I still feel like banning 3D questions is a grey area here. So much of 3D relates to graphic design. When Photoshop, Illustrator, etc isn't the best option for an effect, 3D software should be a consideration. In those cases, it seems like this community would be an excellent resource.

The question came up again today, and John noted that I should bring it over to meta. Given a community that still has relatively low activity and a topic that is very closely related, I don't see the point in writing the issue off.

  • There is a proposal in Area51 for CG Artists that will answer 3D questions. It needs more followers and solid questions to complete the definition phase. You may consider following: area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/38889/…
    – ckpepper02
    Commented May 10, 2013 at 13:07
  • I actually have nothing to offer on the issue. But I do work with those who do and I consider them part of the field and a valuable resource in our industry. Commented May 10, 2013 at 15:48
  • @plainclothes What about after-effects and motion graphics? Is there a SE for this? It looks much closer to us than '3D'.
    – Yisela
    Commented May 13, 2013 at 2:45
  • In my experience, motion graphics is further removed than 3D. That is not to say that I want to exclude design for motion. They feel more like sub-communities for me. As I mentioned below, I think favorite tags can bring those communities to life. Commented May 13, 2013 at 15:58
  • @plainclothes But one thing would be animating a character, or creating a movie... and a completely different one would be animating some text. Some motion peeps are graphic designers, and work really close to other designers. Just thinking :)
    – Yisela
    Commented May 13, 2013 at 22:18
  • 2
    Very true. I support bringing it all under the Graphic Design roof. It's less confusing when you think of it as 'Visual Design'. Commented May 13, 2013 at 22:20
  • 5 votes for yes, 1 for no and 1 for 'sometimes'. Shall we add the feature request and summon Aarthi?
    – Yisela
    Commented May 14, 2013 at 23:48
  • 1
    @Yisela Now that the FAQ is updated, is it worth going through and re-opening 3D questions that were closed for being off topic?
    – JohnB
    Commented May 17, 2013 at 18:06
  • @John I'm not sure, to be honest. How about we open the ones from the last, say, 2 or 3 months?
    – Yisela
    Commented May 18, 2013 at 8:05

9 Answers 9


Here are my thoughts:

As far as I'm concerned, 3D is in. Graphic design includes 3D. Whether we as designers like it or not, it's here, it's becoming more and more common, and it's not going to go away.

Even if you think only of texture maps, there's a ton of graphic design in 3D work and an increasing amount of 3D in graphic design for other media than film or video. Many 3D looks that once took many hour of painstaking work in Illustrator or Photoshop can now be accomplished in an hour or less using Photoshop's built-in 3D features or even a lightweight 3D application like Xara or Sketchup. We can't say that the former is allowed, but the latter isn't. That is a completely artificial distinction with no place in the real world.

In the last 25 years the responsibilities of a graphic designer have grown to encompass typesetting, color separations and management, paste-up (used to be a separate hat, remember?), motion and interactive, web and mobile. As our tools become more powerful and the delivery systems for our work more sophisticated, we find ourselves pulled into these things by necessity and client demand. Economics dictates that we use the most efficient tool for the job, and if that happens to be a 3D tool, so what?

Graphic design today is a pressure-cooker of evolving technology and evolving client needs. 3D, like mobile, is a part of that evolution. As designers, we either embrace these changes or we embrace obsolescence. No apologies if that seems a bit over-dramatic. There really isn't a middle ground.

GD isn't about 3D modeling or animation, but the fact that dedicated 3D programs are mostly used for those things doesn't mean we must exclude 3D as a topic.

We -- designers in general and gd.se in particular -- have to be willing to embrace the technologies that get the job done. We are living in an era where we have to run as hard as we can, just to stay in the same place, and run like anything if we want to get anywhere. That's true for designers, and I can tell you from interacting with people inside Adobe that it's true for the companies who make the tools we use.

The Red Queen would have understood perfectly.

  • Welcome back Alan! We've missed you :)
    – Yisela
    Commented May 14, 2013 at 23:29
  • Bless you, and thanks! Things have been pretty busy here at G&G Towers. :) (That's a gag that American listeners to a program called "Car Talk" will appreciate.) Commented May 15, 2013 at 3:43
  • 1
    I've added this to the faq scope section. Commented May 17, 2013 at 16:52

In case it wasn't clear from my question wording, I'll put my two cents in here.

Arbitrary lines like "3D is okay if you do it in this app but not that other one that I don't own" are a slippery slope. Maybe I just don't get the SE model but this seems to unnecessarily fragment the community. Considering the relatively slow activity here, fragmenting would appear to be a bad strategy.

Favorite and ignored tags are the perfect way to filter this stuff out, if you don't want to see it. Wouldn't that facilitate sub-communities within GD.SE? Wouldn't that make for a richer, more active exchange?

Okay, I'll give it a rest now. If I'm in the minority I'll get over it.

