Flat. Minimalist. Easy to scroll away from. Over the past decade, the story of graphic design has been one that seems to repeat the same chapter over and over again. What is it we’re talking about? That would be the large, regressive step brands seem to have taken out of the third dimension.
You’ve probably noticed that countless big names, from BMW to Uber, have resorted to producing only 2D visuals to market their products. Logos, icons and typography have all gone flat, and arguably, they’ve mercilessly sacrificed their personality for it.
But like the innovators we are, we’re looking to buck the trend.
Graphic design has countless benefits, and we get it — 2D visuals have a lot to offer. They’re simple, elegant, and viable on practically any backdrop. But the real magic happens when you can strategically use both 2D and 3D assets to produce show-stopping campaigns. 3D graphic design doesn’t have to look aged and clunky (we’re looking at you, noughties-era iOS), in fact, it can be remarkably impactful when used correctly, differentiating your brand in a monotonous market.
And with consumers suffering from serious decision fatigue, having unique designs to capture attention and reignite imaginations will provide a great competitive advantage.
So, what exactly is 3D graphic design? And how do our 3D designers bring your ideas to life? Let’s take a deep dive.
What is 3D graphic design?
3D graphic design is a specialised type of digital design that aims to create three-dimensional representations of scenes, characters, and objects.
It encompasses the rendering and animating of 3D models for use in film, TV, advertising, and video games.
What does a 3D graphic designer do?
It’s a 3D graphic designer’s job to produce three-dimensional assets. They’re usually specialised in designing textures for 3D surfaces, animations, virtual lighting for 3D environments, and of course, the 3D models themselves.
3D graphic designers perform their duties using software suites such as:
Blender — a free, open-source software offering 3D modelling and rendering capabilities
Cinema 4D — a tool used for 3D modelling, despite the name, in motion graphics and VFX projects
Autodesk Maya — powerful artist’s 3D modelling software, considered the industry standard for computer graphics in film and TV
These tools are specifically built to design and render 3D models, for use in applications like animation, photography and general product design.
And it pays to get acquainted — 3D modelling in graphic design is a powerful tool that helps consumers to visualise products as tangible things, not just flat graphics they’re looking at on a screen.
Top trends in 3D graphic design
Nowadays, 3D graphic design is massively in demand as a specialised skill set. It requires knowledge of both 3D design systems and best practices in the space that can help brands bring their products to life.
Here are some of the trending styles we’ve noticed our clients asking for:
Realistic product design for ads and other marketing collateral requires the accurate rendering of materials, lighting and scenes, helping bring imagined products to life in ‘physical’ form.
On the flip side, many brands use surreal visuals to portray their products as unique and otherworldly. Think immersive 3D environments, dreamlike visual effects and out-of-this-world scenarios that inspire the imagination.
Coming back stronger than a nineties trend, nostalgic visuals from previous decades never go out of style. 3D graphic design helps to realise the products and environments that we look back on from bygone eras and evoke an emotional response from audiences.
As NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) continue to grow in popularity, a market has emerged for 3D designers to create exciting 3D artworks to sell as collectibles. These might feature bespoke models, scenes, and even music.
How Shoreditch Design does 3D graphic design
Plenty of digital design agencies specialise in one type of design — you’ll find 3D designers that focus solely on animation, VFX and more. Here at Shoreditch Design, however, we take a more holistic approach.
Our design sprints see the greatest graphic designers in our studio come together to hash out their bright ideas, constructively critique one another, and put together the best possible assets for our diverse clients. We work across 2D, 3D, and whatever other design disciplines you could imagine.
So, when taking on an exciting new 3D graphic design project, we all get stuck in — but there is a set of principles we apply to all the drafting we do.
Here are some of our top 3D graphic design priorities:
1. Beautifully rendered brand products
We create visually appealing, realistic representations of flagship brand products. Advertising using assets that attractively showcase the goods a consumer can purchase helps to leave a lasting impression, introducing them to the brand’s visual identity and increasing brand recognition. This is particularly impactful when you’re marketing a physical product that will appear on shop shelves (or in bar fridges).
2. Personable 3D characters
It’s not just products that we render, though, but people too Relatable animated characters inject personality into a brand’s visual identity, helping prospective customers identify with avatars using or representing your goods or service, They can effectively convey a brand’s message, engage audiences on a deeper level than generic 2D illustrations, and provide a memorable mascot to market your business.
3. 3D assets for every touchpoint
The most recognisable brand identities are those that share a consistent aesthetic profile across all touchpoints, like websites, product displays, and social media. This uniformity enhances the visual appeal of a brand, captures customer interest, and reinforces the brand’s identity to users who come across thousands of different products and services every day.
Bring your ideas to life with Shoreditch Design
Too many brands have forgotten that there’s a whole other dimension out there. A third one. And that’s no space-age talk — we’ve just noticed a growing trend of ‘2D or nothing’ in design. Where’s the fun in that?
If you’re looking for a fresh new rebrand, a pioneering new visual identity, or some 3D asset creation for your business, the Shoreditch Design team can help. Take a browse of our full 3D design portfolio or get in touch today for a chat about your design needs.