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How to Create an Inflated 3D Frilly Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

Photoshop's 3D depth maps are a great way of creating unique 3D mesh shapes. This tutorial will show you how to use pattern fills, 3D tools and options and adjustment layer settings to create a shiny, frilly 3D 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 a Text Work Path

Step 1

Create a new 1250 x 800 px document. Then create the text using the font Shintia Script, and set the Size to 350 pt.

Create the Text

Step 2

Right-click the text layer and choose Create Work Path.

Create Work Path

Step 3

Pick the Direct Selection Tool (A). In the Options bar, click the Path operations icon and choose Merge Shape Components.

Merge Shape Components

2. How to Create a Frill Pattern

Step 1

Pick the Rectangular Marquee Tool, and create a small selection on one of the text's edges. This will be the repeating unit of the frill pattern, so the size of the selection is the size of the frill pattern unit.

Once you create the selection, create a new layer and name it Pattern.

Create a Selection

Step 2

Pick the Gradient Tool, and set the Foreground and Background Colors to White and Black.

Then, in the Options bar, choose the Foreground to Background gradient fill, and click the Reflected Gradient icon.

Click-drag from the center of the selection to one of its top or bottom edges to create the gradient fill.

Create the Gradient Fill

Step 3

With the selection still active, go to Edit > Define Pattern, type Frill for the Name, and click OK.

Press Command-D to deselect.

Define Pattern

3. How to Stroke a Path With a Pattern

Step 1

Hide the Pattern layer. Create a new layer below it and call it Frill.

Create a Frill Layer

Step 2

Go to Edit > Fill, and change the Contents to Pattern.

Choose the Frill pattern you've just created. Check the Script box, choose Place Along Path, and click OK.

Fill Settings

Step 3

This will open the Place Along Path options and settings.

  • Pattern Scale: 1 (Change this if you want to change the size of the frill.)
  • Spacing: 0 (This makes sure that the pattern fill units don't overlap.)
  • Check the Adjust spacing to fit box.
  • Angle from path: -90 (This makes the pattern fill follow the path's direction without being rotated.)
  • Distance from path: 0 (This will place the fill exactly on the path.)
  • Uncheck the Alternate patterns box to avoid creating patterns on both sides of the path.
  • Scale progression: 100 (This makes sure that the fill maintains the same size along the stroke.)
  • Uncheck the Skip symbol rotation to ensure that the pattern units follow the path's direction.
  • Color randomness: 0
  • Brightness randomness: 0.5 (This will change the brightness of the pattern randomly, which makes it more dynamic.)
Place Along Path

Step 4

Once you click OK, the path will be stroked with the pattern fill.

Command-click the text layer's thumbnail to create a selection.

Stroke and Create a Selection

Step 5

Make sure that the Frill layer is selected, and then hit the Delete button twice to get rid of the work path and the inner part of the frill.

Deselect when done.

Delete the Inner Part

4. How to Create 3D Layers

Step 1

Select the text layer, rename it to Text, and go to 3D > New 3D Extrusion from Selected Layer.

3D Text Layer

Step 2

Select the Frill layer, and go to 3D > New Mesh from Layer > Depth Map to > Plane.

What this does is create a 3D mesh by pushing the light areas forward and the dark areas inward.

Frill 3D Layer

Step 3

Select both 3D layers and go to 3D > Merge 3D Layers.

Merge 3D Layers

5. How to Work With the 3D Scene

Step 1

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 2

If you select the Move Tool, you’ll find a set of 3D Modes for it to the right of the Options bar.

When you choose one of those, you can then click and drag to perform changes (on the selected element in the 3D panel).

Use those modes to change the Current View into an angle you like.

Move Tool 3D Modes

6. How to Adjust the 3D Mesh Settings

Step 1

Select the Text 3D mesh tab in the 3D panel, and then, in the Properties panel, change the Extrusion Depth to 5.

Extrusion Depth

Step 2

Click the Cap icon at the top of the Properties panel, and choose Front and Back from the Sides menu.

Change the Bevel Width to 1 and the Contour to Half Round, and change the Inflate Strength to 15%.

Cap Settings

7. How to Scale a Depth Map Mesh

Step 1

Select the Frill 3D mesh tab, and pick the Move Tool to get the 3D Axis.

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.

