, software licenses for 3DCoat Professional and KeyShot 8, an 18 months subscription to PixelSquid, and a one-year subscription to Substance Indie and V-Ray for Unreal. Lastly, it included subscriptions to 3D Artist and 3D World magazine.
Monthly visits: 2,000,000
IAM3D is a student competition that forms part of the global engineering festival hosted by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. IAM3D stands for Innovative Additive Manufacturing 3D and is meant to showcase the creativity of students in the undergraduate level of any engineering course. In 2019, the competition was for a Hovercraft Resupply Vehicle Design while the theme for the next year was determined to be Unmanned Aerial Racing Cargo Vehicle.
Visit: ASME IAM3D
Architizer A+ Awards
Monthly visits: 875,400
The A+ Awards by Architizer takes place every year and celebrates the best of design and architecture worldwide. There are two general fields: architecture design services and product design. Each field has several award categories to be won. You can win by being chosen by the jury of distinguished luminaries in architecture. Or, the site’s community of over seven million architects can select your work as the People’s Choice. Apart from the distinguished award, winners and finalist get incredible publicity that could easily transcend their careers.
Visit: Architizer A+ Awards
Monthly visits: 671,900
Hum3D is an agency that offers 3D modeling services. Every so often, they host 3D art and rendering challenges that are open to the public. One of the challenges in 2019 was for a weapon in a 3D environment. Entries were judged based on the design as well as the quality of the render. There were three prizes in all and the first place winner earned licenses for over 20 relevant 3D modeling software and apps including V-Ray and Substance Indie.
A’Design Award & Competition
Monthly visits: 218,100
The A’Design Award is one of the most prestigious awards in the world of design. It covers a hundred different categories including Idea or Invention Design; 3D Printed Forms and Products; and Engineering and Technical Design. Winning the coveted award in any of the categories subjects your entry to intensive publicity, potentially leading to both fame and commercial success.
Visit: A’Design Award & Competition
Monthly visits: 151,800
CGMood is a gallery of 3D renders specifically targeted at interior design services and architects. The site is often home to 3D modeling and rendering competitions with specific themes. In 2018, the theme was The Autumn Colors and it called for artists to combine nature, architecture, and still life. Apart from publicity, prizes included licenses for various tools including FStormRender, Corona Renderer, and V-Ray. The top prize also included an opportunity to collaborate with CSMA Architects.
Young Architects Competitions
Monthly visits: 113,800
Young Architects Competitions (YAC) is an organization that regularly hosts contests aimed at designing pragmatic solutions to problems the world faces due to human actions and territory occupation. Some of the competitions don’t necessarily involve 3D modeling. However, many do.
For example, in a YAC competition that closed in January 2019, participants were tasked to design what would be the largest kindergarten in the world to be located along the banks of Lake Maggiore in Italy. The grand prize included a €10,000 cash award along with publicity in renowned architectural magazines and online publications.
International Design Competition
Monthly visits: 97,600
The India-based International Design Competition is hosted by the CADD Centre and is open only to students of specific fields, including Architecture, Engineering, and Robotics. It involves four competition levels, ending with the Grand Finale where finalists need to present and defend their 3D models to a panel of industry experts. The winners earn cash prizes, free training, and access to job opportunities.
Monthly visits: 60,500
Alibre is a popular CAD software. On their website, they host a yearly design contest meant to promote the use of their Alibre Design or Alibre Atom3D software. In 2018, they hosted a New Year Design Contest where they gave away a Carbide 3D Shapeoko 3 and a CNCCookbook G-Wizard Calculator + Editor to the Grand Prize winner. The second prize winner won a Monoprice Maker Ultimate 3D Printer and an Alibre mug, while the third prize winner received an Amazon Gift Card along with the Alibre swag.
Monthly visits: 19,600
CGTarian, a renowned online school for animation and visual effects, occasionally hosts 3D modeling contests. In 2018, their competition theme was Excalibur, and participants were judged based on their design concepts and renders for their own Excalibur sword designs. The first prize winner won a Wacom Intuos Art tablet and some CGTarian perks and merchandise.
Monthly visits: 11,500
ICCAD stands for International Conference on computer-aided design. Each year, this conference involves a multi-month competition that aims to perpetuate the use of CAD to develop practical solutions for problems specifically in the field of Electronic Design Automation (EDA). In 2019, the top prize was for $1,650, with an additional $5,500 as an open-source bonus for one of the problems.
Monthly visits: 11,000
ArkxSite is the home of competitions for international architecture ideas. In 2019, one of the competitions was for a tranquil Site Mausoleum to be located in Portugal’s Jaspe Quarry. Photos of different views of the location were provided and 3D artists needed only to build on them to present their ideas. The top prize was for €2,000 and publicity in several architectural magazines and online publications.
