Macworld Masterclass: Create futuristic text using Photoshop CS6

Take your graphic text to the next dimension by using 3D

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  • 3d text final Intro
  • text1 Step 1: Getting started
  • text2 Step 2: Type the text
  • text3 Step 3: Turn into 3D
  • text4 Step 4: Move the light
  • text5 Step 5: Add shadows
  • text6 Step 6: Front shape
  • text7 Step 7: Reduce the extrusion
  • text8 Step 8: Tube it out
  • text9 Step 9: Remove other influences
  • text10 Step 10: Bevel colour
  • text11 Step 11: Brighter still
  • text12 Step 12: The Extrusion
  • text13 Step 13: Additional properties
  • text14 Step 14: Check the settings
  • text15 Step 15: Add style
  • 3d text alternative Bonus Tip: Change the view
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Intro

The 3D aspect of Photoshop was introduced in CS5 and has had a significant upgrade for CS6. Adobe doesn’t have a standalone 3D software package so it’s likely that this side will continue to develop. What’s interesting though is how 2D elements can be converted into 3D and then make use of the lighting and shadows that true 3D has to offer.

For this tutorial we’re going to take some 2D text and make it all neon, glowing and futuristic, with reflections, shadows and highlights. To start, you need a font that uses an outline so it’s hollow in the middle. The outline itself needs to be fairly solid, not just a couple of pixels thick. Browse your favourite free font sites, or if you have one already then use that. Otherwise, download, unzip and double click on the font, then click on Install Font to put it onto the system. 

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Next Prev 3d text final

The 3D aspect of Photoshop was introduced in CS5 and has had a significant upgrade for CS6. Adobe doesn’t have a standalone 3D software package so it’s likely that this side will continue to develop. What’s interesting though is how 2D elements can be converted into 3D and then make use of the lighting and shadows that true 3D has to offer.

For this tutorial we’re going to take some 2D text and make it all neon, glowing and futuristic, with reflections, shadows and highlights. To start, you need a font that uses an outline so it’s hollow in the middle. The outline itself needs to be fairly solid, not just a couple of pixels thick. Browse your favourite free font sites, or if you have one already then use that. Otherwise, download, unzip and double click on the font, then click on Install Font to put it onto the system. 

 

Step 2 of 17: Step 1: Getting started

Double click on the Background colour and set it to #16181d for a dark, but not black colour. Then go to File> New and create a document. This used a Width and Height of 1500x750, using the Background Contents as the Background colour. Click on OK to create it then select the Horizontal Type tool.

 

Step 3 of 17: Step 2: Type the text

Select the font you want and set the size to something large like 200pt with a Smooth edge. If using two lines of text, change the leading to 185pt. Click on the middle to lower half of the screen, rather than above the middle point, and type in your wording. Go to Window> Workspace and select 3D.

 

Step 4 of 17: Step 3: Turn into 3D

Go to 3D> New 3D Extrusion from Selected Layer. This adds the 3D depth to the letters and creates an infinite light to light it with. The 3D palette on the right will now fill up with the scene contents, the light, default camera and environment settings. At the moment the shadows are too severe in the lettering.

 

Step 5 of 17: Step 4: Move the light

Click on the Infinite Light 1 icon to reveal the controls. Grab the small ball on the stick from the larger one. Move it down so that it is just above the main light ball. In the Properties panel for the Infinite Light, increase the Softness slider to 50% to soften the edges. Ensure Shadow has a tick in it.

 

Step 6 of 17: Step 5: Add shadows

The point about this being 3D is that it can create reflections on the ground plane, which is what is added next. Select Environment in the 3D palette, then look in the Properties palette under Ground Plane. Change the Opacity of the Reflections to 70% and the Roughness to 7% which will make them less distinct.

 

Step 7 of 17: Step 6: Front shape

At the moment, the front face of the text is completely flat whereas for a neon tube-like effect it needs to be more rounded. Select the text in the 3D palette, then Mesh in the Properties palette. Click on the Shape Preset drop down arrow and select Bevel with Contour. Depending on the shape of the text, some of the other options are worth experimenting with.

 

Step 8 of 17: Step 7: Reduce the extrusion

Each time you try a different Shape Preset it will change the Extrusion accordingly, however it’s a little too much. So, reduce the Extrusion depth so that it’s something more like 40. It’s easier to type this in rather than use the slider which isn’t very accurate.

 

Step 9 of 17: Step 8: Tube it out

In the Properties palette now click on the icon for Cap.  Under Bevel, change the Width to 100% which will give the lettering a tube-like appearance. If you want it to be more of a rounded bevel then use something like 50%. At this point it’s time to tinker with the materials.

 

Step 10 of 17: Step 9: Remove other influences

Under the heading for the text in the 3D panel, click on the Front Inflation Material and change the Opacity to 0%. Repeat the process for the Back Inflation Material so that neither will have any unexpected effect of the final result. Then click on the Front Bevel Material.

 

Step 11 of 17: Step 10: Bevel colour

Here’s where the fun starts and you can try a couple of different things. Set the Illumination colour to a slightly deeper red than full, use #d2000 for this. Now, if you set the Diffuse to black the lettering is slightly more defined but a slightly less neon colour than the next option.

 

Step 12 of 17: Step 11: Brighter still

If you set the Diffuse colour to pure red then the lettering is brighter but it also overwhelms the bevel effect and makes the front of the lettering flat. You may prefer one or the other option. However, now, increase the Shine to 50% and reduce the Bump to 0%.

 

Step 13 of 17: Step 12: The Extrusion

At this point the Extrusion isn’t helping the cause so now let’s add some detail to it. Click on Extrusion Material. In the Properties panel use the drop down arrow next to the material type to bring up the browser. Select Stone Marble. You can also get more materials by going to 3D> Get More Content. 

 

Step 14 of 17: Step 13: Additional properties

Change the Diffuse to a dark red, #6a0101, the Specular to a much brighter #f41919 and the Illumination to a much darker #290000.To set up the reflections now change the Shine to 25%, Reflection to 100%, Bump to 100% and lower the Opacity to 90%.

 

Step 15 of 17: Step 14: Check the settings

At this point it’s worth doing a test render by going to 3D> Render to have a look at the results. Depending on how much text there is this can take a good 15-20 minutes. Make any changes required and consider using the camera controls for a more whacky perspective. 

 

Step 16 of 17: Step 15: Add style

Select the Layers palette and go to Layer> Layer Style> Outer Glow. Add a bright red glow #ff2121, reduce the Opacity to 34% and increaser the Size to 15px. For the Inner Glow, select #f1fd33 yellow and reduce the Opacity to 40% with Size 5px. Merge your layers and save to finish.

 

Step 17 of 17: Bonus Tip: Change the view

As this is all 3D you aren’t stuck with the default orientation of either the text or the view. To move the text around in 3D space, select it in the 3D palette and click on the Move tool (V). You will see the X, Y and Z movement axis appear. Click carefully and drag the text to move it along those axis. There are also scale controls on the same axis, so if you click those and drag you will rescale the text in that direction. How much of the scene you at once is dictated by the camera and the FOV parameter, which is field of view. Lower this number to fit more on screen at once, but increase distortion, or increase the number to effectively zoom into the 3D scene but narrow the field of view. You can increase the FOV value and then move the object further back so it keeps the same relative position from the camera, but the field itself is now narrower.

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