Adobe Substance 3D explores what’s taking shape at the intersection of 3D art and technology

Demand for 3D is increasing across creative sectors and a new education project explores the extraordinary movements, trends, and bodies of work that capture this moment.


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Taking Shape is a new source of inspiration and know-how for creators, brought to life by Adobe Substance 3D. Visitors to the virtual gallery are invited to explore the craft, concepts and context currently playing out in digital creativity, in an immersive gallery pondering questions in 3D art and design. Through an inquisitive look into what the medium is today, Taking Shape centres the work of designers from an array of backgrounds and domains, explaining the transformative effect of extending their work into 3D. From product design to graphics, illustration and animation, the artist interviews demonstrate how creators are going from concept to design with more ease and more robust results.

As Taking Shape’s host and new media author Jesse Damiani suggests: “A primary benefit is the capacity that 3D affords in prototyping, allowing creators to mock up how a work of art, product or scene will look, and communicate that quickly.” For instance, if a designer is looking to demonstrate how a concept or client brief may function in real life, 3D is an apt solution. “With materials in 3D becoming ever more functional and photorealistic, artists are presented with the opportunity to iterate rapidly. An exponential timesaver can even provide consumers with a higher degree of customisability of their products than ever before.”

Furthermore, there is an increasing need for 3D artists across the creative industry to develop 3D skills to meet the growing demand. As outlined in our 3D Skills Report, 63 per cent of digital creatives surveyed said the demand for 3D skills is so high right now they are having to turn clients and projects down.


Adobe Substance 3D: Taking Shape, Pattern Priestess artwork by Skeeva


Adobe Substance 3D: Taking Shape, Garments of the Metaverse artwork by Max Salzborn

Visit Taking Shape

Take a tour through an immersive gallery that ponders questions in 3D art and design.

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To showcase the transformative qualities of 3D, Taking Shape presents a variety of uses of 3D art and design across three visual worlds within the virtual gallery: X-Topia, Surreality and Photorealism. Heading first into the Photorealism room, viewers are presented with three exhibits to showcase how the medium can encourage artists to “situate their creations in the physical world and sculpt 3D assets in lifelike immersion”, explains Jesse.

3D artist David Bayliss, who works with Adobe Substance 3D to offer architectural visualisation of various objects within the context of a scene, demonstrates how the medium can be utilised as a virtual studio. Not only proving how helpful 3D design can be when crafting objects – be it a dining table and chairs or a freshly made bed – David’s work proves how crucial lighting and textural details can be when designing a life-like environment, even making room for a creative to add purposeful imperfections. “With today’s technology, it is becoming easier to visualise space not only in a faster way than before, but also more realistically,” says the artist.

In this sense, Adobe Substance 3D is a “must have tool for the artist,” says David. “It allows you to go the extra mile by really finessing your art and crafting your object so it shines in your favourite renderer. The Substance Source library and Substance Painter provide me with a huge variety of possibilities to customise what I need to create.” Such possibilities are further explored via other disciplines within Photorealism. This includes digital fashion in 3D art director Max Salzborn’s practice and surfacing artist Sebastian Deredas’ work, which concentrates on developing photorealistic characters.

Artwork below: Adobe Substance 3D: Taking Shape, “Apartment Design” artwork by David Bayliss


Adobe Substance 3D: Taking Shape, process image by artist David Bayliss displaying the breakdown of layers for “Jeep” artwork


Adobe Substance 3D: Taking Shape, “Visual Escapism 1” artwork by Mue Studio

At the opposite end of the visual spectrum, visitors to Taking Shape are also invited into a Surreality room showcasing how even the imaginary can feel plausible, and how older art movements are imbued with new energy by 3D artists. Take for example the legacy of Surrealism: this wave is fast becoming a visual way for artists to expand their “imagination from powerfully lifelike to the digitally uncanny,” Jesse describes.

A trend particularly visible amongst 3D creatives, artists utilise tools within Adobe Substance 3D to craft imaginary, immersive worlds. One example is Mue Studio, a modern image production house based in New York. Started by Minjin Kong and Mijoo Kim, both were originally photographers who now utilise 3D capabilities to focus “on dressing hyperreal colour to reality, to further challenge the boundaries of the viewer’s imagination”, says the studio.

Subsequently developing a digital tone of voice featuring minimalistic design with a calming pastel colour palette, Mue Studio demonstrate how a “less is more” approach can create a digital environment for escapism. With this in mind, the capabilities of Adobe Substance 3D are used regularly by the duo for its ability to add detail. “For instance, we may want to purchase a certain texture, but that particular texture might not be available in the market. This is when Adobe Substance 3D allows us to customise the image or create a brand new feel” – essential to developing captivating digital worlds.


Adobe Substance 3D: Taking Shape, “Visual Escapism 2” artwork by Mue Studio


Adobe Substance 3D: Taking Shape, Mijoo Kim in front of her work, artwork by Mue Studio

Across Surreality more broadly, Taking Shape explores how 3D can aid creatives such as Vini Naso, whose practice investigates how digitally-led creativity can represent notions of beauty and visual identity. Rory Björkman, on the other hand, creates surreal environments by playing with narrative and character within vividly realistic worlds.

The final exhibit on display in the Taking Shape virtual gallery is X-Topia, where 3D artists contemplate alternate futures in high fidelity. Often leaning into science fiction aesthetics while envisioning alternate realities, 3D tools encourage artists to “present these worlds in powerful detail,” says Jesse. But, it also raises the question: “What are they revealing in these speculative realities?”


Adobe Substance 3D: Taking Shape, “Curiosity” artwork by Rory Björkman


Adobe Substance 3D: Taking Shape, “Cascade” artwork by Idil Dursun

For example, across Congolese 3D artist Jeryce Dianingana’s portfolio is a combination of traditional art and futuristic architecture. This merging of styles reflects his questioning of “what the future can allow us Africans to build and accomplish”, he says. “Art is part of us, it is the way we connect with our ancestors, it is the way we share stories and celebrate many events.”

Working with Adobe Substance 3D to create textures with meaning is an approach also adopted by Idil Dursun, an architect and CGI artist. First working with 3D software while studying architecture, experimenting with the medium encouraged Idil to consider how individuals may interact with the spaces he creates. Inspired by films such as Blade Runner and Doom, conceptually Idil’s work presents dystopias via art and design, currently exploring the difficulties raised by overpopulation.

Artwork below: Adobe Substance 3D: Taking Shape, “Wakongo River” artwork by Jeryce Dianingana


Adobe Substance 3D: Taking Shape, “Wakongo River”, trim textures detail artwork by Jeryce Dianingana

A further artist working in 3D to imagine new futuristic realities is Elia Pellegrini. Creating pieces often inspired by lucid dreams, science fiction and cyberpunk aesthetics, Elia works with Adobe Substance 3D to create their own materials unseen elsewhere. “With this specific software, I create a lot of custom and different materials,” explains Elia. “I take a lot of inspiration from organic materials and my dreams. So this way I can do some sketches, use 2D techniques to get an idea of what I want to do, and then translate these ideas digitally… It’s amazing to compare the initial idea with the final result, and they’re totally different; I really love how the software lets you bring your ideas to life.”

Taking Shape is available to explore in more detail here – be sure to keep an eye out for a scavenger hunt within the virtual gallery too.


Adobe Substance 3D: Taking Shape, “Research History and Bones” by artist Elia Pellegrini

Visit Taking Shape

Take a tour through an immersive gallery that ponders questions in 3D art and design.

Watch full episodes here

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Adobe Substance 3D: Taking Shape

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