How 3D Graphics Interact With Graphic Design


Graphic design is a profession that has been in existence for quite a while now and like every other profession, it has undergone a period of growth. One of the notable changes that have been seen in the field is the shift from purely ink/paint-based formats or presenting graphic design works to the integration of computer technology in the development of virtual wonders. Computers in particular have found prominence in graphic design work through the component of 3D graphics-a factor which has made the creation of supra-imaginary artworks a possibility. This paper seeks to analyze the importance of integrating 3D graphics into graphic design work. To this end, extensive literary research shall be conducted in order to assess the historical developments of both 3D graphics and Graphic design. A brief listing of the advantages of combining the two elements of art shall also be provided in order to support the conclusion that graphic design as a field needs to embrace 3D graphics if progress is to be made.

Definition of terms

3D graphics can be described as objects that are created, displayed and manipulated in three dimensions using computers (Luebke 2003). The software used in the creation of 3D graphics allows the user to make objects that can be manipulated (moved, scaled and rotated) along the XYZ scale. These graphics software also incorporate lighting and texturing devices to give the created objects the particular characteristics that the designer intends to present.

Graphic design is a creative process involving the creation and combination of letters, signs and images to come up with a visual representation of ideas (Wagna, Stuedahl and Bratteteig 2010). Graphic design can be applied in almost all practices that require visual communication such as advertising, company identification and product packaging.


The research will be primarily based on secondary data. Information will be extracted from books, journals, articles and websites. The criteria of selection for the literature will be the relevance to the research topic as well as the year of publication. Both public and private libraries as well as online libraries will be visited in order to access the data. This research will be partly evidence-based and partly founded on professional research by professionals in the field. Various articles will be studied in order to provide background information which will essentially give credibility to the final essay. Graphic design and the associated 3D graphics being a critical aspect of art analysis cannot be effectively analyzed without obtaining information from historical developments. This will definitely make for some interesting research and in as much most of the information will only be used for reference purposes, it will effectively come round to form the back-born of the paper.

Information from the publications will serve to provide an explanation as regards the developments in both graphics design and 3d graphics. This will be very crucial information that will make the research report appeal to both professionals and the general public. For the latter, it may require that some of the information obtained from the books and other publications be broken down into simple language and at the same time illustrations drawn from the most successful applications of 3D graphics and graphic design in real-life cases.

Like with any other professional field of study, business researches have to be conducted in such a way that the offers credibility to the practitioner. In such a field, the strength lies exemplification of historical developments. With this knowledge in mind, the effort will be made to obtain relevant information to the particular topic in question and this will be accompanied by proper citation.

Reasons for Selecting the Above Methodology

For any professional topic, chances are that extensive research has been carried out by professionals in the field before. Consequently, in order to establish the backbone of a given research project, it is only necessary that an extensive review of literature be carried out before identifying and seeking first-hand information from the field. The latter, i.e. information collected from the field is also necessary since it helps give professional credibility to the project. Combining results from both sources would serve to foster their symbiotic relationship with one offering background information and the other presenting up-to-date information on the topic.

Expected outcome

The outcome expected out of this research process is results that would make graphic designers and 3D graphics developers re-evaluate the benefits of integration of the two fields to make one formidable team by eliminating the critics that come out to try and separate the two. The research and subsequent paper will show the various loopholes which if sealed can increase the appreciation of graphic design work.

Research process

The first step in conducting the research will come in the form of an extensive review of literature from various secondary sources. Information on the topic of internal auditing and its integration processes will be collected from company records, journals, magazines, conference proceedings and websites. This procedure steps would make it easy to come up with a survey question that will guide us into the third step of the process. In this stage, an analysis of the data obtained shall be carried out and the advantages that are raised regarding the process of integrating 3D graphics and Graphics design shall be picked out and effectively analyzed in the light of the strategic approaches for combining the two elements.

