How Much Does 3D Animation Cost?

1. Movie VFX & Animated Film 2. TV Animation & Commercials 3. 3D Illustration & Summary

3D Illustration Cost

F1 3D Illustration Cost3D illustration differs from animation in that rather than delivering a video, much higher resolution still images can be produced for print or detailed previewing. Animation may also not be necessary in many situations such as product visualisation or prototyping, so businesses can save money by commissioning a series of still images instead. The more bespoke the visualisation needed, the more expensive it will be, but if there is potential to reuse a 3D model, such as livery visualisation for racing cars, then there is the possibility of buying in stock from websites such as to use as a base. This saves valuable artist time, but many of the same processes as in animation do remain such as shading, lighting, rendering and compositing. All Illustrations on this page were produced by our artists.

Jewellery visualisation can save on material costs.

Historical 3D Illustration

Historical 3D Illustration

The model build itself can usually be categorised as either hard surface modelling, or organic modelling. Hard surface will be rigid objects such as cars, buildings, robots, anything that would be considered built from rigid materials. Organic modelling is far more character/ creature driven, so you could imagine them deforming if they were animated. Organic modelling could be considered the more challenging of the two as it takes more time to introduce more imperfection into the work to make a pleasing result.

Hard surface architectural render.

Hard surface architectural render.

Organic modelling example

Organic modelling example

Depending on the complexity of the model, a typical price for 3D illustration will start from around £1000 with higher print resolutions costing more and further renders/ colour variations being produced for a few hundred pounds at a time. If you are interested in commissioning a 3D illustration, feel free to get in touch for a quick quote.

3D Formula 1 render and composite into real life setting.

3D Formula 1 render and composite into real life setting.


3D animation is a complex medium to budget for and that is very much due to the fantastic opportunity it gives to creative projects. With modern computing power and the talented artists that are working worldwide in the field, there is no limit to what can now be created on the big or small screen. You can utilise 3D for ultra realistic visual effects, or low fi motion graphics to compliment a much larger project. Lets take a quick recap of the budget estimates:

Feature Film VFX - Average $42k per shot

Movie visual effects budgets are estimated on an approximation of the number of VFX shots expected in a film, then the complexity assessed and the bid is locked in place regardless of additional work. Ranging from $10k for low budget films to $60k+ per shot for Hollywood blockbusters. 

Animated Films - Average $1.5m per minute

Based off data from the 4 big players, Disney, Pixar, DreamWorks and Illumination, they are spending between $13k to $32k per second of animation that makes it on screen resulting in an average $1.5m per minute. 

TV Animation - Average $13k per minute

At the cheaper end, childrens TV animation can come in as low as £5,000 ($7755) per minute, but once the popularity increases, animation complexity increases and salaries go with it resulting in costs of up to $2m per episode for the big hitters like The Simpsons and Family Guy. 

Commercials - From $3k to $1m per minute

Commercial costs vary hugely depending on the brand, airing platform and local or international scope of the project. From $1m down to a few thousand dollars, with modern VFX the only limit is the creativity of the marketers.

Illustrations - Around $1.5k+

3D Illustrations save many costly steps involve in animation production and allow for much higher resolution stills for print mediums.

Hopefully this has helped shed some light on the costs involved in animation production and some of the issues being faced by the industry. Though of course if you need a more specific figure for a project you have in mind, feel free to get in touch directly. If you found any of this data interesting or useful, please share using the buttons below. If you would like to leave a comment, I’m interested in your thoughts and open to any additional information I might have missed. Feel free to add me on Twitter and check out the home page for more animation.

1. Movie VFX & Animated Film 2. TV Animation & Commercials 3. 3D Illustration & Summary

Now try our interactive animation price guide to calculate a ballpark figure for your next animated project.

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Posted on August 3, 2015 in blogPosts

About the Author

Dean Wright is a Creative Director and VFX Supervisor. He writes about the 3D animation industry, Motorsport and working life in Japan following his time there in 2013-2014. Having worked internationally at major studios, he now lives in London working as Creative Video Director for Motorsport network.

Responses (6)

  1. Octavian Ureche
    August 5, 2015 at 7:42 pm · Reply

    Finally, someone sheds some light.

  2. Jordan
    August 28, 2015 at 1:13 pm · Reply

    Interesting look at the costs of 3d animation. I remember that I used to think that 3d animation was “easier” than 2d – “Oh, the computer does everything!” But you don’t realize how much effort goes into these movies that we love. Thanks for sharing this!

  3. Ganesh Dhoni
    December 21, 2015 at 2:48 am · Reply

    Thank you so much for this article. Greatly inspired from your attitude of TRANSPARENCY. It can be established if many of vfx studios co-operate which may result in growth of our industry.

  4. Jeff Thomson
    May 8, 2017 at 5:54 am · Reply

    toy story was more expensive than frozen wow 3d animation is really expensive as compare to 2d animated video production.

  5. wstarmls
    May 16, 2017 at 7:48 am · Reply

    The majority of the animated feature movies and short animated skits today are created with 3D animation, and this is a rapidly growing industry.

  6. Kannan
    March 31, 2018 at 10:43 am · Reply

    Please tell me how much a VFX output with average CGI ( BG extension with some CGI trees etc.) would cost in the US and the same thing India. And full 3D animated, (Approximately 4 to 6 characters) for a film as well as television series, would cost in India.

    Thank you very much

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