*Jungle Hunter by Valentin Erbuke
Should I learn 3D art, if I'm focusing on creating high quality 2D art?
When it comes to digital art I get this question more often than not. My answer is always, Always ... YES!
Ok with that said, I'm not saying you have to be a 3D juggernaut to take advantage of the tools and results. These days there are so many options outside of the more hard core applications like Maya, Modo, 3Ds Max and zBrush. You can use sketch up to compose a background, Daz 3D to set up a scene with figures blocked out, even Pixel Squid to work on your prop perspective and accuracy.
I personally had to discover these benefits on my own when I was painted into a corner. Back when I was working at Seven Lights we were a super small team, I not only had to be the sole 3D artist, but often times my director would come to me with concept and image turn around requests. Along with my base work we'd often need these 2D illustration requests within a few days. I started to use 3Ds Max to block out quick backgrounds, pose generic figures, and frame the camera at a dynamic angle. Then I'd draw over that and draw in the character. This made the illustration more grounded and dynamic with proper perspective. A piece that would take me typically 4 days was cut down to about 2.5 days.
More recently I've worked with a few concept artists that do this. They will also block out backgrounds, but in addition, I've seen them use these 3D tools to kit bash elements together to add props to their pieces. I work with one artist that has a 3D scene with posable figures that they use to get proper reference lighting when they compose a piece.
When you are on a development team you often have to get the task done and done efficiently. There is no disadvantage to learning new tools to help enhance your craft and make you a better overall artist. Take advantage of the technology and software around you to level up in your craft.
You'll be amazed at the time savings and the eye opening possibilities.