Design trends come and go, but one which has firmly claimed a spot over recent years is 3D. The use of 3D imagery, particularly within marketing, continues to stand out and make itself a powerful, more permanent mainstay within digital applications.
Large companies, such as Nike and Microsoft are using this style to inject fun and bring an almost tangible feel to their advertising. Because the use of static and animated 3D visuals will really help make an impact and stand out from the crowd.
Getting started in 3D can seem like a daunting experience. But with an awesome selection of software and tuition available online, along with some amazing artists to inspire you, getting started is currently easier than it’s ever been before.
There is a massive amount of software available to create your own 3D models but here are a few which are great to get started:
Blender is a free, open-source application, used to create almost any type of 3D asset you can dream of. The £0 price point makes it a common first point of call for people who are curious about trying out 3D design.
Although the rough user interface and a steep learning curve can often leave newbies scratching their heads a little. Once you’ve overcome these hurdles, though, the sky is the limit with this software!
Created by Maxon, Cinema4D (or C4D for short) is a versatile tool you can use to create images, animations, and even full-length movies in some cases. The app has a much easier interface in comparison to Blender. And a much easier learning curve can result in higher-quality assets in a fraction of the time.
Coming in at around £55 a month, the software can be pricey, but Cinemad4D do offer a free 30-day trial to get you started.
This is a strange mention in this list really, as it definitely isn’t a 3D modelling tool. But being a solid part of most designers’ toolkits, the Illustrator app has recently upgraded its 3D effects selection to simulate shadows and lighting. This really is a decent improvement, and a quick way to add some depth to simple shapes and text. Just don’t expect to be getting too technical with it!
There are tons of amazing artists and designers working with 3D at the minute but here are a few of my favourites to give you some ideas on the things you can do:
Peter Tarka @petertarka
Peter Tarka is a designer who is top of the game when it comes to 3D. His work often uses simple geometric shapes, combined with more detailed models and textures, to create beautiful designs in his signature pastel colour schemes.
Zigor Samaniego @Zigor
Zigor is an artist based in Spain, who creates fun cartoon-inspired characters combined with realistic and extremely detailed textures. The result is often crazy and sometimes a little bit grotesque, but always super interesting.
Zigor also host’s some great tutorials on Domestika if you can overcome the language barrier…
Victoria Arseni @victoriaarseni3d
Victoria Arseni is a Russian artist, who makes great use of colour and shapes to create exciting, miniature and moving 3D worlds and environments. She doesn’t have masses of work online at the moment, but be sure to check out her dribble page for a quick look at her beautiful work.
So, if you’ve made it this far and you’d like to have a go at some 3D design, you might be thinking, “where is the best place to help me get started?”. Here are a few places you can search for tutorials and courses to give you the skills needed to create some amazing work:
If you’re not Googling ‘3D beginner tips’, you’re probably busy typing it into YouTube. There are some great tutorials out there – for free, too, which will help you gain some knowledge. Although, sometimes, you also have to sift through a lot of rubbish to get there.
I’d recommend looking at CG shortcuts or Greyscale Gorilla, which both offer free beginner classes, leading up to their paid versions.
Skillshare is a great tool, where you can find courses on almost anything. They offer a couple of models, including the free version – which gives you access to an OK selection of videos.
Or opt for a subscription model, which really lets you watch the best stuff. The quality can sometimes vary on Skillshare, but it’s much better than YouTube – that’s for sure. I’d recommend looking up Russ Etheridge or Dave Bergin to get started.
Domestika is another paid service offering classes and courses online. They sell each class individually, and with the right discount, normally costs about £10. Each class tends to be very well produced, and of very high quality, but a good majority of the courses aren’t spoken in English. However, there are subtitles used for most classes. So, if you don’t mind a bit of extra reading, you can’t really go wrong here.
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