In case you can't tell from our recent articles, we're big fans of the Adobe Dimension. We're constantly finding new ways to use it, for work and for pure fun. Now, paired with a couple familiar tools, we can create pretty much any 3D visual we imagine.
I first heard about Dimension when it was in early development as Project Felix. I was told I didn't need to be some fancy 3D designer with five years of experience under my belt, which turned out to be true. Right away with Dimension, I was creating the type of 3D work I had for years admired from afar. Since then, I've fully incorporated it into my workflow.
The word is still getting around about Dimension as Adobe keeps making it better and better. (I also suspect it's one of those tools you want to keep to yourself, it's so good.) So first, to clear it up for those just starting out with the tool, let's talk about what Dimension does and doesn't do.
Adobe Dimension allows you to take 3D objects and put them into beautifully lit, photorealistic three-dimensional scenes, without any technical knowledge. It allows you to assign real-world materials to your 3D objects, set your own camera angles and positions. Your 3D scene (with lighting, texture, background, angle etc.) is the most important aspect of great 3D design, so the fact that Dimension makes it so easy and accessible is huge.
Dimension is not currently a 3D modeling tool so you won't use it to make your 3D shapes, but Adobe plans to expand this in the future. In the meantime, Dimension comes shipped with an array of pre-made 3D objects you can use to create your 3D scenes. It already works in tandem with other Adobe file formats and programs, which was another plus for us.
We use Dimension tandem with Illustrator, Photoshop, Cinema4D and Figma to create quick mockups, product designs and artwork. It also works seamlessly with InDesign and XD, so you can create rich images to insert into your brochures / page designs, your UX designs or wherever you need them. You can even bring your 3D visuals into AfterEffects and animate them (I can't wait to experiment with this), or embed 360 views on your portfolio site.
Our design team has experience with everything from illustration to UX to print design, but hadn't touched 3D design before Dimension. Now, using Dimension on its own and with other tools, our brand and our work has expanded in new directions.
Enhancing our brand and product imagery
Most often, we use Dimension for simple product rendering of Semplice products. If you're not familiar already, Semplice is a WordPress-based portfolio tool for creatives. It's a digital tool, but we like to show real-world packaging as it makes Semplice feel more tangible, like a product you can hold in your hands. With Dimension, we create beautiful 3D visuals that elevate Semplice in all of its digital spaces.
3D renderingS of our Semplice box art, made with Adobe Dimension
Transforming our artwork and illustrations
Once we became more familiar with Dimension, we started experimenting further and pushing beyond the traditional 3D mockups and prototypes. Recently, we created an illustration pack for designers called Warped Universe. The pack itself includes 2D images made in Illustrator.
Our original 2D image from Warped Universe.
To show all the possibilities of Warped Universe, we tried transforming them into 3D. With this workflow, we convert the illustrations to 3D shapes with Photoshop or Cinema4D (depending on the illustration and intended effect). We then use Dimension to turn the illustrations into beautiful 3D landscapes. The flat lines become three-dimensional, with light, shadows and texture, transforming from a flat illustration into a topographic 3D map of some other world.
Integrating Dimension into your own workflow
It's easy to sync up and integrate Dimension with other tools to achieve whatever 3D image you want to create. I'm going to show you now how Dimension can fit into your own workflow, and how works in tandem with tools like Photoshop to make your images even more rich and realistic. In this example, we'll be creating some simple box artwork:
When setting up 2D art for rendering in Dimension, we can use native Adobe formats such as PSD or AI.
I've created some flat box art in Photoshop and split my images into two separate PSDs of both front and sides. Splitting my images like this will allow me to project each flat artwork onto each side of my 3D object in Dimension.
You can then save out your artwork in native PSD format. I typically recommend saving as high-res as possible for best results.
2. Setting up our scene in Dimension
We'll now set up our scene and 3D objects in Dimension. Typically, I like to recreate a new studio environment in Dimension to house all of my objects. I've imported a simple curved 3D plan for my objects to sit on. You can download one for free here. Once you've downloaded the file, go to File > Import > 3D Model in Dimension (or use the plus sign in the left-hand menu) and import your 3D plane.
Since my box art is 70 x 97 x 21 cm in Photoshop, I will also create a box shape of the same size. This will ensure my box art matches proportionally to the 3D model.
Next, I'll size down my box and find a camera angle that works nicely for the scene.
Use the rotate (1), pan (2) or zoom (3) tools to position your camera within the scene and put your object in frame. Setting a very low Field of View value, such as 4°, will give your scene a nice isometric feel.
3. Applying our design
Now that we have our model sized to our Photoshop file's dimensions, we can now add our artwork as a graphic. I like to set a base color that's different than my artwork so I can see how my artwork is aligning. In this case, I've set the base color to red.
I can now use the 'Place Graphic on Model' option to place the PSD artwork onto my model. Once I've added my design, I can reposition the artwork to fit my 3D object. You can use the 'Scale' option to scale up your artwork and match it to our edges.
I'll go ahead and repeat these steps for the other side.
Next, we can assign some materials to our object. We will make our underlying material black, with 50% roughness to give it some nice reflective properties. Go ahead and set an equal roughness value to your graphic.
Now that we have our box artwork set up, let's choose some nice lighting for our scene. I'm going Studio Softbox 3 Point for some nice, evenly lit studio light. I like to also use the Render Preview option to see how my scene lighting is looking while I rotate my light.
4. Making changes
We now have a nice scene built out with our 3D box art. But let's say we want to swap out our artwork. With just a few clicks, we can change the art and create a new product box.
In your material options, select your graphic. In the image options, look for the 'edit' option. This will open up your artwork in whichever program you used to create it. You can then make changes to your graphics in Photoshop, save the file and presto. The artwork has automatically updated in Dimension.
One more fantastic thing about Dimension is you can easily make post-processing adjustments to PSD files. With every render, Dimension will generate additional layers from 3D information. These make it incredibly simple to make "on-the-fly" post-processing adjustments in Photoshop after your images have already rendered.
Adobe Dimension has allowed me to finally break into the world of 3D design. Used in tandem with tools like Photoshop, Illustrator and Cinema 4D, nothing is off-limits. Those of us who called ourselves traditional designers, illustrators or artists before can now take our work to literally another level.
If you do create something with Dimension, be sure to share your designs to Behance, selecting Adobe Dimension under “Tools Used” in the Basic Info tab. On Instagram, tag #AdobeDimension and #CreatewithDimension. This allows the Dimension team to find and promote your work!
For more 3D inspiration made with Dimension, visit the Dimension Behance gallery.
Jon is a freelance designer, illustrator and Arnold Schwarzenegger fanboy based in Nashville. He also makes a mean hot sauce.