, by the Substance 3D content team

Digital Coffee: a True Caffeine-Free Packaging Design

Use the content created by the Substance 3D team for photorealistic CPG design.

  • Design
  • Technology
  • Workflow

When we released the Substance 3D offer, we committed to deliver premium quality 3D content to enable creatives to create best quality visuals in all industries.

This time we’ll roast some consumer packaged goods illustration! Today, this starts with photorealistic compositions created using our 3D assets library and the Substance 3D apps.

Creating a complete 3D scene requires several steps. First, the artist will build the objects. Then, they will create and apply textures to the objects’ surfaces. Then, they will merge the objects into a final scene where the shots are composed, the scene fully lit and the images finally rendered.

Packaging is no exception to the rule.

However, creating every element from scratch can be time consuming and complex scenes require a lot of content. When it comes to creating a full set of images for a product marketing campaign — with both lifestyle images and individual product packshots — resources are the primary requirement.

That’s where the Substance 3D apps and content can help you save time and bring your design’s quality to the highest level.

Let’s gather the ingredients!

When you’re working on a 3D project, you don’t have to grow all your elements from the ground up: save your energy for what really will catch the eye of the viewers: your hero assets.

For the rest, just go shopping!

In the 3D assets library, you can browse over 11,000 premium quality materials, models, and lights for your projects. And, guess what? There’s a whole collection of content dedicated to packaging design!

What about customization? That’s the best part of this collection: it’ll adapt to your need! That is, after all, one of the pillars of our work; we want to make sure that artists don’t have to compromise between time and creativity.

Indeed, Substance 3D materials are parametric. Colors, glossiness, and many more are designed to be changeable to allow boundless personalization.

That’s the quality you can get! Every single element (materials, models, lights) in this scene comes from the library.

Season it to your taste

It’s texturing time!

3D models come ready to texture: the UVs are already unwrapped. It’s almost too easy! We prepared them so that the only work that remains is to pick up your materials or your brushes and paint away.

Add your personal touch!

Shapes are important in packaging, but so is branding. Designers most often have to work with variations of a graphic identity across wide product portfolios. Before, it meant countless backs-and-forth between 2D and 3D.

The brand new interoperability between Adobe Illustrator and Substance 3D Sampler makes it seamless. Now, you can design graphic elements, like patterns and logos, directly in 3D. This allows richer and more intricate explorations with materials and finishes.

Visualize effortlessly how your graphic designs plays with a specific printing technique. And if it’s not cutting it, seamlessly modify it back in 2D.

It’s time to give it that extra je-ne-sais-quoi

Now, to the real deal!

We have textured everything: like expert digital baristas, it is now time to render our images. How will this look like in the shop — or on the retail web platform? Substance 3D Stager is the place to go.

Sending the textured models from Painter to Stager is just slightly below the speed of light (okay, not really, but close enough).

Let’s start with lifestyle shots.

Lifestyle images are visualization of products in context. While creating these images the old way requires a full fledged shooting session on location. In 3D, however, the match image feature of Stager shrinks this effort to a few clicks.

Match image relies on machine learning technology. The way it works is the following: you drop in a background image, the software extrapolates the perspective lines from the image, and then positions your object in line with that perspective. In some cases, it’s really impressive to see in action! and super helpful to create a quick and efficient visualization in context.

Next: Packshots.

Packshot are images where the focus is solely on the product into a neutral background. Packshots are set of “product view” images which can be dedicated to populate e-commerce platforms. While lifestyle images are produced in relatively low quantities, the amount of packshot images can scale to several hundreds depending on the depth of product SKUs.

This is where the combination of 3D content and Stager becomes a real game changer. Using the environment stage content into Stager will enable you to create a professional studio lighting in no time. This is how it works.

No need to spend time placing lights to get the right ray bounce or the perfect cast shadow. We have set it up for you already. Just hit render for a photorealistic quality.

Here, we’ve used the studio_fashion_north_daylight environment. But there’s a lot more! There are 50 environment lights in the library to choose from with a wide variety of lighting styles and even more backplates adapted to several product size, framing and style.

We can always go one step further!

3D assets work perfectly within the Substance 3D ecosystem and beyond.

For the most adventurous artists, it’s possible to leverage atlases to populate a scene. Here, we had a bit of exploratory fun with an atlas-to-mesh setup in Houdini. Here, we’ve used this atlas.

The fun part of this, is that once the setup is done, we can pick up any other round shape atlas in the library, and the output will give a 3D mesh.

Having a lot of different variations on a single atlas is great for large simulations, because it will help you avoid repetition. In combination with the fact that the atlases go up to 8K resolution, it is also great for close up shots.

Once you have a mesh, you can make any realistic rigid body / soft body simulation for any kind of usage. In this, project, all the animation and simulation was made in Houdini and rendered in Blender Cycles.

And stay tuned, we’re working on a collection of materials dedicated to food and drink… the deliciousness is coming soon on Substance 3D assets. In fact, here’s a foamy preview:

After Before

All the visuals in this scene were created by Maximilien Vert.

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