To give this question a fresh start:

We define ourselves as a community of graphic designers. The question I ask here is: Does this include 3D experts? More specifically, by 3D expert, I mean people who are good at creating something with 3D software and similar tools (but if you have another good definition, please share it).

Why put the focus on the community?

Stack Exchange sites are primarily defined by communities, not by topics. Often this distinction doesn’t matter, but I do think it does for defining our scope around 3D questions.

Many previous meta questions yielded a consensus along the lines of “3D questions are okay, if […]” I do not see how this can work. If we want a subcommunity of 3D experts, the askers have to feel welcome on our site and the experts must be entertained. We cannot make them second-class citizens that have to restrict themselves to a gerrymandered niche of our scope, when everybody else does not. Otherwise it is no wonder if 3D tags will be a deserted wasteland. (Note that we may have a 3D wasteland despite this – which would be a relevant argument.)


As outlined above, if we accept 3D experts as part of our community, we have to accept the entire repertoire, i.e., people learning their first steps with 3D programs up to highly specific questions, and from conceptual to rather technical ones – just as we do for 2D questions. The main restrictions of scope will be like for 2D questions: Is a 3D expert a good person to ask this? This does not mean that we cannot have any 3D-specific rules ever, but we have to first open the door and then possibly close it a bit and not the other way round.

On the other hand, if we reject 3D experts as part of our community, we have to draw a clear line – at least excluding all question about 3D software in general. We cannot cherry-pick a few questions that we like.


If you answer, please address the following questions:

  • If you answer with yes: How can we populate the subcommunity of 3D designers? Will just being open to such questions eventually work to attract experts or do we have to do something else? Also: Will there be sufficient overlap between 2D and 3D designers to avoid two parallel communities?

  • If you answer with no: Where can we draw clear line(s)? (And “it has to be about design” is not a clear line.) Does just banning 3D-software questions suffice?

  • If you answer with something in between (e.g., “3D questions are okay, if […]”), please address the above problems and make sure that your answer contains a clear and actionable policy (or at least steps towards one).

Further Notes

  • Of course, some of us are experts on both, 2D and 3D design. But then some of us are also experts on other topics like UX, freelancing, anthropology, or physics. A crucial question here is how big natural the overlap between the two communities is.

  • Previous attempts to start a separate SE site for 3D software in general didn’t work out. To be blunt, this is not our problem. We only have to decide what our community is.

  • Should we opt for yes, we have to decide what to do with questions about Blender, since it has its own dedicated SE site. This detail can be decided separately if the need arises.

  • Similarly for no: Technical details such as what tags to blacklist, what close reasons to adapt, etc. can be decided later.

  • 3
    Who are these mysterious 3D designers? We tend to call them by the professions name. The professions include Architects for houses and furniture, Industrial designers, sculptors, animators, modelers, mechanical engineers, civil engineers, concept artists, technical illustrators, mathematicians, programmers, technical directors... Which ones do you mean?
    – joojaa
    Jun 6, 2018 at 10:19
  • @joojaa: I defined them in the first paragraph, but if you have a better suggestion I am all ears. I cannot call them by their profession’s name, because this is not what is relevant here.
    – Wrzlprmft Mod
    Jun 6, 2018 at 10:38
  • on this note graphicdesign.meta.stackexchange.com/q/554/63979
    – Welz
    Jun 6, 2018 at 14:32
  • @joojaa - indeed, in all of those design professions you mentioned we tend (in the United States) to fractionate pretty strongly, though that's less true in some other countries. That said, I resemble your comment myself: my first real forays into 3D (æons ago) started as a technical illustrator, diffused into my ongoing graphic design work, deepened as an architecture student and architectural illustrator, and has since included some industrial and package design and at this point I'm in the midst of a foray into the intersection space of game design (Unity) and architectural rendering. Jun 6, 2018 at 15:24
  • @Dom: Well, if you look at the notes at the end, this is intended as a first step.
    – Wrzlprmft Mod
    Jun 8, 2018 at 17:03
  • 1
    @Dom: it doesn't look like there's any clear indication of consensus – Both answers so far opt for yes; looks like a consensus to me. — what's needed is a realistic plan for how to attempt to expand the site in that direction – perhaps, but it only makes sense to talk about this, if we really want to do this.
    – Wrzlprmft Mod
    Jun 8, 2018 at 18:01

2 Answers 2


Yes we should include 3D experts here.

However, we don't have to accept every 3D question just like we don't have to accept every 2D question. How many dimensions are involved shouldn't even be a factor. We should decide like for 2D questions according to the rules we have already established.

If you answer with something in between (e.g., “3D questions are okay, if […]”), please address the above problems and make sure that your answer contains a clear and actionable policy (or at least steps towards one).

We already have a clear and actionable policy. And its a beautiful policy that allows us to avoid these meta questions from being asked every year. Leave it up the community on a question by question basis.

Graphic Design isn't about a particular technical skillset as Joojaa (and countless others) eluded too. It's only the outcome that matters.

Let's shift since it seems you're struggling with semantics and look from a different angle.

  • Do we want Print Press Experts?

Well nobody seems to argue if questions about printing is on topic. In fact here's a question on it - Are various aspects of printmaking/screen printing on topic here?