  • I see more of an agreement (or a general 'I don't mind'), but we have the issue of the Blender community being almost approved. So if we give this a try (which would mean just not closing 3D questions), what do we do? Accept all 3D questions except for Blender ones?
    – Yisela
    Commented May 11, 2013 at 23:36
  • I agree, the new community makes this more complicated. Personally, I think it just takes away from the potential activity here. Redirecting there will be the most responsible course of action once that community goes live. Commented May 13, 2013 at 16:00

(Before I checked the Blender proposal): I agree, the 3D issue it is a grey area, and one that makes us all feel a bit uncomfortable I think. The fact that it's off-topic is a mere agreement, and nothing more. I wouldn't mind taking these question on board, I simply have zero knowledge of 3D so I don't think I could contribute with anything, but still wouldn't mind them. And we have included fine art questions lately, so I don't see why not.

The only thing is, I think, we should first see if we can guarantee there will be some answers to start with. Something we could do is invite the people from the Blender proposal. Maybe they wouldn't mind joining this site.

EDIT: The Blender proposal is 100% committed, so they should get a site soon. Might be 'too late' to grab 3D now, if they are starting a site. Perhaps it's better to redirect people there.

  • Looks like the Blender site is only for that application, not all 3D questions. Which is a shame because there seems to be a huge gap in coverage on the topic. The CG Artists proposal is still in the definition phase. area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/38889/cg-artists
    – ckpepper02
    Commented May 10, 2013 at 16:26
  • @ckpepper02 It is a shame, because we now have a second problem: Do we accept the orphan non-Blender 3D questions?
    – Yisela
    Commented May 11, 2013 at 23:33

Honestly, I'd rather see basic 3D questions on-topic and font identification off-topic.

In the end, it's just another stream of "help me with this app" which is very abundant here.

  • 1
    Amen to that! Send the font seekers to WTF or Typophile. Commented May 7, 2013 at 0:20
  • 1
    I like font identification!
    – Brendan
    Commented May 11, 2013 at 2:45

I think 3D questions that relate to graphic design should be allowed, but I think 3D questions that relate to animation and movies etc should not be allowed.

  • I think this is more or less what we are doing now. Well, Photoshop 3D questions. I'm really bad at 3D, so I don't know: What would be other 3D graphic design uses?
    – Yisela
    Commented May 11, 2013 at 23:34

I believe that 3D should be off topic here in regards to using dedicated 3D applications such as Maya, 3DS Max, Blender etc. 3D as an Effect within Photoshop or Illustrator should be allowed (and generally is from what I've seen here).

What I would LOVE to see is the rebirth of the 3D Graphics stackexchange site so this cool platform (StackExchange) can be used to answer 3D questions.

Shameless Plug: 3D Graphics

I've re-read the definition for CG Artist, and it doesn't appear to be general enough. I recently asked if the CG Artists site could be merged with the Blender to be an all encompassing 3D site, and I got an emphatic 'No'.


If S.E has plans for launching a 3D stack overflow style like this one which would be completely dedicated to 3D graphics then yes you should ban 3D questions.

Otherwise it is absurd IMHO.

3D graphics still count as graphics.

  • The 3D proposal was never successful, so I'm not sure if it counts as a SE plan.
    – Yisela
    Commented May 14, 2013 at 23:46
  • Well then, in my opinion removing 3D of this site is not a democracy - analogus to removing Java questions from Stack Overflow because we don't like it. Keep 3D here. Commented May 15, 2013 at 0:04
  • @stephencosh's answer is quite what i would propose myself. I don't know 3D graphics but i believe it not OK to remove it from this site - otherwise choose to either change this site name to 2D graphics design or keep 3D graphics . Thats just me. Glad i could contribute to this:) Commented May 15, 2013 at 0:07

I think the issue is always going to be where do we draw the line. 3D is okay so then AutoCAD is okay?

Is it modeling or just rendering we're okay with? What about BIM?

For the record I know AutoCAD and Rhino and would be happy to answer what I can on both (been a while though) but I know absolutely nothing about 3DS, Maya or Blender.

And what of other things like animation? video? interactive visualizations? graphs/charts?

I'm all for letting all of them in, just need to consider what we're about to do.


3D belongs to graphics design so either change the name so this community does not get bothered by more 3D questions or just allow them and teach yourself how to work with tags and filters.

Furthermore, to attract a good 3D community I think every app should be allowed and even technical questions. A technical question should have the application tag like "maya" or "3Ds-Max" more broad questions about designing itself should just be tagged with 3D and other relevant tags. This way someone who knows 3Ds-Max should not be bothered by technical Maya questions. And a 2D composition expert should not be bothered by a technical question about a technical Blender question about composition. As long as tags and filters are being used properly.

  • 3D doesn't belong to anyone. People have used 3D in design but 3D is it's own animal. Please find a definition somewhere that says 3D belongs to design because I cannot find a definition that says otherwise based on your answer..
    – user9447
    Commented Aug 17, 2015 at 12:33

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