Recently, there has been a push towards making 3D design tools more accessible and collaborative, similar to how Figma has revolutionized the 2D design space with collaboration. More simple 3D design tools are popping up, such as Spline, Vectary and Womp, which allow designers to create 3D models, embed them into websites, and invite others to collaborate on projects. This new wave of 3D design tools can help designers create more captivating and immersive experiences, bridging the gap between 2D and 3D design, and allowing designers to explore the limitless capabilities of the design world.
Adam Asseraf, chief innovation officer at Guts, always has his finger on the pulse of the latest tools and solutions in the design landscape. In this series, he'll take you on a tour of the best of them.
The latest revolution
Who remembers fondly, like I do, the first time we could design collaboratively? I remember the first time I worked together with a friend on the same file at the same time on Figma, and that was just after we evolved out of Adobe’s complicated workflow into Sketch. It felt mind blowing, and I think we’re on the verge of the next mind blowing shift for designers, with 3D collaboration.
Which makes a lot of sense as to why lately there has been a push to try and make every design tool collaborative. Ever since Figma popped our solo designer bubble, the effects seem to be rippling out into every facet of the creative world. The most recent field getting primed for this kind of transition is the 3D design space.
these are some of the most recent tools leading this trend:
Model and animate simple 3D interactive scenes that we can easily be embed into any website.
Altough it doesn't have full real-time collaboration just yet, it does have a simple online interface with a shared workspace that enables us to create complex renders that can be imported straight into figma.
The new player and also the simplest. It produces high quality previews immediately so we know exactly what we're doing without the need for strong computer processing, and having to constantly render images. It also lets us invite others into our workspace to build together.
The new wave
I think this new wave of accessible and collaborative 3D design is a precursor to the explosion of 3D design everywhere, which would let designers create far more immersive experiences that capture audiences’ attention, and transport them to the designer’s immersive, inner world of creativity. For example, instead of a simple poster, any designer might now create some sort of impossible living statue that tells us about a cool new show or concert.
thebosokacompany.com - How adding a simple interaction to a hero can immdiatly spark delight
With 3D in their toolbelt, design teams might bridge the gap between graphic design and their fascination with spatial design like in architecture and interior design, finally we can not only design for a pre ordained environment but actually construct it ourselves around our design, in a way flipping the script visual designers had to deal with ever since the field came into existence
With more designers finding themselves building their own websites and diving deeper into creating interactive experiences rather than just dealing with shape, typography, and composition, it feels only natural for 2D websites and application to evolve into 3D experiences that we construct seamlessly with each other – rather than in pieces, or through a developer that has to wrestle with realizing their vision.
midwam.com - creative use of a 3d interactive space to tell a linear story
Meta put it all on the line when they decided to go all in with Web 3.0. They believe in it so deeply that they’ve cast off their safety wheels and are speeding over that virtual cliff be it hell or high water. This move did evoke a large amount of scrutiny but that type of commitment has me wondering about what the future of the internet could actually look like. Obviously these kinds of shifts are rooted in the nature of the medium on which they are portrayed. Will it really be fully immersive worlds that we phase between with ease? Or an add-on to our current reality, allowing us to bleed the fantastical into the mundane?
One thing seems to be glaringly obvious is the joy a cool new interaction can spark in a human being.
Old becomes new
One of the biggest aspirations we designers share is creating captivating experiences. Whether it be on a 2D website or a 3D experience, both 2D and 3D are here to stay. A web 2.0 site can have cool 3D interactions, and 3D spaces will use 2D imagery to help us interact simply with the environment. If we go back before computers and the internet, when design was purely physical, whether it be in a book or in a gallery, we have a need to shape our environment and attempt to bring our imaginations to life, the only difference now is how limitless our capabilities will be.
Counter design studio’s virtual gallery
Hilma af Klint’s temple gallery
Whatever 3D experiences the future has in store, 2D isn't going anywhere. Designers, to succeed in the future, i suggest you start playing with these new tools and develop your 3D skillset further . But even if we do move into the Metaverse don't throw 2D out to the dump just yet.