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Should graphic designers learn 3D art?

 |  SelfCAD

Should graphic designers learn 3D art?

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The short answer is yes. With the growing demand for more visually striking and viral content, 3D art can be a gamechanger for graphic designers and brands around the world. 


3D Art in Pre-COVID & COVID Era Marketing 

It is no secret 3D modeling is a growing industry in the field of design and advertising. 

Since COVID-19 hit, brands and designers have been trying to find innovative ways to stay connected with their customers. 

Social media advertising has become more competitive with the globe turning to the internet for socialization and shopping to cope with lockdown restrictions. 

At the heart of the race towards innovation in the time of the pandemic, 3D design is gaining much demand and attention beyond the film industry, which arguably is the biggest industry it’s part of. 

With extremely limited options to host marketing events, industries that depend on social gatherings have shown impressive adaptability by pivoting to virtual events. 

In May 2020, Dig-Gxl put up a virtual fashion show with literal 3D characters as models instead of humans. 

3D Art helping in Fashion instead of humans. Image source: BBC


Of course, today’s health protocols have enabled virtual fashion shows to feature actual models in the latest seasons but during the early days of the lockdown, not much was known about the virus. This lack of knowledge however, did not stop designers and creatives from safely showcasing their work and being able to stay connected with their market. 

Another example of the increasing prevalence of 3D art in marketing is Lightfarm Studios’ 3D visualization of Samsung’s Virtual Assistant

While it is undeniable that virtual events have brought a surge of demand for 3D assets, the fact that 3D modeling as an art form and a science has been thriving even before the pandemic must be asserted. 

A study that dates back to 1991 postulates that 3D models help in marketing construction projects in the 21st century and that they are key to showing clients that the service provider (in this study’s context, the engineers), truly understand their client’s needs. 

A more recent 2020 study conducted and published before the pandemic started also asserts the importance and effectiveness of virtual reality for consumers’ in-store experiences.


Why should graphic designers learn 3D art?

Now that we’ve established the consistently growing significance of 3D art in marketing, it’s time to delve into why graphic designers should pay attention to the emerging 3D market. 

Digital marketing has a lot of moving parts but one of the biggest engines involved is social media marketing, which is highly dependent on visual content. 

The emphasis on visuals is not just an unspoken agreement within marketers and business owners. It is a science-backed principle that directs billion-dollar strategies in marketing and advertising.  

The booming online shopping industry attests to the importance of visuals. A study by Intent Lab shows that consumers prefer visual communication over textual information when shopping online. 

This is why brands rely on graphic designers to reach their target audiences and compel them to become loyal customers through striking social media and website content. As such, graphic designers must stay keen on keeping up with trends and using different techniques and art styles. 

In this respect, 3D models can help designers churn out exciting and interactive marketing assets that various audiences will love. 

Here are three (3) reasons why graphic designers should consider learning how to create 3D models: 


1. Stand out in highly competitive social media platforms.

Graphic designers face the challenge of giving their clients/employers unique visual assets that are on brand and will not be exhausted after just a couple of hundred posts.

Using contrasting colors, memes, and short but often humorous videos can garner clicks and engagement but designers can take their client’s or employer’s brand to the next level by using 3D assets.

3D art can be used to provide unique and interactive content that can stand out and raise brand awareness and/or sales in a highly convoluted digital space. 


2. 3D Modeling is a highly profitable field. 

How much a 3D modeler makes depends on various factors like the complexity, purpose, and urgency of the project.

Glassdoor reports that the average salary for 3D artists is $59.515. The market revenue for 3D modeling is estimated at 175.1 billion dollars in 2020, an astounding 21% annual growth rate. 

These figures combined with the booming graphic design industry and digital marketing industry make for a promising career path. 

Upskilling and learning how to make 3D models will give graphic designers the huge advantage of understanding both 3D design and how they can be marketed towards a specific audience. Having a combined mastery of branding and 3D art will certainly be a plus when looking for clients or an employer. 

3. 3D Models can convert like crazy. 

One of the key challenges in social media marketing is “stopping the scroll”. 

Users see massive amounts of content throughout their day and it is up to brands and marketers to capture their attention and actually take interest in what they have to offer. 

The first thing that your audience sees is the ad creative, the video, or the image. So this means that in the context of marketing, graphic design is the entry point of a sales funnel. 

Using high contrast images and copy is a common visual tactic for brands. While this is a good way to get clicks and website traffic, interactive 3D content when done right can generate sales like never before seen. 

Jewlr, a personalized jewelry brand doubled their ad returns simply by using 3D ad creatives. 

