How to Create a 3D Text Photo Manipulation

Jul 7 2009 by Tyler Denis | 64 Comments

How to Create a 3D Text Photo Manipulation

In this intermediate-level graphic design tutorial, you’ll learn how to realistically superimpose a beautiful three-dimensional text object onto a living room scene with the help of Illustrator and Photoshop.

Final result

Below, you’ll see the preview of the photo manipulation scene that we’ll be creating together – you can click on it to see the full-scale version.

Final result

Let’s get this thing rolling, shall we?

Opening the stock photo in Illustrator

1 We are going to use a free stock photo of a living room called Home Interiors 1 by Jeinny Solis. Download this image.

Opening the stock photo in Illustrator

2 Open the Home Interiors 1 photo in Illustrator by choosing File > Open… (Ctrl + O).

Placing the text onto the canvas

3 Use the Type Tool (T) to add the text "Dd" onto the canvas.

4 Resize the text by activating the Selection Tool (V), holding down the Shift key to keep the text proportional, and then dragging the transform controls appropriately so that the size is roughly the same size as the following figure.

5 Change the fill of the text using the Fill Tool (X): the color used in this tutorial is a red color (#CC3333) but you can use any color (though keep in mind that it is easier to work with a mid-toned color).

Placing the text onto the canvas

Giving the text a 3D look with the Extrude & Bevel effect

6 We are going to give the text a 3-dimensional look – choose Effect > 3D > Extrude & Bevel to open up the 3D Extrude & Bevel Options dialog box. Make sure that the Preview option is checked so that you can see a live preview of the changes we’re about to make.

Giving the text a 3D look with the Extrude & Bevel effect

7 Change the position settings in the 3D Extrude & Bevel Options dialog box; this will change the angle of the text. Use the values 13, -7, and -1 which corresponds to the X-axis, Y-axis, and Z-axis angles.

8 Next, we are going to change the “Extrude Depth” which controls the depth of the objects extrusion. Keep in mind that if the value is too small, the extrusion will be hard to see, but if the value is too big, it will throw off the proportion of the object. The value used in this tutorial is 231 pt.

9 Finally, we are going to change the object’s perspective angle. This one is tricky because it all varies depending on the length of your text. If you were using text that is wider than what we’re using now ("Dd"), you will want to shrink that down or else it will start to curve too much. This tutorial uses 23 as the Perspective value.

Expanding and ungrouping the 3D text object

10 Now that we have created our 3D text object, it’s time to break apart each section so that we can bring it into Photoshop (This will make it easier to work with over there). To start, click on your 3D text object and choose Object > Expand Appearance to create lines and points around it and to break it up into sections.

Expanding and ungrouping the 3D text object

11 Ungroup the 3D text object so we can bring it into Photoshop piece by piece, do this by choosing Object > Ungroup (Ctrl + Shift + G). You may have to use the Ungroup option a few times to completely ungroup the object.

Combining similar parts of the 3D object using Pathfinder

12 First, make sure that the Pathfinder window is visible: choose Window > Pathfinder (or Press Shift + Ctrl + F9 to toggle the window).

13 Before we start bringing the parts into Photoshop, we need to make sure that each side of our logo is one object. For example, the right inside of the lowercase "d" is separated into multiple parts; to combine similar parts into one object, hold down the Shift key and click on each individual part.

14 With the similar parts all selected, click on the "add to shape area" option in the Pathfinder window to combine them into one object. Do this for any other parts of the 3D object that are similar to each other.

Combining similar parts of the 3D object using Pathfinder

Transferring the 3D text object into Photoshop

15 Now, we can start piecing our 3D text object together in Photoshop. First, create a new Photoshop document that is 3000px by 3000px in dimension (it’s easier to scale down the image or canvas size rather than scaling it up – so we’ll work with ample room).

