Archive for the ‘3D’ Category

Hidden depths

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

As an illustrator, I trained using paper and pencils to construct perspective grids, onto which technical illustrations would be drawn. Drawing film was placed over this construction, then this was traced over in ink.  This was a very absorbing process, if not a little tiring, but it could never be called flexible. Enter 3D modelling software. At a stroke, this wiped out the laborious process of two-dimensional image creation. It replaced this with the possibilities of changing views, lighting and applying textures almost at the push of a button. Add to this, the ability to generate animation of a three-dimensional image, and a whole new 3D world is created. This has been, what up until now, a hidden depth to Adobe Creative Suite.

3D modelling software is complex and can be expensive. It can be considered to be a long and steep learning curve to master. Fortunately, Adobe had the insight to introduce some 3D capability to their applications. This has taken time to evolve. You can now properly see the benefit of their endeavours in within Photoshop CS5.1 ExtendedAcrobat and Illustrator.

Adobe realised that not being able to create 3D images should not be a bar to using them. Photoshop CS5.1 Extended allows you to construct 3D components from a set of default models, text, paths and selections. Crucially, it allows you to import 3D models. This now means that if you do not have the ability to construct a 3D model you can simply import from your own sources or browse several 3D model libraries from within Photoshop. In short, this can only be described as a ‘game changer.’ Prior to this 3D ability, forgetting to place something in the frame when taking a photo, or making an image, meant finding or creating an image in similar perspective and lighting in order to composite it into the original image. Not an easy process. The alternative was worse; retake the photo! Photoshop now allows the user to import or download the 3D model, insert it in the image, revolve, light, texture and even animate it. That’s a very impressive feature.

Photoshop CS5.1 Extended allows you to construct 3D components from text, paths and selections. Crucially, it allows you to import 3D models. This now means that if you do not have the ability to construct a 3D model you can simply import from your own sources or browse several  from within Photoshop. In short, this can only be described as a ‘game changer.’ Prior to this 3D ability, forgetting to place something in the frame when taking a photo, or making an image, meant finding or creating an image in similar perspective and lighting in order to composite it into the original image. Not an easy process. The alternative was worse; retake the photo! Photoshop now allows the user to import or download the 3D model, insert it in the image, revolve, light, texture and even animate it. Wow. Very impressive.

image of 3D title movie

I don’t think Photoshop will ever replace proper 3D modelling tools, nor should it. It does however open up even more creative possibilities. This 3D title sequence was generated using Adobe Illustrator (the 3D logo was drawn in Illustrator, exported as a layered Photoshop file), and then extruded using Repoussé in Photoshop. It was animated and rendered to video from Photoshop.

Adobe Creative Suite 5 enables some basic creation of 3D models, as well as importing and manipulating them. In this example, 2D artwork has been placed on a perspective grid in Adobe Illustrator. Apart from drawing on 1, 2 and 3 point perspective grids, Illustrator does also allow simple extrusions and rotations to be created.

Click on the soap box image to see the full 2 point perspective image, and the flat artwork it was created from. This file was created entirely in Adobe Illustrator.

One of the biggest, and possibly least known, features is the ability to import and use 3D models from within Adobe Acrobat. These can then be viewed in Acrobat Reader. This example show a page created in Adobe InDesign. It shows both the static image created in Photoshop and the interactive 3D model. This is probably best not viewed on a tablet device as they have limited Acrobat features. The 3D model in this example can be manipulated inside Acrobat.

Image of 3D model of Audi R8

Well, actually, ‘manipulated’ may be an understatement in that the user can rotate the model through any angle, zoom, hide elements (shown in the model tree), change the lighting, change the background, change the render mode … and save all these as views, that others can access. Comments can also be saved with views. What more could you want?

Several views have been saved within this ‘hidden depths’ Acrobat file. Please download the file for a closer look at the 3D model of the car. I hope you find this interesting. It opens up a whole world of 3D possibilities.