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Create a Mini Planet Using Photoshop's 3D Capabilities

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When most people think about Photoshop, they probably don't think about 3D. What most people don't realize, however, is that Photoshop CS5 Extended includes some powerful tools to help you render your artwork in 3D. In this tutorial we will demonstrate how to create a mini planet using Photoshop's 3D capabilities. Let's get started!


Tutorial Assets

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


Step 1

Create a new document, the size is 1400 x 1400px, 96 pixels/inch. Fill background layer with radial gradient or apply Gradient Overlay effect (unlock background layer).


Step 2

Insert sky image. Go to Edit > Transform > Rotate 180°. Then choose Transform > Warp, apply Arch transformation like on the example. Make active Distort transformation and drag sky layer corners. Follow screen shot red arrows directions.


Step 3

Add Layer Mask to the sky layer (click Mask icon in the bottom of layers palette). Fill Mask with the Black and White Reflected Gradient . Correct top right edge with soft large Brush Tool. Apply Screen Blending Mode, Opacity 80%. Add Adjustments Clipping Masks to this layer - Black & White and Levels. Click Undress a Giraffe in Photoshop icon in the bottom menu of the Layers Palette. Select all adjustments layers (make them active), right click > choose "Create Clipping Mask". Apply setting for each adjustment layer like on the examples below.


Step 4

Group and duplicate sky layers, move them up. Edit > Transform > Rotate 180°. Apply Scale transformation to this group of layers to make it smaller than the bottom one. Now you should have gradient background and two groups of sky layers.


Step 5

Insert stars photo. Remove reflections with the Patch Tool. Select reflections and drag the selection border to the clean area. When you release the mouse button, the trace of the selected area is patched with the sampled pixels.


Step 6

Rotate it on 90° and apply Warp Arch transformation just like for the sky layer in previous steps. Then stretch this shape and rotate it again.


Step 7

Duplicate stars layer, turn it on 180° and move it left and down.


Step 8

Merge stars layers and apply Screen Blending Mode. In order to completely remove light background shade, go to Image > Adjustments > Levels and move left black marker to the center a bit.


Step 9

Let's make snow material for the first 3D shape. Open a new document - 1200 x 1200 px, 96 pixels/inch. Unlock the background layer and convert it to the Smart Object. Layer > Object Layer > Smart Objects > Convert to Smart Object. Apply Color Overlay effect to this layer .


Step 10

Apply following filters. Filter > Noise > Add Noise and Filter > Artistic > Sponge. Use settings like on the screen shots below.


Step 11

Crate a new layer fill it with black color, Click "D" to make default black and white colors. Go to Filter > Render > Different Clouds. Repeat Command/Ctrl+ F until you get similar effect like on the screen shot. Apply Screen Blending Mode to this layer. You may save this texture as a regular JPG file.


Step 12

In order to create 3D sphere with mountains landscape, we need to make special grayscale texture. Make a new document 1200 x 1200px 96 pixels/inch. Fill the firs layer with gray color #9f9f9f.


Step 13

Create a new empty layer, go to Filter > Render > Clouds. Keep foreground/background colors black and white . Scale the "clouds" layer like on the screen shot and apply Screen Blending Mode.


Step 14

Add Layer Mask to this layer and fill it with Radial Black and White gradient from center to edges. Then make several copies of created layer. Apply random Scale, Rotation transformation for each copy and set smaller amount of Opacity - around 40-60%. Light colors are creating heights of the mountains and spots with smaller Opacity parameter making them lower. Group the clouds layers and set opacity for the group folder around 75%. Merge all texture layers and add Gaussian Blur effect, Filter > Blur > Gaussian blur ~2px. We need to make very smooth and low contrast image. You may check out the result with the high contrast texture on the last two screen shots.


Step 15

Insert created texture to the main Photoshop document. Put it above stars and sky layers. To optimize 3D rendering process, I've made Smart Objects for all 3D shapes in this tutorial. For another thing, our textures have different size than main Photoshop document, but in order to create the regular sphere shape, texture should cover whole working area. Right click texture layer, choose Convert to Smart Object. Double click Smart Object thumbnail to open smart object content in a separate window and convert it to 3D shape - Open 3D settings window, Window > 3D and choose 3D Mesh from Grayscale > Sphere. After editing the contents choose File > Save to commit the changes. Those changes will be reflected upon returning to the main file window.


Step 16

Here you may see the camera settings for the 3D scene.


Step 17

Use these tools to rotate, move and scale created 3D shape.


Step 18

Apply following Scene settings. In final change "Quality" from "Interactive (Painting)" to "Ray Traced Final". Download lights presets, choose "Replace Lights Presets" and find "lights_mountains" on your computer. Apply Snow texture to the Diffuse and Bump parameters.


Step 19

Apply Inner shadow effect to created 3D layer.


Step 20

To create water texture, create a new large document 2400 x 2400px, 96 pixels/inch. Apply blue gradient to the first layer.


