3D software for 2D designer

Discussion in 'Design and Graphics' started by Halcyon, Sep 8, 2009.

  1. Halcyon macrumors 6502

    Sep 21, 2006
    My interest in learning how to use 3D software is basically to create 3D mock-ups from art work that will go to print...i.e.- present a client with a rendered vie of how his label would look on the jar, how a packing box looks like with a new background image or how a shopping bag or any other item would look in real life before it goes intro production.

    The main goal is to achieve realistic looking (realistic = real life) static objects...I'm not interested in animations, human like forms, etc....at least for now :)

    Being a seasoned 2D graphic designer I have a very hard time adapting to the 3D environment and "way of thinking", thus I've come to the conclusion that it's not the software, but me. I say this because I've dwelt into Maya, Blender and Modo with no luck, not so much because of the step learning curve that 3D software demands, but because of me not being able to grasp the basics of 3D (things like, when to use NURBS primitives instead of Polygon primitives...it seems that there are so many more ways of achieving the same result in a 3D environment than when designing in 2D).

    I would like to stick with Maya (it's steep but solid and plentiful), but somebody told me that to achieve realistic looking renders of my objects I also needed Mental Ray (which I believe comes bundled with Maya...but is it, another steep learning curve process?

    I'm I moving in the right direction as to software choice? Will I be able to achieve my goals with Maya, or is it overkill? Maybe there's some better software out there and more specific to my needs?

    I want to be sure about my final choice of software, because whatever I choose I want to stick with it to the end...the learning curve of any 3D software is to steep and time to short, to waste changing from one piece of software to another.

    Also, if anybody can point into any resource (book, tutorial etc) that dwells into the 3D principals (way of thinking) in general, it will be greatly appreciated.

  2. Genghis Khan macrumors 65816

    Genghis Khan

    Jun 3, 2007
    Melbourne, Australia

    Pair it with V-Ray and you'll get some sweet renders.

    However, if it's realism you're looking for, you're going to to need practice in both modelling and rendering. It may take a few weeks/months of practice, but once you get there it'll be well worth it.

    - Michael
    (avid Rhino+VRay user)
  3. LeviG macrumors 65816

    Nov 6, 2006
    Norfolk, UK
    ANY 3D package (I use 3DS Max on a daily basis) can do what you're after, it is after all relatively simple if you know what you are doing.

    I have seen some software packages that can do what you are after but I've never used them and I would also say photoshop extended can do it to a point to if you have the models to start with.

    As to getting the finished products, getting realism is going to be the hardest part to do as in my opinion to get the best finish you really need a good grasp of 3D workspaces, an eye for details on the materials (trust me using default ones very rarely work as intended) and in my view photography.

    If you truly want to get into 3D I would suggest a course on it, its not like photoshop whereby anybody with a copy can start to pick up the basics while playing with it in the evenings.
  4. Genghis Khan macrumors 65816

    Genghis Khan

    Jun 3, 2007
    Melbourne, Australia
    Agree strongly.

    Disagree strongly.

    I learnt Rhino from the inbuilt tutorials, and within about 6 months of using it for Uni, there was nothing I couldn't really do.
    I recently helped out in a tute given by the guy who did the Watercube parametrics, and I understood everything he was doing.

    - on a side note, you may find 3DS max a bit annoying as it can't draw curves (it makes them out of lots of little lines) Rhino and Maya use NURBS (proper curves)
  5. jeremy h macrumors 6502

    Jul 9, 2008
    I'm a 'dabbler' in 3d being mostly a 2d designer. I think I'm pretty much doing what you want to do though. I use Cinema 4d to whip up packshots of books, 3d posters in situ etc etc...

    There is a learning curve but stick with it. My clients are normally really impressed by my limited 3d skills, as they're pretty much paying for 2d work and getting the 3d visuals as an added value. (Now if they'd gone to Pixar, paid $$$ and got the sort of work I do ... well...) Quality is always relative.

