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Create an Autumn-Themed 3D Text Effect With Photoshop CS6 Extended

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Adobe Photoshop CS6 Extended is packed with an all-new 3D interface and tons of new features. In this tutorial, we will explain how to use those new features to create an autumn-themed 3D text effect. Let's get started!


Tutorial Assets

The following assets were used during the production of this tutorial.


Step 1

Let's start! Create a new document (File > New) with the following settings:


Step 2

Download the image with Autumn park and place it into your canvas. The image that I use in this tutorial has the same size with the canvas, so this photo will fully cover it. If you want to use your own image for the background you have to resize it according to the canvas size. So place it into the canvas and drag one of the corner points. Hold Shift to resize the picture proportionally. Select the "Background" layer, the layer with your photo and merge them (Command/Ctrl + E)


Step 3

So let's start creating 3D letters. Download the image with English Alphabet and open it in Photoshop. Now you have to decide what word you will compose from letters and what colors you will use for them. I decided to make the word "Leaf." Grab the Lasso Tool (L) and select the first letter of the chosen word, copy (Command/Ctrl + C) and paste it (Command/Ctrl + V) into your canvas

Name this layer with the letter according to its name, for example, my layer will be called "Letter L". Now we need to remove the white background. So grab the Magic Wand Tool (W), select the layer with the letter and click on the white background. Press Delete. Please note that the parameter "Sample All Layers" should not be checked.

Select the layer with your letter and activate the Transform tool (Command/Ctrl + T). While holding Shift key drag one of the corner handles to reduce the size of the letter.

If you want to change the color of your letter you can use Adjustment Layers (for example, Color Balance or Selective color). I will give a detailed description in Step 15. Since I was quite satisfied with the red color of my first letter, then I moved on to the creation of 3D letter.


Step 4

To create a 3D letter, select the layer with the letter and go to 3D > New 3D Extrusion from Selected Layer. Photoshop will ask you to switch to the 3D workspace - click OK. So, the 3D workspace of Photoshop CS6 is in front of you. At first we need to determine the position of the Ground Plane on which the letter will be located. To do this, select the Scene in the 3D panel and adjust the position of the Ground Plane using the icons in the Options bar.

Try to position the Ground Plane so that it coincides with the horizontal surface where you will place the letters:

If your background image differs from mine, you should choose the right position of the Ground Plane by yourself.


Step 5

Now we need to make the texture for the letter. Download this Concrete texture (Image 1) and open it in Photoshop.
We will use it for the front and extruded part of the letters. "500 px" in the Options bar to get a square of 500x500 px size. I chose this area:

Once the proper area was selected, press Enter and save the texture. Name the file "texture_front."


Step 6

Now it's time to apply the relief texture to the letter. On the 3D panel select "Front Inflation Material" and go to the Properties panel of 3D-objects. This panel will be opened automatically when you switch to the 3D workspace. Find the Bump setting in the Properties panel and choose "Load texture". In the opened window select the texture that you've prepared in the previous Step ("texture_front.jpg"):

Bump setting is responsible for the relief, so you can set the desired degree of relief by moving the slider. I set it to 20%. Then you have to adjust the scale and location of the texture. To do this click on the folder icon next to Bump setting and select "Edit UV Properties".

A vertical and horizontal scale (V Scale and U Scale respectively) are the main parameters that you need to adjust. Parameters U Offset and V Offset are responsible for a displacement of the texture, you can adjust them as you like.


Step 7

Next we need to add the texture to the extruded part of the letter. To do this, go to 3D panel, select "Extrusion Material" and load the same texture ("texture_front.jpg") for the Bump parameter likewise.

I increased the Bump value up to 25% for the extruded part of the letter. The same way as we did in the previous Step, edit the properties of the texture: click on the folder icon next to Bump setting and select "Edit UV Properties." I used the following values:

As you can see, I changed the color of the extrusion to pink, so you can visually see how changing of the parameters affects the texture mapping. Later I'll show you how to match the color of the extrusion better.