Step 21

Set default colors just like on the screen shot, create a new empty layer, go to Filter > Render > Clouds. Then Filter > Artistic > Plastic Wrap.


Step 22

Duplicate textured layers two times. Apply Soft Light Blending Mode to the bottom layer and Screen Blending Mode to the top one.


Step 23

Add "Black&White", "Levels" Adjustment Clipping Masks to the top layer. Save this texture as a regular JPG.


Step 24

Return to the main Photoshop file; create a new layer above the first 3D mountains smart object. In order to get the exactly same size sphere, create a square 1200px x 1200px, use the same color as for the mountains texture background - #9f9f9f. Right click gray layer, choose "Create the Smart Object from this layer". Double click layer thumbnail to open smart object in a separate window. 3D > New mesh from Grayscale > Sphere. Apply absolutely the same 3D object and camera tools position settings as for the mountains shape in previous steps. The new shape should be the same size as the previous one with the mountains.


Step 25

Adjust scene settings. Apply Ray Traced Final Quality after other adjustments. Upload water texture to the Diffuse and Bump parameters. To find better texture position, right click texture icon and change Texture Properties. For the Bump setting you may use default texture properties. Download light preset for the water layer and apply it using the same way as for the mountains 3D layer.


Step 26

Add the Layer Mask to the mountains Smart Object in the main Photoshop document or to 3D layer inside the smart object. Fill the mask with the Linear Black and White gradient in the bottom part. Then choose small round Brush Tool and correct surface contour with black or white color in the Layer Mask.


Step 27

Now we have background layers and two smart objects above. Move water layer below the mountains. Load selections for the current mountains layer Select > Load selection. In order to make left bottom part of the snow shape smoother, make active water layer and copy selected area. Paste copied water part above both of objects, add Layer Mask, fill it with the linear gradient just like on the screen shot and apply Soft Light Blending Mode.


Step 28

Crate a new document for craters texture, 1200 x1200px, 96 pixels/inch. Fill the first layer with #808080 color. Keep default colors . Create a new white or black layer, go to Filter > Render > Different clouds. Repeat Command/Ctrl + F several times to get the similar effect.


Step 29

Add Levels Adjustment Clipping Mask to the clouds layer. Merge clouds with the adjustment layer, go to Image > Adjustments > Invert, and apply Screen Blending Mode to it.


Step 30

Change Opacity parameter for this layer and add Layer Mask. Fill it with the Radial gradient from center to edges.


Step 31

Draw a small circle in a new layer, apply Gradient Overlay effect to this shape.


Step 32

Duplicate created circle several times, apply Scale transformation for them to create different diameter craters, Play with Opacity setting to get different heights. Group circles layers and apply ~30% Opacity to the created group folder.


Step 33

Now you may merge all texture layers, apply Gaussian Blur filter -2px and move the final texture layer to the main Photoshop document. Convert it to the Smart Object, double click Smart Object thumbnail to open inside content in the separate window. Convert Texture to the 3D shape.


Step 34

Apply Camera position settings the same as for all previous shapes. Move, scale and rotate the 3D shape to find better position. You may find how it looks like in the main Photoshop document on the second screen shot. Apply "Snow" texture for Diffuse and Bump settings. Upload "lights_planet2" preset for this shape. Pay attention to the new light source - blue reflection from the water sphere.


Step 35

Apply Gradient Overlay effect to the third smart object layer. You may use Spectrums gradient preset - "Light Spectrum".


Step 36

Duplicate craters Smart Object layer several times to create small planets. Double click each new Smart Object thumbnail to open 3D settings. Scale, rotate and move each shape to get different positions. Correct Opacity setting for the far planet Smart Object layer ~ 84%.


Step 37

Check out all 3D shapes "Ray Traced Final" Quality scene parameter, to get the better result. Select whole working space in the main Photoshop document, Select > Select All, then go Edit > Copy Merged. Paste merged composition into a new layer (layer 18 on the screen shot below). Press Quick Mask icon .


Step 38

Choose Reflected Black and white Gradient Tool. Keep Quick Mask pressed. Find craters 3D shape in the bottom layers and load selection for this layer. Take large soft translucent white Brush Tool and touch the bottom part of selected area. Choose Select > Deselect.


Step 39

Keep active Quick Mask Mode. Load selection for the water sphere, add to selection "mountains" layer, use Command/Ctrl + Shift + click "mountains" layer thumbnail. Correct Mask in the selected area with the translucent soft white Brush Tool, just leave light pink shade on the mountains tops and "south pole". Deselect planet shape. In final touch left edge of the right bottom small planet with the small soft translucent Brush Tool.


Step 40

Deselect any active selections and then release Quick Mask button. Go to Filter > Blur > Lens Blur.


Step 41

Duplicate merged layer after lens corrections, go to Image Adjustments > Black and White (default). Apply Soft Lights and Opacity 20% to this layer.


Final Image

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