Literature Review

The history of graphics design

Unlike 3D graphics, the graphic design dates back much earlier than the 19th century. The first proof of graphic design is recorded in cave paintings in Lascaux, France (Weill 2004). The book titled the Diamond Sutra printed in 868 A.D. has been described as the oldest printed book and one which carried visible elements of graphic design. With the advent of the printing press in the late 15th century, more books were printed worldwide and these became some sort of templates for the design of books in later years. Graphic design around this period was referred to as the Old style and this went on until the renaissance.

William Morris, an influential poet and writer from the 1800s established a printing house that developed books that illustrated extreme refinement in terms of style (Eskilson 2007). He also a founded production company dealing in fabrics and other basic objects that found prominence in the graphic design world. modern graphic design was inspired by the graphic design of the later years of the 19th century which was characterized by the development of new fonts and the publication of graphic design books. Several individuals such as Edward Johnston, Eric Gill and Jan Tschichold, artists who had cut a niche in calligraphy created several fonts such as Antiqua and Hamlet-type by Johnston, Perpetua and Jubilee for Gill and SabonT for Tschichold, typefaces which are still being used today (Heller and Balance 2001).

Josef Müller-Brockmann was a notable figure from the 19th century whose involvement in designing posters and books was seen as an inspiration for later day graphic designers (Drucker and McVarish 2009). He specialized in the exhibition and commercial design and because of his dedicated participation in the art world, he came to be known as the father of Swiss graphic design.

In 1964, critics arose teaming up against non-value design. The opinions of these individuals were presented in the First things first Manifesto which among other things rejected the idea of individuals using graphic design skills in the creation of posters that over-exaggerated the characteristics of certain commodities as opposed to passing across a relevant message regarding the product (Meggs 1983). The new-generation graphic designers from this period went ahead to establish several magazines which better exhibited their talents.

Another individual whose contribution to the development of graphic design cannot be ignored was Milton Glasser. Glasser was more active in the 1960s-1970s and he was involved in the creation of numerous posters, book covers, and company logos while incorporating the stylistic motives of the time (Crouch 2000).

Towards the end of the 20th-century computers began finding a primary role in graphic design. Zuzan Licko used computers for layout even at a time when the capabilities of computers were very limited (Baker 1990). During this time, the Émigré magazine was also established and it came to be appreciated as the guidebook for digital graphic design. Some of the individuals whose role in this type of graphic design has been duly appreciated by the magazine include David Carson whose designs can be seen in the likes of Raygun magazines (Fiell and Peter 2008). His designs in the aforementioned publication were intentionally illegible and were according to him meant to generate visual as opposed to literally appeal.

Modern-day graphic design has almost entirely shifted to computers. Various hardware and complementary software have been developed to create unimaginable graphic design capabilities (Wiedemann and Taborda 2008). However, even with this software creating endless possibilities as far as design elements are concerned, creativity can only arise from the user and it is individuals who can come up with astounding original designs using the technologies that can describe themselves as graphic designers.

The history of 3D (computer-generated) graphics

The origins of 3d graphics go back as far as 1838. During this period individuals turned what they were seeing into very basic images (Krasner 2008). By 1949, studies were conducted to analyze how human vision works and in the process a more advanced method of translating images was seen. With the advent of computers in the 1950s, the possibility of developing clearer and more complex images started becoming a reality. Around this time computer professionals started sharing the developed technologies and the images developed using the machines. These images, however, were basic shapes and designs. By this point, no one had actually learned how to represent complex imagery such as spaceships on computers (Dabner, Calvert and Casey 2009). Besides, the computers being developed at this time were too weak to handle such functionalities. Progress continued with artists and system developers continuing to share opinions regarding upcoming developments. These individuals wanted to present images that would capture the fascination of each and every individual.

Most of the developments in computer graphics in this period arose from the work of a Massachusetts Institute of Technology student called Ivan Sutherland. In 1961, Sutherland came up with computer illustration software and he appropriately called it Sketchpad (Dabner, Calvert and Casey 2009). The program gave users the ability to present basic shapes on the computer monitor, save them and even re-open them whenever needed (Bhatia 2008). The shapes were created using a light pen that had a minute photoelectric component at its point. The cell released a basic electronic signal when placed in front of a computer screen. The screen’s electronic gun communicated with the pen using the released pulse and once the position of the pen was located, a cursor would be drawn at that point. Early computer graphics developed using Sutherland’s invention were simple vector images made up of thin lines.

