Adobe Dimension Tutorial: Reimagining 20th Century Fine Art With Simoul Alva

by RC Woodmass

posted on 02-03-2020

Internationally successful graphic and visual designer Simoul Alva, who recently joined the newly-founded New York creative agency &Walsh, has quickly fallen in love with 3D design. In fact, it’s become an integral part of her design style and workflow.

“It was like learning to draw again,” she expressed, when asked about her experiences with Adobe Dimension (read about that in our recent artist profile on her). So we asked her for not one, but two different tutorials on two vastly different subjects, but both showcasing her work in Adobe Dimension.

Following a brief that we provided to reimagine works from four different 20th century painters, Simoul really stepped up, making sure to use unique geometric relationships, palettes, and textures for each style. Below are her responses to Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Auguste Herbin, and Morandi.

Unlike her holistic 3D brand design walkthrough she created for us, which jumps between Illustrator, Dimension, and Photoshop as needed, Simoul set a goal for herself of working exclusively in Dimension for this project. “I wanted to ensure that all of the artwork created was made in Adobe Dimension itself. So I had to come up with crafty techniques to create effects that I would turn to Photoshop for, for example, using a 3D frosted glass pane in front of the camera to soften the final artwork.” (Note that models and shapes were from Adobe Stock 3D, but all the compositing was done in Dimension. For more details on this frosted glass technique, check out step 6 of the tutorial below).

Original asset from Simoul’s 3D responses to Picasso (left); one reference Picasso image (right).

A 3D recreation of Henri Matisse's Cut-Outs, alongside the original painting.

Original asset from Simoul’s 3D responses to Matisse (left); one reference Matisse image (right).

A 3D recreation of Auguste Herbin's Alphabet Plastique II, alongside the original painting.

Simoul’s clever reimagining of the work of Auguste Herbin.

Reimagining works of fine art in Dimension

Simoul’s goal with this project was to retain the essence of the original artworks, while at the same time showcasing the unique possibilities the software provides.

Now, let’s get started with Simoul’s tutorial: she chose to focus on her redesign of Girogio Morandi’s still life paintings, circa 1920 – 1940.

1. Consider multiple reference images & hone in on your vision

One key to Simoul’s powerful 3D homages is her strong conceptual choice to study various pieces by the artist in order to respond more accurately to their signature style — rather than attempt an exact 3D “recreation” of an isolated piece.

In comparing her final image with these other pieces by Morandi, you’ll see that she has taken cues from the objects she finds most interesting across several of his most famous works:

Three paintings by Giorgio Morandi from the Still Life collection.

Three paintings by Giorgio Morandi from the Still Life collection.

Three paintings by Giorgio Morandi.

The color scheme is, of course, inspired by the orange & brown-hued piece, above.

2. Get started by importing objects

Importing Adobe Stock vase assets to recreate Giorgio Morandi's Still life in Adobe Dimension.

You can find the vases used for this tutorial on Adobe Stock. You can also build custom forms by combining shapes.

After downloading all the objects you’d like to use, import them into the scene by pressing Ctrl/Cmd + I and importing the files.

Once you have imported all the objects, play around and create a composition with varying heights.

Learn more about designing in 3D using Adobe Stock assets, just like Simoul did, in this Dimension tutorial._
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3. Set the scene with floor and background planes

Simoul opted to achieve this using the “beach towel” object from the Objects panel.

Adding a textured ground plane to a recreation of Giorgio Morandi's Still Life, in Adobe Dimension.

Complete the material of the scene by adding a plane as the background.

You can directly drop the plane into the scene and rotate the object 90 degrees.

Learn more about arranging 3D objects in this Dimension tutorial.

Adding a textured background plane to a recreation of Giorgio Morandi's Still Life, in Adobe Dimension.

4. Fix your composition with the Orbit Tool

Press ‘1’ (Orbit Tool) on your keyboard to change the orientation. Most of Morandi’s work is flat and at eye level, so Simoul moved the composition around to reference the original using the Orbit Tool.

Pay attention to how lighting and scale are affected by adjusting the position, and don’t forget to select the angle of the scene you like by using Camera Bookmarks. This tool helps you freeze frames and return to them later. Use the “+” button to add bookmarks for the angles you like.

Using the orbit and pan tools to change the view of a recreation of Giorgio Morandi's Still Life, in Adobe Dimension.

Learn more about changing the camera view in this Dimension tutorial.

5. Finalize the color and texture of your objects

Simoul sourced materials from Adobe Stock and used available textures like ‘Diagonal paper,’ ‘Cracked concrete,’ and ‘Cardboard.’

Navigate to the Materials filter within the Starter Assets panel. Adjust the model by with custom colors and textures by editing the Color setting in the Properties Panel.

To recreate Morandi’s composition, Simoul wanted textures that felt organic and hand-done.

Adding colors and textures to a recreation of Giorgio Morandi's Still Life, in Adobe Dimension.

Synchronize and block colors by using the ‘Eyedropper’ tool. This helps you group color and textures across different elements.

Make quick changes and iterate by changing the color for one object to see it changing across groups of objects.

Learn more about editing the look of objects with Materials in this Dimension tutorial.

6. Add atmospheric texture to stay true to the artist

To achieve the subtle softness found in Morandi’s work, place a plane parallel to the composition in front of the camera. Depending on the texture you want, select from materials like ‘Water’, ‘Frosted Glass,’ ‘Damaged Glass,’ or ‘Glass.’ In this case, Simoul used the ‘Frosted Glass’ material.

To apply your chosen material, drop it on the plane or simply select the material after selecting the plane. Adjust the opacity to see varying softness.

Adding plane textures to create atmospheric effects to a recreation of Giorgio Morandi's Still Life, in Adobe Dimension.

Once you have achieved the desired level of softness for the image, feel free to render according to your desired quality. You can choose the quality of the image and file type from the render settings (a high file quality will translate to a longer render). You can manipulate this by changing the dimensions of the image.

Adjusting opacity of atmospheric textures for a recreation of Giorgio Morandi's Still Life, in Adobe Dimension.

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.

Rendering a recreation of Giorgio Morandi's Still Life, in Adobe Dimension.

Of course, one of the advantages of Dimension is the ability to work on the same project in any of the programs in Adobe Creative Cloud. At this point, you can take the rendered file into Photoshop for post-processing effects.

Learn more about rendering and exporting and exporting images in this Dimension tutorial.

A 3D recreation of Giorgio Morandi's Still Life, designed by Simoul Alva in Adobe Dimension.

To see more of Simoul’s work and learn how she created a magazine and lifestyle brand design, check out her brand identity design tutorial. Then, read our artist profile on Simoul to learn how she has carved an exciting career out of her work in 3D design.

Topics: Creativity, 3D & AR, Emerging Technology, Design

Products: Photoshop, Creative Cloud, Dimension