Use the Z Scale cube to scale the Frill mesh down along the Z axis.

Scale Down along the Z Axis

Step 2

You can scale the mesh up or down any time before rendering the scene, so don't worry about getting a perfect size now—just scale it to make it look more like a frill.

Get the Basic Frill Shape

8. How to Reposition 3D Meshes

Step 1

Change the Current View to Front from the View menu in the Properties panel.

Change the Current View

Step 2

What you need to do next is scale and move the Text mesh until it fits inside the Frill mesh.

You can use the 3D Axis for that, or, for a more precise result, you can enter numerical values under the Coordinates tab in the Properties panel.

You can also click the Scale icon to choose the Uniform Scaling option if needed. Just make sure there are no overlapping or empty areas left.

Scale and Reposition the Meshes

Step 3

Once you're done, select both 3D mesh tabs, and change the X Rotation Angle to 90.

Change the X Rotation Angle

Step 4

Select each mesh separately, and then click the 3D panel menu icon and choose Move Object to Ground Plane.

Move Object to Ground Plane

Step 5

Go back to the Default camera view, and move it around to make sure everything looks good from different angles.

You might need to move the Frill mesh a bit upwards so that it is in the center of the Text mesh.

Change the View and Move the Meshes

9. How to Create a 3D Material

Step 1

Select the Frill Material tab, click the Diffuse texture icon, and choose Remove Texture.

Do the same for the Opacity texture.

Remove the Material Textures

Step 2

Select all the Material tabs you have for both 3D meshes, and use these settings (the color values used are in RGB):

  • Diffuse: 81, 173, 13
  • Specular: 232, 223, 186
  • Shine: 85
  • Reflection: 16
Main Material Settings

10. How to Add a Bump Texture

Step 1

Select the Text Front Inflation Material tab. Click the Bump folder icon, and choose Load Texture to open the Front Bump Pattern image.

Add the Bump Texture

Step 2

Click the Bump texture icon and choose Edit UV Properties.

Edit UV Properties

Step 3

Adjust the Tile values based on how many creases you'd like to have in the material.

Change the Tile Values

Step 4

Lower the Bump value to 1, or you can use any other value you like for a more intense result.

Bump Value

11. How to Save a Camera View

Step 1

Choose a camera view you like for the final result.

Choose the Final Camera View

Step 2

Then, click the Current View tab, and choose Save from the View menu.

Save the Camera View

Step 3

Type in a name for the view and click OK.

View Name

Step 4

This will add the saved view to both the 3D panel and the View menu.

You can now change the camera view to check that there are no issues with the meshes or the materials, and go back easily to the saved final view after that.

Saved View

12. How to Adjust the Lighting

Step 1

Select the Infinite Light tab, and choose Spot from the Type menu in the Properties panel.

Change the Light Type

Step 2

Click the Point to Origin icon to fix the light's initial direction, and then click the Move to View icon to see it within the camera view you have.

Reset the Light

Step 3

Change the Intensity to 10%, the Shadow Softness to 30%, the Hotspot value to 26.2, and the Cone to 47.

Then, check the Light Falloff box, and change the Inner value to 350 and the Outer to 1000.

Keep in mind that you can choose any other values you like based on the result you want to achieve.

Spot Light Settings

Step 4

Move the light around until you get a result you like, using the Move Tool, or the Coordinates values.

Move the Spot Light

Step 5

Select the Environment tab. Click the IBL texture icon, choose Replace Texture, and load the Lights image.

Load the IBL Image

Step 6

Change the IBL light's Intensity to 60%, and the Ground Plane's Shadows Opacity to 50%.

Environment Light Settings

Step 7

Move the image until you get a result you like. This is an important step since the texture affects the final result quite a bit.

Move the Image

13. How to Create a Ground Plane Mesh

Step 1

Create a new layer on top of the 3D layer, call it Ground, and fill it with White.

Ground Layer

Step 2

Go to 3D > New Mesh from Layer > Postcard.

Convert to a 3D Layer

Step 3

Select the Current View tab, and choose the original 3D layer's name from the View menu in the Properties panel.

Change the Current View

Step 4

Merge the Ground layer with the original 3D layer. It is important to have the original 3D layer below the Ground one, because when merged, the top layer inherits the bottom layer's lighting.