Step 8

Now it's time to work on the location of the letter. Go to the 3D panel and select the letter - you will see that three axis appeared in the center of the letter. You can rotate, resize and move the object relative to these axis using the same icons in the Options bar that you use to move the Ground Plane. There are icons on the axis which you can also use for rotating, moving and scaling the object:

Also it's convenient to move the object in multiple planes at the same time. To do this move the cursor to the edge of the cube, inside which your letter is located: the sides of the cube (that are corresponding to the planes along which the movement will be carried out) will be highlighted in yellow, and the hint with the names of the planes will appear near the cursor.

When you move the cursor to the side of the cube, the movement will be carried out along one plane only (it will be also highlighted in yellow). If you want the letter to be located on the surface, don't move the letter along the vertical axis (Y). If you notice that the letter has gone too up or down, go to 3D > Snap Object to the Ground Plane - the letter will be again on the surface's moving and rotating along the axis on the Properties panel in Coordinates section. If you don't know how to return the letter to its original position on a particular axis, just set the angle of rotation of the respective axis to 0 degrees:

Now you know how to change the position of 3D objects. So place the letter on the Ground Plane as you like and change its size if necessary. For example, the position of my letter is the following:


Step 9

In this Step we'll work on the appearance of the letter - we'll adjust the value of extrusion; and in the next Step we'll adjust the bevel. Mesh section to adjust the thickness of the letter. We are interested in the Extrusion Depth value: I set it to 250, but you can use another value if you want. Also the parameters Catch Shadows and Cast Shadows should be checked, we'll need them when we are setting light sources.


Step 10

In this Step we'll adjust the bevel. Go to the Properties panel > Mesh section, I chose the following Bevel type, but you can try another one and then experiment with its settings:

Next we move to the Cap section and select the Contour of the Bevel (Cove – Deep):


Step 11

Now you should define the extrusion color. To change its color, select Extrusion Material on the 3D panel and go to the Properties panel. The main color of the extrusion will be defined by the color you choose for the Diffuse parameter. I chose the color #f25646:

You can also experiment with the other settings, such as Specular (it affects the sharpness/contrast of the texture) and Illumination (it affects the brightness of the side edges). In this case I chose the following values: Specular color - #645858, Illumination color - #290816.


Step 12

Now it's time to work on light sources. Go to 3D panel and select the first light source (you already have it there) – Infinite Light 1. We will set up the main light source using it. In this case the main light source is the Sun and it's located in the top right corner. If you use your own image for the background you should define the position of the main light source by yourself (pay attention to the direction of people/objects' shadows, etc.)
's position the light source. Left-click on the source and rotate it so the shadow of the letter is located approximately in the bottom left corner:

The settings and coordinates of this light source are the following (the color is #ffebcf):

As far as it's the main light source you should remember (or write down) its coordinates. The coordinates of this light source are the same for all letters that you will create in this scene.


Step 13

Let's add another light source so the letter won't be so dark. To do this click on the Add new Light to Scene icon in the bottom part of the 3D panel and select New Infinite Light.

I added the light source with the following settings (the color is # ffc871):


Step 14

So the work on the first letter is almost completed. In this step, we will correct the color of the letter's stroke. If you like its black color, you can skip this step.

We will edit the texture that is used in two places on the letter - Front Inflation Material and Front Bevel Material. So when you choose Edit texture, Photoshop will warn you that the changes will be applied to all places in the scene. Click OK. New Adjustment Layer > Selective Color. Select the black channel and adjust the color of the stroke. In this example it becomes red:

After you have finished to work with texture, save it (Command/Ctrl + S) and close this file. Switch to you working document – you will see that the texture has been updated:


Step 15

Now you can create all other letters in the same way. But if you want to change the letter's color at once, you can use the Adjustment Layer Selective Color and the Replace Color option. Let's practice it on my second letter - "E". If you want to continue working with Layers in Photoshop, just switch to the Layers panel. Place the next letter in your working document and delete its background as we did in Step 3. I called this layer "Letter E". "Letter E" and go to Image > Adjustments > Replace Color. Grab the Eyedropper tool with a "+" and expand the area of the color replacement by clicking on the shades of light blue color. And then adjust the sliders to get the color similar to this (color # fed4b6):

Next create the Adjustment Layer Selective Color (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Selective Color) and convert it to the Clipping Mask layer for the layer "Letter E". To do this, right-click on the Selective Color layer on the Layers panel and choose Create Clipping Mask. So this Selective Color layer will affect only "Letter E" layer.

