Web site Developer I Advertising I Social Media Advertising I Content material Creators I Branding Creators I Administration I System SolutionCase Research And Obtain — Smashing Journal

Web site Developer I Advertising I Social Media Advertising I Content material Creators I Branding Creators I Administration I System SolutionCase Research And Obtain — Smashing Journal

Web site Developer I Advertising I Social Media Advertising I Content material Creators I Branding Creators I Administration I System Answer

Fast abstract ↬
On this article, Vijay Verma shares his inspiration and expertise with open-source design and why he loves sharing sources with the design neighborhood. He describes his studying experiences throughout the design levels of making his 3dicons picture library (a free library of 3D icons that can be utilized in product screens, social media posts, enterprise shows, and advertising campaigns), which you’ll be able to obtain beneath without cost.

In February 2021, I started learning 3D illustration utilizing Blender. Like most novices within the discipline of 3D design, I additionally created my first donut by following BlenderGuru’s (Andrew Worth) tutorials. I firmly consider that studying by doing is one of the best ways to study. Selecting an icon and following the steps on the best way to assemble it within the 3D area was an amazing problem for me, as every icon required a unique method to modeling.

Whereas studying, I seen that the variety of icons in my challenge had grown to nearly 30, and at this second, I made a decision to launch them underneath an open-source license. I began getting ready extra icons for essentially the most generally used instances, and ultimately, I created precisely 120 icons.

A screenshot of the 3dicons website
The 3dicons challenge web site. (Giant preview)

Then the primary goal advanced into making a set of icons that could possibly be used on product screens, shows, and social media posts. These icons must be rendered as product-ready belongings, however I additionally needed to share the editable supply information with the optimized and exported icons.

A screenshot of 25 icons from the 3dicons set
25 3D icons which can be included within the challenge (considered one of their variants). (Giant preview)

On this article, I’ll share my expertise of studying and managing to launch this huge set, the place the pictures alone take up 3.8 GB in measurement! I’ve divided it into 5 elements:

Notice: In the event you simply wish to obtain the 3dicons library, you’ll be able to leap straight to the “Conclusion and Obtain” part on the finish of the article.

Why Open Supply?

Firstly, I consider in open-source design. Usually, a challenge begins with the intent of studying and observe, once we redesign current web sites and apps like Fb and Netflix, or varied design screens, objects, or icons of curiosity, after which we put up the outcomes on Dribbble, Behance, and lots of different social platforms. We do that to enhance our personal expertise, however when somebody works on an idea, why not additionally share the supply information with the neighborhood so that folks can study and profit from how the design was crafted?

By sharing our supply information and greatest practices, we uplift the neighborhood and make the Design world higher. After realizing this (and likewise drawing inspiration from Pablo Stanley’s work), I made a decision to do one thing comparable.

In 2019, I shared my first supply file, which had 100+ illustrations. I had these illustrations sitting on my exhausting drive for years, however they had been solely taking over space for storing. I needed to make this useful resource out there to the neighborhood and share it underneath an open-source license. Then I believed the identical in regards to the 100+ 3dicons, which I subsequent created with the only real objective of studying 3D design.

Essential: Releasing my icons without cost doesn’t imply that I wish to diminish the worth of different artists’ work.

Secondly, there are quite a lot of 3D illustrations and icons out there on-line without cost or for a small charge. Sadly, many of the free sources on the market don’t will let you modify them as you see match — these freebies are sometimes nothing greater than a hyperlink to buying the ultimate product. On the identical time, many designers locally are simply beginning out and want low-cost sources to study from and use of their initiatives. These 3dicons ought to assist them to get began, and when they’re prepared, they will both create their very own 3D icons and artwork or purchase after which construct upon some current ones.

