Overhauled 3D effects in Illustrator
3D effects are one of the most popular effects used in Illustrator. While it generally has served users well, it hasn't been updated in years which makes it feel limited and outdated in today's 3D design status quo. We are also aware of the stability and rendering issues that have marred the experience of using this effect.
Hence we're overhauling 3D effects in Illustrator, starting this year with the following goals:
- Reliability - Provide a more stable and performant working experience.
- Fidelity - Produce beautiful, high quality results.
- Creativity - Provide new features that expand creative possibilities
- Usability - Make it easier to explore and work with 3D effects
- Composition - Create consistent compositions containing multiple 3D and 2D objects
- Interoperability - Take 3D artwork from Illustrator to edit in other 3D software and vice-versa
As initial steps, we are introducing a new ‘3D and Materials’ effect that’s been fully rebuilt using modern rendering technology. This new effect will exist in addition to the existing 3D effect for now, and we plan to update its functionality over a few Beta releases this year.
In its first iteration, the effect will allow users to:
1. Edit 3D effects conveniently through a non-blocking panel UI with live preview. (Access from Effects > 3D > Extrude)
2. Texture artwork with over 50 Adobe Substance materials that are infinitely adjustable. (Access from Window > Materials)
3. Light up artwork with environment and directional lights that can now also produce shadows. (Available in the Lighting tab)
4. Create smooth and curvy extrusions using the new “Inflate” bevel type. (Available in the Geometry tab under Bevel)
5. Rotate artwork more easily using the new on-canvas controls.
We would love to get your feedback on these Beta releases that will help us shape this feature into a great experience before it comes to Illustrator later this year. Please watch this thread for details on upcoming Beta releases for the new 3D effect.
Ben Thomas commented
Thank you for your valuable feedback! We are excited to announce some updates to the Beta based on the feedback we've received over the past weeks. The build is available for download in Creative Cloud desktop app in the Beta section. In the coming weeks we might release updates more frequently and we recommend that you enable auto-updates to ensure you're on the latest build.
The latest build contains the following updates:
1. Unified panel for 3D geometry, materials and lighting.
Apply through the effect menu (Effects > 3D > Extrude) or directly from the panel (Window > 3D)
2. Real-time editing
We've introduced a dedicated real-time renderer which will allow you to quickly work on your artwork before rendering it in high quality using the Ray Tracing renderer. You can choose the renderer and quality from the render settings popup
3. Vectorized appearance
You can now render your 3D effect in vector. Choose between Vector and Raster outputs in the render settings popup.
4. Live editing
You can now see changes made to the sliders and inputs in the 3D panel apply to the artwork instantly.
5. Material resolution up to 8K
You can choose from 1024px to 8192px for materials. Ensure resolution in DRES is increased appropriately to see high resolution results. Rendering will take much longer than usual.
6. Apple M1 support
3D effects are now supported on Apple M1 devices. Rendering should be much faster on this platform.
Few known issues we're working on fixing soon:
1. Shadows do not appear while in the Real time renderer. To see shadows, please switch to Ray Tracing.
2. Transform properties (offset, rotation, density) of Materials do not work while in Real time renderer.
Rob Hutchings commented
Any chance of adding gimbal like control like in classic where you could grab the cube to adjust? The overlay UI on the artwork is fine initially when your artwork is flat but as soon as you rotate along an axis they become confusing since movement no longer correlates to what the icons represent.
It's not in my Beta version and I just downloaded it. It only shows 3D - Classic
Ben Thomas commented
Thank you Mr. Ponce for sharing your feedback. Here are some responses to your main points.
1. We will have a switch to turn the rendering on or off. When rendering is off, you'll be in real-time preview mode (although at a slightly lower quality). You will be able to try this in a release that's coming in a few weeks time.
2. Materials will not be a separate panel and will be integrated into the 3D effects panel. We are working on ways to save custom material configurations that you should have available across sessions.
3. We are working on a better rotation controls which you will be able to try in the August Beta release. Would appreciate your feedback on that.
4. Ability to add multiple lights is on the roadmap. This might come in later in the year.
5. We're adding the ability to remove material from the 3D effects panel. So from Appearance panel, you can open the 3D effects panel and see which material is applied and remove it if you wish.