Monthly visits: 10,600
Solidscape is a highly renowned player in the world of 3D printing. Each year, it hosts a jewelry design competition. CAD designers submit entries of innovative jewelry pieces created with any of Solidscape’s high precision 3D printers. In 2018, the top prize was awarded to a jewelry designer and CAD instructor from Spain whose entry was for a cosmos-inspired ring.
The Lumen Prize
Monthly visits: 8,700
The Lumen Prize is an annual competition that seeks to celebrate the best works created through the fusion of art and technology. Apart from the Gold prize, there are eight different categories to be won. In their 2019 competition, the top prize was for $4,000 and the remaining prizes ranged from $500 to $1,000. However, the cash prize is only a bonus. The prestige of winning the coveted Lumen Prize comes with publicity and valuable networking opportunities around the world.
Visit: The Lumen Prize
Michelin Challenge Design
Monthly visits: 7,300
Every year, Michelin hosts a design contest meant to inspire creativity and innovation in the field of vehicle design. In 2019, the Inspiring Mobility contest sought to connect an emotional need with a mobility solution, set within one of the world’s megacities. These competitions by Michelin have seen success for almost two decades. Participants compete for recognition and publicity for their works.
Visit: Michelin Challenge Design
Monthly visits: Unknown
AAKRUTI is an annual event hosted in India by Dassault Systemes, the company behind innovative product development platforms like SolidWorks and Catia. The competition targets students from schools of art, design, and engineering. It covers various themes geared towards the development of feasible solutions for waste management and energy generation. In 2019, prizes included INR200,000 (approximately $2,900), job opportunities, the chance to compete in the US SolidWorks competition, SolidWorks certifications, and trophies.
Monthly visits: Unknown
Animago is an annual conference, exhibition, and competition that has been running for over two decades. The award is mainly for CG artists with impressive works in 3D animation and visual effects. It has awards for 10 different categories that include a wide variety of fields including Best Motion Design, Best In-Game Graphics, and Best Character Design. While participants generally compete for prestige, some awards come with cash prizes contributed by event sponsors. In 2019, the Best Young Production award came with a €3,000 cash prize.
Monthly visits: Unknown
The Salt Spring National Art Prize is limited to Canadian citizens and permanent residents. However, it is a significant award in the world of visual arts and aims to encourage both 2D and 3D art with not just visual impact but also depth of meaning. In 2019, the grand prize was for C$15,000, in addition to a one-year Salt Spring Island Residency worth C$5,000. The eight other awards ranged from C$1,000 (Salt Spring Painters Guild Award) to $6,000 (People’s Choice Awards).
Monthly visits: Unknown
Bengaluru GAFX is India’s most prestigious event for Games, Animation, and Visual Effects. The conference is host to multiple real-time rendering and live-design competitions that both students from design schools as well as professionals from design studios can take part of.
Among the most popular categories are 3D Modeling, 3D Game Art, and Character Animation. Prizes differ per category but are usually INR 10000 to INR 15000 in cash (approximately $145 to $215) and some relevant hardware or scholarships.
Visit: Bengaluru GAFX
If you’re always on the lookout for competitions to join and awards to win, there are a number of industry publications to follow and take part in. Not only will you be updated in all the latest news and information in CAD, engineering, architecture, and related fields. You’ll also be the first to know about worthwhile competitions happening around the world. Here are a few you might want to bookmark or even subscribe to:
Monthly visits: 9,700,000
ArchDaily is one of the most popular online publications for architectural news and information. Although it doesn’t host its own contests, it aggregates and features worthy competitions from around the globe. It also summarizes the requirements, deadlines, and prizes at stake. It also provides the link for information on the organizer as well as for the official website of the competition.
Monthly visits: 3,800,000
Designboom is an online magazine dedicated to design and architecture. With over 3.5 million readers, it is one of the most popular digital publications for news and information in the field. Part of its site is an aggregator of some of the most noteworthy competitions going on around the globe related to design, architecture, art, and technology. It provides a summary of each competition and points you towards where to go for more information.
Monthly visits: 2,100,000
Hackaday.io is an online platform for engineering information and entertainment. Users can post their design projects and connect with others for praise and criticism. In a part of the site, Hackaday features contests from around the world that would be of interest to its community of mechanical engineers freelancers and designers.
Monthly visits: 116,100
Bustler is an online publication dedicated to providing top news as well as the most happening competitions and events in the world of architecture and design. They don’t host their own contests but they select and feature only the ones they deem worthy of their readers’ attention.
Monthly visits: 59,200
Contest Watchers is an online publication that gathers information on challenges, contests, and competitions worldwide. Although not all featured events involve 3D and CAD, all are related to design and creativity. Its general categories include Graphic Design, Photography, Filmmaking, Architecture, Industrial Design, Visual Arts, Multimedia, and Multiple Disciplines.