Now I'm pleased with orange color that I got, and I can merge the layer with the letter and the Adjustment Layer Selective Color (select both layers on the Layers panel and press Command/Ctrl + E).


Step 16

So the base letter is ready, and you can start making the 3D-letter. Go to Step 4 and repeat all the instructions for creating 3D letters. Don't forget about the perspective of the letters: if the letter is far from viewer, its size should be smaller than the size of your first letter. The layer with the first letter should be on top of the Layers panel, and all other layers with letters should be located under it one after another. Don't forget that you can change your 3D settings, move letters, change the texture's color until you get the desired result. So I created all letters and got the following result:


Step 17

So if you are pleased with the letters' position and color, you can rasterize these 3D layers. But I recommend you to keep the original 3D layers in case you want to change something. To do this, duplicate all your 3D layers (select them on the Layers panel and press Command/Ctrl + J). Group the original 3D layers (Command/Ctrl + G), call this group "3D" and disable its visibility (click on the eye icon near the layer's thumbnail). Next, go to your duplicated layers and rasterize them by right-clicking on one of the layers and selecting Rasterize 3D.


Step 18

In this Step we will add more contrast to the letters' shadows on the grass. To do this, create a New Layer (Command/Ctrl + Shift + N), name it "Shadow" and put it under all layers with letters on the Layers panel. Grab the Brush Tool (B) with the following settings: Color: #1d280a, Hardness: 50%, Blending mode: Multiply, Opacity: 10-15%. The brush size is up to you.

Paint over shadow areas with the selected Brush as it is shown in the picture:


Step 19

Now we're going to make the bottom parts of the letters look like they are really stand in the grass. We will use the standard set of brushes for that. Grab the Brush Tool (B) and choose hard (100% Hardness) round brush, Opacity about 50%. It's better to work on letters' layer masks because in this case you will be able to fix the result at any time. So add masks to all the layers with letters (Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All) and change the Foreground color to black. Click on Layer Mask thumbnail and paint over the bottom parts of the letters to hide them:

If you painted over some extra areas, just change the Foreground color to white and paint over those areas to make them visible.
With Brush Tool selected, press F5 and choose the "Dune Grass" brush. Brush settings are the following:

Paint over the bottom parts of the letters with the selected brush on the Layer Mask. Choose the small brush size – about 30 px. Here's what you should get:


Step 20

As you can see, we hid some parts of letters' shadows because they are located on the same layers as the letters themselves. So go back to Step 18 and set up the brush in the same way. Select the layer "Shadow" and paint over the areas that have been hidden under the mask:

If you are not entirely satisfied with the result, select the brush "Dry Brush Tip Light Flow" from the standard brushes set and paint over the bottom parts of the letters on the Layer Mask.


Step 21

Next we need to edit the extruded parts of the letters, so they won't be smooth. To do that, grab the Brush Tool (B) and select one of the following brushes (Opacity: 100%, brush size: about 50 px, Foreground color: black):

In the masks of the letters' layers, paint over the back edges of the letters. If you want to rotate the brush, press F5 ant turn the pointer to the desired angle:

I got the following result:


Step 22

Now we need to apply the Gaussian Blur filter to the letters, so the texture won't be so sharp. But before you do that, it's better to convert all your layers with letters to Smart Object – in this case you will have an opportunity to change filter's setting after you apply it. Right-click on one of the layers with letters on the Layers panel and choose Convert to Smart Object. Don't worry about the layer's mask – it wasn't deleted, now it's just inside the Smart Object.
To edit it, double-click on the current layer on the Layers panel.


Step 23

Select the layer with the first letter L and go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. The amount of blur depends on the size of your letters. I chose a value of 0.4 px:

Apply the Gaussian Blur filter to all other letters. Don't forget about depth of field: if the letter is far from viewer, it should be more blurred than the first letter. If you want to change the amount of blur, double-click on filter's name on the Layers panel:

So here's what I get:


Step 24

Download the image with cracked paint (I used the size 1600õ1200 px) and put it into your document. Reduce the size of this texture as it is shown in the picture (while resizing don't forget to hold Shift key):

Activate the Transform tool (Command/Ctrl + T), right-click on your canvas and select Distort. Pull the corner markers so that the texture is approximately parallel to the front side of letter:

Rasterize the layer with texture (right-click on the layer > Rasterize Layer). Name this layer "Texture L." Load the selection of "Letter L copy" layer (Command/Ctrl-click on the layer's thumbnail on the Layers panel), select "Texture L" layer and click on Add Layer Mask icon in the bottom part of the Layers panel.

