How Jon Vio Accelerated His Success by Designing in 3D With Adobe Dimension

Abstract pastel image designed with Adobe Dimension.

Work done for, by Jon Vio. Created using Adobe Dimension.

by RC Woodmass

posted on 02-24-2020

“I’ll learn anything I can to bring an idea to life – web, code, animation, illustration, you name it.”

…More promising words were never spoken by an aspiring designer! But Jon Vio, Detroit-born designer and illustrator at House of van Schneider, is no beginner. It’s just that his curiosity and drive hasn’t geared down through all his successes.

Designer Jon Vio.

In recent years, this invaluable love of learning has ushered an exciting new chapter into his career: Jon is one among the (ever-widening) circle of designers who have awakened to the advantages of creating in 3D. We asked him to share how he’s adapted to changing times, and he has maintained a flexibility of process to stay on the cutting edge of design.

Let your own ingenuity be your guide

First of all, let’s be clear, Jon stepped into the job market with a few background in fine arts, advertising design, graphic design, and branding. A solid education makes a sound foundation. But design is such a fast-evolving field that an ability to be your own teacher, ad infinitum, is equally important. So how did Jon find resources on 3D design in the first place? Online, of course.

“I first learned of Dimension years ago from Devon Ko of”, he explains. Devon is a well-known 3D artist in the design community, and someone Jon regards a true 3D guru.

“I had reached out to her via Twitter and asked what programs she recommended for designers looking to break into 3D. She recommended Dimension (which was then called Project Felix) and of course I was thrilled to give it a try.”

A poster design mockup for Pure Visions, with 3D elements, created by Jon Violassi

Recent 3D design work by Jon Vio. Jon now uses 3D in his graphic design practice to level up his creations, such as his poster designs, which he previously would have created entirely in 2D.

And how did the 3D newbie fare with this unfamiliar program? “Nothing about it [felt] overwhelming,” he reports. “It’s so easy to just start placing objects and build my scene.”

Experimenting with Dimension’s user-friendly interface ignited the inner child that drives so much of Jon’s creativity. “I’ve been designing and creating as far back as I can remember, first with pencil and paper as a kid and then moving into Photoshop. The first time I got paid to design was incredible. I was creating and designing because I loved to do it, I had no idea you could get paid to do it! Once I found that out, I knew it was the career choice for me.”

Dimension is designed with the self-starting learner in mind, and that certainly helped Jon. “I love how easy it is to use, from the interface to all the thoughtfulness that goes behind making it an approachable tool. I can fire up Dimension and don’t have to think too hard about what I’m doing. I just start creating,” he says.

Becoming a 3D designer = Becoming a virtual lighting designer

A 3D design experiment by Jon Violassi for fictional brand, Requim, that plays with color and type.

A recent 3D design by Jon Vio.

Jon says that one of the most interesting parts of having, literally, a whole new dimension to work with is the opportunity to rethink his relationship with the fundamental elements of design.

“I use a lot of photography principles when designing in 3D,” he explains. “Photography is all about lighting, and lighting is crucial for 3D as well. The same principles apply to both. That goes for visual symmetry, too.”

A (safe for work) 3D design of a nude, male statue leaning against a tree stump, by Jon Violassi.

A recent 3D design by Jon Vio.

“I especially enjoy the lighting presets. For me at least, getting realistic lighting is the most difficult part of using other 3D software. Dimension takes the headache out of it.”

We asked him what type of work or processes he gets the most value out of with Dimension.

“For me, it’s always important to first get all of my visual elements placed into my scene. I then like to set up a camera view, playing with angles until I get something that looks visually nice and well-balanced. I then move onto lighting, and play with the light positioning until I get something I’m happy with. Finally, I play with materials as the final step.”

The scope of standard web design is widening

Jon is bursting with tips on how to approach 3D web design. First of all, “3D design is a fantastic alternative to stock photography or graphics,” he opines.