Of course, using 3D models superficially is not the only key ingredient in the success of this marketing campaign. It is a combination of factors like design strategy, ad copy, and other technical parts like ad placement and ad budget. However, it just goes to show that a keen understanding of the said factors, which are basically already in the arsenal of a graphic designer, can even be more useful when combined with the use of 3D models. 

And while traditional illustration, typography, and other 2D media is unlikely to be rendered obsolete, learning to utilize 3D elements to create not only engaging but high-converting marketing assets can definitely take one’s design career to another level. 


Creating Impactful & High-Converting 3D Designs

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Brands depend on graphic designers to visually communicate their stories and messaging to their target customers. 

In order to successfully get their branding and messaging across, graphic designers can utilize 3D models to provide for an interactive and captivating experience for their audience.

Here are some tips to create impactful and high-converting 3D designs. 


1. Know your audience better than they know themselves. 

Marketing-savvy graphic designers have a huge advantage over others who just try to churn out what looks and feels good because they understand what captures their target audience’s attention. 

Talking to your audience or target demographic to ask them about their preferences and visual consumption behaviors is a good way to ensure that your work will not only be informative but actually interesting for them. 

If you’re unable to conduct interviews, reading through social media threads such as Facebook groups, Reddit, and Quora FAQs might help. 

Pinterest is also a good platform to explore the aesthetic preferences based on certain micro and macro trends that the Gen Z and Millennial markets are interested in.


2. Being creative doesn’t mean coming up with original ideas all the time. 

Sell what people are already buying. In other words, always trust your target audience to provide ideas and creative prompts, instead of trying to do everything from scratch. 

It’s always helpful to check case studies of successful campaigns within your industry and take a look at the graphic design assets within those campaigns. Take notes on which principles were applied and how you can implement them in your own style. 

There is also an abundance of ready-made 3D models that you can use as inspiration or with the appropriate copyright permissions, use for your creative output. 


3. Find a software with a short learning curve. 

The software you use can definitely determine how fast you can grasp 3D modeling concepts and techniques. 

You can expect a lot of options in the market that require a lot of supplementary materials like video tutorials or the usual Google “How to use [insert tool] on [software]” searches. 

Of course, like graphic design, 3D modeling will take some time to truly master; but this shouldn’t mean that your first professional design should take years to make.  

It helps to get started with an end-to-end tool like SelfCAD. With its blend of technical and artistic tools, and user-friendly interface, you can master 3D modeling from start to finish in no time.


Transitioning from 2D to 3D Design

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While graphic designers already have an advantage if they decide to try out 3D modeling, the transition can be challenging.

Trying out 3D design does not mean completely abandoning one’s roots and 2D techniques. After all, graphic design principles can be applied in a vast range of fields. 

Here are some key challenges to expect if you’re coming from a 2D background: 

  • Seeing in 3D and understanding space in 3D can be confusing. 

  • Applying the right dimensions and parameters in your 3D objects. 

  • Modifying ready-made 3D models from the internet.

  • Incorporating branding and messaging. 

  • Making your 3D models look realistic. 


You can get past these challenges with the right guidance and tools. Using an all-in-one software like SelfCAD can save you time and tons of effort. 

Instead of using traditional CAD or 3D software, you can cut your learning curve short by opting for a simple software that can support not only your present skill level but can keep up with more complex designs as your 3D modeling techniques eventually improve. 


The Best Way to Get Started with 3D Modeling 


Like most skills, the best way to get started with 3D modeling is through tutorials. 

However, watching video tutorials can be quite tedious and cumbersome. A lot of tutorials on the internet are readily accessible but they have a limited “life span” because software upgrades and major changes in user interface can be confusing. 

Switching between tabs and endless Google searching can also decrease one’s attention span and end up in half-finished works. 

This is why SelfCAD launched Interactive Tutorials. As this feature’s name suggests, Interactive Tutorials will allow users to fully engage in learning 3D modeling within the app.  


How does it work? 

Interactive Tutorials can fast track your 3D modeling workflow in two ways. 

1. Use an Interactive Tutorial.
When you launch an Interactive Tutorial from SelfCAD’s library, you can design your chosen 3D model from start to finish with a complete step-by-step guide. Everything from the tools to click on, parameters to follow, and even the logic behind each step will be provided.
After completing an Interactive Tutorial, you can expect to have familiarized yourself with SelfCAD’s interface, making your 3D modeling journey easier and your workflow faster. You can think of it as an in-app tour within a software like Adobe Photoshop, except by the end of the tour, you actually have an output you can either save as your own or continue modifying. 

2. Record an Interactive Tutorial.

Once you get more comfortable using SelfCAD, you might want to record Interactive Tutorials of your own. 

Making your own Interactive Tutorials can help your team (if you have one) get started with 3D modeling, especially if you have certain types of objects that will be used multiple times across different projects.


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