Replace: 3dicons has simply been nominated as one of many finalist initiatives within the Figma Group Awards! (Editor’s Notice within the final minute)

As a designer, I’m an enormous fan of Apple merchandise! However studying 3D on a 16” MacBook was not adequate for me, so I made a decision to construct my very own PC particularly for studying 3D design. The next are a few of the {hardware} and software program instruments that I used to craft the challenge’s information:

  • Home windows machine (AMD Ryzen 7 3800X, nvidia GeForce RTX 2080);
  • Blender: for all modeling, rendering, and compositing;
  • PureRef: serving to me acquire references for icons, colours, and different issues;
  • Figma: utilizing it for arranging the icons and for designing the online web page;
  • iPad with the Procreate app: for sketching, doodling, and ideation;
  • Notion: it’s a instrument for managing all the things, and after Figma, it’s my subsequent favourite instrument on the record! 🙂
Extra after leap! Proceed studying beneath ↓

Course of And Studying

I created all these icons in Blender. A few of them had been first doodled on an iPad utilizing Procreate after which modeled in 3D. After modeling, all icons had been rendered in numerous angles and types for multipurpose use. I used to be contemplating releasing to the general public each the tough grasp file and all of the production-ready belongings, and for this, I wanted some form of a plan.

Planning Stage

To handle all my initiatives, I exploit Notion. First, I created a board and listed all of the preliminary necessities there.

A screenshot of the author’s Notion board
The method of rearranging all these playing cards from begin to end is enjoyable in Notion! (Giant preview)


Some icons are straightforward to make and will be instantly created from a reference. A few of them had been conceived as doodles on my iPad utilizing Procreate after which imported by way of Google Pictures to my Home windows machine. I created a fundamental information window, after which all of the icons had been put collectively as a single file. This preliminary stage was fast, however then correctly rendering all these fashions one after the other was fairly a difficult bit of labor.

A screenshot of the first icon prototypes created in the Procreate app
The early icon doodles had been created in Procreate. (Giant preview)


Creating stuff for your self is straightforward — no one will see what’s inside your information. Nonetheless, whenever you put together to share a supply file with another person, you have got to spend so much of time managing and arranging all of the layers and parts inside it.


There is no such thing as a doubt that modeling in Blender could be very clean. Studying was a trial and error course of for me after I began. I figured it is likely to be essential to have a information to guarantee that all icons had been the identical measurement and positioned effectively. So, I made a fundamental information with two cubes, one for the icon’s most boundaries and one for simply the tip fringe of the world. Subsequent, I modeled all of the icons and saved them multi function file. I used to be in search of high quality icons as an alternative of low-poly ones, so I added floor modifiers to clean them out.

In the event you’re new to modeling, verify “Modeling for Absolute Freshmen” — a Blender tutorial by Surfaced Studio.

Key level:

While you apply the subdivision floor modifier, it will increase the file measurement. I wish to share .obj or .fbx information as effectively, so I would like to use all modifiers. In any other case, it can largely be low-poly icons, since modifiers will probably be eliminated.


A superbly lighted mannequin seems good. In the event you don’t mild up your mannequin correctly, irrespective of how a lot effort you set into modeling, the end result gained’t look proper. Each object has a unique form and desires totally different ranges of sunshine depth. Since I made a decision to render icons from three totally different angles, every angle required a unique mild place and light-weight depth. It’s time-consuming and sophisticated to alter the identical lights for various fashions.

In the event you’re new to lighting, verify “Lighting for Freshmen (Intro)” — a Blender tutorial sequence by Blender Guru.

The lighting setup that the author used in Blender
The fundamental three factors lighting setup that I utilized in Blender. (Giant preview)

Key level:

Because of this, I created three units of the identical lights with comparable three-point mild settings: ISO, Dynamic, and Entrance. The lights’ positions had been adjusted accordingly.

Coloring (Shading)

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of vibrant colours — verify my Dribbble profile when you don’t consider me or my Instagram.

A screenshot from the author’s Instagram account displaying six colorful illustrations and icons
A screenshot from my Instagram: realvjy. (Giant preview)

I didn’t have an issue when selecting colours, however within the 3D world, coloration depth is affected by the sunshine supply, so this is a crucial factor to remember. Moreover, I used so as to add gradients with mild shades or complementary colours of the first coloration reasonably than a direct “flat” coloration.

