2D and 3D web icons design - what is the difference?
As for the 3d Icons the light source plays essential role for creating authentic three-dimensional images. It is appropriate and even recommended to use several light sources in website design nowadays but they should follow fundamental laws of physics and be truthful. So if you would like to make 3D web icons look softer and much more realistic - use several lights.
Both 2D and 3D icons represent the volume found in the three-dimensional world but use different methods of creating this illusion. 2D Icons can certainly represent volume to less extent than 3D Icons. More often the images are flat and show just one perspective. To this weakness you can also add another one - detailed highlights and imperceptible soft shadows are missing. The shades usage is restricted as well.
3D icons have got all these features instead. But 3D is mathematical replication of the data which anyway limits its usage. In some case 3D objects like 3D Icons may be successfully replaced by 2D ones or by the videos with the sounds. The sounds give additional dimensionality to the videos that actually use 2D images.Software used for 3D modeling enables to create that 3D dimension. Just remember that, 3D icons should be depicted in correlation with the other objects and the environment they're placed into.