Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Why you should care about 3D

Adobe's recent release of new tools for working with 3D images has me all jazzed about the possibilities for designers working in 2D design. Consider this scenario:

Tom is a product designer. He's hired by a large retailer to design a new table lamp. Tom creates a lamp prototype in 3D modeling software such as 3ds Max, Maya or SolidWorks.  Instead of showing the client hard copy or a regular PDF file that shows only static views of the lamp, Tom instead uses Adobe Acrobat 8 3D to create a 3D PDF file that can be opened with Adobe Reader. When the client opens the PDF file, they can grab the image of the lamp, select different preset views, rotate the lamp freely, see an exploded view of the pieces of the lamp, view cross sections, everything short of picking up the lamp and dropping it on the floor. All this with just Adobe Reader. Here are some examples of this in action.

Meanwhile, a graphic design firm is working on the early layouts for a product catalog using Adobe InDesign. Rather than importing a sketch of the lamp to use for the layouts, the designers can use the Photoshop CS3 Extended Plug-In for Google 3D Warehouse to quickly locate a generic lamp in the vast Google 3D Warehouse, rotate and scale it to the proper size and orientation, and produce a PSD, TIF or JPEG image to import into the InDesign catalog layout for concept approval.

Once the client approves the lamp design, Tom sends the original 3D "object" file to the manufacturer to begin production of the lamp. It may take several months for the actual lamps to be produced, but the advertising agency need images of the lamp now for a teaser campaign to begin building the public's appetite for this wonderful new lamp. No problem. Tom can send the same 3D object file to the designers at the advertising agency. The designers there can use Photoshop CS3 Extended to open the object file and rotate the lamp in 3D space, scale it, and composite it with a photograph of a desk. They can easily change the color and texture of the surfaces of the lamp, and map a logo onto the lamp's surface, all in Photoshop. Once the photo looks "real", it can be saved and placed in the InDesign layout for the advertisement.

This is the beginning of 3D data being exchanged as easily as clip art and stock photography is used now.

What do you think? Do you agree? Do you think this is something you will use? I'd like to hear your feedback.


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