Breaking into 3D as a Design Student: Adobe Dimension Goes to the Hong Kong Design Institute

An Adobe Dimension rendering, created by student Huyen Han Kelly Ly, where she was able to visualize her previously made graphic design in 3D.

by Patrick Faller

posted on 03-13-2019

The Hong Kong Design Institute is an incredible design institution, with a state-of-the-art campus and a forward-looking faculty in the middle of a world design capital. So, when the school invited creative directors and Adobe Dimension development team members Vladimir Petkovic and Justin Patton to take part in a workshop on 3D, they leapt at the chance. For both of them, working with students at HKDI was a chance to both teach them about Dimension’s powerful 3D compositing features and to briefly mentor them on how they can add 3D design to their repertoire, a sure way to future-proof your skills as an up-and-coming designer.

“3D technology covers a vast area of professional expertise, like 3D modeling, texturing, lighting, animation, particle simulation, just to mention some,” said Vladimir. “It is not possible to learn everything, right away. Instead, we try to help students see how 3D can benefit their existing workflows.”

HKDI campus; awarded design was produced by the architecture firm Coldefy & Associés.

We asked Vladimir to tell us some of his tips and tricks from the HKDI workshop and to share his best advice for students looking to add 3D design to their skillsets.

Adding 3D design to the mix, one technique at a time

Design students, like those at HKDI, face many challenges when it comes to adding 3D to their worlds. That’s why Marko Stanojevic and Keith Tam, both world-class authorities on design, invited Vladimir and Justin to speak to students in Hong Kong. Together, our Dimension team members taught the HKDI class the basic concepts of 3D technology and showed them how to use Dimension for themselves.

Talented HKDI students of the one-year of communication design program, with Vladimir and Justin.

“3D software often proves to be extremely technical with cluttered, non-friendly user interfaces. So, the learning curve is very steep, and you are required to go through extensive training before actually being able to utilize the power of 3D,” said Vladimir. “All of these factors easily scare people away. It becomes too much, too fast.”

Vladimir’s best advice to countering this is: ask yourself what are the things you would love to be able to do (that you can’t do in 2D), and then see how 3D can speed up your work and make the results more presentable. This stops you from getting overwhelmed with the idea of ‘learning 3D’; it narrows down what you need to learn and gives you a direction in determining where you can gradually add new 3D techniques to your workflow to step up your design game.

HKDI students working on a hands-on exercise in Adobe Dimension.

“What is very important is to apply what you have learned, right away. Get your hands dirty. Practical implementation of the freshly gathered knowledge is more likely to make a permanent imprint in your brain, rather than just passively watching and repeating the same steps you’ve seen in a tutorial,” he said.

A good place to start filling in those knowledge gaps and learning 3D design techniques is through online tutorials, many of which can be found for free on YouTube. For more advanced tutorials, Vladimir recommends checking out the sites of professional schools, like Gnomon.

Adobe Dimension as a vehicle to learn 3D design techniques

It didn’t take long for students at HKDI to catch on to Vladimir and Justin’s 3D design lessons. The students grasped the new concepts so fast, the two of them ended up moving onto more sophisticated techniques, like basic modelling techniques using Maya and Zbrush, and eventually onto how to create advanced textures using Substance Painter. Pretty soon, the students were creating incredible 3D visualizations using Adobe Dimension.

“With better and cheaper hardware and applications that are, just like Dimension, specifically made to make 3D accessible to a broader crowd, it has become an educational trend that is no longer a luxury to know and understand, but rather a necessity,” said Vladimir, encouraged by how quickly young graphic designers are picking up 3D.

A Dimension rendering, created by student Ken Chu.

Dimension’s main goal is to provide an easy transition for graphic designers into 3D. It has been designed with non-3D professionals in mind, and uses the same user interface paradigms as other Adobe tools, so students familiar with programs like Photoshop and Illustrator should be able to jump into the program and pick it up fairly quickly. The Dimension team is continually organizing workshops, like the one held in Hong Kong, and Creative Jams to introduce designers to the app. If you can’t catch us in person, then a great starting point is Dimension’s online resources and tutorials.

“Nowadays, 3D graphics is de-facto the main language of the modern design communication. It is integrated into the latest technologies like AR, VR, into the smart devices, educational platforms, product design, mass media, and so much more. That’s why we’re so excited about creating a tool that gives all designers the ability to truly create in 3D,” said Vlad.

Dimension rendering, created by student Lam Wing Yin Brian.

To learn more about getting started in Adobe Dimension, check out our full resource page.

Topics: Creativity, 3D & AR, Design

Products: Photoshop, Creative Cloud, Dimension