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IC3D Suite: Product & Packaging Design in Half the Time, Easy to Use as Adobe Illustrator

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Award-winning IC3D Suite is a pow­er­ful, high­ly cre­ative 3D appli­ca­tion built for prod­uct devel­op­ment, pack­ag­ing design, pre­sen­ta­tion, and pack­ag­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing to save time and mon­ey while being as easy to use as any 2D draw­ing pro­gram.

IC3D Suite is arguably the most ben­e­fi­cial tool to come along for prod­uct devel­op­ment and pack­age design pro­fes­sion­als since Adobe Illustrator. It address­es three dis­tinct but relat­ed needs bet­ter than any oth­er tool on the mar­ket:

  • Slashing the devel­op­ment time between prod­uct idea and prod­uct man­u­fac­tur­ing, dra­mat­i­cal­ly speed­ing time to mar­ket.
  • Knocking the learn­ing curve for 3D pack­age design and mock­up down to the essen­tial skills design­ers already use in 2D design soft­ware.
  • Bridging the gaps between exist­ing best-of-breed pack­age design, pre­sen­ta­tion, and pro­duc­tion soft­ware and sys­tems to enable easy, hurdle-less col­lab­o­ra­tion and work­flow.

What It Can Do For You

IC3D Suite is a sin­gle prod­uct with a sin­gle purpose—enabling easy, rapid devel­op­ment of prod­uct and pack­age designs from con­cept to pro­to­type with the high­est lev­el of cre­ative qual­i­ty, great­est ease of use, and most rapid devel­op­ment cycle pos­si­ble. It is a tool with sig­nif­i­cant ben­e­fits to any work­flow involved in prod­uct devel­op­ment, pack­ag­ing design, and pack­age pro­duc­tion. Let’s look at some of the spe­cif­ic ben­e­fits for dif­fer­ent work­flows.

Brand Owners

Success or fail­ure of a prod­uct is often decid­ed by which brand gets it to mar­ket first. Once a prod­uct idea is devel­oped the clock begins tick­ing. Is your lab the first to come up with the idea? Do you com­peti­tors already have the same idea? If so, how close is their ver­sion to mar­ket? Ideas are not as safe and unique as they once were, so you need every advan­tage pos­si­ble to short­en the time between prod­uct idea and prod­uct launch. IC3D Suite can cut devel­op­ment time down from weeks to days or even hours. Let your com­peti­tors vend out their 3D ren­ders and use inef­fi­cient col­lab­o­ra­tion method­olo­gies that rely on sev­er­al rounds of file import/export between incom­pat­i­ble appli­ca­tions while you cre­ate in-house with IC3D Suite. Get your idea to mar­ket first and own the cat­e­go­ry.

Advertising Agencies

Your clients are the brand own­ers rac­ing com­peti­tors to mar­ket. Give them the great­est pos­si­ble retail advantage—and your­self the com­pet­i­tive edge against rival agencies—by halv­ing cre­ative devel­op­ment time. And, as devel­op­ment takes less time for each client, not only do you win the day by help­ing a client to mar­ket faster, not only do you become the hero with revi­sion turn­around times mea­sured in min­utes instead of days, but you also free your art depart­ment to cre­ate just as quick­ly for a greater num­ber of clients—without art depart­ment over­time.

Printers & Manufacturers

For you the speed of cre­ative devel­op­ment is of lit­tle con­se­quence unless you also pro­vide design ser­vices. What mat­ters most to you is reduc­ing art errors and incom­pat­i­bil­i­ties that will slow or halt pre­press. IC3D Suite can help with that in a num­ber of ways.

First, by encour­ag­ing your clients to design in IC3D Suite, you gain a pre­dictable input format—actually, two. IC3D Suite can export to the industry-standard Collada 3D for­mat. It also saves a press-ready Adobe Illustrator doc­u­ment auto­mat­i­cal­ly every time the native IC3D Suite project is saved. Thus, even you receive the native for­mat project from clients, you can run with the AI file or export from your own copy of IC3D Suite to Collada. For stan­dard pack­ag­ing shapes you can main­tain and share with clients mod­els in IC3D Suite or oth­er industry-standard 3D appli­ca­tion for­mats. In this way you know in advance that the art you received match­es prod­uct size and shape or label specs.

The sec­ond way in which the tool can ease your file prep bur­den is by mak­ing it eas­i­er for you to fix art errors. Models inside IC3D Suite are as eas­i­ly edit­ed as any 2D vec­tor art in Illustrator, so they can be tweaked and fixed as nec­es­sary with­out hours of unex­pect­ed labor or kick­ing the file back to the client or agency. Presentation and mock­ups effects such as back­grounds, reflec­tions, and rota­tion acci­den­tal­ly left on in the copy sent to you can be eas­i­ly turned off with just a few clicks and drags, quick­ly turn­ing a mock­up into a press-ready design with lit­tle fuss or expense.

