How to Create Stunning and Bold 3D Text

Aug 19 2009 by Tyler Denis | 43 Comments

How to Create Stunning and Bold 3D Text

In this graphic design tutorial, you will witness a method for creating attractive 3D text that features some beautiful lighting and textured effects. We will be using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop to help us get the job done.

Final Result

Below, you can see the final product that we will be creating together. Click on the image below to see a full-scale image of what we’re about to create.

Final Result

Before we start

We will need some a couple of free stock images. Download the following images.

Creating the text in Illustrator

1 We are going to start off by creating our 3D text object into a new Illustrator document; create a new document by choosing File > New (Ctrl+N). Use the Type Tool (T) to add the text into the canvas: type the text "DdSR".

2 Next, highlight the text "Dd" and change the color to #CC3333. Highlight the text "SR" and change the color to #00A0C6.

Creating the text in Illustrator

Adding a 3D Extrude & Bevel Effect

3 Now that we have our 3D text in order, we are going to apply a 3D effect. We are going to create an object that will be resting on a flat surface, so we are going to give it some subtle angles. To start, choose the Selection Tool (V) and click on our text to select it.

4 Then, choose Effect > 3D > Extrude & Bevel to open up the 3D Extrude & Bevel dialog box. Use the settings shown in the following figure to create the effect you need.

Adding a 3D Extrude & Bevel Effect

Expanding the 3D object

5  Choose Object > Expand Appearance to turn our 3D object into vector points and lines so that we can bring it into our Photoshop document one piece at a time.

Expanding the 3D object

Preparing the 3D object for transferring into Photoshop

6 For a little preparation, we are going to adjust the colors of the sides of our 3D text. First, we need to figure out where the light is going to come from. For our composition, we are going to have two light sources coming from the left of the "Dd" and from the right of the "SR". To begin, we need to ungroup the 3D text object, and the first step to doing so is by using the Selection Tool (V) to select our 3D text.

7 Next, choose Object > Ungroup (Ctrl+Shift+G) to start ungrouping the 3D text vectors. Do this a bunch of times (use the keyboard shortcut to make this process easier) to make sure nothing is grouped still. Tweak the colors of the 3D text object pieces so that it looks like the following figure, choose colors that are lighter and darker than the 3D text face.

Preparing the 3D object for transferring into Photoshop

8 Open up Photoshop and create a new document (Ctrl+N). The size of the document doesn’t really matter because you can adjust the size of the 3D text object. For this tutorial, I am going to create a document with the canvas size set to 1680px x 1050px.

9 Use the Selection Tool (V) to select all the pieces of the 3D text object in Illustrator. Before copying and pasting it into Photoshop – select the 3D text object entirely and adjust its size. Once you get the size you want, bring everything into Photoshop. Select the 3D text object, choose Edit > Copy (Ctrl+C), go over to Photoshop, and choose Edit > Paste (Ctrl+V).

Preparing the 3D object for transferring into Photoshop

Changing the Hue/Saturation of the Layer

10 We are going to use this 3D text object as a template so we know where everything goes. To make it easier to see the difference between our template and the pieces coming in from Illustrator, we are going to change the hue and brightness of the layer. To do this, choose Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation (Ctrl+U). The color you select doesn’t really matter; just make sure there is a good contrast between this template and the pieces we are going to bring in.

Changing the Hue/Saturation of the Layer

Bringing the 3D text pieces to Photoshop

11 Now, we can start bringing in the pieces from Illustrator one by one. They should fit in pretty well, but there were a couple that I had to adjust; you can do that by using the Free Transform Tool (Ctrl+T).

Bringing the 3D text pieces to Photoshop

Adding the background glow

12 We are now going to start adding the background glow behind the "Dd". First, create a new layer below the other layers thus far.

13 Choose the Gradient Tool (G) from the Tools Panel and then set the gradient type in the Options bar to Radial Gradient. Change the Foreground color to #CC3333 and make a small gradient in the middle of the page. Resize the gradient so it fills the left side of the canvas, you can do so by choosing Edit > Free Transform (Ctrl+T). We do this so that we can adjust the gradient without having it cut off, which would happen if you made it large the first time. See the following figure for reference.

Adding the background glow

Incorporating the stock textures to the design

14 Let’s bring in this texture from Flickr (teXture 005 – Faux Paint). Resize the texture so that it covers the whole area on the left half of our canvas. Change the Blend Mode to Overlay.

