Hey, in this Awesome Photoshop tutorial, i’m gonna show you how to create a cool 3D effect. We’ll create a 3D object from a 2D depth map texture first and then create diffuse and self illumination textures. You will need Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended for this one. Have fun.

Here is the Final Image
Before we start lets see the final image we’ll create through out this tutorial. You can download the layered PSD document here.

Before You Start | Tutorial Details:
Software Used: Adobe Photoshop
Tutorial Time:
Difficulty Level: ★★
Files to Download:
Font: Hard Pixel

Create a New Document
Create a new document which is 800×800 pixels at a resolution of 300pixels/inch, make sure Color Mode is set to RGB

Start Creating the Depth Map
Set Background Color to 30% gray [#c2c2c2] and Foreground Color to 70% gray [#636363]. Fill the Background layer with the Foreground color. Create a new layer and name it "Mosaic" and fill it with the Foreground color as well. Now go to Filter > Render > Clouds. Then go to Filter > Pixelate > Mosaic, set Cell Size to 80 and hit OK

Create the Borders
Now we’ll create two borders around the document. Create a new layer and name it "Border". Fill it with White. Apply a Stroke Layer Style using these settings: Size => 80px, Position => Inside, Color => #c2c2c2
. Set Layer Fill to 0, this way the layer style will be visible, the layer itself will be not.

Create the Borders
That was the inner border. To create the outer one duplicate the "Border" layer. Double-click the Stroke layer style to bring up the Stroke dialog, set Size to 40 and Color to #7d7d7d

Create the Text
Get the Type Tool and type “3D”. Set Font to Hard Pixel (download here), set Font Size to 130pt, Color to #c2c2c2 and Anti-aliasing Method to None

Create the Text
Apply a Stroke Layer Style using these settings: Size => 8px, Position => Inside, Opacity => 90% and Color => #cdcdcd

So Why Are We Doing These?
Actually we’re now preparing a Depth Map for our 3D text. At the next step, we’ll turn this image into a 3D Plane object and Photoshop will use it as a Depth Map, as a result lighter pixels will be higher, darker pixels will be deeper

Let’s Make it 3D
Go to Layers Panel and select all layers except the Background. Go to 3D > New Mesh From Grayscale > Plane. Now we have a 3D layer in the Layers Panel, and a 3D object in the canvas.
If you have a look at the "3D" layer in the Layers Panel, you can see the Diffuse and Depth Map textures. These are actually Smart Objects containing the layers we just converted to a 3D object. You can double click these texture names and open the layered texture documents and modify them separately. When you go back to the document you’re working on, the changes you made will be updated on the 3D object.

Change Some Material Settings
Now open the 3D Panel by going to Window > 3D. Select the "3D" material, wel’ll change some settings: First uncheck Two Sided cause we don’t need to see the other side of our model. Set Glossiness to 50% and Shininess to 30%. Click the Edit the Opacity Texture button and choose Remove Texture since we don’t want any transparent areas

Move The Camera
Get the 3D Orbit Tool, click on the canvas, hold and drag to orbit the camera around the 3D object, find a good point of view. Then get the 3d Zoom tool and zoom out to see the whole object as in the below image

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What People Said About This Post:
  1. andrecj

    WoW, this one looks amazing, pretty cool. :)

    is it possible to do with photoshop cs5, instead of cs4 extended??

  2. This is really cool… I’ve never used the 3D tools to such an extent before.. This tutorial is really worth looking over and over again..

    Fantastic work, Eren… but do most of the users use Extended Version?

    • Eren Göksel

      Thanks Richie,
      i know most users may not be using extended versions, but i think some of these tutorials might be useful giving them some ideas of what can be done using 3d capabilities of photoshop.
      I totally agree that the majority of the tutorials should be written for the standard versions, and i try to keep it that way, but if i have a result i love, honestly i can’t help writing a 3D one :)

  3. Please let CS5 users know at the beginning of the article that they must have their 3D rendering settings set to “Ray Tracer” in order to get it to look like yours. Otherwise there are no shadows rendered in preview and step 12 specifically calls for “nice shadows”.

    Some people might lose patches of hair.

    • Eren Göksel

      Hi Joseph,
      the Face Style is set to Ray Traced at step 11. I’ll have a look if that works for CS5 or not and i’ll fix it shortly.

  4. Phil

    Great site you have here and I’m really glad I found you. top work on the tutorials, real complex and looks like you certainly know your photoshop.

    Nice one.

  5. Wow it is so amazing text effect

  6. Couldn’t you do this easier with the filter extrude?

  7. Raphael

    Can anyone help me please? When I try to aply the 3D Effect (3D > New Mesh From Grayscale > Plane) when working with a rectangular shape, my artwork is reduced…

  8. Alex

    Wow, I wish I had CS5!

  9. Frank

    Hi Eren,

    This is fun! i recently asked you for a 3d tutorial using blender for the 3d.
    Now i see that is not neccesary at all. From now on i’ll be using photoshop!
    Did’nt find such an easy to follow 3d tutorial untill now. Thanks!
    Keep on making these cristal clear tutorials and let me learn!

    • Eren Göksel

      Hi Frank,
      i’m glad you liked the tutorial.
      i mostly prefer writing tutorials focused on Photoshop and avoid writing ones which go deep in other applications like 3ds Max or Cinema 4D. On the other hand, using some other software in conjunction with Photoshop can deliver great results and i’m planning to write some trying not to go into much detail about other softwares and keeping the major focus on Photoshop.

  10. George

    Hi all.
    My name is George and use PS CS3 Extended.
    Can someone tell me how to instal the Font.

  11. GREAT Tutorial
    thats amazing

  12. Anchal

    i don’t have the option of ray traced in render settings at step 11..

  13. Another fantastic tutorial . Your site is always fascinating. Keep it up. =D

  14. Great tutorial. Fantastic work … thank you for sharing.

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