Adobe's 2023 Innovations: A Boon for 3D Artists

Adobe's 2023 Innovations: A Boon for 3D Artists

In 2023, Adobe unveiled a series of significant updates across its creative suite, offering a range of new benefits for designers of all stripes and some specifically tailored for 3D artists.

With new features in flagship programs like Photoshop, Substance Sampler, and After Effects, Adobe streamlines creative processes and integrates AI tools for efficient and innovative design.  These latest enhancements reflect Adobe's ongoing commitment to addressing the evolving needs of the digital art community. This article delves into how these updates are transforming the tools and workflows of 3D artists, empowering them to reach new heights in creativity and productivity.

Generative Fill in Photoshop: A Leap in Editing Efficiency

Photoshop's new Generative Fill feature has emerged as a game-changer for 3D artists. This tool streamlines the editing of still renders, aiding in rapid ideation and blockouts. By intelligently filling in areas within an image, it dramatically reduces the time spent on mundane tasks, allowing artists to focus on creativity. Whether it's refining concept art or tweaking final renders, Generative Fill enhances efficiency without compromising on quality.

Adobe's 2023 Innovations: A Boon for 3D Artists

Left: a 3D render of a still life with a skull imported into Photoshop V 25.3.1. The selection marquees indicate areas where generated elements will be added. The toolbar at the bottom provides a field for your prompt. Right: The image with centipedes generated over it as specified in the prompt. The generated images respect the lighting of the scene and can be replaced with 2 other variants with each generation. 

Substance Sampler Photogrammetry: Digitizing the Real World

Adobe's Substance Sampler has taken a significant leap with its photogrammetry capabilities. This tool allows for the quick and intuitive digitization of real-world objects, transforming them into detailed 3D models. It's a perfect access point for artists who seek to incorporate real-world textures and elements into their digital creations, bridging the gap between the physical and the virtual with ease.

Adobe's 2023 Innovations: A Boon for 3D Artists
Snip from the feature showcase video in the Adobe Substance 3D YouTube Channel

Firefly: Ethical AI for Creative Freedom

Adobe's 2023 Innovations: A Boon for 3D Artists

Firefly, Adobe's ethical image generation tool, stands out for its integration with Photoshop and other AI platforms. It's particularly useful for quick asset or backdrop generation, and text effect visualization for motion graphics projects. Firefly respects ethical guidelines in AI usage while offering a powerful tool for artists to rapidly prototype and visualize complex scenes and effects.

Substance Painter's Evolving Toolbox

Drag-and-Drop Functionality

This update focuses on usability and optimization. Artists can now easily drag and drop resources into various areas within a project, such as the viewport, layer stack, and slots. This functionality streamlines the texturing workflow, making it more intuitive and efficient​​.

Path Tool Enhancements

Adobe's 2023 Innovations: A Boon for 3D Artists
Snip from the 3D paths update video in the Adobe Substance 3D YouTube Channel

The Path tool in Painter has been enhanced based on user feedback. Artists now have greater control over the tangents of a path. Path points can be adjusted with manipulators for increased precision. Each path has its own visibility control in the viewport, and disabling a path's visibility also removes its effect on the final texture without deleting the path. It's also possible to copy and paste path positions and brush properties, easing the creation of complex shapes and consistent path styles​​.

Updated ASM Shader Support:

The Adobe Standard Material (ASM) shader in Painter now supports transparency, translucency, and absorption properties. This is particularly useful when creating materials like glass, plastics, or surfaces affected by light passing through them. It allows real-time viewing of materials in Painter’s viewport without the need to switch to a different shader for working with transparent materials​​.

Integration with After Effects:

Painter now features a 'Send to After Effects' option, simplifying the process of texturing a 3D model and sending it directly to Adobe After Effects. This integration caters to motion design workflows, especially with the new native 3D support in After Effects. Textures can be iterated in Painter and updated in After Effects, ensuring a seamless workflow. Additionally, the integration of Sampler and 3D Assets in these workflows offers a comprehensive suite for 3D model preparation and a library of ready-to-use 3D assets​​.

True 3D Workspace in After Effects

Adobe introduced a "true 3D" workspace in After Effects, a major step forward in its compositing software capabilities.

Adobe's 2023 Innovations: A Boon for 3D Artists
A snip from Adobe’s After Effects New Features page illustrating the new .glb/.gltf import functionality as well as HDRI support.

Advanced 3D Renderer

The key highlight is the Advanced 3D renderer, a hardware-agnostic, GPU-based render engine. Known as the Mercury 3D renderer, it provides final-quality rendering, capable of handling 3D models, extruded text, and 2.5D plane layers. This renderer supports Physically Based Rendering (PBR) materials and allows motion graphics and visualization artists to render less demanding shots directly in After Effects, reducing the need for round-tripping to dedicated 3D applications like Cinema 4D​​.

Image-Based Lighting and Stylized Effects

The Advanced 3D renderer also brings new features like image-based lighting for photorealistic work and 2D/3D workflows for stylized projects. Artists can now use HDRI environment maps for lighting and apply 2D effects to rendered frames from 3D model layers, facilitating the creation of highly stylized renders​​.

Conclusion: Adobe in the Technological Zeitgeist

Adobe's 2023 developments reflect a deep understanding of the needs and challenges faced by today's 3D artists. By offering tools that not only streamline the creative process but also open up new possibilities, Adobe proves itself to be more than just a software provider—it's a partner in the creative journey. In an era where technology rapidly reshapes the landscape of digital art, Adobe's innovations stand out as beacons of progress, helping artists navigate and excel in this dynamic environment.

In sum, these advancements by Adobe are not just tools; they are catalysts that empower 3D artists to push the boundaries of creativity and efficiency. As we continue to witness the blurring lines between the real and the digital, Adobe’s suite of tools remains a cornerstone in the toolkit of any artist looking to thrive in the years to come.

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