15 To give a little more of a red light, we are going to duplicate the red gradient layer. To do this, change the Blend Mode to Normal and drop the opacity to 30%. Move our new gradient over so it is behind the "Dd" by using the Move Tool (V).

Incorporating the stock textures to the design

16 Next, we are going to make another Radial Gradient like we did in a previous step, but this time we are going to be using white (#FFFFFF) as our Foreground color. The gradient is going to go on the left side of the canvas like the first red one did.

Incorporating the stock textures to the design

Repeating previous steps for the "SR" text

17 Now we are going to repeat Steps 12-16 for the "SR" text. We are also going to use a different texture, the second texture you downloaded earlier from Texture Lovers (Brown Stained Concrete #7) – and instead of the red, we are going to use blue (#0099CC) for the glow. Play around with the opacity of the gradient layers until you get something you like.

Repeating previous steps for the "SR" text

Adding a Bevel & Emboss Effect

18 Now we are going to add a Bevel and Emboss effect to our 3D text object. This is going to be a little tricky because we have two light sources and if we try to change the light source for the second lighting, it will automatically change both. To fix this, we are first going to add a bevel to the "SR" face. To start, select the layer with the "SR" face. Then, click on the Add a layer style icon at the bottom of the Layers Panel, and choose Bevel and Emboss. Use the following settings as shown in the following figure.

Adding a Bevel & Emboss Effect

Merging a couple of layers

19 We are now going to flatten the image that we just added the Bevel and Emboss layer style to. To do this, we are going to create a new layer and then link the new layer with our "SR" face layer. To link the layers, select both layers in the Layers Panel by holding down Ctrl and clicking on them, then click on Link layers icon at the bottom of the Layers Panel (or right-click on the selected layers, and choose Link Layers in the contextual menu).

20 Then merge the linked layers into one layer by choosing Layers > Merge Layers (Ctrl+E). Now we have one flattened layer with the "SR" face with a bevel on it.

21 Lets go ahead and add a bevel on our "Dd" face using the same techniques above, but this time, use the Bevel and Emboss layer style settings shown in the figure below.

Merging a couple of layers

Adding some shadows

22 Now we are going to add some shadows to the sides of our logo. To do this, we want to click on each edge pieces’ layer that would be a shadowed area and adjust the Curves for each one by choosing Image > Adjustments > Curves (Ctrl+M) to open up the Curves dialog box.

23 We also want to add a shadow on half of the top of our letter "d" because the light would be hitting some of it. Click on the edge layer for the top of the "d" to make it the active layer, then Ctrl + click on the layer’s thumbnail to create a selection around the edge layer.

24 Choose the Gradient Tool (G) from the Tools Panel, and set the gradient style to a Black to 0% opacity and Linear Gradient, in the Options bar. Click and drag a gradient so that you get something like what I have in the subsequent figure. Repeat this with the "SR" text.

Adding some shadows

25 To get the shadow behind the logos, create a selection around the "SR" text by holding down the Ctrl key and clicking on all the SR texts’ layer thumbnails; keep clicking and adding to the marquee selection until "SR" has been outlined. Create a new layer and fill it with black (#000000).

26 Now we want to give the black logo a blur to give it more of a shadow look, so go to Filter > Blur> Gaussian Blur and give it a 25px blur. Switch to the Move Tool (V), hold down the Shift key, and move it over to the left using your arrow keys, about 2 spaces.

Adding some shadows

Tweaking the shadows

27 Now we have to do a little fixing of the shadow. There are some parts that have a shadow that don’t need it, like the right side of the "SR" logo. To start, add a layer mask to the shadow layer by clicking on the Add layer mask icon at the bottom of the Layers Panel.

28 Click on the mask part of the layer. Choose the Brush Tool (B) from the Tools Panel. Use a black (#000000) brush at with a Brush diameter of 100px and 0% hardness to paint away the areas we don’t want. Check out the figure below to see how the shadow should look like.

Tweaking the shadows

29 There are also some areas that we want to add some shadows to. For this, we want to click back onto the shadow layer, and using our black brush at 100px, 0% hardness, and 20% opacity, paint the areas we want to darken.

