How to Create Awesome 3D Text in Photoshop and Illustrator
In this tutorial I’ll be showing you how to create the following:
First, open a blank illustrator file in RGB mode and write your text in the font of your choice. I’ve chosen Lobster which you can download for free here. I’ve also changed the tracking (space between letters) to -15 in this example.
Select your text, then go to “Object – Expand” from the menu at the top and press OK on the pop up window. This will change your text into an object for our next step.
Using the pen tool or whatever you find easiest to use, draw some swirls connected to the letters. I’ve created mine using the pencil tool and drawing with my wacom tablet. You can see them in red below.
It is ok for the shapes to overlap the text or each other, as we will be combining them in the next step.
Select everything on your board (text and shapes) and make sure you expand any line work (like we did earlier with the text) so that you can see the outlines are selected on everything. In the pathfinder window, click on “add to shape area” and then “expand” so that all the objects become a single object.
Change the colour of your artwork to a medium grey and go to “Effect – 3D – Extrude and Bevel…”
Use the settings below:
Select everything and go to “Object – Expand Appearance.”
Ungroup everything by going to “Object – Ungroup” so that you can select the main image and text separately to the 3D bevel you just created. Select all of the main image without the bevel and in the pathfinder window, click on “add to shape area” and then “expand.”
With the main image selected, go to “Object – Hide” so that you are left with just the 3D bevel visible (as you can see below). Select all and in the pathfinder window, click on “add to shape area” and then “expand” (same as you did in step 7).
Go to “Object – Show All.” Select the main image and go to “Object – Arrange – Bring to Front.”
Create a new RGB document in Adobe Photoshop that is 1500 x 1000 pixels (I’ll be working in this size during the tutorial but you can use a different size if you need)
With both the Photoshop and Illustrator files open, drag the 2 objects from your Illustrator file into the Photoshop file separately and then line them up in Photoshop. This should mean that your bevel is on a separate layer to the main image. You can label your layers for reference. I labelled mine “Main” and “3D Bevel” in this example.
Right click one of the layers in the layer palette and select “Rasterize Layer.” Repeat for the other layer.
Select your main layer, go to “Layer – Layer Style – Gradient overlay”
Create a gradient from the colours #1c8bc4 and #22b0d9 and click OK.
Create a new layer and name it “gloss” and use the gradient fill tool to create a gradient from white (about half way up the document) to transparent (at the top of the document)
Right click on your main layer’s thumbnail and click “Select pixels.” Then go to “Select – Modify – Contract…” And contract by 2 pixels.
With this selection active, click on the “gloss” layer in the layer palette and click on the “add layer mask” button at the bottom of the layer palette. This will create a mask around the layer. Change the layer opacity to 35%.
Select the mask in the layers palette and use a black brush to mask out areas like the image below. Try to create a rounded edge on each segment of lettering.
Change the colour of your 3D bevel layer to a lighter grey by going to “Layer – Layer Style – Color Overlay…” I used #8f8f8f in this example.
Create a new group in the layers palette above the 3D bevel layer and label it “3D Shading.” Right click the thumbnail of the 3D bevel layer and click “select pixels” and then click “add layer mask” at the bottom of the layer palette (similar to step 16) to create a mask.
Create a new layer inside this group and name it “shadows 1.” Think about the direction of your light source and shade any areas in black that would be shadows using a small soft brush set to 80% opacity. Because your group is masked, this shading should automatically only affect the bevel layer and not your main text.
In the layer palette, change the layer blending mode to Overlay, 50% opacity
Create a new layer in the shading group and name it “highlights 1.” Make sure this layer is above the shadows layer. Shade any areas that would be visible in the light source with a small soft white brush at 50% opacity.
In the layer palette, change the layer blending mode to Overlay, 50% opacity
Create a new layer in the shading group and name it “shadows 2.” Use a small soft black brush at 100% opacity to shade more in the small areas that would receive no light at all- for example, the edges between the bottom of each letter.
Select your main layer and duplicate it by going to “Layer – Duplicate layer.” Double click on “Effects” underneath it in the layers palette, and untick “Gradient Overlay.” Then click on “Inner Shadow” and input the following settings:
Change the Fill to 0% so that it only shows the effect and not the actual layer, then move the layer 1 px left by pressing the arrow keys.
Click on the thumbnail of your main layer to create a selection, then click on “add layer mask” at the bottom of the layer palette to mask your “main copy” layer.
Using the arrow keys, move the layer 1 px up and 2 px left and it should look similar to the second image below.
Place the “main copy” layer into a folder and name the folder “highlight.” Create a new layer mask (click on the layer mask button at the bottom of the layer palette) and use a soft black brush to mask out any areas that are not a top-left edge.
create a new layer called “3D Colour” above the 3D bevel layer in your layer palette. Use the gradient tool to create a linear gradient using the colours #46b7db and #1f9acc from the top left corner to the bottom right corner.
Now we are going to mask this colour to just the 3D Bevel. To do this, right click on the thumbnail of your 3D Bevel layer and click “Select Pixels”, then right click on the thumbnail of your Main layer and click “Subtract Transparency Mask” (this will deselect the areas that cross over the main text)
With this selection, click on the “3D Colour” layer where you created the gradient and press the “add layer mask” button at the bottom of the layer palette.
If you would like to add a bit of extra colour to your text, create a new layer called “Gradient” above your main layer and change it’s blending mode to “hue” at the top of the layer palette.
Use the gradient tool to draw a gradient with the colours of your choice on this layer. I used the colours #c94df2, #1e93c9, #3fb5db, #1e93c9.
If you paint a colour in your background, you will notice that the gradient leaks over the text into the background too. So to remove this, right click the thumbnail of your main layer and click on “Select pixels”, then right click the thumbnail of the 3D Bevel and click on “Add transparency mask”. Then use this selection to create a mask on your gradient layer.
now you can change the background to whatever you like without it being affected by your gradient. I’ve decided to just go with a black background, but you can get creative and do something totally different if you like.
Final touches… We’re going to add a small lens flare to enhance the shine of our text. To do this, create a new layer above all the other layers called “Lens flare” and fill it with black. Change the layer blending mode to “Screen”
Go to “Filter – Render – Lens Flare” and select “105mm Prime” with 65% brightness.
Move the lens flare layer so that the centre of the flare is on the top left edge of the text. For multiple flares, repeat these steps.
That’s it! All Done! Hopefully you found this tutorial useful. Please leave a comment with any questions you have!