    I've now built up a library of my most used packshot type items and it's surprisingly quick to drop in a new material (say book cover etc) and re-render. The results are normally far better than a photoshop visual. Also they're really impressed when you can just change the angle etc to fit the new layout etc

    If you haven't bough some 3d software as yet do take a look at Cinema 4d - it's excellent in terms of working with Illustrator - which was the key for me in starting to get to grips with modelling as I often created all my splines etc in Illustrator ('cos it's very familiar) and then extruded / revolve them in the Cinema. It was a great way to start.
  6. Halcyon thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 21, 2006
    We're on the same boat Jeremy. Going that extra yard by presenting your clients 3D mock ups of their products, translates into more business and extra revenue. They appreciate that and you build a solid relationship with your client.

    I'm sticking with Maya 2008 mainly because I already have it and even though their learning curve is steep, non of the other apps have much less of a steeper curve. Maya documentation is far superior, their support is excellent and you can find plenty of resources in the web for it.

    BTW, I talked with a guy that is using Maya to recreate some of the products from his clients and using them for final production, thus saving the client big bucks by not having to pay for a photo session. He's good and it can't be done with all products (at least not within a reasonable amount of time and budget) but he's making good money out of it and getting excellent results so far.

    Thanks everybody for their input.
  7. usclaneyj macrumors regular

    May 1, 2005
    I seem to remember being bombarded by salespeople at a booth last time I went to PhotoshopWorld, and they were trying to sell Photoshop plugins that would expand its 3D capabilities.

    One of the plugins claimed to be able to take multiple photos of an object (from different angles) and make a 3D model out of them.

    I'm totally blanking on the name of this product though! Anyone else have an idea?
  8. Halcyon thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 21, 2006
    Only one I can think of is 3D Invigorator for Photoshop by Zaxwerks.

    EDIT: I re-read your post and the Zaxwerks plug-in won't do that.
  9. ezekielrage_99 macrumors 68040


    Oct 12, 2005
    I do a lot of work with high resolution textures for 3d environments generally speaking the "realistic look" comes from texture quality and lighting/shadow.

    If you're used to using Maya I would keep using it, Maya does have a very good community and there's plenty of very good resource out there for it.

    I would also look into texture maps, this is where a good quality model can be turned into something magic. Although I do weather graphics most of my time is taken up with creating textures, there's little 3D as such.

    Still the same philosophies are the same for any 3d package out there...
  10. Halcyon thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 21, 2006
    Indeed, texturing and lighting/shading are vital for realistic look and feel of your final render.

    I'm sticking with Maya. This is my second time around with it and now I find myself moving faster up that steep learning curve of 3D apps. What helps, this time around, is that I took my time to do some reading on the general 3D concepts. Like stated in my original post, my hardest time was moving from a 2D environment to a 3D one (too many years of Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign and Quark had ingrained that 2D philosophy a little bit to deep :))
  11. fried-gold macrumors member

    Nov 9, 2008
    You want really stunning images, then get yourself a copy Maxwell render - enough said. Its expensive, and it takes a little time getting used to. But once you've got the hang of it, other render packages don't even come close.
  12. arkitect macrumors 603


    Sep 5, 2005
    Bath, United Kingdom
    Another vote for Maxwell Render.
    Truly great images… not for animation though. ;)
    It likes to take its time. :)
  13. usclaneyj macrumors regular

    May 1, 2005

    Yah, I'm familiar with Invigorator. I used to use the After Effects version religiously when I was low man on the totem pole, making cheesy used car commercials for local dealerships. hahaha..

    Either way, I remembered the name later... Strata Foto 3D CX.

    I can't say how well it works, I just remember the demo.
  14. macjiro macrumors member

    Apr 14, 2008
    I'm sort of in the same boat. I tend to lean on 2D more but i love some of the ultra-realistic stills from 3D. I am not as much interested in animation although i like motion graphics. Modeling and Texturing are my main interests. With that, i kind of evaluated a few different packages. I think Modo is the 'easiest' and most powerful modeler and make incredible renders. C4D is not the greatest modeler but it has a great interface. Seems easy to me. I like its Material engine and the R11 renderer looked great. I think you can make great mock ups in C4D. The ideal would be both Modo/C4D imo. I've only really learned from tutorials on YT or Vimeo. I can only recommend both but i am not a fan of Maya.
  15. patriciocorazon macrumors newbie

    Oct 15, 2009
    Easy but Expensive

    There used to be an app called PrintDevizor offered by StoneCube in the UK, they were bought out by Esko a couple years back, now it's called Esko Visualizer. It does an awesome job, but costs a fortune.

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