Tweaking the shadows

30 Repeat Steps 25-29 for the "Dd" text.

Tweaking the shadows

Adding some textures to the text

31 Now we are going to add some texture to our logos. First, let’s duplicate the texture that we used for the background on the left side and move the layer to the very top.

32 Ctrl + click on all the "Dd" layers (the face and the edges) and then click on the Add layer mask icon at the bottom of the Layers Panel to add a layer mask on top of them. This will get rid of everything except for the area on the "Dd".

Adding some textures to the text

33 Now, repeat the previous steps for the "SR" text. The only thing I changed the Blend Mode from Overlay to Soft Light because the texture was too harsh/bold for my liking.

Adding some textures to the text

Adding lighting and shadows to the text faces

34 Now we are going to add some lighting and shadows to logo faces. First, we are going to add a shadow to the "Dd". Ctrl + click on the "Dd" face layer. Using a Gradient Tool (G) with Linear Gradient gradient type, click and drag on the canvas to create a gradient towards the light until you get something you like. Repeat with the "SR" text face.

Adding lighting and shadows to the text faces

35 We are going to create more gradients, similar to what we did in the previous step. This time though, the gradients are going to be red on the blue text and blue on the red text to get the reflection of the light coming from the opposite sides. To start, Ctrl + click on the "SR" layer.

36 Use a Linear Gradient with #CC3333 as your Foreground color. Click and drag on the canvas to create a gradient in such a way that it creates a subtle hint of red on it.

37 Change the Blend Mode to Hard Light.

38 Repeat this with the "Dd" text and a color of #0099CC.

Adding lighting and shadows to the text faces

Giving the text some highlights

39 Since we want to give the impression of a bright light coming from the edges of the document, we are going to add a highlight to each of the logos. To start, Ctrl + click on the "SR" face layer to create a selection around it. Using a White to 0% opacity Linear Gradient, click and drag a gradient until you get something you like.  Change the Blend Mode to Overlay. Repeat this with the "Dd" logo.

Giving the text some highlights

Some final details

40 We are going to add some styles to the whole canvas to finish it off, so first we want to flatten the image. To do this, choose Layers > Flatten Image.

Some final details

41 We are going to blur the bottom left and top right corners to give the image a little bit of dimension. To do this, we are going to click on the Quick Mask. To start, click on the Edit in Quick Mask Mode icon at the bottom of the Tools Panel, which is just below the foreground/background colors.

42 Click and drag a black Reflected Gradient in the middle of the canvas using the Gradient Tool (G). Click on the Standard Mode icon at the bottom of the Tools Panel to switch off Quick Mask mode; this will give you a selected area from the gradient that we just created. This should have selected the bottom left and top right corners, depending on your settings. If it selected the middle area, just create an inverse selection, Select > Inverse (Ctrl+Shift+I).

43 Go to Filter > Blur >Gaussian Blur and set the blur at 2px.

Some final details

44 Finally, you can play around with some Photo Filters or other adjustment layers to get that look you want. You can do this by clicking on the Create new fill or adjustment layer icon at the bottom of the Layers Panel, and selecting Photo Filters (or any of the other adjustment layers).

Some final details

And you’re done!

If you followed along with me, you should have something that looks like the following figure.

Final Result

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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.

43 Comments

Gerard Donnelly

August 19th, 2009

Super article. Will def be using this in some of my future projects.

Alex

August 19th, 2009

Beautyfull Tutorial.

Regards from Spain!

David

August 19th, 2009

Cool. I’d like to see more posts of 3D stuff you can do without using a 3d program (kinda big learning curve on Mya etc)

Woller

August 19th, 2009

Simple, yet great results. Thanks for the tutorial

Marcell

August 19th, 2009

Very good tutorial!

Fábio ZC

August 19th, 2009

Simple but Awesome!!!

Pradeep CD

August 20th, 2009

Great tut…but…

is there any way to do it without illustrator?

can u post one tut of 3D text without using illustrator…?

thanks

Oliver Web

August 20th, 2009

Brilliant tutorial and a great result. I’ve bookmarked this so I can come back and try this tutorial. Thanks

Brad

August 20th, 2009

so easy to do, thanks for the great tut.

sonnydesign

August 28th, 2009

wow i gonna try this today thank you for another excellent tutorial.

Dalesh Kowlesar

September 1st, 2009

this looks like a lot of work….

Jonard Pantoja

September 1st, 2009

Damn!!! Very superb and stunning tutorials!!

