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How to Create a 3D Folded Steps Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

This post is part of a series called Text Effects .
How to Create a Half-Blurred Text Effect in Adobe Illustrator
How to Create a Sketch Text Effect Action in Adobe Photoshop
This post is part of a series called German Week.
How to Create a Bauhaus Poster in Adobe InDesign
How to Draw a Castle
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

We're honouring the German language and culture this week in celebration of the launch of the German version of Envato Elements

This tutorial will show you how to use Adobe Photoshop's shape settings, 3D tools, and adjustment layers to create a 3D folded steps text effect. Let's get started!

This text effect was inspired by the many Layer Styles available on GraphicRiver.

Tutorial Assets

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

1. How to Create the Background and Text Layers

Step 1

Create a new 1000 x 1000 px document, click the Create new fill or adjustment layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel, choose Solid Color, and use the Color fill #02031a.

Solid Color

Step 2

Create the text using the font Built Titling Semi Bold, and set the Size to 250 pt.

Create the Text

2. How to Create the Section Guides

Step 1

Pick the Line Tool and set the Weight in the Options bar to 1.

Create a horizontal line that extends across the document, and place it exactly below the text you have.

Change the line's Color to red so that you can see it better.

Create a Line

Step 2

Duplicate the line shape layer, and place the new line exactly on top of the text you have.

Duplicate Layer

Step 3

Duplicate the original shape layer four more times.

Create More Copies

Step 4

Select all the line layers, make sure the Move Tool is active, and click the Distribute vertical centers icon in the Options bar, to place the rest of the lines between the first two.

Distribute Vertical Centers

Step 5

Place all the Line layers in a group and name it Guides.

Guides Group

3. How to Create the Section Shapes

Step 1

Pick the Rectangle Tool, and create a rectangle that fits between two lines vertically and covers the text horizontally.

Create a Rectangle

Step 2

Hide the Guides group, duplicate the rectangle layer, and place the copy exactly on top of the original one.

Repeat that to create more rectangles and stack them on top of each other, until they cover the whole text.

Duplicate and Stack the Rectangles

Step 3

Right-click the text layer and choose Convert to Shape.

Convert to Shape

Step 4

Duplicate the text shape layer four times.

Create More Copies

Step 5

Arrange the rectangle shape layers in order from bottom to top, and move the duplicated text shape layers to place each one under one of the rectangle layers.

Arrange the Shape Layers

4. How to Create the Text Shape Sections

Step 1

Select the first rectangle shape layer and its text shape layer, and go to Layer > Combine Shapes > Unite Shapes at Overlap.

Repeat that for the rest of the layers you have.

Unite Shapes at Overlap

Step 2

Pick the Direct Selection Tool, and for each merged shape layer you have, select it, click the Path operations icon in the Options bar, and click Merge Shape Components.

Merge Shape Components

Step 3

Rename the shape layers from bottom to top with numbers from 1 to 5.

Rename the Shape Layers

5. How to Create the 3D Mesh Layers

Step 1

For each shape layer, select it and go to 3D > New 3D Extrusion from Selected Path.

New 3D Extrusion from Selected Path

Step 2

Select all the 3D layers, go to 3D > Merge 3D Layers, and rename the merged layer to 3D Scene.

Merge 3D Layers

Step 3

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 tab of the element you want to modify in the 3D panel before you change its settings in the Properties panel.

3D and Properties Panels

Step 4

Select the Move Tool to access its 3D Modes to the right of the Options bar.

After you choose one of those, you can click-drag to perform changes on the selected element in the 3D panel.

Use the 3D Modes to change the Current View to an angle you like.

Move Tool 3D Modes

Step 5

Select all the 3D mesh tabs in the 3D panel, and change their Extrusion Depth in the Properties panel to 1.

Extrusion Depth

6. How to Create the 3D Steps

Step 1

Select the mesh number 2, click the Coordinates icon at the top of the Properties panel, and change the X Rotation Angle to 90.

