Pros: An efficient way to bring 3D scenes into Photoshop; texture painting workflow.
Cons: Slow; buggy; good content hard to find; Studio modelling software is limited.
Many illustrators and artists would like to include 3D elements in their artwork, but are often put off by the deeply technical aspects of 3D modelling and rendering. Daz Studio provides an easy way to create 3D scenes from libraries of modifiable objects, and the suite’s creator has now released 3D Bridge for Photoshop, designed to provide a smooth workflow between true 3D work in Daz’s tool and layered 2D art in Photoshop.
Before you touch 3D Bridge or Photoshop, you build your elements in Daz Studio. This is a free application – Daz makes its money by selling the models to use within it. You combine character models with props and environments. There’s a simple Poser-style system for applying clothing, poses and accessories to characters. Daz Studio even has basic animation tools, but they’re largely irrelevant for illustrators and artists.
With very limited modelling tools, Daz Studio’s – and therefore the 3D Bridge’s – usefulness depends on the range of models on offer. You get a single scene free with Daz Studio.
3D Bridge comes with a few more bundled, but buying models from Daz’s site is inexpensive. There’s a wide range of content available – although it takes some searching to find suitable materials, as the best-selling packs are often fantasy or animé-themed, and, frankly, rather sexist. We had trouble getting these assets to install correctly.
Once you’ve created your scene, you open Photoshop and bring up the floating 3D Bridge palette from the Automate menu. From here, you can render your scene to a new layer in your Photoshop document. This is where we hit our first snag, as our scene didn’t import with a transparent background for comping behind.