How to Best Use 3D Models to Accent Your Website
While websites have traditionally been created using text and 2D graphics, using 3D models can set your website apart and give it a modern, or even futuristic, appearance. 3-dimensional models and graphics engage users in a way that plainer, static and 2D graphics cannot. With the advent of mobile apps and web.20 infrastructure, there’s no reason that you cannot take advantage of 3D modeling on virtually any platform. There are several important steps and tips to keep in mind as you spruce up your website design with 3D models. These include model and image placement, browser compatibly, and load-speed and efficiency. Follow this guide to implement 3D modeling on your own website for a more creative and engaging interface.
Types of 3D Models for Websites
Any image that creates depth is considered to be a 3D model, especially if the object shown in the graphic or image overlays the other foregrounds on your website. For a more elaborate display, you can even use 3D models that pop out when viewed with special red and blue-lensed glasses, or interactive 3D models that are created by allowing your users to spin and manipulate 2D pictures.
Car manufacturers and online retailers often take advantage of the latter form of 3D modeling, allowing users to zoom in on and rotate images of their products for a more realistic view. A great example of this is the Ford Mustang website, which allows you to customize and rotate a 3D image for a better all-around view of the object.
Implementing 3D Models on Your Website
In order to actually upload and display 3D models and images on your own website, you first need to ensure you have fast, compatible web hosting. You’ll also need a comprehensive website platform such as WordPress or Joomla. Next, you’ll need to find or create the 3D images you want to place on your site.
Many online resources exist for locating 3D models for your website, including the popular Pixabay, which hosts over a million free images. Look for images that suit your topic, articles, or overall themes so they blend in on your site more naturally. Remember, 3D models stand out in the visual field on any website, so don’t import off-topic modeling just to have a 3D image.
Creating 3D Models for Websites
One of the best ways to make sure your 3D model is relevant and suits your website’s needs is to create it yourself. For this, you will need access to Adobe Photoshop, GIMP, or another premium graphic design application.
Begin with the image or photo you want to convert into a 3D model. Open a new canvas in your graphic design application and import the image over-top a plain or transparent background. Erase or blur all non-essential background images and patterns to create a strong field of depth. Next, consider adding shadows or lens flares to add further depth to your image. Make sure the angles of your shadowing match the images natural source of light. Shadows can be added from the Filters menu in Photoshop.
Broken Borders for Easy 3D Modeling
To create an intense 3D effect with any image, add a border to the image that will partially underlay the image itself. This can be done by using a white or transparent background and making the border inset by a few dozen pixels. Since most of your image’s content will be enclosed in the border, it will seem like a natural border or frame. Now, place the bottom line or your border under the image itself to create the illusion that the image is leaping from its own frame. This is a powerful effect that’s commonly used in marketing and web design. A great example of this effect can be seen in the dolphin image used on this TutsPlus webpage.
Ensuring Compatibility with 3D Modeling
Sometimes 3D models can be quite large and slow to load. Making sure you choose a fast web host and efficient plugins and software to base your website on should correct any slow-loading issues you might otherwise face. Another factor to consider is the actual image or model file type. Web-friendly file types like PNG and JPG work great for most 3D models and can be used just about anywhere. If you have a more interactive 3D model you will likely want to use HTML5 and CSS to display the image. In the past Adobe Flash was used to display interactive images, and can still be used today. The only thing to consider when using Flash, however, is that many modern browsers do not display it by default. This is where a little market research can really help ensure your image will display for your users.
After getting the appropriate web hosting and platform, you need to compile a folder of 3D models for use on your site. If you can’t find the right images online, they are relatively easy to create in Photoshop and other graphic design software. Place the 3D models strategically on your site so that they draw attention where you need it most. Consider your intended audience, and limit your 3D modeling to work with their common devices and expectations. 3D models can improve the look and feel of your site if chosen and placed appropriately, and users will definitely notice your added efforts.