16 Use the Selection Tool (V) and dragging around the 3D text object in Illustrator to select all of the pieces.

17 With all the parts of the 3D text object selected, choose Edit > Copy (Ctrl + C) to place it into your clipboard.

18 Head on over to Photoshop and then choose Edit > Paste (Ctrl + V) to paste the 3D text object onto your Photoshop canvas. This will sort of serve as a guide while we copy and paste each of the pieces of the 3D text object from Illustrator to Photoshop.

Adjusting the guide layer’s hue

19 We are going to change the hue of the 3D text object in Photoshop so that we can easily see the difference between the pieces we are going to bring in from Illustrator. To change the Hue, choose Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation… (Ctrl + U) to open up the Hue/Saturation dialog box. The color you choose for the hue adjustment doesn’t matter because we’re only doing this to help us see the parts easier, but in case you’re curious, I’m using a magenta color (#901252).

Adjusting the guide layers hue

Bringing the Illustrator parts into Photoshop

20 To keep things organized, create a new group in the Layers Panel by clicking on the icon the looks like a folder.

21 In the new group you created, start copying (Ctrl + C) each section from Illustrator and then pasting (Ctrl + V) them into the Photoshop document until you have pieced everything back together. It may help to drop the opacity down to 50% on the pieces’ layers so that the guide we created in Step 18 shows through; this makes it easier to line up the pieces.

lower opacity

Setting up the composition in Photoshop

22 Let’s open up the stock photo (Home Interiors 1) in Photoshop by pasting the image in its own layer from Illustrator (or if you prefer, you can use Photoshop’s File > Place… option); the stock photo should be the lowest layer in the Photoshop document.

23 On the Layers Panel, first making sure that you’re on the new group that contains the sections of the 3D text object you copy and pasted from Illustrator to Photoshop, use the Move Tool (V) to move the entire group on the couch, for finer and more accurate movements, use the arrow keys.

Setting up the composition in Photoshop

Adding a drop shadow on the 3D text object

24 We are now going to start adding a shadow on the back of the couch and the wall coming from the lettering. We want to figure out where the sun is and which way the shadows are casting. In this photo, the light source come from behind the viewer, so the majority of the shadows are going to be straight behind the 3D text object. To make the shadow, we are going to start by duplicating the layer (Ctrl + J) with the 3D text object face.

25 Next, create a selection around the duplicated 3D text object face layer by Ctrl + clicking on that layer’s thumbnail in the Layer Panel.

26 With the selection created, use Edit > Fill… (Shift + F5) to fill in the selection. Use a fill color of black (#000000).

27 Move the duplicated layer down the Layers Panel, below our 3D text object. This duplicated layer will serve as the drop shadow layer.

Adding a drop shadow layer on the 3D text object

28 To get a realistic shadow look, we are going to blur the drop shadow layer we created in the previous section. To do so, go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and use the settings in the following figure.

Gaussian Blur

29 Lower the opacity of the drop shadow layer to 25% and change the layer’s Blend Mode to Linear Burn. Now, we want to duplicate this layer by right-clicking on the layer in the Layers Panel and choosing Duplicate Layer… (Ctrl + J).

30 Change the Blend Mode of the duplicated layer to Overlay; this will give us a shadow that doesn’t look flat and unrealistic.

31 To keep our work organized, create a new group (using the folder icon on the Layers Panel) called "Logo Shadow" and move the two drop shadow layers we just created inside that folder.

Masking areas that shouldn’t have the drop shadow

32 Add a layer mask by clicking on the second icon from the left in the Layers Panel inside the "Logo Shadow" group.

33 Set your foreground color to black (#000000) and use the Brush Tool (B) with a Hard Round brush tip to paint areas on the layer mask that don’t need the shadow. For example, the bottom shadow that hangs over the bottom part of the 3D text object can be masked. For the brush tip settings, you can set the Master Diameter to 60px, the Hardness to 50% and Opacity to 100%.

Masking areas that shouldn't have the drop shadow

You should end up with something like the following figure.

