Fusing 2D and 3D design
What can graphic designers learn from the latest advancements in CG industry? Quite frankly, a lot. 3D graphics technologies slowly infiltrate the traditional vocation of graphic design. Whether you’re a graphic or a motion designer, a digital specialist, a UX/UI designer preparing a landing page, or a manager, working with outsourcing creatives, sooner or later you’ll come across 3D assets or some kind of 2d-3d hybridisation.
As 3D technology becomes affordable in terms of price and handling, clients expect designers to know how to integrate it into their practices. Visualising the Future skills report shows that 3D skills are essential in such diverse career areas as IT, architecture, design, and media.
What is 3D graphics?
3D graphics (or 3D modelling) is the three-dimensional representation of a product or object, using sophisticated software. Graphic designers can use this technology to transform flat 2D graphics into impressive 3D static or motion models. Ray tracing is an advanced 3D software rendering technique that injects photorealism to 3D models and their environment. Aside specialised 3D software, current 2D vector graphics software is now equipped with advanced 3D modelling and ray tracing tools which are versatile and intuitive to use; blurring the barriers between 2D and 3D design.
While 3D elements can add depth and visual interest, it’s important to seamlessly integrate them with 2D design elements. Graphic designers ensure that 3D elements harmonise with the overall visual style and typography of their design. The final outcome doesn’t have to be an overkill; simplicity is key here. Subtle experimentation with layering 2D and simple 3D elements can guarantee depth and visual hierarchy within your compositions. Strive for a cohesive design that seamlessly blends the two-dimensional and three-dimensional elements.
Why is this important, and why now?
As 3D design technology continues to integrate with traditional 2D graphics, future creatives will need to be empowered to meet the demand for 3D content creation, particularly in UX/UI, graphic design, web design, illustration, and finally motion design roles.
I do feel that in a few years down the line, extensive 3D software knowledge won’t be a strict requirement for communicating design intent. In simple words, the steep learning curve historically associated with 3D rendering will dissolve, leaving more space for creative problem solving.
Companies, agencies and design competition boards have already started embracing this new reality, with numerous in-house and agency creatives creating their own, bespoke 2D-3D hybrid graphics.
Finally, in an over-competitive and crowded environment, businesses must now keep promoting their products in the best way to attract clients. If you sell electronics, jewelry, cars, or any other type of product, you must advertise it in such a way that it attracts customers’ attention. 3D graphics integration can be used to attract potential customers – but also retain. Therefore, businesses are now becoming savvy and have started asking for more 3D graphics in their otherwise static 2D promotional campaigns. It’s worth noting that leading companies such as Wise, Nike, the cable sports network ESPN, and Toyota among others, have already started intergrading 2D-3D hybrid graphics into their branding campaigns.
The Psychology of 3D Graphics
Even if you don’t use 3D animation, some 3D effects alone can help your brand stand out from its flat design counterparts, and feel like it’s leaping out of the page, website, or screen. As striking visuals, 3D graphics also play their role in helping audiences differentiate among brands, and aid proper recall.
This ‘leaping-out-of-the-page’ feel is known as perception. Perception, quite simply, indicates the way we understand or interpret something. It depends on our past knowledge, the way the thing is presented to us, our angle of viewing the thing, and simply just a lot of context. Understanding the principle of perception, designers and marketers use three of its core components to use 3D graphics in unique ways for their brand-building strategies.
Understanding how 3D graphics can evoke emotional responses in consumers is central to brand storytelling. To elicit specific emotions from users, brands need to understand how consumers perceive depth and spatial relationship, and finally depth.
A comprehensive understanding of these components will help brands prioritize elements in a 3D environment to draw users’ attention to key messages and products, create 3D spaces where users can interact with the products just like they would in the real world, and set up a 3D space that matches users’ expectations of how a physical store would look and function.
Brands are always looking for ways to expand their fan base and invite more people over to their side. Visual graphics are always the most potent tool in a marketer’s arsenal to achieve this profitable goal. Blending 2D with 3D technology, you can multiply the impact of your brand visuals. Using immersion, interactivity, and special effects, you can create visual cues and brand environments that captivate the audience, incite their emotions, and delight their senses.