Koves

September 6th, 2009

DO you do this in Photoshop?

rory

September 8th, 2009

Very nice tutorial, straight forward and easy to follow. Fantastic final visual too pat yourself on the back Tyler…

^^^ Koves, yes its done in photoshop, great question! ^^^

uve

September 18th, 2009

what font did you use?
great tutorial!!

sonnydesign

September 20th, 2009

im done with this tutorial and i think i got it 90% not really perfect but nice try

fav8r

September 20th, 2009

It’s so cool !!

Thomas

September 28th, 2009

Good tutorial :-)

Lauren Jordan

October 3rd, 2009

I love finding tutorials like this! I’m really into the texture look of things like websites, posters, etc. So seeing this effect incorporated into 3D text is pretty cool.

5th Battalion

October 15th, 2009

Great tutorial :D and awsome Technique ! i was just wondering what font this is that you used ?

Gufen

November 8th, 2009

yeam man, me too.. Which font??? And how do I get it…?

Jeremy

November 19th, 2009

Great tut… but what I’m with the others… what font?

william

November 21st, 2009

Yes what font????

ikogsakanding

November 24th, 2009

i like the font also… what font is it?

Tutorial Lounge

December 18th, 2009

cool tutorial and sharing some latest tips and tricks about photoshop.

Xenstudio

March 26th, 2010

Hey, thanks for the tutorial. I’m in the process of doing a project for my uni project and this definately helps!

Aidoue

April 2nd, 2010

I’m stuck at step 13. Why does the background change to black? is the gradient red and black, or red and transparent?
Also, at step 14, when you add the texture, the example you give is much darker around the edges than mine. Do I have to burn it a little around the edges? Some help please…

Martin

April 10th, 2010

Thanks for this. I’m a noob with Illustrator so it was very useful.
I feel more confident doing 3D letters now.

@Aidoue – yes, the tutorial doe smiss out some details, but you don’t have to follow it to the letter to get a good effect. The gradient is red – black. That’s what I used anyway.
If it’s too dark around the edges, put a layer mask on it and paint out the dark bits slowly with a grey-black brush.

v.

April 20th, 2010

ITC Franklin Gothic Bold is my guess.

Sean

April 29th, 2010

Looks like Frankling Gothic to me too. Very close at least. I’m a little confused by the following in step 18:

“Now we are going to add a Bevel and Emboss effect to our 3D text object. This is going to be a little tricky because we have two light sources and if we try to change the light source for the second lighting, it will automatically change both.”

What if I just uncheck the “use global light” box?

SALO

May 3rd, 2010

Good tutorial

Dimi

May 11th, 2010

hi there,

I have a problem. When I copy the text from illustrator to photoshop the program promts 4 options: smart object, pixels, path, shape layer. Whichever I choose I cannot then edit the 3D text as required in steps “Bevel & Emboss Effect-18- & shadows-22-”. What am I doing wrong?

I am using CS5.

captbullett

July 9th, 2010

can this be done in PSE ? Thank-You

Rick

August 6th, 2010

Just used this for a splash page. Looks great! Excellent tutorial. Thanks!

Andy Belfast

August 19th, 2010

3d text with real depth! Couldn’t seem to quite manage this effect in the past – have now circulated this page to our design team!

Zach

September 13th, 2010

I’m stuck on steps 22, 23 and 24. I could really use some clarification here.

“To do this, we want to click on each edge pieces’ layer that would be a shadowed area”

I have no idea what this means.

sam

January 19th, 2011

Zach- i struggled with the same bit. i think what you have to do is separate the parts of the letters so you have the letters and edges/3d parts as a separate layer. i’ve split it so i have ‘Dd’ & ‘Dd edges’ as 2 layers, and the same for Sr

i’m new to photoshop though so this might be wrong!

Arun

March 13th, 2011

Can you please make a video of this tutorial??

Daniel

April 2nd, 2011

Great tutorial..
Can you please make a video of this tutorial??

Derek

July 5th, 2011

It would be much appreciated if you would actually show the whole screen instead of just the artwork, I am stuck and having trouble and if I could see your layers and stuff on the side it would be so much more helpfull

Vin chilien

November 11th, 2011

Great tutorial !!

envythomas

November 24th, 2011

i <3 art stuff soo much that i just dont know i love art and 3d stuff………<3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

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