“Next time you’re working on a web project, try substituting nice 3D visuals in place of stock graphics and watch how easily your designs are elevated! Of course, you can also pull assets from Adobe Stock 3D and use those as building blocks to create something truly original, too.

A simple 3D design showcasing symmetry, by Jon Violassi.

A simple 3D design by Jon Vio.

A 3D design of a chromatic floating orb draped in a red cloth material against a black background.

“Floating Orb” by Jon Vio, created using Adobe Dimension.

To give you a sense of the type of workflow needed to generate consistent 3D designs for the web, Jon elaborates:

“Dimension is a great tool to use in tandem with Photoshop. I especially see myself using it more and more for illustrative purposes. I’ll use Dimension to quickly render out some nice 3D visuals for a particular design (usually a web page or design for Semplice, our portfolio system for designers). Then I do a lot of post-processing in Photoshop, which usually consists of re-coloring and enhancing the final render I get from Dimension.”

“As Dimension continues to improve, […] it’s exciting to think up new ways I can integrate it with my daily work. “That’s what I enjoy about Dimension. There’s a lot of use-cases for using it, even subtle ones like this:”

A 2D poster design for Lunar Form that uses 3D orb elements.

Poster designed with Adobe Dimension and Photoshop. Jon created the colored orbs in Dimension, and then blended them with more traditional graphic design in Photoshop.

“[This piece] is a great example of how I used Dimension and blended it with traditional graphic design (the colored orbs were made in Dimension).”

He’s quick to note that using Dimension with other Adobe CC programs is not the limit:

“I also do a lot of 3D modeling in Cinema4D and in most cases will bring a model I created in C4D into Dimension for rendering. Of course, there’s also Blender, which is a free-to-use modeling tool and it works quite nicely with Dimension as well.”

Jon’s most recent piece created with Cinema4D and Adobe Dimension.

Jon’s tutorials for designing in 3D with Adobe Dimension

Jon isn’t just mastering this tool, he’s sharing his process too. Jon has authored three Dimension CC tutorials, published via DESK (the official HOVS blog).

“I’m hearing from DESK readers every week who discovered our tutorials and tagged me in their own experiments, which is super rewarding. It’s crazy to think I only just picked up 3D design myself, and I’m helping others learn it.”

A 3D design of an abstract orb structure against a pink gradient background, created by Jon Vio.

“Orbital” by Jon Vio, created using Adobe Dimension.

Jon says the most fun aspect of creating this content was “Pushing Dimension and seeing how far it can go…We wanted these articles and tutorials to be extra special, showcasing the best features of the tool.” You can access Jon’s 3D tutorials below:

Tutorial #1 — Abstract art

A 3D design of Abstract art using cylindrical and spherical shapes, created by Jon Vio.

“Abstract 3D art seems to be popular right now, and before only those specializing in 3D design could do it. People are really excited to see they can create what they previously thought was out of reach, and we’ve gotten a lot of requests for more tutorials of this type.”

Your first 3D design tutorial with Adobe Dimension

Tutorial #2 — Creating photorealistic packaging

A 3D design of Semplice branded hot sauce against a yellow gradient background, created by Jon Vio.

“Recently, I created a series of […] designs that I’ve been using to promote our products at Semplice. These illustrations garnered a lot of interest on social media and people were shocked to learn how effortless it was to create these illustrations with limited 3D experience.”

Creating packaging and prototypes with Adobe Dimension

Tutorial #3 — Where Dimension fits in to our overall workflow

A 3D design of Abstract art using lines and curves, created by Jon Vio.

“While I do use Dimension on its own to create some pretty incredible stuff, the possibilities are even greater when paired up with other tools.”

The unexpected addition to our creative workflow

As a last thought, Jon offers:

“Creative people traditionally have never used 3D due to the learning curves, so I just can’t wait to see what people can create now that Adobe is changing that.”

So keep updated via DESK and see how fast you can catch up. From there, you’ll be re-inventing design on your own terms in no time.

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

Products: Photoshop, Creative Cloud, Dimension