By the entry of the 1970s developments had been made in computer graphics to the extent that they started finding spots on television. Around this time a computer company called Computer Image Corporation came with more complex hardware and software for the manipulation of graphical images. Some of the software developed by this company included Animac, Scanimate and Caesar and they all worked by scanning hand-drawn images into the computer and then using the programs to manipulate the shape of the images, sometimes even giving them motion. In 1971, Henri Gouraud developed a method for the creation of a curved surface appearance by stretching colors along the surface of polygonal images (Jann and Jerry 2001). This method of shading was very useful in the creation of 3D illusions. This software made the quality of rendering much better (Bailey and Cunningham 2009). Towards the end of the 1970s, Don Greenberg, a professor at Cornell University set up a graphics laboratory that developed better methods of simulating realistic textures (Dabner, Calvert and Casey 2009). This technology could easily simulate any kind of surface from coarse walls to metallic textures.

At the onset of the 1980s, a computer graphics studio named Pacific Data Images (PDI) was set up in California and it mainly specialized in television graphics such as program openers and network identifiers. The establishment of this studio came at the time when IBM was releasing its first personal computer. This computer had a speed was ten times that of other available personal computers at the time. This computer made operations at PDI much easier and the products of better quality. In 1982, Jim Clark founded Silicon Graphics Incorporated. This company dedicated all its resources in the development of the best graphics development computers. These computers had in-built graphic chips and high-speed processors which made the process of developing 3D graphics much easier (Pender 1996). In the same year, a number of programmers teamed up and set up the company Autodesk Incorporated. The company released the first version of AutoCAD that year and this software later came to find usage in the development of 3D models of buildings and other structures. In 1989, Autodesk released a new animation software known as Autodesk animator. The software was mainly used for the development of 2D animation but it also had the ability to simulate 3D textures and dimensions (Danaher 2004).

In October 1990 a software development company named NewTek developed a video production computer card that came with 3D animation capabilities and digital video effects development. The card, named Video Toaster, was very practical and it was widely used in various television programs such as Sea Quest in generating 3D images. Still, in 1990, Autodesk released its first 3D animation software named 3D Studio (Guha 2010).

The year 2000 saw the development of the Nvidia graphics hardware and software. This development was widely used in home computing systems for graphical displays and still continues to be the most popular graphics enhancer even for professional systems. From 2003 to date Nvidia has released different versions of new generation graphics chips alongside the appropriate software for running them (Jobling and Crowler 1996). These chips have made the rendering process for 3D graphics much easier and have been widely used in film and video games as well as constructional model development.

Comparison of two 3D graphic design images

Image 1is a representation of the integration of three-dimensional graphics, graphic design and photography (Graphic Design Junction n.d.). There is a possibility that the word ‘sea-cycles’ could have been designed using various available 3D software full of the textures, rendered and then cleverly inserted into the picture. However, a lot of creativity had to be put in to ensure that the textures were as real as possible and that the font used could easily represent an architectural piece. The background and the stones in the foreground have all contributed to making the text have a credible sense of belonging.

Image 17 is a much-less realistic 3D graphics, even with the impressive nature of the background and the text itself, it is easy to see that the image was entirely designed using computers (Graphic Design Junction n.d.). The rendering is of high quality but the texture even though is an imitation of a smooth metallic surface, is still more artsy than real. This is an imaginative piece of art showcasing the creator’s prowess when it comes to using available software functionalities. In comparison to image 1 image, 17 is not as exciting as the former mainly because image 1 leaves the viewer marveling at the extent of creativity that was involved in the design. It would take an individual with a more developed sense of art to come up with image 1 as compared to image 17. As a matter of fact, any person can learn how to create a replica of image 17 but it would require more skill and talent to develop a copy of image 1.

