Have you graduated from the world of flat planes to a world of higher dimensions? In other words, have you tried all the 3D features that are available to you on Adobe's Illustrator CC, Photoshop CC and After Effects CC?
If you haven't already, now is the time to test some nifty features in lighting and rendering. These features can make any 3D text or object look modern and sophisticated. Designing objects with bevels is not the only way to incorporate 3D objects into your artwork on Adobe software. Here are some tips:
Photoshop CC Tips
Photoshop lets you add many 3D features to your creations. You can triangulate images, create some fantastic 3D text effects, add realistic shadows to your icons and manipulate 3D objects into photos.
Here is a tip with which you can get the most out of your photo manipulation or the process of lighting up a 3D text.
Try to master the art of using image based lighting (IBL). As you may know, this fantastic tool will let you draw information from the background of a picture to light up any object that you manipulate into the scene.
You can download IBL assets from Adobe's downloadable content library. Go to the 3D tab at the top of your window, and select Get More Content. Unzip the download and save it in the same place as the project you want to use it in.
Now, you'll use IBL instead of Infinite Light, so uncheck Infinite Light. In the 3D Tab, go to the Environment Layer and check IBL. The second icon next to the checkbox is an IBL Map. Selecting it will let you replace the texture of the light.
In the next window, browse your way to the folder where you downloaded the IBLs and make your choice. Click Open. Get back to your image. There should be a small bright ball to drag around and manipulate the IBL on your composition. You can play around with the materials to make the object brighter and more visible or darker depending on the setting.
Now you can go ahead and soften the shadows. Softening the shadows can make the rendered scene look realistic. Finally, render your creation to see the true effect of the IBL come to life.
Illustrator CC Tips
Illustrator CC gives you the fun option of creating shadows that are not just black.
To use this feature on a composition, select the area you want the light to fall on. In the Appearance panel, select the 3D Extrude and Bevel effect. Then check the Preview option in the lower left corner of the box.
Now, select More Options to see more settings. In the Surface options, move down to the Shading Color tab. Change the color from Black to custom and select the color of lighting you want. You can play around with colors at this stage, and choose the one that makes your composition pop.
You can also add dimension with a vignette effect. Add a new layer to your composition. Place a vignette image on top of your creation, so that the vignette covers the image completely. Now, keep this layer selected and hit the transparency panel. In the drop-down menu, go to Normal and pick the "Multiply" blending mode and you're done. This method is a super-easy way to add the softly fading corner effect. It is possible to draw the vignette into the image, but I find this is a cleaner and more efficient way.
You can also simulate traditional film grain effects in your creation. There's a simple way to add grain. Add a new layer and then create a black filled shape on it the size of your canvas. With the layer selected, choose the Appearance panel and hit the fx button->Texture->Grain.
You can edit the details of the grain in the dialog box. It can be useful at this point to zoom out so that you can see the corners of the black shape. Adjust Intensity and Contrast as you like.
Now, in the Transparency Panel, choose the "Screen" Blending Mode for this layer, and the software will immediately add the grain you want will to your composition.
After Effects CC Tips
AfterEffects is not a full solution for 3D animators yet. But it does have some very advanced tools for 3D. With the latest 2017 release, you get a 3D renderer based on Maxon's Cinema 4D technology. You can play with shadows, lights, and cameras without having to open Cinema 4D Lite. The Cineware plugin is the powerful little workflow package that lets you extrude 3D text and objects within the timeline.
Look for the 3D renderer at the top right-hand corner of your composition. You'll see that the default is the Classic 3D. Click on Classic 3D to open Composition Settings. Select 3D Renderer and switch from a Classic 3D renderer to Cinema 4D.
You might notice in the Composition Settings that we lose a couple of features when we enable Cinema 4D. Blending modes, light transmission, and adjustment lights, for example, are some of the features lost. On the other hand, the renderer enables reflections, curved footage layers and environment layers in reflections.
Don't panic that Cinema 4D can't render blending modes and light transmission. There is a workaround for these things. All you need to do is pre compose it with the Cinema 4D renderer, and then you can switch to Classic 3D and use the blending mode or Ray-traced 3D and render the Light Transmission settings.
So, what's special about Cinema 4D that Classic 3D and Ray-traced 3D don't have? The renderer extrudes and bevels in the text and shape layers. Let's see how to do this on a theoretical project.
If you're working on cel shading a composition imported from Illustrator, you'll want to convert it into a shape layer first.
For the conversion, select your Illustrator layer. Go to the Layers tab and move down the drop-down menu to find Create Shapes from Vector Layer. This step will turn off the Illustrator layer and add a converted shape layer. You will find all the elements of your original composition separated into groups.
Now you can go to the Geometry Options tab and find a whole lot of options for 3D renderings, such as Extrusion Depth and Bevel. If you're trying to render a flat object into 3D, increase the Extrusion Depth to 110. Then hit R to go to the rotation options and spin the object around to be able to see the extrusion.
Go on and add a light. Play around with Material Options to achieve the effect you want. If you are cel shading an object, for instance, you'll want to reduce reflections to 0% and increase the Diffuse option. Create more depth on smaller elements of your composition by giving them their layers and extruding as you did with the first.
You'll find that with Cinema 4D in After Effects CC, extruding text and objects can be significantly faster, depending on the hardware you're using on your computer.
What are you waiting for? Adobe's software let graphic designers do a lot of amazing things with 3D effects. These applications have had these options for some time now. Designers have used them to add an animated 3D parallax effect to web pages on Photoshop, create dynamic vector illustrations on Illustrator and fantastic post-production effects with After Effects. How will you use them!