3D Design Tutorial: Rich Package Designs and Product Mock-Ups in Adobe Dimension with John Godfrey

3D Design Tutorial: Rich Package Designs and Product Mock-Ups in Adobe Dimension with John Godfrey
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Popular creative director, designer, and partner at Chargefield John Godfrey is no stranger to 3D design. He’s been innovating with Adobe Dimension to great success since the early days of the product’s development. So, we invited him to share his cutting-edge knowledge when it comes to elevating brand visualization and synthetic photography in 3D.

In this tutorial, we asked John to make up brands and design concepts for them. He decided to zero in and generate one stellar example of brand visualization gone very well, which makes full use of Dimension’s ability to place 2D graphics on 3D objects, change lighting, camera angles, and background objects on the fly, and visualize fully fleshed-out brand visualizations, no photoshoot required.

Watch John’s full tutorial in the video below, and read on to see more of his incredible 3D designs in action. And if you’re curious to learn more about him, read our profile of John where he shares more about his career, his passion for creating, and where he thinks 3D is heading in the art and design space.

Visualizing package designs for a men’s fashion brand

3D render of Harbor Crafts menswear and accessories products.
Harbor Crafts, a fictional men's fashion/accessory line, visualized in Adobe Dimension.

The first fictional brand John created (and the subject in the tutorial video above) was Harbor Crafts, a men’s fashion/accessory line (you can almost smell the cologne wafting off the ideal customer). Using Dimension, John was able to visualize the high-end products in a realistic and textured way. This could be used for selling a new idea of the packaging design or new seasonal pattern for a bowtie or it could be used to compose a final image for marketing materials. You could almost reach out and touch them.

3D render of Harbor Crafts mens pocket squares.
Men's pocket squares visualized in Adobe Dimension.

John was also able to achieve realistic-looking package designs and product mockups that demonstrate exactly what these branded boxes, pocket squares, and bowties would look like on store shelves.

3D render of Harbor Crafts photorealistic pocket square boxes.
Pocket square boxes, visualized to photorealistic effect in Adobe Dimension.

To achieve the above results, John followed a few key steps to achieve this level of package design photorealism. Below is a full checklist of those steps, so take a look, watch the video tutorial above, and give it a try yourself (and if you don’t have Adobe Dimension, download a free trial here).

Step 1: Creating the charming cardboard box from starter assets

3D starter asset model of a cardboard box.

Starting at :30 of the video, you’ll see how to:

  • Choose a starter asset model
  • Choose the materials you want to work with on the different elements of the model
  • Choose the colour scheme of the model

Dimension provides dozens of starter assets to choose from – beverages, bags, shirts, soaps, and more. John simply selected the perfect box for a bow tie from the built-in assets library.

With this, the days of 3D looking like ‘plastic’ are far behind. In Adobe Dimension, you’re able to instantaneously generate a matte, photorealistic cardboard texture (along with many other textures) and adjust color schemes at the same time.

Step 2: The refined metallic logo (applying graphics as a decal)

3D starter asset model of a cardboard box with a logo applied as a decal.

Starting at 1:40 in the video, John outlines how to:

  • Apply a graphic as a decal, directly to your model
  • Choose the properties of the decal (in this case, he gave it metallic ink)
  • Play with the properties of the material and the decal so they catch the viewer’s eye in exactly the way you want.

Once you have your logo saved, you can place it like a decal on your product and/or packaging. The decal will morph itself to your chosen material. In this case, John’s logo has become slightly corrugated because it’s being ‘printed’ on cardboard.

Step 3: The silk products (importing assets)

3D starter asset model of a pocket square inside its packaging.

Starting at 3:40 in the video, John outlines how to:

  • Import assets from Adobe Stock.

Obtaining 3D models is really as easy as plucking them from the vast library of assets. 3D assets cost the same as 2D assets in Adobe Stock, and this is essentially an extension of what is already possible with 2D images in Photoshop.

Step 4: The luxury environment (plane, light, shadow)

3D starter asset model of a pocket square inside its packaging.

Starting from 5:20 in the video, John breaks down how to:

  • Choose a plane for your product
  • Simply import and use your creations from Photoshop
  • Create photorealistic sunlight and shadow, with your chosen level of cloudiness and your chosen time of day
  • Use the orbit tool to orient where your product is in your virtual environment
  • Choose the focus point of your synthetic photograph

There are many visual cues that say ‘luxury’ to the subconscious eye. A palm leaf in the sun will probably always be one of those elements. While a photoshoot needs to occur on a sunny day to produce this kind of effect (we all know studio lighting simply cannot reproduce sunlight this well), in Dimension, you’re able to create the look of sunlight (or even of that studio light, if that’s what you want).

Say you decide you want sunlight – you can decide what time of day it is, too. This in turn changes the quality of the shadow of the palm leaf. That, coupled with the choice of “white stone on coastline” as the plane it’s sitting on, and voila – we are in Miami, San Francisco, or wherever you wish. This makes it easy to achieve the look of a luxury photoshoot without the price tag.

Step 5: The finishing flourish (rendering)

A rendered 3D photo being edited in Photoshop.

Starting at 8:25, you can see the final stages of John’s design come together:

  • Render your photo into a high fidelity file
  • Open it in Photoshop to give it some finishing touches.

Notice how Photoshop immediately recognizes the different layers within the render, so you can continue editing in a seamless manner.

A finished photorealistic 3D design of a fictional brand's pocket square product.

And boom! A photorealistic brand visualization, Instagram-ready, with no photoshoot required. Not only that, but easily change the angle later if you (or your client) prefer a different perspective. And if the logo, patterns, or colors change down the road, just quickly swap it out without having to create a new composition or producing or photographing a new box, pocket square, bowtie, or even swatch of cloth .

Looking for more inspiration?

If it helps your process to play around in a more abstract way, to focus purely on form, texture, colour, and light, check out this material from Dimension product designer Erin Kim, and for more Dimension tutorials, click here

And for more from John Godfrey, check out our profile on him and his work, The Beauty of the Day-to-Day of 3D Design.

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