Advantages of integrating 3D graphics into graphics design

Graphic design cannot exist as an independent and self-sustaining field. It needs the input of various other professionals such as software developers to come up with better ways of presenting the final product of graphic design work. Individuals in society are constantly demanding artwork that will amazingly stimulate their visual desires and with the advent of 3D graphics, it is increasingly becoming necessary for graphic designers to come up with ways of incorporating the available technology into their work (Bhatia 2008). This is more so for digital graphics were laying out text in front of the screen would just not cut it.

Motion graphic designers have appreciated the need for combining their skills with the available functions of 3D graphics software to create breath-taking television show openers and station identifiers. Other graphic designers such as those involved in the creation of posters and magazine covers have also appreciated the role of incorporating three-dimensional images in their work as this apparently leads to more visual appeal as well as enhances the professionalism of their work (Jobling and Crowler 1996). It is, therefore, safe to conclude that the integration of 3D graphics into the graphic design can only be advantageous as it provides an even better way of capturing the attention of viewers.


The advent of 3D graphics is one of the most important developments in modern art. As has been illustrated in this paper, both graphic design and 3D graphics have gone through stretches of historical development to both peaks in the 21st Century with an association that has helped both branches attain a definite developmental high. 3D graphics has brought endless possibilities for graphic designers to generate and present their works. This has included broadening the graphic design field into the digital world of television and film as well as the internet. Graphic designers can now create amazing content for display on different platforms including printed paper, without incurring hefty expenses or strenuous improvisation, thanks to the development of 3D technology. In conclusion, it is worth noting that 3D technology is there to stay and that it will continue to find even more relevance in graphic design in days to come. It would, therefore, be unwise for graphic designers to completely resist a working association due to calls by traditionalists, for techniques whose importance has been passed over time.

Reference List

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Baker, S., 1990. “The Sign of the Self in the Metropolis”. Journal of Design History, 3 (4): pp. 228.

Bhatia, P.K., 2008.Computer graphics. Mumbai: I. K. International Pvt Ltd.

Crouch, C., 2000. Modernism in Art Design and Architecture, New York: St. Martins Press.

Dabner, D., Calvert, S. & Casey, A., 2009. Graphic design school: the principles and practices of graphic design. New Jersey: John Wiley and Sons.

Danaher, S., 2004. The complete guide to digital 3D design. United Kingdom: The Ilex Press Ltd.

Drucker, J. & McVarish, E., 2009. Graphic Design History: A Critical Guide. New Jersey: Pearson Education.

Eskilson, S., 2007. Graphic design: a new history. United Kingdom: Laurence King.

Fiell, C. & Peter. C, 2008. Contemporary Graphic Design. Cologne: Taschen Publishers.

Graphic Design Junction, n.d. “50 brilliant typography designs to inspire you”. GDJ. Web.

Guha, S., 2010. Computer graphics through Opengl: from theory to experiments. United States: CRC Press

Heller, S. & Ballance, G., 2001. Graphic design history. New York: Allworth Communications, Inc.

Jann, L.P. & Jerry J.L., 2001. Creative Computer Tools for Artists: Using Software to Develop Drawings and Paintings. New York: Watson-Guptill.

Jobling, P. & Crowler,1996. Graphic design: reproduction and representation since 1800. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Krasner, J.S., 2008. Motion graphic design: applied history and aesthetics. Massachusetts: Focal Press.

Luebke, D.P.,2003. Level of detail for 3D graphics. San Fransisco: Morgan Kaufmann.

Meggs, P.B., 1983. A history of graphic design. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.

Pender, K., 1996. Digital graphic design. Massachusetts: Focal Press.

Wagna, I., Stuedahl,D. & Bratteteig, T., 2010. Exploring Digital Design: Multi-Disciplinary Design Practices. Berlin: Springer.

Weill, A., 2004. Graphic design: a history. New York: Harry N. Abrams.

Wiedemann, J. & Taborda, F., 2008. Latin-American Graphic Design. Cologne: Taschen Publishers, 2008.

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