Key level:

Managing the identical coloration for all angles is a problem. I attempted and failed a number of occasions earlier than lastly fixing the colours and gradients for all icons. Additionally, I discovered that top distinction is a greater choice in Blender whenever you work with vibrant colours.


It’s fairly difficult to render so many icons in 4 types and at three totally different angles. Blender helps scripting, but it surely was tough for me to study too many issues on the identical time. Additionally, automated rendering with the assistance of a script won’t work for all icons because of their form and angle — totally different icons would require totally different mild quantities and depth earlier than being rendered. Due to this fact, the challenge was launched later than anticipated.

A screenshot of the various styles that the 3D icons are offered in
4 types, three totally different angles. (Giant preview)

Key factors:

  • In the long run, I created two cameras: one Regular digicam and the second TrueISO digicam. I used the Regular digicam to render the entrance and dynamic angles, whereas the TrueISO digicam was used to shoot the icon in its isometric type.
  • Reasonably than creating a number of cameras for the totally different angles, I used timelines and managed the rotation and place of the objects.
  • I used 800 samples to render all these icons. By growing the icon pattern measurement, the rendering occasions can even enhance. Rendering a single picture with a decision of 2400 × 2400 pixels took 2-4 minutes.

Notice: Samples are the noise that seems as your scene is rendering. Within the Render panel, you outline the variety of samples, after which Blender stops as soon as it reaches it. The extra samples, the clearer the render will probably be, however it can additionally take an extended time to finish.

Compression and Put up-processing

I attempted to calculate the render occasions for the 120 icons in 12 variations (4 types × 3 angles). When doing the primary assessments, at first, I used to be glad with the rendering at 3000×3000 px with 16-bit coloration depth. Nonetheless, I found that one picture file was about 15 MB in measurement. After I calculated the time and area wanted for 1,200+ photos rendered from totally different angles, I used to be shocked — I would wish greater than 8 GB within the space for storing (together with the supply file), and likewise Figma couldn’t deal with all these photos in a single file both.

Key factors:

  • I might additional optimize the pictures utilizing Photoshop, however wouldn’t or not it’s too time-consuming so as to add one other step to the post-processing? As a substitute, I made a decision to alter the decision to 2400×2400 px, which continues to be fairly massive for an icon. Lastly, I modified the colour depth to 8-bit and used 100% compression straight from Blender. After which, the only file measurement was lowered to 4 MB or much less. The ultimate icon library now was round 4 GB in measurement, which was manageable.
  • At first, I deliberate to render every icon individually with totally different channels and organize all of them in Figma with the assistance of elements; this could permit me to simply change colours, lighting, and shadows proper in Figma. Sadly, Figma information grew to become very heavy, and I needed to abandon the thought.


In whole, greater than two months of exhausting work (largely achieved throughout the evening) had been wanted to finish this challenge, from crafting the icons to rendering them and eventually to internet hosting and constructing the challenge’s web site.

I had hassle creating extra versatile variations of the Figma information as this icon set grew to greater than 4 GB in measurement. Figma stopped responding as quickly as I uploaded 300+ photos, which is quite a lot of knowledge! How did I remedy this subject? I used ImageOptim to compress the pictures after which added them to Figma once more. As well as, I dropped the thought of making variations because the file measurement grew to become excessively massive. After that, I organized all of the compressed 1000 × 1000 px photos and shared them with the Figma neighborhood. (Finally, I’ll create a customizable variant for Figma particularly, or perhaps a plugin that may permit the icons to be simply imported and edited inside Figma.)

ImageOptim: It’s a highly effective picture lossless compression instrument software program that gives “lossless” compression providers for PNG photos, lowering file measurement by 60%–90%.

Listed here are the settings that I used to compress icons:

A screenshot showing the ImageOptim settings used
The ImageOptim settings that I used when optimizing the icons. (Giant preview)
A screenshot showing the reduced file size of one icon after running ImageOptim
After working the ImageOptim instrument, the icons’ measurement was lowered considerably. (Giant preview)

Internet hosting

I host all of my initiatives instantly on GitHub pages, though I often use different internet hosting providers. The principle query was the place to host over 3 GB of knowledge, so folks can simply obtain the icons.