Masking areas that shouldn't have the drop shadow

Creating more drop shadows

34 Now, we are going to duplicate each of our edges of the 3D text object so we can create some more shadows. To do this, activate the Move Tool (V), click one of your edges in the canvas, and duplicate the selection into another layer by pressing Ctrl + J.

35 Create a new group called "Shadows" and start dragging all the duplicated layers of your edges in there.

Adjusting the color of the Shadows layers

36 We’ll use the Curves option to adjust the color of the Shadows layers; to do so, open up the Curves dialog box by choosing Adjustments > Curves… (Ctrl + M). Drag one of the sliders to the left or right until it darkens our 3D text object’s sides. Repeat this step from every edge of the 3D text object except for the top part of the letter "d" to make the lighting dynamics realistic.

Adding the layer styles to the front face

37 We are going to add some layer styles to the front face of our 3D text object. First, make sure the layer containing the front face of our 3D text object is active in the Layers Panel. Then, click on the Add a Layer Style… icon on the bottom of the Layer Panel (the icon that looks like the letters "fx") and then select Inner Shadow. This is going to give us some contrast and give the 3D text object’s face a more realistic look.

Adding the layer styles to the front face

38 Click on the Add a Layer Style… icon again, but this time select Bevel and Emboss. This is going to give us a shine effect on the edges of the logo, which gives the impression that the light is reflecting off of it.

Adding the layer styles to the front face

Your outcome should look something like the following figure.

Adding the layer styles to the front face

Adding an edge to the 3D text object

39 Let’s add an edge to the 3D text object, kind of like a brass band around it. First, duplicate the 3D text object face layer (Ctrl + J), then create a selection around the 3D text object face by Ctrl + clicking on the layer’s thumbnail in the Layers Panel.

40 With the selection around the 3D text object created, choose Select > Modify > Contract, and enter 3px in the Contract By field to reduce the size of the selection.

Adding an edge to the 3D text object

41 Delete the area under the contracted selection by choosing Edit > Clear or pressing the Del key.

42 Remove the layer styles on this layer; to do this, in the Layers Panel, drag the layer styles from the layer to the trash can icon on the far right bottom of the panel.

43 Now, create another selection in the layer by Ctrl + clicking on the layer and then fill the selection with a white color (#FFFFFF) by choosing Edit > Fill… (Shift + F5).  This filled in part effectively creates a white border around our 3D text object’s face.

Adding an edge to the 3D text object

Adding layer styles to the edge of the 3D text object

44 Add some layer styles to the white border we just created by clicking on the Add a Layer Style… icon in the Layers Panel and choosing Inner Glow. Change the color of the Inner Glow layer style to #CC6600 and adjust the settings to match the following figure.

Adding layer styles to the edge of the 3D text object

45 Add another layer style to the layer, this time choose Bevel and Emboss. Change the settings to match the following figure to give the border a three-dimensional look. Change the color of the highlight to #FF9999 and the shadow to #CC3333.

46 Add a Contour layer style by checking the box below the Bevel and Emboss layer style: change the Range value to 100%.

Adding layer styles to the edge of the 3D text object

47 Finally, add a Satin layer style: change the color setting to #FFCC66.

Adding layer styles to the edge of the 3D text object

Adding a subtle shadow on the 3d text object edge

48 To make the design more impressive, we’ll add a slight drop shadow on the 3D text object’s edge. Start by duplicating the edge layer (Ctrl + J), creating a selection around it by Ctrl + clicking on the duplicated layer’s thumbnail, and filling the selection with a black color (#000000) using Edit > Fill… (Shift + F5).

49 Remove the layer styles on this layer (which was also duplicated from the previous layer) by dragging them onto the trash can icon.

50 Bring the duplicated layer below the original layer.

51 Use the Move Tool (V) and your arrow keys to move the edge shadow slightly to the down and to the right.

52 Blur the shadow by choosing Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and changing the Radius value to 2.0 Pixels.

Adding a subtle shadow on the 3d text object edge

53 Create a selection on the logo face layer by Ctrl + clicking on the layer’s thumbnail in the Layers Panel, and then invert the selection by choosing Select > Inverse (Ctrl + Shift + I).

