Whether you want to create a personal project, improve your own designs, or just have fun exploring what you can do in graphic design and illustration, there are always new ways to improve your work. 3D illustrations are popping up everywhere on websites, apps, and ads, and it’s easy for you to find them.
You don’t need to be familiar with Cinema 4D or Blender to find or use these 3D models. Many of them are ready to use, fully customizable and easy to learn to create. Here are six great websites and software where you can find 3D models.
Spline is a free design website that offers pre-made 3D designs and lets you create 3D models and scenes from scratch. You can access Spline from a browser or download the application on Mac, Windows or Linux.
For new users, Spline offers a Docs tab with a comprehensive list of how-tos that will help you use Spline effectively. The list offers useful information such as how to get started with Spline, understand 3D design, how to export your 3D scenes, as well as explanations of materials and textures of your objects, lighting and much more.
You can use the ready-to-use 3D models offered by Spline by browsing its library and clicking on the model of your choice. Each pre-made template is customizable in any way, or you can use it as is. You can also create 3D models from scratch; it may take a bit of experimentation, but that’s where the fun is. You can view your models from different perspectives to understand their full 3D form as they are created.
Spline’s export options aren’t what you tend to find elsewhere; you can export as public URL, WebContent, JPG, PNG, WebM, GIF, MP4, GLTF and spline.
Most Shapefest assets come with a commercial license included, allowing you to use the 3D models for any design purpose, as long as you don’t sell them for further use.
Since Shapefest is just a library of 3D models, there isn’t much information on how to use them on the website. The great thing about this, however, is that you can import them into any program you want, so you don’t have to learn any new software to work with these 3D models.
Choose your 3D icon, letters, hands or other pack and you will receive an email with a PNG download. To change the colors of Shapefest PNGs, you’ll need to use raster software, like Photoshop, or you can use them exactly as they are in other software for inclusion in web designs or other artwork.
Adobe Illustrator is a staple program in almost every graphic designer or illustrator’s toolkit. Therefore, its 3D tool and materials is an easy skill to learn when you already know the program. Design normal vectors using shapes and the Pen tool, and turn each shape into a 3D version using the 3D and Materials option in the Effects panel.
The tool offers different types of 3D extrusion (like rotated 3D or rounded edges), different materials your 3D object can take on, and different lighting setups. There are so many ways to experiment with this tool, the possibilities are as endless as your skill level.
4. Procreate 3D
While Procreate for iPad remains a 2D authoring tool, a recent update now offers the ability to edit 3D assets. Although you can’t create the 3D models in Procreate, it provides you with some of them, such as sunglasses, roller skates, vase, etc. You can also import 3D models from other software which you can modify in Procreate to use in your designs.
Editing Procreate 3D models works the same way you paint in 2D using the software. You can use all the same brushes, colors and layers as with 2D, only now they affect the appearance of a 3D object and how colors and textures wrap around the pre-made model in a realistic way.
It’s fun to play with. Hopefully Procreate will add more options to 3D functionality, so you can start creating your own 3D assets rather than editing and painting existing ones.
If you’ve ever used the Figma web design tool, you’re probably already familiar with its many plugin options. Many Figma plugins include universal icons for simple and easy UX and UI design, but you can also access illustrations, gradient packages, and best of all, 3D models and assets.
To access these plugins, go to the Community tab and search for “3D” in the search bar. You will be presented with a plethora of plugin options, including how often they are downloaded by other users, so you can gauge their popularity and quality.
A few Figma plugins that we think are great to use are Vectary 3D Elements for a wide range of 3D shapes and assets, Clay Mockups 3D which offers device mockups in a fun 3D form for your designs, and Handy Hand’s (Community ) which offers a great human resources 3D hand experience to humanize your design work.
If you’re not already using Figma, the good news is that many Figma plugins are also available for Adobe or Sketch, so you can integrate these 3D plugins into your current workflow in your favorite program.
LottieFiles is a website and plugin that offers its own file type: Lottie. Although they don’t exclusively offer 3D assets, it has a large library of 3D and 2D animations. It’s one of the few places to find 3D animations, rather than just illustrations.
Lottie is a smaller, higher quality file type that is increasingly seen in web, app, video, and social media designs. Adobe After Effects and a few other programs can be used to create and modify Lottie files.
You can download animations created by the LottieFiles community using plugins with Adobe or Figma, or find them on the website. If you can’t find what you like pre-made, you can try your hand at making your own Lottie using After Effects and the LottieFiles plugin.
LottieFiles has created an opportunity for designers and creators to engage with this new file type, but if you’re not quite ready to learn the software to create these files, there are several other plugins you can so use other creators’ 3D (and 2D).
Take your 3D designs to the next level
With these six great tools for 3D models and assets, you can take your creativity to the next level. With a mix of ready-made designs or fully customizable options, you can explore the best ways to implement 3D designs into your creative workflow. Although most of the options are static 3D illustrations, with some experimentation you can create animations or other fun things using these assets.
If you are new to 3D modeling, you will benefit from learning about normals.
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