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3D as compared to 2D


Can I use your models in Photoshop?

We get a couple emails a week asking 'How do I use your models in Photoshop' or  ' I tried to import your models into Photoshop and there's no 3ds file type under 'open'.

For those unfamiliar with 3D modeling and rendering I could see how this could be quite confusing. They see rendered images on the web and assume that Photoshop or some other image editing program was used to construct it. This tutorial is for those who've not seen 3D programs at work or are just plain interested in what the differences are between a 2D image editing program and a 3D modeling/rendering program are.........


Here we see a 'rendered' image of a 3D model in Photoshop. Rendering is a process that takes place in a 3D program to take a 'snapshot' of a 3D Scene. This 'scene' is created in a 3D program where the model is positioned (posed) in relation to a 'camera' and then turned into a 2D image of the scene.

Once rendered (to a bmp, jpg or other image format) the image can be imported to Photoshop or other image editing program. In it's 3D state, however, the model cannot be imported into a 2D program.




In the image above, the rendered image has been placed or 'mapped' to the top of a 3D 'box' (in this example in a 3D program called 'Bryce'). This is called 'texturing' in the 3D world. We've done this to help show that the rendered image has no 'thickness' until applied to a 3D object. It is infinitely small in height. The image has been 'wrapped' around the top of the box much like the picture on the top of a jigsaw puzzle box.



In this image we've imported the original 3D model into the same 'Scene' as above. As you can see, the 3D model (or mesh) actually has thickness in all dimensions. It has not only length and width but depth as well. The 2D image mapped to the box however, has only length and width (hence '2D')



As you can see, when the elements of the scene are rotated, you can see behind the 3D model. The 2D image on the box however is simply seen from the top instead of the bottom. No matter how much twisting and turning you do, you still can't see 'behind' the 2D image. Rotating a scene in this way requires a 3D program.


In this image we've fully textured the model with 2D images. The images are applied to the various surfaces of the 3D model in the 3D program much like the 'jigsaw box' image above. The textures will rotate with the model if the scene elements are rotated and will appear to actually be 'painted' on the model. Along side of the model above is a sample of the 2D stone image that was mapped to the lower sections of the model for comparison.
Here is the 3D model as it appears in the 3D program without textures. You can see the 'wire-frame' of the model. Notice that the wire-frame has all 3 dimensions and you can see the back edges. It is indeed fully 3 dimensional.
In closing, we hope this helps explain the most basic differences between 2D image editing programs such as Photoshop and 3D modeling and rendering programs.
Most all 3D artists use a combination of both types of programs. The 3D program to model and render the scene, and the 3D program to create the textures and touch up the rendered scene for final output.


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