  • Gumroad
    As the primary instance, Gumroad doesn’t supply a free choice for downloading information over 200 MB in measurement — if I hosted the challenge on Gumroad, I would wish to cost for it at the least 1$. So, I attempted to discover a number of different options.
  • Google Drive
    It ought to work, however there are bandwidth limitations after a while.
  • Dropbox
    Similar, after a sure level, the bandwidth subject will come up.
  • AWS
    I’ve used Amazon AWS in my experiential initiatives. Though normally a superb resolution, it’s fairly sophisticated to arrange.
  • Webflow
    I attempted it as soon as, as I’m not an enormous fan of no-code options (in the mean time).
  • Digital Ocean
    After exploring a bit, I made a decision to retailer all my icons on the Digital Ocean internet hosting. It’s fairly reasonably priced at solely 5$/month beginning worth. Nonetheless, after working 3dicons for months, I found Digital Ocean shouldn’t be an reasonably priced resolution after a sure bandwidth restrict has been reached. I’m charged 60-80 USD per 30 days for the obtain bandwidth over 7 TB.

Hopefully, I can discover a higher resolution than the Digital Ocean internet hosting in order that 3dicons might proceed to offer frictionless downloads with an reasonably priced upkeep/obtain charge. When you’ve got any solutions otherwise you assume you could possibly assist, message me on Twitter!

Web site Area

Actually, I purchased the 3dicons.co area with none cause in 2020. Fortunately for me, it was good for my new challenge!

A screenshot of the WHOIS information for the 3dicons.co domain
The 3dicons.co area was registered on 18 June 2020! (Giant preview)


  • Webflow
    Little question, an amazing no-code internet resolution. Nonetheless, it limits my freedom to customise issues, so I’m not an enormous fan, regardless that I’ve used it for purchasers.
  • Wix
    Good for novices. You’ll be able to simply create websites by dragging and dropping.
  • Writing the code myself
    I like coding all my initiatives. Most of my initiatives use the next stack:
    • Gatsby Framework
      A simple and light-weight technique to create static pages that may be instantly hosted on GitHub pages. Gatsby is an open-source framework that mixes performance from React, GraphQL, and Webpack right into a single instrument.
    • GitHub pages
      GitHub means that you can host static pages instantly in addition to add customized domains with SSL safety with none extra value.

Belongings Creation

I exploit Figma Design for all my design wants, and the 3dicons challenge was no exception — I used Figma to assist me create all of the social media posts and Designs.

Conclusion and Obtain

Now, I do know fairly a number of issues about 3D design, but it surely wasn’t so after I was solely starting to study. At first of the journey, I wasn’t conversant in the best way to deal with 3D information and the best way to render them in such a approach that there could be only a few hiccups. Quick-forward a number of months of studying and experiments, and I feel that an important factor is that the ultimate end result seems good and that I’ve hope that the neighborhood will like and assist this challenge. For instance, just lately, Morflax built-in 3dicons into their mesh challenge.

Notice: The Morflax mesh permits you to customise the colours of the icons and add scenes on the internet with out requiring using any complicated 3D software program. You’ll be able to strive the challenge for your self.


You will get the most recent model of the icons from https://3dicons.co/, and as I’ve extra plans for 3dicons (together with including a number of extra icons to the prevailing set), be certain to verify the challenge’s web site for updates.

A screenshot of the download options of the 3dicons set
You’ll be able to obtain the icons within the following codecs: Figma Design, PNG, Blender (editable 3D format), and extra. (Giant preview)

You too can obtain the icons set right here:*Final up to date in Might 2022. For the most recent variations, please verify the 3dicons official webpage*


There aren’t any restrictions on how you should use the 3dicons since they had been launched underneath a CC0 license (“No Rights Reserved”).

Need assistance?

There’s a little FAQ Notion board that ought to make it easier to whenever you wish to change the icons and colours utilizing Blender. You too can attain out to me on Twitter (@realvjy) for suggestions and solutions, and you may depart a remark right here — I’d be comfortable to answer.

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