54 Delete the area inside the inverted selection (Edit > Clear or press the Del key) – this will get rid of the shadow that isn’t within the 3D text object’s face.

55 Change this layer’s Blend Mode to Linear Burn, and reduce the Opacity value to 40%.

Making the superimposing more realistic

56 Now, let’s make the photo manipulation a bit more accurate. Since the 3D text object is sitting on the couch, it is probably sinking into the cushions a little bit because of its weight. To do this, we start by adding a layer mask (click on the Add layer mask icon in the Layers Panel) icon from the right on the layers palette) to both the shadows layer group and the logo edges group.

57 Using the Elliptical Marquee Tool, create a selection that looks roughly the same as the following figure.

Making the superimposing more realistic

58 Fill both layer masks with a black color (#000000) by choosing Edit > Fill… (Shift + F5).

59  Do Steps 56 – 58 for the lower portion of each of letter – this will give us an edge that makes the 3D text object look like it’s sinking into the couch a little bit.

Creating shadows on the couch

60 To make our composition even more realistic, we’re going to add a shadow on the couch. First, create a layer called "Couch Shadow".

61 Activate the Brush Tool (B), and use a brush tip with the Opacity set at 10%. Start painting in some shadow areas, focusing on the bottom of the logo on the couch, and a little shadow on each of the pillows.

62 After you have created the shadows, duplicate the "Couch Shadow" layer (Ctrl + J) and change the Blend Mode of the new layer to Overlay.

Creating shadows on the couch

Blending the 3D object text into its background

63 We want to adjust the color of the duplicated layer so that we can blend the 3D text object with its background. To achieve this, we’ll add a light blue reflection going across the canvas. First, set your foreground color to a light blue color (#9ABAFB) and then create a new layer.

64 Now, choose the Gradient Tool (G) in the Tools Palette, and set the gradient type to Reflected Gradient. Create the gradient on the new layer by clicking and dragging your mouse so that it follows the reflection on the wall.

Blending the 3D object text into its background

65 Create a layer mask (by clicking on the Add layer mask icon in the Layers Panel) and then create an inverse selection on the 3D text object’s face by first Ctrl + clicking on its layer group in the Layers Panel, and then inverting the selection using Select > Inverse (Ctrl + Shift + I).

66 Fill the inverted selection with a black color (#000000).

67 Change the layer’s blend mode to Soft Light.

Adjusting the color of the 3D text object

68 Let’s change the Hue/Saturation of the text by adding an adjustment layer. Click on the Create fill or add adjustment layer icon on the bottom of the Layers Panel and then choose Hue/Saturation.

Adjusting the color of the 3D text object

69 You’ll notice that the adjustment layer changes the entire image. To fix this we are going to add a layer mask (click on the Add layer mask icon on the bottom of the Layers Panel) to the Hue/Saturation layer.

70 Create a selection around the 3D text object’s face by Ctrl + clicking on the layer group in the Layers Panel. Invert the selection, Select > Inverse (Ctrl + Shift + I).

71 Making sure you’re on the layer mask – fill the selected area with a black color (#000000).

72 We’ll adjust the Curves again, Image > Adjustments > Curves (Ctrl + M); use similar settings as the figure below.

Adjusting the color of the 3D text object

73 We’re going to adjust the Color Balance settings, Image > Adjustments > Color Balance… (Ctrl + B); use similar settings as the figures below.

Adjusting the color of the 3D text object

Adjusting the color of the 3D text object

Congratulations, you’re done!

That’s it, play around some more, maybe experiment with color adjustments, add textures to the 3D text object, and adjust the positioning/angling of the 3D text object until you get something that you like.

This is what I ended up with:

Final result

Share your results

If you followed along the tutorial, feel free to share your results in the comments by providing a link – we’d love to see what you’ve got!

Download the source file

You can download the source file for this Photoshop tutorial as a ZIP file.