How It Can Save Time and Money

IC3D Suite speeds not only the devel­op­ment and pre­sen­ta­tion stages of the process, but all stages of pack­age design from sketch to man­u­fac­tur­ing.

Ideation

The inclu­sion of a large selec­tion of ful­ly cus­tomiz­able mod­els and tem­plates enable design to start instant­ly on the vast major­i­ty of pack­ag­ing types. Designing on unique con­tain­er designs is almost as instan­ta­neous, requir­ing only a sim­ple import of the mod­el in lead­ing 3D ren­der­ing appli­ca­tion for­mats.

Brief

Initial designs can be export­ed to numer­ous stan­dard image for­mats, all stan­dard 3D for­mats, and movies. In fact, mere­ly sav­ing a design in native IC3D Suite for­mat auto­mat­i­cal­ly gen­er­ates a match­ing Adobe Illustrator file. The always-up-to-date Illustrator ver­sion makes not only briefs and mock­ups eas­i­er to cre­ate, but also aids in pre­sen­ta­tion and review due to the fact that Illustrator AI files may be eas­i­ly includ­ed as linked assets inside oth­er Illustrator doc­u­ments, InDesign lay­outs, and, as linked Smart Objects, in Photoshop doc­u­ments.

Creative Development

Initial designs and basic mock­ups cre­at­ed in IC3D Suite can eas­i­ly be edit­ed, refined, and made client-ready with­out hav­ing to start over from scratch or rebuild mod­els. Granular con­trol over every nuance of mod­el shape, col­or, tex­ture, light­ing, and envi­ron­ment means that each com­po­si­tion is always com­plete­ly editable. The patent­ed Smart Wrap tech­nol­o­gy in IC3D Suite quick­ly and eas­i­ly maps labels and art­work to even the most com­plex mod­els with­out the usu­al lengthy UVW tex­ture coor­di­nate map­ping. Going from mock­up to final ren­der­ing is a sim­ple mat­ter of build­ing on the exist­ing sketch with hot and cold foils, metal­lic inks, emboss­ing and entaglio, holo­graph­ic and lentic­u­lar art, real-time shad­ows, envi­ron­ments reflect­ed on the prod­uct, the prod­uct reflect­ing on the floor or oth­er envi­ron­men­tal sur­faces, fill­ing con­tain­ers with liq­uid, build­ing sep­a­rate ver­sions of pack­ets at var­i­ous states of full­ness and ani­ma­tion tran­si­tions between them, and many more cre­ative fea­tures man­aged through stan­dard tog­gle con­trols, slid­ers, and col­or pick­ers.

Even when ideation occurs out­side of IC3D Suite the pro­gram eas­es and speeds the tran­si­tion into full pro­duc­tion with its abil­i­ty to import from all oth­er major 3D ren­der­ing appli­ca­tions as well as vec­tor AI files, which are not only the file for­mat of desk­top ver­sions of Adobe Illustrator but also a grow­ing num­ber of mobile draw­ing apps such as Adobe Illustrator Draw, Adobe Illustrator Line, and Adobe Shape.

Creative col­lab­o­ra­tion among team mem­bers and with out­side agen­cies is made all the more eas­i­er by IC3D Suite’s robust focus on com­pat­i­bil­i­ty. First, of course, the native for­mat project can be worked on by any­one with a copy of IC3D Suite. This enables team mem­bers to build resuable and high­ly cus­tomiz­able mod­els and tem­plates use the Image Based Lighting (IBL) mod­el to cal­cu­late accu­rate and real­is­tic mod­el light­ing from HDRI and EXR envi­ron­ments. Collaborators with­out IC3D Suite can also con­tribute by work­ing with the concurrently-created Adobe Illustrator AI file and by cre­at­ing mod­els, tex­tures, and mate­ri­als in all industry-standard for­mats. IC3D Suite sup­ports the import of mod­els in Collada (DAE), Modo (LXO), CDS Max (3DS and ASE), Wavefront Object (OBJ), Lightwave (LWO and LWS), Milkshape 3D (MS3D), and Stereo Lithography 3D Printer file (STL) for­mats. Materials con­tained in those files are also import­ed, but IC3D Suite includes its own mate­ri­als edi­tor for sophis­ti­cat­ed, real-time mate­ri­als cre­ation and mod­i­fi­ca­tion.

