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Visual representation of a Nike sneaker transforming from a 2D to a 3D image.

Advertising & the rise of 3D

Date Posted: December 13, 2017Reading time: 4 minutes

by Jonathan Richard


Over the past twenty years, 3D technology has made incredible leaps and bounds. Today, we are able to do things that we never thought possible, like creating entire worlds that manipulate the rules of physics — all with one person sitting behind a computer. Just a few years ago, an endeavor like that would have taken a whole team of people (and countless hours) to create. But thanks to advances in 3D technology, we can now fully mock up objects and test their real-world function, all without ordering a single component. Then, with the click of a button, we can make the object, order it, and hold it in our hands the same day. Advancements like these allow us to create in a whole new way. And the best part? It’s only getting better.


Originally used in industrial applications for manufacturing complex CNC designs, 3D design was quickly adopted by artists as an exciting new medium for expression. By the late 1980s, photo-realistic 3D was beginning to appear in movies, such as the 1982 blockbuster, TRON. And by the mid-90s, this technology had advanced to the point where 3D animation could be used for the production of entire feature films, resulting in Pixar’s 1995 classic, Toy Story — the first ever full-length CGI movie.

With the creation of 3D printers in the early 2000s, we were able to bring our best digital ideas into the physical world. Designers gained the ability to perform analyses and tests on their virtual models without needing to create a physical prototype first.?This allowed for greater testing, and an ability to predict how their design will react to heat, pressure, physical stress, and many other variables.

Virtual reality and augmented reality are the newest wave of 3D design, both bringing virtual elements into the real world, enhancing the things we see, hear, and feel. AR and VR have great potential for future application because they occupy a space somewhere between reality and fantasy. In 2016, AR was popularized with the launch of Nintendo and Niantic’s mega-hit game, Pokémon Go. This gave the public a taste of the tech and has shown major companies that consumers are definitely ready for more. Recently, the game’s creators revealed that it has been downloaded over 500 million times. Currently, all indications are showing that the AR/VR craze is far from over, with market movements suggesting large companies like Apple and Facebook are gearing up for some major AR releases in the future.


When it comes to the world of business and advertising, it’s important to stay informed on current trends and technological advancements. These tools help with audience communication and efficiency of operations. Much like how personal computers, e-mail, and the rise of image-altering software like Photoshop transformed the world of design and advertising, 3D technology is quickly doing the same.

3D design is not only extremely versatile, but it also provides unique communication capabilities that make it a useful tool for advertising. 3D animated advertisements can often cost less than live videos. Rather than paying actors or models and staging a costly film set, 3D designers are able to create characters and objects according to very specific requirements, which can be finely tailored for each unique brand or brief. And unlike traditional 2D animations, once the object or character is created, it can be used multiple times at different angles, with different actions, and even different skins.

Using 3D characters and scenery can create a whole new world for your brand, rather than relying on stock visuals where you are limited to what already exists. As advertisers, we are free to let our imagination roam, as complicated ideas can be presented in a simple visual format from a multitude of angles.

Another benefit of 3D design is that it can help make products look sleeker, cooler, and more appealing to the audience by using lighting and other special effects. Overall, this may be more cost-effective, as even the smallest variables can be fine-tuned with a few clicks of a mouse instead of re-tooling an entire studio set. When businesses use the latest 3D techniques as part of their advertising strategy, they can instantly boost their high-tech credibility. And really, all it takes is a pretty basic working knowledge of 3D graphics programs to impart a touch of Hollywood magic into promotional materials.

However, as amazing as this tool is, at the end of the day, it’s just that — a tool. And just like a paintbrush in the hands of the untrained, your mileage with 3D technology may vary. But when approached the right way, with the right foundational knowledge, the possibilities of 3D design are virtually endless.



Jonathan Richard is an Art Director at Trampoline. Want to get his help incorporating the latest in 3D design into your advertising strategy? Reach out to?[email protected].