3D rendering is a process that converts 3D wireframe models into 2D images. If that doesn’t make sense to you, don’t worry — you don’t have to be a 3D designer to use 3D designs. In fact, that’s kind of the point.
How 3D Renders Are Being Used for 2D Artwork
Companies like PixelSquid make 3D content for graphic designers available to download as 2-dimensional PNG or PSD files. Unlike with isolated images and photos, the 3D renders can be rotated at any angle, turned upside down, and more easily manipulated to fit a scene. The PSD files in particular include powerful layers for precise control and perfect blending within your 2D design.
“What PixelSquid does is kind of a middle-ground, where it allows designers to use 3D models in a new way within familiar 2D design software,” says Eric, a content specialist at ThemeKeeper. “You can create some rad stuff compositing and manipulating PixelSquid items in Photoshop.”
Incorporating 3D elements into 2D design projects is a popular design approach. From posters and full 3D render scenes, to 3D details in email campaigns or PowerPoint presentations, they’re showing up in the work of designers and non-designers alike. Adobe is even working on a way to design directly with 3D objects and scenes for 2D graphics projects through Project Felix (it’s currently in beta).
‘Photo-realistic’? A side-by-side comparison
Okay, but… how do the 3D renders look, really?
The 3D renders from PixelSquid have detailed textures, lighting, and shadows to make them look ‘photo-realistic’. Here’s a few side-by-side comparisons of 3D renders and stock photos of real-life objects — can you tell the difference?
The red one’s the 3D version.
Green helmet vs. gold helmet:
The green one is 3D.
The left one is a photo.
The black one is a photo.
Almost too close to tell! But the left one is a 3D rendered berry.
The sitting gnome (right) is the photo version.
Inspiration for using 3D renders in your designs
Not sure where to start? We’ve highlighted a few of our favorite design ideas, mostly from our friends at PixelSquid. For more inspiration, check out the Created by PixelSquid section of their blog.
Octopus in San Francisco
3D render: Octopus
Design: Image by 8thdamon
Friday the 13th
Final design: Friday the 13th movie poster
3D render: Goldfish
Final design: by Nevs, for an ThemeKeeper PixelSquid contest.
Low Poly outdoor scene
Final design: by Samantha Zhang.
NASA space scene
3D renders: Phone, US Advanced Crew Escape Suit ACES.
Final design: by Irving Gerardo (via Twitter).
Have you created a 2D project using 3D designs? Share with us @envato.