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Text Effects

Create a 1980s Inspired 3D Text Effect in Photoshop

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Colorful gradients, lens flares, and textures are essential elements to any 1980's inspired artwork. In this tutorial, we will show you how to use Photoshop's 3D tools to create a 1980s inspired text effect. Let's get started!


Tutorial Assets

You will need the following assets to complete this tutorial. Please download them before you begin. If they are not available, you will need to find alternatives.


1. Creating and Converting Text

Step 1

Create a new 1152 x 864 px document, and fill the Background with Black. Then, create the text in All Caps using the font Geomancy. The color is #b7b7b7, and the Size is 150 pt.

Step 2

If you are creating more than one line of text, create each line in a separate layer, then place those lines as you like before extruding them.

Step 3

Select each text layer one-by-one and then go to Type > Convert to Shape. This will make working with the materials much easier when the text is converted to 3D meshes.


2. Extruding the Text

Step 1

For each text shape layer you have, select it and go to 3D > New 3D Extrusion from Selected Path. This will convert the shape layers into 3D layers.

Select all the 3D layers you have, then go to 3D > Merge 3D Layers. This will place all the 3D text meshes in one scene.

Step 2

To access the 3D mesh settings and properties, you’ll need to open two panels: The 3D panel, and the Properties panel (both found under the Window menu).

The 3D panel has all the components of the 3D scene, and when you click the name of any of those, you’ll be able to access its settings in the Properties panel. So make sure to always select the name of the element you want to modify in the 3D panel before you change its settings in the Properties panel.

Step 3

Select the Current View tab in the 3D panel, then choose the Front view from the View drop down menu in the Properties panel.


3. Modifying the 3D Meshes

Step 1

Select the name of the first 3D Mesh (the one at the top) in the 3D panel. Then, in the Properties panel, change its Deformation Axis to Bottom, and its Extrusion Depth to 335. The Deformation Axis is going to tilt the extrusion down a little bit.

Step 2

Click the Deform icon at the top of the Properties panel, then change the Taper value to 50%.

Step 3

Click the Cap icon, and change the Bevel Width to 20%, and the Contour to Rolling Slope - Descending. This will create the outline of the text.

Step 4

This is how the mesh should look.

Step 5

Select the second text mesh, and change its Deformation Axis to Top. This will tilt the extrusion upwards. Then, you'll need to change the rest of the settings exactly as you did for the first text mesh (Extrusion Depth, Taper, Bevel Width and Contour).

Step 6

Both meshes should look the same, except for the tilting direction.


4. Moving the Meshes and Adjusting the Camera View

Step 1

Select the Move Tool and check its Options bar. You’ll find a set of 3D Modes for the tool to the right of the bar. When you choose one of those, you can then click and drag to perform any changes (on the selected element in the 3D panel).

You can also use the 3D Axis. The arrows at the ends of the 3D Axis move the mesh, the part below them is used for rotation, and the cubes are used for scaling. The cube in the center is used to scale the object uniformly. All you need to do is click and drag the part you need to perform the changes.

So click both meshes' names in the 3D panel (Ctrl/Command + click each one's tab), then move them to the center of the document. You can also click and move each one separately if needed.

Step 2

If you want to change the camera view, click the Current View tab in the 3D panel, then click the Coordinates icon at the top of the Properties panel. You can then click and drag the name of the value you want to change, or enter numerical values in the fields.


5. Creating the Front Inflation Material's Lower Shape

Step 1

The cool thing about converting the text to a shape before extruding it, is that the shape is used to create the Front Inflation Material of the 3D mesh. And that gives more control when layering the Front material.

So click the first text mesh Front Inflation Material tab in the 3D panel, then click the Diffuse texture icon and choose Edit Texture.

Step 2

This will open the texture's file that has the shape layer. Go ahead and duplicate it.

