Adobe Dimension Tutorial: Creating 3D Brand Identities with Simoul Alva
The practical use cases for 3D design have been multiplying. Since 3D is growing to be a bigger part of branding, we wanted to showcase a project that visualizes the possibilities for 3D. As people who work in a technology and design, we talk a lot about the future. And there’s one aspect of the future that deserves a lot of our attention: the environment. So this time, we created a brief for an explicitly environmentally friendly service or product.
We wanted to find a designer who already has versatile experience working with 3D design, and we found it in Simoul Alva. The New York based (but internationally seasoned) designer went above and beyond the brief, generating an impressive series of assets: truly, a holistic (fictional) branding project.
The demand for dynamic branding and logo development
Simoul created a holistic lifestyle brand, titled simply Eco, complete with magazine and lifestyle branding. It’s something she does quite a bit in her career — clients often come to agencies and designers like her looking for a brand identity, plus much more. In this age of varied digital experiences, multiple platforms, and the all-important drive to create value, companies and organizations want malleable brand identities that work across marketing channels.
Essential to this, is the ability to mockup what a brand looks like in all these different contexts. How could a logo be incorporated into a website? What would it look like on various social media accounts? And what does it look like on different touch points?
Simoul’s dynamic 3D cover visual system.
Visualizing ‘Eco’: The concepts behind the designs and best practices for creating brand identities
When working on a brand identity, Simoul approaches the process in a very different way than individual project work. Aware that she had to keep her 3D design as a key component, she worked with Adobe Dimension as a “medium” to tap into any time.
“In this project, I started by sketching logo ideas that would translate well into 3D design. As the brief was about creating a platform that helped people learn more about the environment, I wanted the identity to feel approachable, modular, simple and have a ‘do-it-yourself’ feel to it,” she said.
Once she narrowed down a logo, she built out the color and typography systems for both digital and print. “I wanted it to feel larger than life and important, hence I have the 3D graphics coming out of the screens. This would also spark ideas using projections or data visualizations,” she added.
“I wanted the identity system to shine both in 3D and 2D. You can see how the logo works on products, digital and print touch points. The 3D logo becomes a dynamic cover system for the Eco Magazine. The magazine is one of the ways the brand sparks conversation, helps people learn more about different ecosystems, and how to protect it.”
The Eco magazine would focus on a different ecosystem every month; this aspect would help draw attention to different communities affected by those ecosystems and help understand its global context and importance.
Read on for a tutorial-style walkthrough of one of her Eco magazine covers, and how she placed it in a real life situation – using objects and materials from Adobe Stock 3D, to create this image with Adobe Dimension:
Brand identity in context: How to create a magazine cover in Adobe Dimension
1. Design your logo as a framework for the visual identity
As described, Starting in Adobe Illustrator, Simoul experimented with the shapes from the Objects panel to create the 2D version of the Eco logo. Next, she created a 3D version of each shape, this time in Adobe Dimension. Simoul dives into this aspect in-depth in this recent Adobe Max Live Session.
2. Import and arrange all the assets for the cover
The first issue of Eco is about Geology; for this, Simoul imported 3D boulders and rocks from Adobe Stock.
To do the same, use Ctrl/Cmd Command + I and import the rocks into the frame.
Learn more about designing in 3D using Adobe Stock assets, just like Simoul did, in this Dimension tutorial.
Simoul used the “Stone Edge Weathered” material from Adobe Stock as the texture for the logo. Throughout the process, you can use the Orbit and Pan Tools to change your view of the scene.
A key tip from Simoul: Always use Camera bookmarks to save the point-of-view/scene you prefer. (This is a good way to toggle between different angles and iterate).
Learn more about changing the camera view in this Dimension tutorial.
Next, it’s time to add materials and textures. Make a ground plane that will maintain your texture and desired terrain. Simoul started by importing a beach towel object to use as a ground plane.
Now, you can use the Eyedropper to add the texture from the rocks onto the ground. You can also achieve this by adding an image in the color section after selecting the object.
Learn more about editing the look of objects with Materials in this Dimension tutorial.
3. Prepare a realistic environment for your product
Now the image for your magazine cover is ready to be rendered as a .png. Any text you want to put on the cover can be added later, in Photoshop — this way, the text is more flexible to be altered at any point in the future.
But don’t forget, the size of the cover needs to match the size of the stock magazine object that you will be placing it on! So, put that piece aside while you set the stage: your desk.
Create an image of the surface of a desk with 3 magazines and some accessories, that looks like it could either be at an office or at home. All of the objects you’ll see in this tutorial have been downloaded from Adobe Stock 3D.
Import the objects into the scene by going to File > Import > 3D Model.
Then, move the objects around by using the Select and Move Tool (shortcut V).
Learn more about arranging 3D objects in this Dimension tutorial.
All the objects from Adobe Stock are fully editable. Feel free to select different parts of the object or look through the layers section in the ‘Scene’ Menu to change the color, material, or texture of any of the imported objects.
Create the table surface by importing a plane and placing it below the objects in the composition. Drag and drop the object from the Models panel.
Now, choose the material of the plane.
Learn more about other ways to add a background in this Dimension tutorial.
4. Preliminary render, then place your artwork inside your artwork!
Now that you’ve set the size you want for the magazine cover, go ahead and render your first .png accordingly (from steps 1 and 2).
Select the magazine object in the scene and drop in the .png of the cover artwork. Use the Move tool to scale, position, and rotate the .png to cover the entire object. Repeat for the other two magazines.
Once you’re done the composition, use the Orbit tool again and save your preferred angle with a Camera Bookmark. Click on “+” to save different angles if you need to, so that you can come back to them later.
Now, it’s time to play with lighting. From the lighting panel, feel free to try on different options by simply clicking on the light setting.
Simoul wanted the lighting and shading of the image to be extremely realistic and subtle. She selected Studio Backlight Arch and increased the intensity to 160% in the Properties panel.
There are also many other lighting features in Dimension that are helpful in creating a rich scene. Learn more about setting environment color, light, and reflections in this Dimension tutorial.
At any point to preview your work so far, look at the Render Preview.
5. Adding text in Photoshop
Now, it’s time to add the name of the magazine and the name of the issue. Dimension enables live links between your scene and Photoshop (and Illustrator) so you can edit images in your scene natively in Photoshop where all those updates will be reflected in your scene. (Alternatively, you could render the full scene in Dimension as a PSD file and add the text later. Once in Photoshop, open the Photoshop file and add an “Adjustment Layer” to alter the saturation, color balance, and exposure of the image.)
Once you are done editing, it’s time to render your Dimension scene to see it in it’s full quality…et voilà! You’re all set to present your work.
By using Adobe Dimension, along with Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, to their fullest, not only can you create a 3D product, but you can help clients visualize the product in real-life situations.