Trend Spotlight: 3D Design & Illustration

Ready to get three dimensional? Learn all about 3D design, how to create a 3D illustration, and discover the best 3D art inspiration.

3D Illustration Trend
Portrait for Kelsie RimmerBy Kelsie Rimmer  |  Updated September 28, 2023

3D illustration is one of the biggest design trends of the past year. The practice of 3D design allows designers to lift their 2D ideas off the page and bring them to life in 3D. It’s a visual style that’s perfect for graphic design and website design, from digital interfaces to social media assets and everything in between.

The 3D design trend absolutely exploded online in 2020 and shows no signs of slowing down in 2021. Whether you want to recreate real-life objects or produce work straight from your imagination, 3D illustration offers unlimited artistic possibilities.

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What Is 3D Illustration?

When 3D design arrived on the scene decades ago it was considered cutting-edge technology transforming industries from television to engineering. While 3D design, and in particular, 3D illustration remains a super trendy and creative design tool, it’s  now accessible to anyone. Allowing designers to turn their 2D illustrations into larger-than-life artworks, 3D illustration is the cross-section of 3D modelling and creativity. 

How to Create a 3D Illustration

While 3D design is a complex art, it actually has a lot in common with photography. In addition to the technical skill of modeling objects, 3D illustration requires a scene to place these objects within. Similar to photography, with 3D design you need to think about the shot angles, the lighting, and, most importantly, the scene composition of the work that you’re trying to create. 

There are various ways to create 3D illustrations using different software, including Maya, Houdini or Cinema 4D. Regardless of your choice of software, all 3D design includes the manipulation of points and surfaces in a three-dimensional space. Every 3D software tool will offer a wide range of features to help you achieve your desired results without it becoming repetitive or time-consuming. If you’re new to 3D illustration, check out this handy beginner’s guide to 3D design from Dribbble. Or, to brush up on your 3D illustration skills, check out some of these great 3D tutorials on Tuts+

Where Is 3D Illustration Used? 

One of the best things about 3D illustration is its versatility. The uses for 3D illustration are wide and varied, with the style often featured in magazines, product design and advertising campaigns. On the other hand, 3D illustration is also regularly used for websites, billboards, flyers, animations and even interactive content, to give assets a modern and creative flare. 

Many artists and designers are now delving into the wonderful world of 3D illustration – resulting in a wide range of different styles and applications.

Jeremiah Shaw uses 3D visual data renderings to represent pie charts, bar graphs to super detailed infographics in a fun, colorful way. 

Talented artist and designer Khyati Trehan uses 3D illustration to explore her imagination with abstract, colorful and textural elements. 

While Elements author and 3D illustrator, Amrit Pal Singh, has become incredibly popular on Instagram for his charming Toy Faces series, illustrating the likes of Daft Punk, Frida Kahlo and even God himself. 

All these super innovative applications of 3D illustration go to show that not even the sky is the limit for this exciting creative trend. 

Ready to get three dimensional? Check out some of these amazing 3D illustrations on Envato Elements… 

1. Holographic Flowers Abstract Backgrounds by amritpaldesign

2. 3D Workspace by slabdsgn

3. Outer Space Character 3D Illustration V.2 by portocraft

4. Frankenstein’s Monster Illustration by amritpaldesign

5. Zebra – 3D Lettering by cruzine

6. 3D Cubes Backgrounds by MaamounAlbibi

7. Abstract 3d Design Elements by Artness

8. Pride Character 3D Illustration — Toy Faces by amritpaldesign

9. Geometric 3D Patterns by Youandigraphics

10. Halloween Witch 3D Illustration — Toy Faces by amritpaldesign

11. Chocolate – 3D Lettering by cruzine

12. Pine Trees Low Poly Backgrounds and Patterns by amritpaldesign

13. Abstract Sci-fi Plant Tentacles Backgrounds by amritpaldesign

14. Colorful 3D Abstract Backgrounds by amritpaldesign

15. 3D Traveling Illustration by slabdsgn

We hope you enjoyed this 3D illustration trend spotlight! For more top trends, read up on the Line Art Trend, the Photo Manipulation Trend, Pastel Design Trend, and our Illustration Trends for 2021!

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