How to Create Textured 3D Type in Photoshop

Text effects are extremely popular. Being able to create amazing and interesting text effects is an essential skill for any designer. In Photoshop CS6, you can create some fantastic 3D text effects that will really stand out. Photoshop gives you a lot of control over how your text will look in 3D. Photoshop allows you to control every aspect of a 3D object in Photoshop. You can control the extrusion depth, the different angles, your viewing perspective, you can create custom textures for every side of your object, and you can even control light and shadows.

To Get started, create a new document that is 1024 x 768. I am creating this document at 72 dpi, just for this tutorial’s purpose. Select your Text Tool and select a nice, bold font. I chose DIN Pro and make it large enough to fill most of your canvas.

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Next, go to 3D > New 3D Extrusion From Selected Layer. Photoshop’s 3D engine will render a basic extrusion of your typeface, which you can manipulate with the different settings. You will notice that Photoshop’s 3D Panel is broken down into different sections, which should make the 3D object easy to control. Environment is the area around your object, which controls things such as the shadows and the ground plane, which is what your object sits on. Then, you have your scene, and the current view, which allows you to alter the angle at which you view your object. Next, you will have your object layer, which is broken down into each individual side of the object, including front, back, the front and back bevel edges, and the sides (extrusion material). You will also have your lighting and the camera.

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Click on the main type layer in the 3D Panel, which has a T icon. If you look in the Properties panel, you will see shape presets, and a slider which controls the extrusion depth. Photoshop’s default is a little too deep, so lower the extrusion depth to around 60-70.

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The third icon will allow you to control the inflation material, as well as the shape of the front bevel and how deep it is. You can choose a preset contour, or you can even create your own custom contour for your bevel edges.

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Next, we will begin to add our textures to each side of our text. First, we need to have some textures ready to import and implement. There are literally thousands of free textures available for download on the internet. You can download a free sample texture pack from here. You can use literally any of these that you like. It works the same no matter which texture you use. I found a grungy texture pack with different grunge textures available, and I saved them somewhere on my computer where they are easily accessible.

Click on the Front Inflation Material in the 3D Panel and then go to the Properties panel to make changes to the material itself. Go to the top option labeled Diffuse and click on the tiny arrow and select New Texture. Then, click on it again and select Edit Texture. From here, a new Photoshop document will open up, allowing us to add any texture we want to our front inflation material. Go to File > Place, and select one of the textures that you had downloaded. Make sure to resize it to fill the canvas, then save the document. You can close it if you want to. On our 3D text, the texture has updated to show the texture that we had chosen.

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For the settings below the actual material, we need to make some changes. If we are going to create something that looks textured, we need to remove the reflective qualities of the surface. Lower shine, reflection and refraction down to 0 and then increase roughness and bump to taste. Repeat this process, for all sides, using a different texture each time. it helps if you use something that is close, but it doesn’t have to be exact. If you use a different texture for each side, the text will look for varied and convincing.

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Next, we can control the lighting for our object. You can create as many light sources as you want, but keep in mind that the brighter or darker your 3D object is, the harder it will be to see. keeping a good balance is key here. When you click on the infinite light in the 3D Panel, you will see the canvas change slightly. You will see what looks like a pin, which determines the direction of the light. The pin head is where the light is coming from. Click and drag to rotate the angle of your light to where you want it.

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You can add multiple light sources at any time. Simply click the New Layer icon at the bottom of the 3D Panel and choose which light type you want. You can choose from Point, Spot, and Infinite. To manipulate the light source, just click on the specific light source layer and click and drag to change the position of the light. I set this one to be in front, to illuminate the front face. The light will update live while you are moving it, so you will know where the light hits your text.

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You will notice from the example that the extrusion material seems to be stretched. This is the property that needs a little extra attention. Left the Extrusion Material Layer in the 3D Panel. With it active, go to the Properties Panel and look for the text at the bottom left that says Normal. It will have a menu arrow. Click it and just as we did with the diffuse textures, choose New Texture, and then go back again and choose Edit Texture.

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Go to File > Place, and place your texture file within the texture document. Scale it, so that it fills the entire canvas. Save the texture document and go back to your text document to view the results. The extrusion is no longer blurry, but it is actually filled with a texture just like the other surfaces.

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The shot above is shown after hitting render. To render your 3D creation, so that you can see the full effect of your 3D work, there is a render button at the bottom of the Properties Panel. There is also a way to tell Photoshop to render your work via the menu. Go to 3D > Render. You will find Render towards the bottom of the menu.

If you want to add texture to the ground plane that your text is sitting on, click Environment in the 3D Panel and then go to the Properties Panel.

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At the bottom, you will see a background option. Here, you simple repeat the process that you used for the other surfaces, selecting New Texture, then Edit Texture. When the new texture document opens up, create a texture or place one from an image file. Save it and when you go back to your 3D text document, the ground will update with your texture. If it is too dark, go back and edit the texture, using Levels to lighten the image. Resave, and view the results.

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Conclusion

With the newly updated 3D interface in Photoshop CS6, you can create excellent 3D renderings out of text, selections, and more. Create your own, or load 3rd party textures and have them wrap around surfaces. This really adds a sense of dimension to your work that you just couldn’t seem to get in previous versions of Photoshop. The final rendering is shown below. Notice the subtle shadow on the ground behind the text.

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