3D Design for the web - A chat with Pitch.com
There have been a few websites that stop you dead in your tracks and make you think about how the medium and style is shifting. I felt that with Pitch.com — from illustrations with dynamic energy to animations as delightful surprises. Two of the leading forces behind this exploration has been Anna and Arek, also known as Kajdax Team with their dribbble presence. I got to ask them a few questions on the inspiration of their style, the behind the scenes and where they think the 3D trend is going.
You’re pioneering a new and unique style for the web. Where do you draw your inspiration for the shape, coloring and rendering of your 3D creations?
When we started working on the Pitch site, we knew we wanted to go with something 3D. At the time, the landscape was powered by flat or isometric illustrations. We wanted to do something different and push the company to try something new. 3D art has been around for years, but maybe not in the context of business. To find the right style, we didn’t spend too much time on research. Rather we focused on the product message and tried out different approaches on how to tell the story right.
We wanted the assets to be simple, but have a lot of personality and flexibility and bold, friendly colors. It was exciting, but also scary because we didn’t know how they would be received. Pitch’s CEO, Christian Reber, was gutsy enough to take the risk and let us try something really different from what everyone else was doing. The positive feedback we received after launching the Pitch.com website was a good sign that we did something right.
You two have also been OGs in the 3D world for a while. What tools do you use in your design process to bring sketches to 3D and 3D to sometimes animation?
In the beginning, we used to sculpt everything in Cinema 4D. But then we noticed that creating characters or organic models was quite difficult and time-consuming, so we decided to dive into ZBrush. It’s so different from other tools and comes with a quirky UI. It took us about one year to develop a proper workflow, but now we just love it! We still use Cinema 4D when we need to do textures and animations. For the Pitch assets, we rendered everything in Octane Render.
Pitch’s website is a beautiful collection of delightful animations and has such a playful energy. How do you storyboard these micro-interactions/animation loops and make sure it doesn’t get lost during development? *the snapping animation for instance!
Everything starts with an idea and a sketch. At the beginning, we focus on creating the right concept and making sure we nail the message. That’s very important to us because otherwise it’s just a beautiful illustration without any real meaning. We love to come up with the perfect metaphor and add a fun and unique spin to it. Our general rule is keep it simple. As a designer, if the message is too complex, you might get lost in the details or add too many elements, which then makes the whole story confusing.
Once we have an initial concept, we create frame-by-frame animated sketches to see if the idea works. After that, we present to the team and incorporate feedback to arrive at the final idea. Then we can start doing the actual work in 3D. We find that it’s super efficient because you can already put the GIFs into the site layout and see how it looks instead of spending hours (or days!) working in 3D only to find out, in the end, it doesn’t work.
The concept for the magic formatting is one of our favorites because it’s so simple, but still on point. The tagline on our website is All hands on deck, so the entire homepage features chubby hands doing things. We were thinking: What’s the simplest way to get things done in a way that feels magical? Snapping your fingers. Easy.
Who are the designers that inspire you in the world of illustration and 3D?
There are so many great people out there who do amazing work, but our biggest inspiration is from everyday things. Personally, we appreciate illustrations around concept design, comic books, and sci-fi movies.
Arek has looked up to artists like Sean Galloway, Goro Fujita, and Serge Birault for their mind-blowing drawing skills and creative outcome. And Anna has been in love with old Russian cartoons since childhood.
Otto, the unofficial mascot of Pitch.com, is beyond adorable! How did Otto come to be and can you share any sketches, design options and iterations of Otto?
Otto’s popularity was totally unexpected! As an illustration, he came about organically. At Pitch, we add a personal touch to our illustrations by using real people (or in this case, animals) as a reference. Otto is a real dog owned by one of our founders and spends a lot of time in our offices. For the first version of the Pitch website, it felt natural to have him on the homepage holding a newspaper, like the good boy he is. Eventually, we started working more with him. If you mistype a URL, you’ll see him floating in space on our 404 pages. And in the app and at events you’ll see him immortalized in a sticker set.
Hope you’ll like it.
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