Using 3D In Concept Art

A very powerful technique that has come up, as digital painting and designing has become more and more prevalent in the concept artist industry, is the usage of 3D in paintings and concepts.

3D renders provide a fantastic plate to paint on, reference model figures that you can design on top of, automatic perfect perspective for scenes, and tons more. They can also offer some great realistic texture and models for your scenes.

This is an example where I used 3D in my painting. The painting was for a trailer music cover album artwork. I designed the 3D spaceship, exported the .obj file and rendered it out in Keyshot. Once I had the renders of the spaceship, I imported it into Photoshop and started compositing it in the landscape and painted over it.

Here is the modelled and rendered spaceship with 3 different materials so I can composite them later in Photoshop:


I rendered out 3 different materials so I can use some brass on the pipes, some shiny carbon on some plates, and default grey matte on most of it to paint over with other textures and such.

Here is the total result of the artwork with the spaceship added in:

I use Zbrush A LOT for this. Zbrush allows me to sculpt my concepts; characters, monsters and all kinds of stuff – even environments. Export them out from Zbrush to .obj’s and just render them in Keyshot or something similar and import them straight into Photoshop for painting over and finalizing. Here is an example of that where I modelled this sea bug in Zbrush, exported it and rendered a bunch of different passes in Keyshot and finally composited everything in Photoshop:


Final composite and painting:


Another way I use 3D is by taking characters from for example the free 3D program DAZ 3D, where I pose them and just screenshot the image, place the image inside Photoshop and have a great reference human to paint on.

I also create huge landscapes in 3D from a 3D flat plane, using displacement with a height map as source and get a fantastic looking mountain in 3D that is ready to be placed into any scene and rendered out for further finalizing.

There are so many ways to use 3D in your paintings and concepts – it’s such a powerful technique that it’s almost a shame not utilizing the tools available for us concept artists.

On this website, we’ll post in-depth guides and tutorials on how to create 3D models for landscapes, creatures, characters, etc, how to export and render them out, composite them in Photoshop and a bunch more things.

Until next time, guys!

Share this article!

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Share on whatsapp
This Free Design Course is crafted for beginners who want to get started on their artistic creative path in concept art, illustration and designing amazing worlds and characters.
  • Completely free
  • Excerpts from our in-depth courses
  • Fun and challenging Assignments
  • An awesome community to share your work
  • And so much more!

Related Articles

Simple Ways to Improve Your Composer Website

First impressions are impulsive, decisive, unfair perhaps, yet crucial to the day-to-day decision-making that occurs behind closed doors for independent producers and directors. When they’ve set out to find a new composer, they’ve got to quickly sort from hundreds of options and create a shortlist of 4 or 5 candidates whose “sound” could be ideal for their project (that is if they don’t already have someone in mind from a previous collaboration).