Related content

About the Author

Tyler Denis is a part-time freelance designer from Ashland, New Hampshire. He is also the creator/writer of the design blog Denis Designs/blog, a website dedicated to bringing quality tutorials and inspiration. You can follow him on Twitter or at his personal site, Denis Designs.

64 Comments

Roseli A. Bakar

July 8th, 2009

Great tips Tyler !

Jacob Gube

July 8th, 2009

Just wanted to drop in here real quick to say that Tyler did a crazy good job on this tutorial. It’s very thorough (70+ steps – I think that’s a Six Revisions record)!

I’m going to be talking to him about writing more tutorials – maybe you guys have ideas or requests for Tyler so that he can get inspiration about the topic of his next tutorial?

Mohammad

July 8th, 2009

perfect !!!

Express

July 8th, 2009

Great tutorial :)

Tim

July 8th, 2009

Nice one. Looks very natural

Sebastian

July 8th, 2009

Woooo amazing tutorial as usual :D

Dainis Graveris

July 8th, 2009

damn, beautiful work! At first I thought what’s so special with such photography..until I saw tutorial about photomanipulation! Incredible!

Crowd

July 8th, 2009

Smart. I used guide lines in Photoshop so far, with frankly worse results.

Matt

July 8th, 2009

nice tutorial! will def give this a go

T-Law

July 8th, 2009

Awesome 70+ steps. I must to try this, thanks Tyler.

Mumbai

July 8th, 2009

Hey Tyler this was a very very useful tut. I always used Xara 3D for such text.

thanks

Pring

July 8th, 2009

I think the text needs a little noise. Otherwise it looks great.

Matt S

July 8th, 2009

This is awesome! First thought it was a photo like someone who commented before me, especially because of the gradient – so well matched with the wall! Good to see such a good tutorial and a great, photo-like outcome.

Kobi

July 8th, 2009

The outcome is superb. started working on it, but had to leave the hhouse in the midst. will continue tomorrow..

Monir

July 8th, 2009

It’s almost a real! Great tut.. I might try it one day.

cLaK

July 8th, 2009

Wow, awesome tut, nice effect!! thx

Television Spy

July 8th, 2009

Great tutorial, but surely there must be an easier way – as mumbai mentioned xara3d is easier way to do this – you can use the trial and then export it to photoshop.

Mike H

July 8th, 2009

Looks great.

I also would like to see some additional thought given to the depth and angle of the shadows. For example, could one determine the direction of the prevailing light source, to match the objects in the room accordingly?

Would love to hear more about that. Thanks.

Tyler

July 8th, 2009

Thanks for the comments everyone!

I just wanted to say that yes, there are easier ways to do this, but I feel that doing it this way give you more control to do exactly what you want.

And besides that this should be a good lesson about working with shadows and reflections for any kind of object.

JD Ebberly

July 8th, 2009

Superb tutorial!! Thanks for sharing it. I’m gonna tweet the link!

bil

July 8th, 2009

great tip, tell Sesame Street!

Metin

July 8th, 2009

The best!

Mac Hoe

July 8th, 2009

My Kid will love this.. thanks

Abigail

July 9th, 2009

Great Tutorial. thanks for sharing it with us!

James Likeness

July 9th, 2009

This is a great tutorial in working with shadows and reflections!

Looks like you added quite a bit to the smaller version that’s not in the large version, though: toning the whole image, adding noise to the letters, some reflection in the floor… Why isn’t that stuff in the tutorial as well?

Calgary Graphic Design

July 10th, 2009

Hey you make it look so easy! Oh wait, it is. Thanks for taking the time and sharing.

Fernando Lema

July 10th, 2009

Perfect!!

Jan

July 12th, 2009

Great tut! Looks very real :)

Outpatient

July 13th, 2009

Very thorough tute. Good job. Only criticism I have is I think the shadows of the letters are much too dark. They need to match similar shadows that already exist in the photo.

Look at the shadows under the pillows. That is what the letters shadow should look like. Should be lighter and less defined (more blur).