Step 3

Click the Rectangle Tool, and click the Subtract Front Shape icon in the Options bar. Then click and drag a rectangle that covers the upper half of the text. When you release the mouse button, that part will be removed.

Step 4

Click the Path operations icon, and click Merge Shape Components. This will get rid of the extra parts, which will make sure that the gradient that will be created later will be applied correctly.


6. Adding and Moving the Anchor Points

Step 1

Pick the Add Anchor Point Tool, and click once to add each of the points along the path where you want to move it up or down.

Step 2

Pick the Direct Selection Tool. Select the first point you want to move upwards, then press and hold the Shift key, and click to select all the other points you want to move upwards as well.

Step 3

When the points are selected, release the Shift key, then press the Up Arrow Key (on your keyboard) 2 - 3 times.

Step 4

Now select the remaining points, and make sure that the previous ones are not selected anymore.

Step 5

Press the Down Arrow Key 2 - 3 times to move the selected points down.


7. Creating the Front Inflation Material

Step 1

Double click the original shape layer to apply a Gradient Overlay effect. Change the settings as shown below, then click the gradient box to create the gradient.

Step 2

To add color stops, you need to click once below the gradient bar for each stop. Then, you can click each color stop added, and modify its Color and Location values at the very bottom of the Gradient Editor box.

From left to right, the colors used and their locations are:

  • #ffffff - 0%
  • #eafcff - 69%
  • #8ac3e1 - 83%
  • #002c32 - 100%

Step 3

This will create the gradient fill of the original text shape.

Step 4

Double click the copy shape layer to apply a Gradient Overlay effect again.

Step 5

The colors and locations used from left to right are:

  • #eaf0ff - 35%
  • #d83aad - 68%
  • #250b31 - 100%

Step 6

You can use any other colors you like. Just make sure to follow a similar change of shades in the gradients you use.

Save the file (File > Save) then close it (File > Close) to go back to the original document.

Step 7

The changes will be applied to the 3D mesh.

Step 8

The colors might seem a bit pale. Change the Shine value to 100% to make them more vibrant.

Step 9

Repeat all the previous steps to create the other text mesh Front Inflation Material.


8. Creating the Outline Material

Step 1

Click the first text mesh Front Bevel Material tab, then click its Diffuse texture icon and choose Remove Texture.

Step 2

Click the Diffuse folder icon and choose New Texture.

Step 3

Set the Width and Height values to 500 and click OK.

Step 4

Click the Diffuse texture icon once again and choose Edit Texture.

Step 5

This will open the blank new texture file. Duplicate the Background layer.

Step 6

Double click the copy Background layer to apply a Gradient Overlay effect.

Step 7

From left to right, the colors and locations used are:

  • #e6fcff - 0%
  • #e6fcff - 7%
  • #460053 - 45%
  • #18b7df - 61%
  • #004e51 - 71%
  • #f9f9ff - 92%
  • #f9f9ff - 100%

Step 8

Save the file (File > Save) then close it (File > Close) to go back to the original document.

Step 9

This will apply the gradient to the outline. You might notice that not all the colors appear though. We'll fix that next.


9. Modifying the Outline Material

Step 1

Start by changing the Shine value to 100%.

Step 2

Click the Diffuse texture icon then choose Edit UV Properties.

Step 3

Change both the U Scale and V Scale values to 100%, and the U Offset and V Offset values to 0%.

Step 4

This will make all the colors of the gradient appear.

Step 5

Repeat the same steps to create the Front Bevel Material of the other text mesh.


10. Creating the Extrusion Material

Step 1

Select the Extrusion Material tab, then remove the Diffuse texture.

Step 2

Change the Diffuse color to #226a90 and the Shine value to 100%.


11. Modifying the Lights

Step 1

Click the Infinite Light 1 tab in the 3D panel. Then, in the Properties panel, change its Intensity to 75%.

Step 2

Click the Coordinates icon at the top of the Properties panel, then change the values as shown below. You can also use the Move Tool to move the light around until you like how the text looks.

