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Using 3D in 2D

3D modelling tools extend the efficiency of an illustrator’s toolset. Francis Tsai explains how to make them work for you...

For 2D artists, I like to think of certain 3D tools as ‘bionics’. What I mean is that to me, 3D tools are like a powered exoskeleton for 2D artists, meaning that the tool enables an artist to do the things he or she already knows how to do, only with more strength, speed and efficiency.
In the past I’ve used a number of 3D apps, such as AutoCAD, 3ds max, Maya, and Rhino3D. Awesome tools, but when using those tools I always felt like I was driving a battleship instead of wearing an exoskeleton. Recently I’ve been using Google SketchUp, which you can download from www.sketchup.com. Because it’s intended as a sketch program rather than a photorealistic rendering app, it is very suited for this usage.

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