The 'future of design is 3D' says new Adobe skills report

3D skills report; an abstract colourful 3D render
(Image credit: Getty Images / Philipp Tur)

The need to learn 3D software has been growing for a few years now, as once complex apps like Blender and Cinema 4D become streamlined and easier to use. A new survey from Adobe suggests more than ever, the 'future of design is 3D'.

Adobe 3D Skills Report: headline results

63% of those asked said there is high demand for 3D skills.

80% said clients ask for 3D skills at least five times a year.

36% said animation was the most in-demand 3D skill.

97% expect to see demand for 3D skills increase.

It can be daunting to think you'll need to compliment your Illustrator or Photoshop skills with mastering Adobe Substance or ZBrush, but the new Adobe 3D Skills Report suggests mastering 3D skills will be essential in the coming years. If you need some training, read our roundup of the best Blender tutorials and take a look at our Cinema 4D review, one of the best 3D software platforms around.

So, let's dig into some of the results from the Adobe 3D Skills Report. The report has been written by It’s Nice That in partnership with Adobe, and over 90 designers across Europe took part to gauge if 3D art is emerging from being a niche and complex skillset into something everyone can grasp. (Hint: it is and has been for a while.)

3D skills report; an abstract 3D model of curvy shapes

(Image credit: Getty Images / Wirestock)

The big takeaway is 97% of the creatives questioned expect to see demand for 3D skills increase in the future. More so, 57% stated that it will be necessary for all designers to have 3D skills to land the best jobs. Finally, 69% of those questioned in the survey believe generalist agencies and small studios will demand 3D skills, and they'll bring this in-house.

So what's going on? While it's obvious that industries such as video games, VFX and animation will always need 3D artists it's also very likely that every other industry will also seek creatives with 3D skills. Whether it's the fashion industry or the graphic design world as well as web design and illustration, 3D art skills will be in demand.

This is likely because of the rise in Web 3 development, new technologies such as AR and VR as well as the merging of the physical and digital worlds with NFTs (remember them?) and the metaverse. Once Apple announced Vision Pro it really did feel like every creative woke up to the need to to begin learning 3D software.

3D skills report; a flower-like abstract 3D render

(Image credit: Getty Images / Philipp Tur)

Learning 3D isn't as hard as you may think, not anymore. In the report 61% of the 88 creatives questioned in the survey believe learning 3D skills has an "average" difficulty, while only 26% believe mastering new 3D skills would be difficult for most people. 

This marries with where most 3D software is right now, for example Procreate makes using and painting 3D objects incredibly easy, while the language of 3D apps like Zbrush has been mellowed in recent years to make it more approachable. (Read our Procreate review for a lowdown on its 3D integration.)

3D artist Loulou João, who has worked for BMW, MTV and Spotify, says in the report that the wealth of online training really helped her overcome any anxiety of learning 3D. This is backed up in the survey, with 70% of creatives saying they are self-taught. 

The artist says: "I think the most difficult part is having the discipline to keep going. The interesting thing with 3D is that, if you have an idea, there are multiple paths you can take to come to the same result; there’s often a hard way and an easier way to create what you want. I’ve had a lot of times where I haven’t been able to see a solution, and I’ll be crying and think, “I’ll never be able to be fluent with this!"

João also identifies the flexibility of using 3D software, as an asset made in 3D can be tweaked and used in countless projects from video games to illustration and even 3D print your work as sculptures. 

3D skills report; a wavy 3d object

(Image credit: Getty Images / Philipp Tur)

We've seen for a while now the emergence of 3D skills in all areas of creativity, art and design. And many tech developers, such as Epic Games with Unreal Engine and Unreal Editor for Fortnite, are clear that the future of digital art lies in democratising 3D skills.

Adobe calls this the 'experience economy' and while Epic Games refers to it as the new 'creator economy', where everyone can create, share and sell art and ideas using any medium, but where creating 3D assets will ensure you can reach a wider audience.

Learning 3D skills can help future proof your role and your career. Creatives with 3D skills that accompany traditional art techniques and 2D design, digital art and crafts will certainly gain in the future. Better yet, if you can bring your knowledge of storytelling, colour theory, composition and more to 3D then you're a step ahead of many tech-focused 3D creators. 

If you need a helping hand, read our get started in 3D guide. We also have a helpful tips feature on getting started in 3D printing. If you need to know what hardware you need, read our roundup of the best laptops for 3D modelling, too.

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Ian Dean
Editor, Digital Arts & 3D

Ian Dean is Editor, Digital Arts & 3D at Creativebloq, and the former editor of many leading magazines. These titles included ImagineFX, 3D World and leading video game title Official PlayStation Magazine. In his early career he wrote for music and film magazines including Uncut and SFX. Ian launched Xbox magazine X360 and edited PlayStation World. For Creative Bloq, Ian combines his experiences to bring the latest news on AI, digital art and video game art and tech, and more to Creative Bloq, and in his spare time he doodles in Procreate, ArtRage, and Rebelle while finding time to play Xbox and PS5. He's also a keen Cricut user and laser cutter fan, and is currently crafting on Glowforge and xTools M1.