Step 3

Click the Add new Light to Scene icon down the 3D panel and choose New Point Light.

Step 4

Change the Point Light's Intensity to 35% and un-check its Shadows box. This light will be used to brighten up the extrusion a little bit, but we don't want it to cast shadows, since the Infinite Light already does that.

Step 5

Move the Point Light below the extrusion until you like how it looks.

Step 6

When you're done, go to 3D > Render to render the scene. This shouldn't take much time, but you can stop it by clicking anywhere inside the document or by pressing the Esc key.


12. Creating the Outer Stroke

Step 1

Pick the Pen Tool, choose the Shape option in the Options bar, change the Fill to None, and set the Stroke color to White and its Width to 3.5 pt.

Start creating the stroke around the 3D text. Click once to add a point, and click and drag to create a curve. You can also click to add a point, press and hold the Shift key, then add another point to create straight lines where needed.

Step 2

Try to keep the same distance between the stroke and the 3D text.

Step 3

Use the Direct Selection Tool to modify any points along the path when you're done creating it. Click the point you want to modify then move it around, or - in case of curve points, you can click and drag the point itself, or click the Direction Points at the end of the two Direction Handles, then move them around to change the orientation of the curve, or drag them outwards and inwards to make the curve wider or narrower.

You can use the Add/Delete Anchor Point Tool(s) if needed as well.

Step 4

When you're done, click the Stroke color box in the Options bar, then click the Gradient fill icon. Create the gradient using the colors #00708c to the left, and #b336a6 to the right.


13. Adding the Texture

Step 1

Select the 3D text layer, then go to Filter > Convert for Smart Filters. This will convert the layer into a smart object, which will prevent any accidental changes in the rendered result. You can still edit the 3D mesh anytime by double clicking the smart object's layer thumbnail to open the original 3D layer file.

Step 2

Place the Texture 376 image on top of the 3D text, and resize it as you like. Change the texture layer's Blend Mode to Overlay and its Opacity to 75%. Then go to Layer > Create Clipping Mask. This will clip the texture to the 3D text below it.

Step 3

Duplicate the texture layer, then drag the copy on top of the outer stroke layer, and create a clipping mask again.


14. Adding the Background Image

Step 1

Place the Lightning image right on top of the Background layer, then scale it down without letting the trees at the bottom appear.

Step 2

Go to Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation. Check the Colorize box, then change the Hue to 232, and the Lightness to -20.

Step 3

Go to Image > Adjustments > Levels. Change the Shadows value to 5 and the Gamma to 0.95. This will darken the image a bit more.


15. Adding the Flares

Step 1

Open the OF Flare // Conspiracy 3 image, then go to Image > Adjustments > Levels. Click the Sample in image to set black point icon then click somewhere near the flare. This will turn all the pixels that match or are darker than the one you clicked to black, which will help get a cleaner result of the Blend Mode change next.

Step 2

Duplicate the flare image to the original document and change its layer's Blend Mode to Screen. Then scale it down to a size that suits the text, and place it on top of one of the letters you have.

Step 3

Next, you just need to duplicate the flare layer a couple of times, and place each one on top of one of some of the other letters. You can go to Edit > Transform > Rotate, and rotate the flares that need rotation. Don't forget to hit the Enter/Return key after rotating to accept the changes.


Congratulations! You're done.

In this tutorial, two text layers were converted to shape layers, and extruded into 3D meshes. Then the original shape was modified to create the Front Inflation Material, and and the outline and the extrusion of the text were created and modified as well.

A couple of changes in the lighting of the scene were made, then the scene was rendered. After that, the Pen Tool was used to create the outer stroke, and a couple of images were used to texture the text, add the flares, and create the Background. Some Image Adjustments were also applied to modify the colors and the lighting of the images used, to get the final result.

Please feel free to leave your comments, suggestions, and outcomes below.

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