New Illustrator plugin lets 2D designers easily work in 3D

If you’re a 2D designer or illustrator who’d love to move into 3D but feel intimidated by 3D software, you’ll be interested in Cineware for Illustrator – a brand new free Illustrator plugin that enables users to add and edit 3D objects directly inside Adobe Illustrator CC.

Created by MAXON, Cineware for Illustrator uses the same powerful 3D engine as the developer's other 3D modelling, animation, painting and rendering solution, Cinema 4D.

The new plugin marks a welcome addition for artists and designers who regularly work with 3D art , creating a faster, more flexible workflow. 

Here's how it works: users can import any Cinema 4D file and tweak the view, lighting and textures to integrate 3D elements with 2D design. Alternatively, you can use 3D elements as templates when creating vector artwork in Illustrator CC

All this means you can now complete a wealth of 3D tasks in Illustrator. These include visualising objects like product labels, incorporating rich 3D content into Illustrator compositions, and even arranging 3D elements as guides for form and perspective when creating vector artwork.

Is this a Project Felix killer?

One key difference between Cineware for Illustrator and Project FelixAdobe’s simplified 3D app for graphic designers and illustrators – is that with Cineware you don’t have to leave Illustrator for rendering. 

Using Project Felix, you have to render your finished design into a high-quality asset that can be opened in Photoshop CC or Illustrator CC (and so on) to refine further. If you change your mind about part of the design – or the client requests a new edit – it’s back into the app to make the changes, which you’ll have to render out again.

With Cineware for Illustrator, you import a Cinema 4D file into Illustrator, where you can rotate, zoom and position the 3D object – and even change cameras, textures or light sources – directly in the app. 

When you’re satisfied with the result, you can render your image directly in Illustrator. Changes can be made at any time and the image will re-render automatically.

A jump start into 3D

The creation of Cineware for Illustrator is the result of a partnership between MAXON and TurboSquid, the leading online source for 3D models

TurboSquid hopes that its input will give users of the plugin a "jump start" into the third dimension, thanks to a collection of ready-to-use 3D models. Users of Cinema 4D will also be able to create and share their own custom 3D content for use in Illustrator CC.

“Cinema 4D has long offered a fantastic, easy-to-learn toolset for product visualisation and graphic design,” says Harald Egel, managing partner at MAXON. “With Cineware for Illustrator we’re making both the Cinema 4D toolset and 3D in general more accessible to designers, and plan to develop this workflow even further in the future.”

Cineware for Illustrator features

The tool makes it easy to imagine how 3D products, like packaging, could look

The tool makes it easy to imagine how 3D products, like packaging, could look

The main features of Cineware for Illustrator include:

  • 3D objects - Rotate, position and show/hide individual 3D objects from any Cinema 4D scene, all within Illustrator CC.
  • Materials - Adjust the colour, reflection, luminance, transparency, and bump directly within Illustrator CC. Users can even apply vector artwork to the surface of 3D models.
  • Cameras - Switch between preset cameras or use simple navigation tools to choose preferred viewing angles.
  • Lights - Enable or disable lights, and change their colour to set a mood and emphasise shapes.
  • Integrated workflow - Easily remove the background by choosing the automatically created alpha map so 3D elements can be integrated into existing vector artwork.

Cineware for Illustrator is available at no cost for macOS and Windows 10 through the MAXON website.

For Illustrator CC users who desire a rich, full-features 3D content creation experience, MAXON offers an attractive upgrade path to Cinema 4D.

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Dom Carter

Dom Carter is a freelance writer who specialises in art and design. Formerly a staff writer for Creative Bloq, his work has also appeared on Creative Boom and in the pages of ImagineFX, Computer Arts, 3D World, and .net. He has been a D&AD New Blood judge, and has a particular interest in picture books.