Adobe Creative Cloud

January 31, 2017 /Q & A /

“It’s Like an Erector Set for Adults:” Visual Designer Michael Dolan on Creative Play with Project Felix

From his studio in Santa Rosa, California, visual designer Michael Dolan takes on marketing projects for us at Adobe; from Photoshop Mix and Fix to Comp CC and Capture CC to Photoshop CC and Premiere Elements, he’s well-versed in the Creative Cloud, and enjoys experimenting with new products and updates to see how they might benefit his creative practice. We caught up with Michael to talk about his experience using Project Felix, and how the software has opened up a whole new world of creative exploration.

Michael Dolan

Hey Michael! Tell us about getting started with Project Felix—how familiar are you with the software?

At this point I’m in the discovery phase of the app, mostly testing and rendering. It was created for the graphic designer to be able to produce composites, and what’s great about is that the learning curve is so much lower than other 3D software out there. It’s already been helpful for me in terms of understanding 3D space and lighting sources, and how a 3D object fits into a scene on a particular plane.

Is there anything you felt was helpful to know before you got started?

The great thing is that you don’t really need much background for Felix, but I did brush up (briefly) on my 3D terminology. The three I found most helpful were:

  • Model: The object that you’re dropping in somewhere.
  • Light: The app is going to automatically introduce the light that interacts with your material, based on the background image that you choose.
  • Material: You can manipulate so much in the settings! Do you want your object to be glassy? Plastic? Paper? Chocolate? Gold? There are also options for reflectiveness, adding fog—all kinds of things.

Michael Dolan working in Project Felix

How has Project Felix changed your approach to visual design?

I’m stuck all day doing work. Project Felix is a piece of productive software that will help me with those projects, but it also just allows me to have fun; like an erector set for adults. You can open the app and start building these interesting 3D composites almost immediately. I can bring in a background image—maybe something that I’ve shot—and it’s so easy to get started. I can take cylinders, or cones, or tetrahedrons, and place all these shapes together in 3D space, then navigate my camera around to see how they interact with each other.

This idea of unlocking new creative venues with Felix is really neat, but you also mention how much it might help with your work. How do you anticipate using Project Felix in your day-to-day as a visual designer?

Every year I work on the actual box packaging for Photoshop Elements and Premier Elements. We have a vendor take these photos of the finished product, which takes quite a bit of time; sometimes after the shoot we’ll decide we need shots from a different perspective, so I will spend hours in Photoshop trying to figure out how to light and shadow and stretch this thing to look realistic. I’m really looking forward to using Felix for that project next time; the ability to make the 3D scene, then manipulate the camera angle for snapshots, while easily rendering out these different perspectives? That’s huge. Or adding a sign above a building; or graphics on a window; or in-store displays; you can just drop them into Felix and the lighting is put in place for you. Plus you can snap the plane to match the scene. It’s awesome.

Michael Dolan working in Project Felix

What advice do you have for someone using the software for the first time?

Are you a graphic designer ready to check out Project Felix to see how it can help you with your very own creative compositing? Check out the homepage, and stay tuned for more tips and tricks from pros like Michael who are leading the way.

Great place to start to end the piece but I feel like we need a thought to put a bow on it.

I added a call to action, which I think is a good transition to get people signing up/”jumping in with both feet.” Let me know!

Q & A

Join the discussion

  • By Felix - 12:51 AM on February 1, 2017  

    Great post.

    I’m hoping to design something similar to your Felikium object in Felix.

    Can I ask how you made the shape to use in Felix? I need to show a truncated Rhombohedron (aka Durers rhombohedron)

    Any help is much appreciated! 🙂

    • By Michael Dolan - 3:13 PM on February 1, 2017  

      Hey there, thanks! I had a really good time working with Felix and to this day can’t stop experimenting with new compositions.

      I’m confident you could jump in, drag the Pyramid into your scene, and make it happen. My basic process is outlined below, to give you some extra insight. Hope it helps.

      1. Drag a Pyramid into your scene

      2. Select (V) tool, position or elevate the pyramid from the plane. (Drag the green arrow up.)

      3. Select and Scale (E) tool, slightly lengthen the Y axis.

      4. Select and Rotate (R) as you see fit. It helps me to rotate the Orbit Camera (1) to understand what is happening at this point. It’s also helpful to look at the prerender screen (shows a low-res thumb of exported composition) at your bottom right.

      5. In your SCENE panel on the left click on the background layer. In the BACKGROUND panel on your right, there is a small folder icon that allows you to add an image as your background. Do this and then click the button, “Create Light from Image.” Just make a note of the “Adjust Lighting” settings for later.

      At this point, it starts to get rewarding!

      6. Drag different materials onto the Pyramid and watch the magic happen. Yes, I’m a dork, and I love this part. Look at your prerender window as you experiment with different materials and see how texture, light, and structure begin to interact. You can always expand this window for a better look. Be patient, it takes a minute to render.

      7. Once you are dialed in, just copy and paste your pyramid and Rotate and re-Position as needed. If you need to truncate the final shape, as you mentioned, select the entire group of pyramids and play with its position relative to the plane, or Y axis position.