And as someone else mentioned, the elements you added to the photo need to have noise added to them to match the noise already in the photo.

Outpatient

July 13th, 2009

Here’s a sample of what those improvements might look like:

http://www.0utpatient.com/Dd.jpg

Top of that image is the original.
Bottom is improved (imho) by;
– Stroke blur around the edges of the Dd
– Lightened the shadow inside the Dd
– Added some random noise to the Dd

Phaoloo

July 13th, 2009

Always love your guidelines. It is simple and step by step which is helpful to all designers.

Xtence

July 14th, 2009

This tut is kicking ass, great man !

Robert

July 14th, 2009

Damn, that’s so awesome. Well done!

Bret

July 14th, 2009

Came for the double D’s, leaving disappointed. Nice tutorial though.

Naruto

July 15th, 2009

heh i have that same couch

jonathan@365icon

July 21st, 2009

theres nothing about this tut that doesnt scream out brilliant! the letters literally look real, like you can pick them up and carry them across the room. very, very well done work here guys.

Marija

July 21st, 2009

Thanks for the tutorial. It was very elaborate and instructive.
Please keep on posting.

Bendesign

August 5th, 2009

Nice Tutorial. I have the same couch.

kiro

August 12th, 2009

where is
Effect > 3D >

kiro

August 12th, 2009

sorry i mean
where is 3D in effect menu ???????

kiro

August 14th, 2009

sorrrrrrrrrrry
i cant copy and baste the 3D text

CMYK

September 14th, 2009

nice tuto!!! thanks!!!

Webdesign@Posh-Creation

October 5th, 2009

These are all wonderful and great inspiration. Coolll
Teach me more..

Kenzo72

October 7th, 2009

Tried it and came along to more or less the same result. The only criticism i would make is that the tutorial being long i get lost in between the different layers. I think the idea of grouping them is good but the layers should be named from the begining. When we are asked to duplicate the layer at least we know which layer to duplicate exactly. Otherwise great tutorial. Thanks

Guille

November 20th, 2009

buen tutorial, Great tutorial.

Future Webs

December 23rd, 2009

Thats a really nice job, good to see other methods to create 3D text other than Cinema 4D etc.

Visdelou

December 30th, 2009

Great Tutorial but considering that this construct shuld weight about 15 to 20 Kg i’m missing the pressure over the cushons.

rojhat baykal

February 14th, 2010

woow! Great tutorial. Thanks..

Jason H.

February 21st, 2010

Fantastic tutorial! Many thanks!

Raj

March 1st, 2010

Nice tutorial. i was searching on net and got this one :-)!

Dawn

April 3rd, 2010

Just wondering what font you used

TheLook

May 8th, 2010

Thank you so much, I must try this out.

7

May 12th, 2010

thank you~ :)

Michael

June 30th, 2010

43: i have a problem on step 43, when i contract the selection on my duplicated “front” 3d object layer, press delete, and then clear the effects and edit>fill with my white foreground….it fills in the whole front part of the 3d object and leaves a beveled edge….a cool result, but not what im wanting. What am i doing wrong?

James

October 7th, 2010

Using CS5 there is a built in 3D renderer. should i try using this instead of going through illustrator? If not, when copying and pasting layers into photoshop, how should the layers be pasted? four options available: smart objext, pixels, path, or shape layer. I dont want to continue this tutorial feeling like im starting off in the wrong direction.

düzce haber

October 10th, 2010

Nice Tutorial. I have the same couch.

Inga

June 24th, 2011

what font did you use? thanks for tutorial!

Inga

June 24th, 2011

how did you make this letters together?

Future Signs

September 8th, 2011

Great tutorial, just goes to show you don’t need expensive 3D packages to create great effects

neztreh

November 12th, 2011

excellent tutorial!

Ravaabeenaa

June 24th, 2013

Wow!!! Excellent tutorial!! Simply amazing! Very well done! Keep up the good work! (Y)

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