Early in 2020, I created a set of new fabric designs for printing at Spoonflower. Once you upload your design, Spoonflower automatically generates a set of pre-staged images that show how your design will look on a tablecloth, pillow, etc. Since I won’t have every design I create actually produced, it’s a really cool way to virtually see some of the designs. I love to have control over the creative process and I knew I could probably do better.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve played with Adobe Dimension, Adobe’s 2D & 3D compositing application. Most simply, Dimension lets you stage a 3D scene using prebuilt 3D product models either available free through Dimension or by purchase in Adobe Stock (or other sites, like CG Trader). I could download a 3D table and tablecloth object (for example), and apply my fabric design to the tablecloth. Just looking at a table is boring and I wanted to add additional elements (like pottery!) to my scenes. I found a few 3D vase forms, but I really wanted to incorporate real California pottery examples.
I remembered that Photoshop had some basic 3D modeling capabilities, so I started there. I was able to create a couple of really simple vase forms to use in Dimension, but there were so many limitations! While perusing YouTube tutorials for Photoshop 3D to find out why something wasn’t working, someone wrote in the comments of one video: “Why don’t you just use Blender?”
Blender? I checked it out.
Blender is a complete open-source 3D creation suite that supports all aspects of the 3D workflow process, including modeling, animation, simulation, compositing, etc. The best part is it’s FREE. Commercial competitors can cost thousands of dollars a year for a single user license.
Blender’s learning curve is steep. I spent the first six weeks going through a series of excellent Blender Guru tutorials before I started creating my own models. As you get into it, you’ll discover that model development is only one small piece of the puzzle. You’ll need to learn about texturing, lighting, scene setting, and camera techniques. Each day I try something new – a new object, a new technique – that I can practice with.
My first project is to recreate the Bauer Pottery “California Colored Pottery” dinnerware line, both ring- and plainware pieces. I’ve completed the first draft of the plainware line.