How To Add 3D To Your Artwork

Luke Carpenter - BBC 2

Adding 3D effects to your artwork can really make it stand out from the crowd. But how do you do it, and where do you start?

What Type Of 3D Are You After?

There are two main types of 3D which people commonly think about when you mention 3D:

3D Objects at Various Angles

3D objects - These are objects that are created in 3D software, which you can move around just like real-life objects and view from any angle.

Stereoscopic Glasses

Stereoscopic 3D - This refers to the effect that makes objects appear as though they are floating in 3D space, which is typically seen at 4D cinemas when you wear special glasses. You can add this effect to real footage or images rendered by 3D software using special camera tools.

How To Add 3D Objects

Cinema 4D Screenshot

You can either create 3D objects yourself using 3D software, or buy pre-made models from various model banks, such as TurboSquid. Image editors, such as Photoshop, can work with some basic 3D formats and allow you to rotate, scale and place them, but for bigger changes like material properties or geometry changes, you'll need some form of 3D software for editing.

If you're after something more bespoke, such as a 3D logo or prototype product, then you'll be looking at 3D software to help you achieve this. Depending on what you want to make, the creation process can be very easy and quick to very long and slow. 3D text, for example, can take seconds, but a detailed product can take hours or days to create.

Let's take a look at some popular uses of 3D and give you some idea on how much time it takes to create them.

How to Create 3D Text / Logos

Cinema 4D Logo

This is one of the most popular requests. 3D text adds a lot of impact to a still image and makes animation look much more interesting, as you can spin it and animate it in all manner of ways.

If you're after 3D text or a logo for a still image, you may find a plugin for your image editor may do the job, but if you want more options and controls, then 3D software is the way to go.

Creating 3D text is really easy. Here's a nice tutorial on how you can create 3D text in our Cinema 4D 3D software.

If you've created your text or logo in other software such as Adobe Illustrator, then some 3D software can use that data to save you having to recreate it from scratch. Some software, like our own Cinema 4D, can even go one step further and free plugins can give you loads of control on animating paths from Illustrator. See more on the ArtSmart plugin here.

How To Create 3D Objects

PICS - Nescafe

Every object is different, so the method of construction can vary considerably. However, the general creation process in 3D software is mostly the same. It's quite similar to real life:

  • Model the object(s) - For this you can use a variety of different tools.
  • Apply materials - You create materials with various properties like reflection, colour, etc.
  • Add lighting - Just like real life, lighting plays a big part. You pick the best light option for your objects.
  • Animate if you want - You can choose to animate your objects if you wish.
  • Render out your final imagery - Save out in your preferred image format.

If you're interested in learning a bit more about this process, check out our 'What is 3D?' article.

How To Add Stereoscopic 3D

Stereoscopic Image

The process for this varies depending on the imagery you currently have. Stereoscopy looks to simulate the perspective our eyes see with having two eyes. The ideal would be to have two cameras slightly apart from each other and to shoot the scene with them. However, this is cumbersome and not very practical. So the effect is often achieved in post.

Here's a nice article from Adobe on achieving the effect in After Effects.

If you start in 3D software, though, one of the big advantages you have is that adding a stereoscopic camera is easy. Unlike in real life, you're not bound by the physical size of that camera. Cinema 4D, for example, has a stereo camera preset which lets you quickly prep a scene to render out for stereoscopic viewing. This allows for very accurate rendering, giving excellent results.

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  • Evaluating 3D software
  • 3D into the future

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About the MAXON Blog

Welcome to the official MAXON UK Blog. This blog provides the most up-to-date official information about MAXON, its products – in particular its flagship product Cinema 4D – and the Cinema 4D community. You can expect to see posts from a wide variety of MAXON UK employees.