Building UP a Scene in Dimension

How to create inspired fan art with Adobe’s 3D compositing tool.

House attached to balloons from the movie "Up."

by The Creative Cloud Team

posted on 06-27-2018

Adobe Dimension makes it easy for designers of all skill levels to bring images to life. By compositing 2D background images with 3D assets, the creative possibilities are endless.

This summer, we are taking you behind the scenes into the creative processes of some of our very own Dimension team members. During the day, they work to make Dimension the best product it can be for our users. But in the off-hours, they each have their own creative visions and passion projects.

In this post, we’d like to introduce you to Claire Chan, a developer on our Dimension team. In her free time, Claire enjoys using Dimension to create fan art inspired by some of her favorite pop culture icons. She puts her own creative spin on a classic scene by bringing it to life in 3D, using only basic assets available within Dimension.

We’re going to let Claire walk you through her process step by step. You can download the Dimension app here, and incorporate your own design choices to make the scene your own. Share what you’ve made on Behance and Twitter using the hashtag #adobedimension.

Hello!Headshot of Claire.

My name is Claire, and I’m a member of the Dimension team here at Adobe. In addition to working on the app itself, I love creating with it, and I hope that you will too.

I am a huge fan of the Pixar movie “Up,” especially the iconic scene of the flying house against the backdrop of a beautiful blue sky. I’m going to show you how you can utilize the powerful tools in Dimension to create your own version of this scene in 3D.

The best part? Everything you need to completely build this scene is available in the app. New to Dimension? Check out this Quick Start video.

Picture of house attached to balloons.

Base and detail

I like to start simple with the base of whatever I’m building, centering my model at the origin. I’ll begin by picking out some basic primitives from the asset panel, and scaling and rotating them to form the basic shape of my model.

In this design, I’m using a mix of the cube and prism models. Don’t worry too much about making it perfect — we can always tweak it as we go.

Blocks used to make a house.

Build a basic house structure using just the cube and prism models already included in Adobe Dimension.

When I’m building something with so many distinct parts, like this house, I like to assign colors to each part as I work to help visually differentiate the sections. I prefer to hold off on applying the final colors until I’ve finished the form of the model.

Once we’ve got the base shape of the house down, we can start to add some trim.

House base structure completed.

House base structure complete. Now, let’s add some detail!

When placing details onto the base of the house, it’s helpful to move your camera and view your scene from different angles to make sure your pieces are connecting the way you expect them to.

For sections with repetitive pieces, like the individual poles of the porch railing, try using alt+drag (or option+drag on OSX) for easy duplication and placement.

Shows how to use alt+drag.

Duplicate elements easily by using alt+drag (or option+drag on OSX).

When creating recurring multi-part pieces, like the windows, I use Groups to keep the various parts of the house together and to make duplication easier.

Using Groups to keep parts of house together.

The power of Alt+Drag combined with Groups!

Windows being placed on the house.

Placing the windows on the house.

For this window I’m using cubes that I’ve scaled into narrow pieces for the window panes and planes for the window surface. We can use alt+drag on the grouped window pieces to quickly create and place many windows around the house and scale them accordingly.

Basic structure of the house is complete.

Once you’re happy with the elements of your base structure, you can move on to adding materials and colors.

Color and material

Once you’re satisfied with the form of the model, it’s time to add some color and texture.

To maintain a more cartoon feel, I used the matte material for most of the colored parts of the house, and only a few textured materials for details. Here I’m using the American elm wood material for the porch details, chocolate brown beech wood for the door and bottom of the house, and tan glass for the windows.

Shows how to add colors to the house.

Adding colors to my base materials.

Use the eyedropper tool to create linked materials for parts of the house that should always have the same material or color, like the window panes for instance. Then you can easily modify all linked areas at the same time.

If you have colors saved into your CC Libraries account, you can also use the Libraries panel as a color palette by simply dragging and dropping colors from the panel to your scene.

Since materials and color will look different when fully rendered, I frequently check the Render Preview mode for a more accurate representation of how my colors will actually look in the final render.

The completed house.

Ta-da! Our house is complete.


Now for the balloons.

I started with a single balloon made up of a sphere, a pyramid, and a cylinder.

Shows how to create a balloon.

A sphere, a pyramid, and a cylinder makes one cute balloon.

Place the balloon onto the house so you can scale it to proportion. I use alt+drag to create duplicates of the balloon, arranging them as I go to create a natural looking bouquet. Again, I don’t worry about coloring until I’ve finished making all of the balloons.

Shows multiple balloons.

Duplicated balloons!

When we’re ready to apply material and color to our balloons, remember to use render preview to make sure the render output will look the way you expect it to. Here I’m using the plastic material for the balloon, and matte for the string.

Shows more balloons with plastic material.

More balloons, with a plastic material applied.

We haven’t figured out what the final angle of our composition is yet, so it’s important to make sure our scene looks pleasing from multiple perspectives. I like using the camera bookmarks to easily check and tweak how the scene looks from different views.

Shows balloons at different angles.

Save multiple camera views to return to them quickly and check how the scene looks from different angles.

Background and lighting

We’ve completed our model. Now, let’s set the scene.

For the background, I’ve brought in an image of a bright blue sky from Adobe Stock through the CC Libraries panel.

Proper lighting and shadows are super important for adding depth to your scene. Let’s bring our house up off the ground plane, and rotate it to create a floating effect.

The house is flying in the air.

It’s a bird, it’s a plane — it’s a flying house made with Dimension!

Then, under Environment, uncheck the ground plane box to remove the ground shadows. Now, we can either use Match Image to automatically create lighting using the background image, or adjust the Environment Light and Sunlight settings ourselves. Lighting controls in Dimension are quite powerful, and Match Image automatically calculates the lights, shadows, and perspective of your scene so you can get to editing more quickly.

I prefer to use a combination of both Match Image and Environment Light.

The lighting is adjusted.

Making adjustments to the direction of the light source after using the Match Image feature.

I’m using the background image as an Environment Light to get the reflection of the clouds on the balloons combined with some Sunlight tweaking for a more natural outdoor lighting look. Again, you can always adjust the light settings after using Match Image to automatically match lighting to a background image. I find that this is usually the way to go when you’re aiming for a more cartoon-like look.

Shine is added to the balloons.

Shiny balloons!

The completed house and balloons.

And our final render!

Hope this helps you get started on your own creative Dimension projects. I’m excited to see what you make. Download Adobe Dimension to get started, and be sure to tag the team on social media with #adobedimension. Happy designing!

Claire is a developer on the Dimension team. She has a lifelong love of games and animation that led her to work in the creative industry. In her free time she enjoys playing card games, trip planning, and seeking out new sushi spots around the city. Follow her on Instagram, and see more of her work here.

Topics: Creativity, Design

Products: Creative Cloud, Dimension