6. We will work on the seamlessness of materials as they wrap around edges.
7. The highlights you're seeing on the shadows are possibly because of the ambient or environment light. Could you try with environment light turned off?
8. We're fixing the resolution for the 'high' setting. It should be much more sharper in the July beta release.
9. We're working on expanding into vector shapes. This should be available to try in July or August beta release.
10. Render quality should be much higher in upcoming releases. Do try and let us know.
There definitely has to be a toggle that turns off the renderer while you make some edits to the base shape. Otherwise the renderer get in the way of minor edits so much so that it gets slow and frustrating.
The materials pallet should definitely be part of the 3d Effects pallets.
Most 3D rendering software allows you to edit the material and shows you a thumbnail of what the material will look like without having to apply it to an object.
The materials pallet should have similar functionality to the swatch pallet where we can add and save customers colors ... we should be able to add and save custom materials into the materials pallet as well and give them custom names.
How do we create a set of preferred materials which we use often and have them load when we need them in a new illustrator file?
The materials pallet and the editor still have a very clunky feel to them.
Adding a material to a 2D object automatically adds a 3D Effect to its Appearance without any rotation or extrusion. This is a nice feature.
3D Effect pallet: Rotate a slider would definitely be better than the dropdown menu. Think about adding the simple rotate visual cue like the classic 3D.
Looks like you would want to set everything up before you apply materials. Applying materials and then rotating, extruding, etc. makes things really slow.
Lighting: need the ability to add more lights.
In the appearance pallet the 3D Effect should have a toggle that show what material is applied and have the ability to remove it there. It is counter intuitive to have the remove material from effect in the materials pallet.
Some material are not seamless. Seamless material is expected. In this type of application, not having seamless materials is kinda of a no no.
The cast shadow should not have highlights as if its reflecting light. It should be blending into the background.
First knee-jerk reactions:
1) The new rendering mode is more realistic than the past, but the "High" is not high enough. It's much too grainy in some cases. I would expect the the colors on the text or object be more line the previous 3D Effect: clean and flat and the shadow onto the background be smoother.
2) One of the things that we do the most is to expand the appearance so that we can better tweak the faces of the rendering. We can't do the here since it generate an image and not vector artwork.
3) Color rendering is better in the new 3D. I did have to make the white more gray to have not get blown out too much and have the shadows on the sides be more prominent. On the classic 3D we always have to come back and adjust the colors or add more lights in shading.
4) Like the new bevel effects and ability to adjust the angles directly in the artboard.
5) I typically use the 3D effect for a quick setup when I do not have time to go into SketchUp. SkecthUp has some really nice rendering engine plugins that produce very realistic images ... so in a pinch the AI 3D effect works great, but for pro quality I will continue to take it into SketchUp.
I believe that the best outcome would be to combine both the Classic 3D with the new 3D such the there is flexibility to expand the appearance. I much prefer the clean look of the classic with the ability to expand the appearance. The classic 3D is more flexible for further enhancements and editing.
Will keep looking at it.
Jean-Michel Le Goff commented
I'm just experimenting new 3D effetcs, and was wondering how to copy one edited material from one object to the other...
Franck Payen commented
First play inside.
Speed is not there. On a simple letter on revolution, redraw time is problematic. Not a bad machine here : MacBook Pro (16 pouces, 2019), 2,3 GHz Intel Core i9 8 cœurs 32 Go 2667 MHz DDR4, AMD Radeon Pro 5600M 8 Go or Intel UHD Graphics 630 1536 Mo
revolution degrees are noted percent (360% instead of 360°)
I found the quality inside the panel low/med/high when I started looking at the document raster effects and lower it down from 300dpi to 72 dpi with no result.
Rotation cursors are dropdowns on the rotation panel while the revolution cursor is a slider + input field. I like slider better :)
So far I was only able to use 1 light.
i'd appreciate an access to the material panel from within the 3D panel
Of course models don't interact with each other (reflexions, shadows…), this is not dimension :)
Materials properties is a modal, when i'd rather use it as a panel since we'd be tweaking a lot of options…
Expand appeareance leads to a transparent pixel image, ok. Of course I'll miss the classic vector 3D part of it.