Change the Blend mode of "Texture L" layer to Soft Light, grab the Brush Tool (B), set the Opacity to 50% and change the Foreground color to black. Switch to "Texture L" layer's mask and paint over the side, shadow and front areas of the letters so the texture looks more realistic:

Repeat the same process with the other letters. Don't forget that texture's plane should be parallel to the front side of the letter.

You should get something like this:


Step 25

Group all layers related to the letters (Command/Ctrl + G) and name the Group "Letters":


Step 26

In this Step we'll make the foreground more saturated and contrast. To do this, create the Levels Adjustment Layer (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Levels), place it above the "Background" layer. After that create the Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Hue/Saturation) and set the following values:

Next grab the Gradient Tool (G), colors of the gradient are black and white, gradient type – Linear. Switch to the "Levels" layer mask and draw a gradient from top to bottom. Select the "Hue/Saturation" layer's mask and draw a gradient with the same settings, but in this case it has to be wider:


Step 27

Now we adjust the contrast and color saturation of the letters so they will better fit into environment. To do this, create two Adjustment Layers: Levels and Hue/Saturation, and convert them to the Clipping Mask for "Letters" group, so these layers will affect only this group. Adjustment Layers' settings are the following:


Step 28

Download the image with yellow maple leaf and open it in Photoshop. Grab the Quick Selection Tool (W) and select the leaf. If you selected some extra area, switch to "Subtract from Selection" mode and click on the area you want to remove from your selection. Now you don't need to make an exact selection, because the size of the leaf will be reduced and you won't notice rough edges.

Copy and paste the selected leaf in your working document, resize it according to the image below. Flip it horizontally (press Command/Ctrl + T > right-click on the canvas > Flip Horizontal) and then use transformation mode Warp (press Command/Ctrl + T > right-click on the canvas > Warp) to make the leaf look similar to my example:

Next, we need to add two Layer Styles to the "Leaf" layer: Gradient Overlay and Drop Shadow. Double-click on the "Leaf" layer on the Layers panel, settings are the following:
Gradient Overlay: I use the "Orange, Yellow, Orange" gradient from the standard set. Drop Shadow: color #460000


Step 29

Download one more picture with yellow maple leaf, select it in the same way and paste into your working document. Name this layer "Leaf 2." Use Warp transformation to make the following shape:

Double-click on this layer on the Layers panel, set the following values:

Result:


Step 30

Now download and open the image with a bush and using the Quick Selection Tool (W) select this area:

Copy and paste this area to your working document. Place these leaves near the letter "L", name it "Leaf 3" and create the Levels Adjustment Layer in Clipping Mask mode. The settings of Levels Adjustment Layer are shown in the picture below. Also I reduced the Opacity of the "Leaf 3" layer to 85%.


Step 31

Finally open the third image with maple leaf, select it with the Quick Selection Tool (W) and paste it into your document. Name this layer "Leaf 4." Resize the leaf and use Warp transformation to make the following shape:

Select "Leaf 4" layer and add Drop Shadow Layer Style (color: #172617):

If you look at the letter "F", you'll see that the shadow should fall on the top of the leaf. To do this, create Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer in Clipping Mask mode for the "Leaf 4" layer. Set the values as it is shown in the image below. Go to Levels Adjustment Layer mask, grab the Brush Tool (B), and change the Foreground color to black and paint over the bottom part of the leaf. Also I reduced the Opacity on the "Leaf 4" layer to 85%.

Now you can group all layers related to the leaves (Command/Ctrl + G) and name the Group "Leaves."