Repeat that for mesh number 4 as well.

Rotate the Meshes

Step 2

Select the Current View tab in the 3D panel, and choose the Right view preset from the View menu in the Properties panel.

Current View

Step 3

Zoom in on the mesh you want to move, pick the Move Tool, and use the 3D Axis to place the meshes on top of each other to create the steps shape.

The arrows at the ends of the 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 want to use.

Move the Meshes

Step 4

Once you're done, go back to the Default camera view.

Select all the 3D mesh tabs, and click the 3D panel menu icon to choose Move Object to Ground Plane.

Move Object to Ground Plane

7. How to Create the 3D Material

Step 1

Select all the Material tabs you have, and use these material settings (the color values used are in RGB):

  • Diffuse: 128, 128, 128
  • Specular: 51, 51, 51
  • Shine: 80%
  • Reflection: 25%
  • Roughness: 60%
Material Settings

Step 2

Select the 1 Front Inflation Material tab, click the Diffuse texture icon, and choose Edit Texture.

Edit Texture

Step 3

When the file opens, double-click the shape layer to apply a Pattern Overlay effect by setting the Pattern to Handmade paper.

Pattern Overlay

Step 4

Right-click the styled layer, and choose Copy Layer Style.

Save and close the file.

Copy Layer Style

Step 5

After that, for each Front Inflation Material you have, select its tab, click its Diffuse texture icon, and choose Edit Texture to open its texture file.

Then, right-click the shape layer in the texture file, choose Paste Layer Style, and save and close the file.

Paste Layer Style

8. How to Adjust the 3D Scene's Lighting

Step 1

Click the Infinite Light 1 tab, change its Intensity to 60%, and uncheck the Shadow box.

Infinite Light 1

Step 2

Use the Move Tool to move the light around until you get a result you like, or you can click the Coordinates icon at the top of the Properties panel and use numerical values instead.

Move the Light

Step 3

Select the Environment tab, click the IBL texture icon, and choose Replace Texture to load the Interior of a hotel spa reception 3D illustration image.

Replace Texture

Step 4

Change the Intensity to 50%, and move the light around to get a result you like.

Environment Light

Step 5

Choose the final camera angle you want for the scene, and go to 3D > Render 3D Layer. The rendering might take a while, but you can stop it any time by pressing the Esc key.

Render 3D Layer

9. How to Add Textures and Make Adjustments

Step 1

Once the rendering is done, right-click the 3D Scene layer, and choose Convert to Smart Object to avoid making any accidental changes.

Convert to Smart Object

Step 2

Place the Cement07-byGhostlyPixels.png from the Cement Grit Textures pack on top of the 3D Scene layer, resize it as needed, and clip it to it.

Change the texture layer's Blend Mode to Color Burn and its Opacity to 16%.

Texture Overlay

Step 3

Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur, and use a Radius value you like.

Gaussian Blur

Step 4

Add a Levels adjustment layer on top of all layers, and change the Shadows value to 30 and the Highlights to 245.


Step 5

Add a Color Lookup adjustment layer, choose the FoggyNight.3DL table from the 3DLUT File menu, and change the layer's Opacity to 30%.

Color Lookup

Step 6

Add another Color Lookup adjustment layer, and choose the 2Strip.look table from the 3DLUT File menu.

Color Lookup

Step 7

Place the 2.jpg image from the Abstract Spotlight Backgrounds pack on top of all layers, resize it as needed, and change its layer's Blend Mode to Color Burn and its Opacity to 50%.

Texture Overlay

Congratulations! You're Done

In this tutorial, we used shapes and shape options to create a sectioned piece of text that we converted into 3D meshes. Then, we positioned the meshes to create the steps, adjusted the material settings, and modified the lighting of the scene to render the final result. Finally, we added a couple of textures and adjustment layers to finish everything off.

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

Final Result

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