After merging the layers, change the Ground mesh's X Rotation Angle to 90, and move it to the Ground Plane.

Merge the 3D Layers

Step 5

Move the plane until it fills the scene, and scale it if needed to do so.

Move the Ground Mesh

14. How to Create a 3D Background Material

Step 1

Select the Ground material tab. Click the Diffuse texture icon, and choose Replace Texture to open the PlywoodPainted0078 image.

Replace the Texture

Step 2

Click the Diffuse texture icon and choose Edit Texture.

Edit the Texture

Step 3

This will open the texture's file.

Click the Create new fill or adjustment layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel and choose Hue/Saturation.


Step 4

Change the Hue to -20, and the Saturation to -80.

HueSaturation Settings

Step 5

Add a Levels adjustment layer, and change the Gamma value to 1.5.

Save the changes and close the texture file to go back to the 3D document.

Levels Settings

Step 6

Remove the Opacity texture, and use these settings for the Ground material:

  • Specular: 199, 199, 199
  • Illumination: 17, 17, 17
  • Shine: 20
Ground Material Settings

Step 7

Adjust the UV Properties of the Diffuse texture.

Adjust the UV Properties

15. How to Create Normal Maps

Step 1

Normal Maps basically help fake the illusion of depth and detail on a 3D object by using RGB information that corresponds to the X, Y and Z axis in the 3D space.

To create one, click the Normal folder icon at the bottom of the Properties panel, and choose Generate Normals from Diffuse.

Generate Normals from Diffuse

Step 2

This will open the Generate Normal Map box, where you can use a copy of the Diffuse texture to create a Normal Map.

Choose Default Lights from the Lighting Preset at the top. Then you can choose Cube Wrap from the Object menu at the bottom, since it resembles the Ground Plane the most.

After that, you can click-drag in the preview area to rotate the object and see the result from different angles.

Change the Blur to 2.5 to soften the details, and the Detail Scale to 20% to make them less prominent.

Play around with the values until you like the result you get, and click OK.

Generate Normal Map Settings

Step 3

Adjust the Normal's UV Properties to match the Diffuse's.

If you don't like the result, you can remove and regenerate the map using different values.

Adjust the UV Properties

16. How to Create Frill Pieces

Step 1

Create a new layer on top of all layers, call it Pieces, and pick the Pen Tool.

Select the Path option in the Options bar, and start creating short work paths around the text.

Click once to add points, click-drag to create curves, and press-hold the Command key, and click outside the path to separate it from the one you'll create next.

Create Short Work Paths

Step 2

Fill the work paths with the Frill pattern as you did for the text stroke. Then convert them to a 3D layer, change their camera view, and merge them with the original 3D layer.

After that, scale them down, and apply the same Frill material to their mesh.

Add the Pieces to the 3D Scene

17. How to Render a 3D Scene and Adjust the Final Result

Step 1

Once you're done modifying the scene, go to 3D > Render 3D Layer. The rendering might take a while, but you can stop it any time by pressing the Esc key.

After the rendering is finished, right-click the 3D layer, and choose Convert to Smart Object. This will prevent any accidental changes on the 3D layer.

Render and Convert to Smart Object

Step 2

Add a Levels adjustment layer, and change the Shadows to 20 and the Highlights to 250 to enhance the contrast a little bit.

Levels Settingts

Step 3

Add a Selective Color adjustment layer and use these settings:


  • Cyan: 30
  • Magenta: 20
  • Yellow: 10
  • Black: 9


  • Cyan: 35
  • Magenta: 10
  • Yellow: 35
  • Black: 5


  • Black: -30
Selective Color Settings

Step 4

Add a Gradient layer, and use a Transparent to Fill Color gradient, with the colors #727571 to the left and #181e14 to the right.

Change the Style to Radial, and the Scale to 200.

After that, change the layer's Blend Mode to Soft Light, and its Opacity to 25%.

Add a Vignette

Congratulations, You're Done!

In this tutorial, we created a text layer and used it to create a simple work path. Then, we created a gradient pattern and filled a stroke with it to create the frill.

After that, we converted the layers to 3D meshes and worked on their settings and materials as well as their scene's lighting and angle.

Finally, we added a ground plane and more frilly pieces, rendered the scene, and used a couple of adjustment layers to finish off the effect.

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

Final Result
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