Visit: Contest Watchers
If you’re a 3D designer who just wants to find effective ways to practice, try to participate in some community challenges. These help hone your skills and are also effective portfolio enhancers. You’ll also gain some insights on how to improve your skills from your fellow 3D artists. Here are some of the best communities to join online:
Monthly visits: 1,600,000,00
Daily3D is a popular subreddit where mods post daily challenges. The events aren’t sponsored and there are no prizes to be won. It is simply a community of 3D artists looking to hone their skills through practice. For each challenge, you may participate by posting your own renders and you’ll benefit from criticism as well as praise from the rest of the community.
Visit: Reddit Daily3D
Monthly visits: 24,500,000
Thingiverse is a community of 3D designers sharing their brilliant designs online. But apart from the immense collection of 3D renders, it hosts contests called the Thingiverse Challenges. Each challenge is different but always 3D in nature.
In June 2019, the challenge was for products created using Autodesk Fusion 360. Winners were given an all-expenses-paid trip and a three-day pass to the Fusion 360 Academy in Portland, Oregon. There, they were also given the opportunity to compete in the Fusion 360 Slam, where the top prize was for a MakerBot METHOD 3D Printer worth $6,499.
Monthly visits: 15,400,000
Every so often on the SketchUp Forums, there are 3D design challenges that the community can take part in. Mods provide basic renders that participants can build on using SketchUp. Entries are submitted through 3D Warehouse and, while participants are generally in it for practice, winners get SketchUp merch and a 3D printed version of their winning designs.
Visit: SketchUp Community
Monthly visits: 8,900,000
Sketchfab is an online marketplace for 3D models. To help hone the skills of their members, they host weekly challenges in their Forum. In these challenges, members are usually given a basic model or even a flat file to work with. Each challenge involves a specific task (i.e., texturize, give a new look, etc.). There aren’t any prizes at stake, but it’s good practice and you can submit your work for peer review.
Monthly visits: 2,300,000
CGSociety is primarily a networking platform for digital and 3D designers. It features a gallery of its members’ portfolio pieces, an events calendar for relevant workshops, a blog for industry-specific news, and an active forum where all its members may interact. It is in this forum area where members discuss techniques and critique each other’s work. The forum also features sponsored contests. In the 2019 Xtreme Survival 2D & 3D Challenge, the first prize winner took home an Asus ROG Strix Scar II Gaming Laptop and access to a CGMA class.
Monthly visits: 1,900,000
Cults is a platform for connecting clients and designers for 3D printing projects. It hosts downloadable 3D models that are ready to print and it’s a good place for designers to meet other artists. The website also regularly hosts 3D modeling contests, each with specific themes and prizes. In 2019, one of the contests was entitled “3D Printed Organic Shapes” and the prizes included a Polymaker Polysher with spools of PolySmooth.
Monthly visits: 1,000,000
Pinshape is a massive gallery of 3D-printable files. But part of its community is sponsored contests that its users can take part in. Contests vary greatly, depending on the theme and specs. In a Game Design contest in 2018, participants were asked to re-create a prop from their favorite video game. Models were designed through CAD and final products were 3D printed. The winner of the top prize won a Robo 3D R2 3D Printer as well as an Adafruit Gift Card worth $100.
Monthly visits: 775,000
3dtotal is an online 3D resource that also hosts monthly challenges for its members. To join, all a user needs to do is upload an original work to their gallery. Each month, 3dtotal selects the best submission and awards both the artwork and the creator a Staff Pick badge. In June 2019, their prize pool included three 3dtotal books, one anatomy figure, a sketchbook, and a mystery gift.
Monthly visits: 131,500
DiscoverDesign is a digital platform specifically targeting students of design, architecture, engineering, and construction. Apart from providing links to worthwhile competitions, it has an entire-section for Teacher-Authored Challenges. There, students can take on challenges of all sizes. Each project contains a brief that helps inspire ideas and guides you through the entire design process. When you’re ready, you can submit your design, which will be featured in the Student Gallery.
The 11-Second Club
Monthly visits: 64,100
The 11-Second Club hosts monthly competitions specifically for 3D character animation. Participants have access to character rigs and audio files and it would be up to them to put everything together using their preferred tools. Then, they can submit Works in Progress for peer review. At the end of each contest, winners get their work critiqued by professional animators from Animation Mentor.
Visit: The 11-Second Club
For clients, hosting CAD competitions and contests is a cost-effective way to access specialized talent pools. You’ll get to select 3D designers based on their output for your specific project and merely on their profile and previous work. On the other hand, such CAD challenges help designers not only hone their skills and build their portfolios, but also take part in 3D projects of all sizes and from all over the world.