Happy 1st Birthday Adobe Dimension CC!

What’s new in Dimension 2.0.

It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since we launched Adobe Dimension CC on stage at MAX 2017. This year has been a wild ride — aggressively pushing out new features and capabilities, engaging with our user base and hearing your stories of exploring this new Dimension, and developing new partnerships for Adobe across the broader 3D ecosystem. This all comes together at Adobe MAX this year, where we’ll launch the biggest update of Dimension yet — Dimension v2.0 — in front of the world’s creators, storytellers, and our best friends.

At one year in, now is a good time to step back and share some of our learnings, our developments, and where we’re headed.

3D for graphic designers

Dimension is the first Adobe Creative Cloud product centrally focused on 3D workflows, and also the first Creative Cloud application built from the ground up on our machine learning and artificial intelligence features, Adobe Sensei. Previously, 3D models and content were only available to 3D professionals in specialized applications. With Dimension, 3D models can be seamlessly incorporated into graphic design workflows, so designers can choose for themselves details like camera angles, lighting, and materials. Dimension uses sophisticated machine-learning algorithms to help designers and artists place 3D objects “into” a background image easily by taking care of the heavy lifting of lighting and shadow calibration.

Take for example the splash image for Adobe Dimension 2.0, “Getaway” by artist Anna Natter (Cinniature):

“Getaway,” by Anna Natter / Cinniature

This is a beautiful image, composited from 2D and 3D elements blending together seamlessly. Like many Dimension users, Anna was not trained as a 3D designer. Her background is graphic design with some motion graphics experience working with After Effects. She has considered learning 3D modeling tools, but they always felt quite disconnected from her current toolset, and high friction from concept to creation. Dimension is different — it’s a 3D application, but it’s also an Adobe graphic design application, and this is the magic that we’ve seen manifest again and again. We’re not replacing your current workflow, we’re augmenting it. Anna, and others like she, continue to work in the graphic design tools that they know and love, like Photoshop and Illustrator, but now with a new photorealistic visualization superpower through Dimension.

Interoperability with Photoshop and Illustrator

With each release of Dimension, we think carefully not only of features needed for the new compositing workflows that Dimension enables, but also how to relate those features to the tools that our users already know and love. In Dimension 2.0 we’re taking steps to deepen the interoperability between Dimension and both Photoshop and Illustrator. There’s still a lot more to do, but now you can bring in .psd or .ai files to a material or background in Dimension, make further edits to these in Illustrator or Photoshop and see the changes reflected in your Dimension scene, as well as render out a layered .psd file that can be taken into Photoshop for post work.

Benny Lee, 3D design lead at Coca-Cola, will join me at MAX this year to discuss some of their packaging design workflows. For his design team, who spend most of their time producing concepts and final designs in Illustrator, having an easy way to work in Illustrator and see their designs manifested in a photorealistic way is a game changer.

From dieline to 3D. Image source: Coca-Cola.

A recently released independent research report by Pfeiffer Consulting pegged the estimated time savings for product visualization and product mockups at 10x and more using Dimension over traditional techniques like paper mockups or 2D templates. There are lots of ways to fake 3D, but it turns out actually using 3D can be a huge time-saver.

Image source: The Productivity of Design Visualization / Pfeiffer Consulting.

Photorealism and PBR (not the beverage)

One of our key product pillars for Dimension is photo-realism, which is an important tool for designers as they need to get as close to the real thing as possible for visualizations and product shots. I won’t go into a lot of detail of what happens under the hood with Dimension to make this possible, but there is one underpinning technology that is important to understand. Dimension uses physically based rendering (PBR) to produce photorealistic results. In traditional graphic design tools, the designer paints or draws with specific colors. In Dimension, 3D materials are used, and the final color of each pixel is based on a simulation of light flooding the scene, reacting with the physical properties of 3D material.

For example, these five spheres highlight the various physical properties of materials — translucency, metallicity, roughness (high and low), and glow.

From left to right: translucency, metallicity, roughness (high), roughness (low), and glow.

Using PBR absolves the designer from having to fake things like reflections and shadows, and allows for exploring new design concepts very quickly. For example, the difference between the third and fourth sphere above is simply adjusting the roughness slider. The reflections in the metal sphere are because it has metallicity dialed up. The designer can specify the physical properties of the materials, compose the objects in the scene, and let the renderer do the heavy lifting.

What’s new in Dimension 2.0

With Dimension 2.0, we’ve made significant improvements to our material system. We’ve also introduced a new renderer that provides faster in-app previews. And, as mentioned previously, we continue to focus on interoperability with other Adobe flagship applications, with support for edit-in to Photoshop and Illustrator (including artboard support). Other improvements include new 2D canvas controls, multi-layered decals, and render size print controls. And we’ve made it even easier to bring in your 3D models by adding support for more 3D file formats: Autodesk FBX, SketchUp SKP, STL, and OBJ. And for those who don’t have their own 3D models, we’ve also added more than 5,000 new free 3D stock assets (materials, lights, and models), including the free assets shipped within Dimension.

We also are starting to tease that Dimension will ultimately be for more than compositing, and that we’re a 3D application for designers creating across mediums. Dimension now supports a design review service, allowing designers to publish their scenes to CC Assets as an interactive 3D web view.

Publish your Dimension scenes to interactive 3D scenes, currently available as a beta feature in Dimension 2.0.

This interactive 3D export will be a big component of our interoperability with the newly announced Project Aero. One of the challenges that we’ve heard repeatedly from our customers is keeping brand consistency of product images across e-commerce, product websites, marketing campaigns, and emerging platforms like AR/VR. With Dimension, designers can set up, export, and publish assets consistently, whether they are static images or interactive views.

Every new medium brings new creative potential, allowing artists and designers to push their craft further. 3D has done that in film, manufacturing, architecture, and many other industries — but not in graphic design. We’re aiming to change that with Dimension.

From myself and the extended Adobe Dimension Team, I just want to say how inspired we are seeing the amazing work that you are producing with 2D and 3D content in Dimension. We love seeing your renders, and we appreciate all the feedback, the kudos, and the suggestions. I’d encourage you to download the new release, check out our Getting Started tutorials, try it out for yourself, and let us know what you think. All the best for another great year ahead, and we look forward to seeing what you create!

For more resources on Dimension: