Visualization: Design's Secret Weapon
As we all know, the design industry has evolved and shifted enormously in just the past 10 years. Our definitions of design are broadening, our capabilities are growing, and there’s close to nothing that designers don’t touch these days. Given that rapid pace of change, it’s no surprise that designers and their remits are also changing.
These days, designing for brands involves a wealth of different creative types. And despite a reputation for whimsical artists, design now encompasses a wealth of technical talent as well. In fact, complex programs and tools are at the heart of the many creative endeavors, and increasingly so in the world of commercial design. While it may sound maudlin to some, all this innovation and exploration in digital technology has opened up a world of potential for design and craft, adding profound layers of possibility to a designer’s toolkit and allowing room for new fields to emerge all together.
Visualization is one such field, a specialization within design that is burgeoning but often overlooked or misunderstood. Today we’ll open that box; define what visualization is, how it’s used, and its potential and growing relevance for designers and commercial brands.
In short, visualization is the art of making the unreal appear real. Through 3D modeling, rendering, image compositing and retouching, visualization allows designers to lay eyes on their designs long before they exist in the world. This early access enables designers to amplify and improve their work on screen, presenting a portrayal of a final product, long before it’s brought to life. For minimal cost, visualization provides designers, agencies, clients and businesses the opportunity to test and perfect concepts within a controlled environment.
Like Photoshop, but on Olympic-level steroids -and much more legal visualization allows designers to create worlds free from interference. But unlike Photoshop, which is most often used to perfect images at the very end of a project’s lifecycle, visualization is used during all phases of work, allowing designers to play with structural possibilities, review initial design routes, present “finished” products to clients in pitches and even test concepts or routes in focus groups. From beginning to end, visualization is design’s new secret weapon for bringing things to life regardless of where they are in a project’s lifecycle.
The potential for visualization as a specialization and a tool is enormous. Much like 3D printing allowed businesses to rapidly test prototypes, visualization makes it possible to bring ideas to life instantaneously, all the while adjusting structural elements, lighting, propping, landscapes and styling, to showcase work in its most ideal state, without needing to involve the cost of expensive studio photography. Even today, and unbeknownst to consumers, many brands and businesses are turning to visualization to create ingredients for inclusion on food packaging, or for in-situ shots which are hard to control and adjust, and the demand for such ideal conditions is only growing.
While it’s already beginning to make waves in the world of interior and architectural design, and some savvy brands have begun to tap into the technology, we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg of visualization’s potential within commercial design. Across concepts, presentations, website imagery, award submissions, printed materials, etc. visualization allows designers to do true justice to their work, pushing the possibilities of design ever farther forward, and bringing them to life. So the next time you see a beautiful billboard, stunning food photography on pack, or even a chair in an manufacturer’s catalogue, take note that it’s probably passed by a visualizer’s desk, and might even be a figment of imagination and computer modeling skills.