And the two answers provided:

I'd say all the examples given should be on topic (so long as it's related to a design project). - user568458

I think questions as they relate to design for screen printing are fine - setting up art, color use, etc. - Scott

And we have plenty of print questions. It's not an issue there and its not an issue with 3D. Leave them open if its a design related question, and close them if they aren't. And that decision is entirely up to the community based on the individual question. If its on-topic but appears lacking in effort the correct action is a down vote.

Nobody should be saying, "3D is off-topic." That doesn't mean we have to allow every 3D question. To use your own terms it means 3D by itself is not sufficient reason to close a question.

  • 4
    "Leave it up the community on a question by question basis." doesn't really work if everyone has different views though... it just ends up with arbitrary outcomes depending on when the question is asked and who happens to be online at the time
    – Cai
    Jun 6, 2018 at 11:26
  • 1
    Also "It's only the outcome that matters" is the whole problem here; if you think that 3D modelling is design then all of these 3D software problems are on-topic... if you don't they're off-topic.... who's right?
    – Cai
    Jun 6, 2018 at 11:27
  • @Cai how is that different from our 2d questions? I don't believe it is which is why I'm saying 3D is not sufficient reason to close.
    – Ryan
    Jun 6, 2018 at 11:38
  • 2
    I agree that using a third spacial dimension isn't a reason to close a question... this isn't really about "3D" in that general sense though; it's about questions on using 3D modelling software and the like
    – Cai
    Jun 6, 2018 at 11:53
  • 2
    To give an example: A question about exporting a file from Illustrator is OK... is a question about exporting something from Maya? I have no idea. Letting that be judged on a case-by-case basis without any guidance means it is entirely up to each person whether what someone does in Maya is considered (or closely related enough to) "graphic design"; and evidently users disagree on this.
    – Cai
    Jun 6, 2018 at 11:58
  • The big difference to the printing aspect is this: As far as I know, there are far more graphic designers who never touch 3D software in their career than those who never produce for print. Thus nobody disputes that people who are experts on certain aspects of printing are a subcommunity of ours. Of course this comes due to a natural overlaps of areas of expertise. The question here is to some extent how these overlaps are with 3D software.
    – Wrzlprmft Mod
    Jun 6, 2018 at 12:02
  • @Wrzlprmft you're again using flawed logic. "Graphic designers who never touch 3D software" would be equivalent to "Graphic designers who never touch a Print Press." On the other hand "Graphic designers who never design with depth and shading" would be akin to "Graphic designers that have never printed their work."
    – Ryan
    Jun 6, 2018 at 12:35
  • ---- the print press was a simplistic way to try and make it clear that 3D isn't the issue. This is no different from "What are our tech support guidelines?" Which you've already answered here: graphicdesign.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/3300/…
    – Ryan
    Jun 6, 2018 at 12:35
  • 1
    @Ryan: I agree with most of what you say: 3D isn’t the issue (and much too vague a term for any useful discussion anyway); all the debate and also this question evolves around 3D software.
    – Wrzlprmft Mod
    Jun 6, 2018 at 12:42

There are a significant subset of 3D generalists who are also graphic designers, many of whom use their 3D chops and tools for package design † ; there is another subset of 3D generalists who are actively engaged in industrial design, and use non-CAD 3D tools both for initial ideation and for presentation rendering. There are a fair number of folks who have a mixed design background, covering graphic design, technical illustration, architecture and 3D work: I fall squarely into that category myself.

Clearly, therefore, I can comfortably say "yes", and do.

I can inject, if we determine this is what we want to do, GDSE's interest in garnering 3D expertise and fostering learning / idea exchange in some of the various fora I frequent around the use of Foundry's Modo, Blender.org, OnShape, SketchUp and so on, as well as the same within the various Slack communities I frequent in those topics. I think that we can also, as suggested by others, commit to outreach to the Blender SE community to see if there are experts there who'd be available for more general 3D items cropping up here in GDSE.

As a whole, in the 3D generalist space, there are forums most of which are per-named-product focussed, or which are primarily for exchanging portfolio and gallery pieces, or are fora for folks to sell scripts, plugins and libraries of resources, and tutorial fora where folks sell their tutorials, many of which are unassailably excellent (looking at you, Richard Yot) - there are some folks who sell scripts and tools and provide tutorials gratis, and again, some are amazingly well done (William Vaughan) and therefore represent phenomenal resources. In many of these spaces, people will ask for advice or help with highly specific technical questions, which are appropriate to aire in those program-specific environments.

What there is not, as far as I've seen, is a more general, conceptual and integrated discoursive arena for design questions, and for the questions which fall into the intersection space between conceptual design and technical niggle, and which allows for both integration into a larger sphere of design and cross fertilisation of design thinking, ideation and information diffusion. This is GDSE's ægis.

Moreover, as SE in general is an amazing learning and intellectual community development resource, and has Graphic Design, Game Development and Blender communities, but no platform-agnostic 3D / CG space (there is an SE called Computer Graphics, but specific to researchers & programmers) we are in essence leaving this entire sector of designers outside this kind of non-monetised, democratically operated, meritorious knowledge diffusion and community enhancement arena, and this seems... antithetical to our stated goals, especially given how much intersectionality we have.

Heck, if you are an Adobe CC user, and got the whole suite, you get Cinema4D Lite with your AfterEffects subscription, and Maxon publishes their Illustrator-to-C4D plugin for free which allows you to directly apply Illustrator designs to C4D meshes and get decent renders all without leaving Illustrator.

  • 1
    I'd +1 this a few more times if I could.
    – Ryan
    Jun 6, 2018 at 16:24

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