Step 32

In this Step we'll make shadows and highlights look more expressive. To do this, create a New Layer (Command/Ctrl + Shift + N), name it "Shadows/Highlights", place it on top of the Layers panel and fill it with 50% Gray color (Edit > Fill):

Change the blending mode of "Shadows/Highlights" layer to Soft Light. Grab the Brush Tool (B), change the Foreground color to white, set the Opacity to 5% and paint over the highlights. Then press "D" key to change the Foreground color to black and paint over the shadow areas. So my result is shown in the picture below. In the bottom picture I changed the blending mode of "Shadows/Highlights" layer to Normal, so you can see which areas were darkened and lightened.


Step 33

In this Step we'll reduce the saturation of yellow color on the crown of the tree. So create the Selective Color Adjustment Layer (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Selective Color), select the yellow channel and set the values that are shown in the image below. Switch to this layer's mask and fill it with black color (Edit > Fill, Use: Black). Grab the Brush Tool (B), change the Foreground color to white and paint over the crown of the tree. Thereby the Adjustment Layer will affect only this area.


Step 34

Well, we're almost done. In this step we will create realistic depth of field. First of all, we need to create a depth map, in other words, we should determine the amount of blur and which objects will be blurred. Create a New Layer (Command/Ctrl + Shift + N), name it "Depth map", place it on the top of the Layers panel and load selection of most distant letter, in this tutorial it's "A." Press Shift + Backspace to open the Fill settings. Make sure, that "Depth map" layer is selected and fill it with color #474747. Next, select letters that are a little bit closer, in this example they are "Å" and "F" (to select them press Command/Ctrl + Shift-click on layers' thumbnails). Select the "Depth map" layer and fill the selection with color #2d2d2d. And finally load selection of the last letter "L" and the selection of leaves that are placed near the letter. Fill this selection with black color. You have probably painted over the shadows of the letters along with the letters themselves. We don't need them, so you can erase them with the Eraser Tool (E).


Step 35

Now create one more layer (Command/Ctrl + Shift + N) and place it under the layer "Depth map." Fill this layer with any color you like. Double-click on it and add Gradient Overlay Layer Style. It's easier to adjust the background gradient in such way, because you can move it as you like, while the settings window is open.

Your gradient should look like this:

Now you can merge (Command/Ctrl + E) the layer with gradient and the "Depth map" layer. The depth map is ready.


Step 36

Select the "Depth map" layer, press Command/Ctrl + A > Command/Ctrl + C to copy the depth map, then switch to the Channels panel and create a New Channel "Alpha 1" (click on the icon Create New Channel in the bottom part of the Channels panel). Select "Alpha 1" channel and press Command/Ctrl + V to paste your depth map.

Go to the Channels panel, select RGB mode and switch to the Layers panel. Turn off visibility of the "Depth map" layer (to do this, left-click on the eye icon near the layer's thumbnail). Select the layer that is located under the "Depth map" layer. In my example it's "Selective Color 1" layer. Press Command/Ctrl + Shift + Alt + E to merge all layers and make one resultant layer.

Select the resultant layer (it's called "Layer 1" on my screenshot) and go to Filter > Blur > Lens Blur. Choose "Alpha 1" as the Source in the Depth Map section, then blurring will be done in accordance with your depth map. The other settings are the following:


Step 37

Now we have to make colors of the blurred background less saturated. To do this, create the Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer and place it on the top of the Layers panel. Select and copy the contents of your "Depth map" layer, then while holding Alt key click on the Hue/Saturation layer's mask to open it. Paste this copied image on the mask. Load selection of all your letters, and being on the Hue/Saturation layer's mask fill the selection with black color.

Click on the Hue/Saturation layer's icon to switch to normal mode. Hue/Saturation layer's settings are shown in the image below. Activate the Hue/Saturation layer's mask, grab the soft black brush and paint over the crown on the tree:


Step 38

Create one more Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer, but at this time we need it make colors in the foreground more saturated. Once again copy the contents of your "Depth map" layer, then switch to the Hue/Saturation layer's mask. Paste this copied image on the mask and invert its colors by pressing Command/Ctrl + I. Hue/Saturation layer's settings are the following:

That's what you should get:


Step 39

This step is optional. I decided to crop the image a little bit using the Crop Tool (C):


Step 40

Let's add a vignette as a final step. Select the top layer on the Layers panel and press Command/Ctrl + Shift + Alt + E to get one resultant layer. Select it and go to Filter > Lens Correction. Choose "Custom" > Vignette section:

Enter the following values:


Final Image

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