Augmented, virtual, and mixed reality: This is XR (extended reality). This technology opens a world of possibility to extend the physical spaces around us by enhancing them with digital content. In Designing Immersive 3D Experiences, designers, and even developers, will learn how to take their traditional 2D knowledge of design and expand it into three dimensions. Designing in 3D is the future of graphic design. Understanding how to design in 3D and then transfer that knowledge into XR is essential for the designers of today and tomorrow. Interactive and product designers need to understand how to design spatially more than ever before, especially as the XR industry grows and evolves each day.
For professionals, this knowledge will advance your current careers and expand your skillsets. For students and emerging professionals, this will allow you to enter the industry a step ahead and to remain marketable and desirable in the future. This book will expand your knowledge on how design principles and theories relate to the third dimension. It was created to provide supplemental reading material and be integrated into a course covering immersive design.
Because this book is all about immersive experiences, it would not make sense to have you just read it in a passive way. Instead, you will find opportunities throughout its pages that encourage you to put the book down and engage yourself in surrounding physical environments in a variety of ways. In addition, each chapter concludes with a design challenge.
Throughout the following pages we will explore a combination of technology and design principles for 3D and immersive design. The design challenge at the end of each chapter will enable you to put your new skills to work—hands on. Each challenge is created to push your design thinking in 3D space in a different way. The challenges should not take long, but each should be completed right after reading its chapter to help reinforce your new knowledge the topics by using them in context. You’ll start off with the basics, using paper and glue, and will slowly expand to using 3D software and even launching an AR mobile experience.
You will benefit from having a few supplies on hand. Here is the suggested list, however alternatives will be discussed throughout the book:
Sketchbook, markers, scrap paper, transparency paper or any clear paper stock, mini marshmallows (yes, you read that correctly), toothpicks, glue or glue dots for paper (My favorite are iCraft Zots Clear Adhesive Dots as they don’t require any drying time.), scissors, modeling clay—and, finally, an open mind.
Also, great to have, but not essential are an X-Acto blade (instead of scissors), a metal cork-backed ruler, and a self-healing mat to cut paper for some paper prototyping and 3D sketching.
Throughout Designing Immersive 3D Experiences, multiple software options will be suggested, providing a variety of choices so that you can select the software that works for you and your workflow setup. You will need access to a 3D modeling program, however. This could be a free and open source program, such as Blender (www.blender.org); a web-based program, such as Vectary (www.vectary.com); or desktop software, such as Cinema 4D (www.maxon.net/en/cinema-4d), Adobe Dimension (www.adobe.com/products/dimension.html), or Unreal Engine (www.unrealengine.com). Cinema 4D Lite can also be accessed using Adobe After Effects, but won’t have the full rendering capabilities.
One of the design challenges uses Adobe Aero, which is a free mobile application that also has a desktop variation available at www.adobe.com/products/aero.html. If you’re using an iOS device, you can download this app directly to your device. If you’re using an Android device, you will need to use the desktop version instead. Currently, Aero is available for iOS mobile devices only.
You will need a mobile device that is AR enabled. If you have an iPhone or iPad running iOS 11.0 or later with an A9 processor (such as an iPhone 6s or newer), then you are AR capable. If you have an Android device, you can check the compatibility via the Google developer site, but two phones that are AR-ready are the Google Pixel 2 and the Samsung Galaxy S9.
You do not need to have any AR or VR headsets to read and learn from this book. That said, I highly recommend you test any XR head-mounted displays that you do have access to or, at the very minimum, test them before you start designing an experience for a specific headset.
The reality is that our future includes XR. As you embark on this immersive design journey, you will learn step-by-step what is needed to accomplish each part of the process. It won’t be perfect, because humans and technology are both imperfect. But we will work towards solving each design problem using XR technology and human and computer interactions that will help pave the way for the future of motion, interaction, and product design.
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