As any creative will tell you, using 3D design tools can be a double-edged sword. While the results can deliver astonishing, photo-realistic depth, producing them can be anything from slow, laborious and complex, to downright inaccessible.
But now there is some middle ground emerging. Design insiders refer to this newly developed software as 3D compositing tools, since they’re serving to blur the lines between two-dimensional and three-dimensional graphic design work.
So what’s the deal with 3D compositing? Well, it offers a shortcut to producing seriously impressive 3D assets. Put simply, they’re going to save you time, but beyond that, they offer the promise of additional benefits to your everyday design work. We look at the top three:
Photorealism made easy.
With traditional, complex 3D tools, creating photorealistic images requires time, decades worth of expertise and pinpoint attention to detail. Transforming a 2D image into a 3D image requires the designer to imagine what the light source is, where the light source is, how the texture of the surface will react to that light and where the shadows would fall, then take all those things and apply them one by one. A 3D compositing tool will do it all for you.
These tools are programmed to understand the physics of how a certain light would interact with a certain object, taking into account its texture, and react accordingly. It is simply the designer’s job to define the light source, input the object and the material it’s made from and the resulting image will be created automatically. It turns the world of 3D design into a playground for designers, rather than a workshop.
Rendering and editing in a flash.
Rendering can be a tedious and mind-numbing process with traditional 3D design. But with 3D compositing designers can preview the live rendering of their work, as they work. We’re talking seconds rather than hours, which will clearly give your productivity a massive boost as well as give your working day a satisfying fluidity.
Once an image is rendered, and you see it in all its rough and ready glory, the chances are you’ll want to make a few alterations. That’s simply how design works. But it’s also a nightmare with older, more complex 3D design tools, since they tend to require you to make changes to the original 2D image and input it all over again.
Not so with 3D compositing, which allows you to change a 3D model at any point, and in real time. Work evolves at an infinitely faster rate, and since you don’t shudder at the thought of making the tiniest of changes to the original image, you’ll be far more flexible about alterations, to ensure your finished piece is the best it can be.
Change the definition of ‘real’.
Consumers today are becoming increasingly more comfortable with making purchases online. Even big purchases of items that rely on a polished looking and detailed aesthetic. That means the imagery of commercial products needs to be accurate but also comprehensive.
Let’s say an online bed retailer is selling made-to-order upholstered bed frames that are available in five different fabrics and 20 different colours. The overheads of producing each one of those beds, then shipping, storing and photographing those beds in a studio setting would be immense. Doing a job like this manually would necessarily bump up the final cost of the item.
Step up 3D compositing, which allows you to take the relevant visuals from the product team and quickly create utterly realistic-looking augmented versions of each of those products. The process involves adding what are essentially skins to the beds, to portray the different textures and colours on offer, and even changing the setting of those different beds to ensure each product option is presented in its best light. And the designer doesn’t even have to worry about how the fabric would respond to the different light sources, the 3D compositing tools will automatically produce a realistic range of shadows and highlights to make the image visually convincing, all without a physical prototype.
And that’s just one example, and the tip of the 3D iceberg. Technology is here that is going to make designers lives a whole lot easier and their finished pieces of work aesthetically flawless. So it’s time to embrace 3D compositing and join the other designers who are already swapping the workshop for the playground.
Last modified: April 5, 2017