Presentation

In addi­tion to speed­ing all the oth­er steps of cre­ative devel­op­ment, IC3D Suite can even make the pre­sen­ta­tion and review process faster and more infor­ma­tive. Its built-in abil­i­ty to ren­der real­is­tic 3D prod­ucts and to place those objects into pho­to­graph­ic or 3D envi­ron­ments, com­plete with environment-appropriate light­ing and reflec­tions means that clients, sales peo­ple, and any­one view­ing dig­i­tal or print proofs from IC3D Suite see the com­plete pic­ture, with no imag­i­na­tion nec­es­sary. Products can be pre­sent­ed alone in full detail as well as in believ­able, real­is­tic place­ments on store shelves or POS dis­plays.

Creatives can export from IC3D Suite as stan­dard screen-, print-, and PowerPoint-ready 2D graph­ics, and 3D PDF. High-resolution PSD exports can even include alpha chan­nels for easy sep­a­ra­tion of mod­els from their back­grounds. For tru­ly impact­ful pre­sen­ta­tions, prod­ucts and envi­ron­ments can be rotat­ed and ani­mat­ed into a movie that can be export­ed as QuickTime Movie (MOV) for­mat for direct pre­sen­ta­tion on a lap­top, iPad, iPhone, and oth­er mobile devices, or for incor­po­ra­tion into larg­er pre­sen­ta­tions in After Effects, Final Cut Pro, and oth­er video edi­tors.

Revision

Following pre­sen­ta­tion and review, when revi­sion requests come through, is when IC3D Suite real­ly accu­mu­lates the time and mon­ey sav­ings. Just as going from ideation to brief, brief to pre­sen­ta­tion was sped along by IC3D Suite’s easy-to-use gran­u­lar design refine­ment abil­i­ties, the fact that all aspects of the mock­up, from the shape, col­or, tex­ture, con­tents, label­ing, and rota­tion of the mod­el to the light­ing, reflec­tions, and back­ground of the model’s envi­ron­ment, are com­plete­ly editable make in-house revi­sion a breeze. Because the appli­ca­tion is so easy and fast to use, and because ren­der­ings to screen take so lit­tle time, many revi­sions can be done live, while the client or prod­uct man­ag­er watch­es.

Prototyping and Manufacturing

Upon approval of the final prod­uct design, send­ing to phys­i­cal pro­to­type and man­u­fac­tur­ing are a sim­ple mat­ter of export­ing con­tain­er or label to stan­dard 3D appli­ca­tion or Adobe Illustrator for­mat straight from IC3D Suite.

Employing an out­side agency to ren­der 3D mock­ups caus­es delays dur­ing ideation, brief, devel­op­ment, and revi­sion that are sim­ply unnec­es­sary in a world that now has IC3D Suite. IC3D Suite is as easy to use as any 2D illus­tra­tion appli­ca­tion cre­ative teams are already using. Such a shal­low learn­ing curve means rapid incor­po­ra­tion of the tool into exist­ing work­flows with min­i­mal down­time. More impor­tant­ly, adding IC3D Suite to the work­flow means an imme­di­ate time and cost sav­ings on the very next project and every project there­after.

Creative Edge IC3D Suite is avail­able from for $12,500. IC3D Carton Edition, a ver­sion specif­i­cal­ly tai­lored to the needs of car­ton design­ers and pack­ag­ing pro­fes­sion­als, is now avail­able for $2,950

Pariah Burke has more than 25 years expe­ri­ence in design, print pro­duc­tion, pre­press, and both print pub­lish­ing and epub­lish­ing. He appren­ticed at press­es and design shops before PostScript, PageMaker, and Photoshop, and then rode the Desktop Publishing wave into own­er­ship of design agen­cies and pre­press bureaus. He has designed pack­ag­ing, con­tain­ers, and point-of-sale dis­plays for a num­ber of brands includ­ing Playboy Sun. Pariah is the author of 8 books (and more than 450 arti­cles) on InDesign, Illustrator, and oth­er cre­ative pro­fes­sion­al tools and work­flows. He is also a world-recognized pub­lic speak­er and con­sul­tant to cre­ative, pro­duc­tion, and pub­lish­ing work­flows. Reach Pariah on Twitter @iampariah and on the Web at http://​iampariah​.com .

Full Disclosure: Creative Edge Software paid me a nom­i­nal fee to write this arti­cle. I accept­ed the assign­ment because, after deeply exam­in­ing IC3D hands-on, I believe strong­ly in the prod­uct and the ben­e­fits it can bring to the work­flows above. I stand behind my assess­ment regard­less of com­pen­sa­tion.