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How to Create a 3D Stuffed Letters Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

This post is part of a series called Home Sweet Home.
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Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

This tutorial will show you how to use Adobe Photoshop's 3D tools and settings, along with a couple of patterns and stock images, to create a lovely stuffed letters 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 Modify and Save Pattern Images

Step 1

Go to File > Open to open the Free EPS file Vector set of floral seamless pattern 01 file. This will bring up the Rasterize EPS Format box, where we'll change the Mode to RGB Color, and uncheck the Anti-aliased box.

Unchecking the Anti-aliased box will give us crisp results, so that we can easily select the patterns without having to deal with blurry edges.

Rasterize EPS Format

Step 2

Once the file opens, zoom in a bit to the top left corner, and you can see that the first pattern has some transparent parts, which will create discontinuity issues if used as it is.

So the next couple of steps will be only to fix this pattern's issue. For the other patterns, you'll just need to select and save them as images.

Transparent Part

Step 3

Pick the Rectangular Marquee Tool, and create a selection around the first pattern's image. The selection doesn't have to be precise as we'll fix it in the next step.

Create a Selection

Step 4

Right-click the selection and choose Transform Selection. Zoom in to each edge and drag the selection on top of it, so that you have an exact selection of the pattern image.

Once you're done, hit the Return key to accept the changes, and go to Edit > Copy.

Transform Selection

Step 5

Create a new file with the Clipboard dimensions, and go to Edit > Paste.

Pick the Move Tool, press-hold the Shift key, and drag the pasted image down to the center of the document.

Paste and Drag the Image

Step 6

Duplicate the pattern image's layer, and drag the copy upwards to the center of the document, so that its bottom edge touches the original image's top edge.

Duplicate and Move

Step 7

Use the Rectangular Marquee Tool to create a selection over the empty areas, and use the Paint Bucket Tool to fill it with the pink color around it.

Fill the Empty Areas

Step 8

Select both layers and press Command-E to merge them.

Go to File > Save, and save the pattern as an image (jpg) file. It's better to give each pattern a number to make it easier to use them later on.

Save the Pattern Image

Step 9

For the rest of the patterns, just select, copy and paste, and save them as images.

2. How to Create Text Shape Layers

Step 1

Create a new 1000 x 626px document with a White Background.

Then, create the text in All Caps using the font HWT Artz. Set the Size to 350 pt and the Tracking to 50.

Create the Text

Step 2

Rename the text layer to Text, right-click it, and choose Convert to Shape.

Convert to Shape

3. How to Create Stroke Shape Layers

Step 1

Duplicate the Text layer, and rename the copy to Back Piping.

Back Piping Layer

Step 2

Pick the Direct Selection Tool (A). In the Options bar, change the Fill to None, the Stroke Color to #e9e7e2, and its Size to 5.

Click the Set shape stroke type icon to change the Align to Outside.

Shape Stroke Settings

Step 3

Duplicate the Back Piping layer twice. Rename the first copy to Sides, and the second to Front Piping. Then, change the Sides' Stroke Size to 2.5.

Sides and Front Piping Layers

4. How to Create a Simple Curved Shape

Step 1

Pick the Rectangle Tool, click anywhere in the document, and type in 5 for the Width and 600 for the Height.

Create a Rectangle

Step 2

Pick the Add Anchor Point Tool, and click somewhere near the middle of each of the rectangle's vertical sides, to add two anchor points.

Rename the shape layer to Back as we will use it for the back shadows.

Add Anchor Points

Step 3

Click-drag to select both anchor points, and use the Right Arrow key to nudge them a little bit to the right.

Nudge the Anchor Points

5. How to Create 3D Layers

Step 1

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

New 3D Extrusion

Step 2

Select all 3D layers you have, and then go to 3D > Merge 3D Layers.

Merge 3D Layers

6. 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

7. How to Adjust 3D Mesh and Cap Settings

Step 1

Select the Text and Sides mesh tabs in the 3D panel, and change their Extrusion Depth in the Properties panel to 30.

Extrusion Depth

Step 2

Select the Back Piping and Front Piping mesh tabs, and change their Extrusion Depth to 3.

Extrusion Depth

Step 3

Select the Text mesh tab, and click the Cap icon at the top of the Properties panel.

Change the Sides to Front and Back, the Bevel Width to 1, the Contour to Half Round, the Inflate Angle to 90, and the Strength to 7.

Text Cap Settings

Step 4

Select the Back Piping and Front Piping mesh tabs, and click the Cap icon again.

Change the Sides to Front and Back, the Bevel Width to 15, the Contour to Half Round, and the Inflate Strength to 10.

Piping Meshes Cap Settings

8. How to Move 3D Meshes and Change Camera Views

Step 1

Pick the Move Tool, and use the 3D Axis to move the Back Piping mesh to the back of the text.

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.

3D Axis

Step 2

You can change the Current View to better see what you're doing, by choosing a preset from the View menu in the Properties panel.

Change the Current View

9. How to Create Pattern Materials

Step 1

Select all the Text Mesh Material tabs.

In the Properties panel, change the Specular Color to (24, 15, 7), and the Shine to 100%.

Text Mesh Material

Step 2

Select the Text mesh tab, and go to 3D > Split Extrusion. This will separate the letters.

Select and split all the other meshes you have, except for the Back mesh.

Split Extrusion

Step 3

Select the first Text Front Inflation Material tab, click its Diffuse texture icon, choose Replace Texture, and open the first pattern image you want to use from the ones you saved at the beginning of this tutorial.

Replace Texture

Step 4

Click the Diffuse texture icon again, and choose Edit UV Properties.

Edit UV Properties

Step 5

Adjust the Tile and Offset values to get a result you like.

Edit UV Properties Settings

10. How to Add a Bump Texture

Step 1

Click the Bump folder icon and choose New Texture.

New Texture

Step 2

Set the Width and Height values to 512, and the Resolution to 300.

New Texture Settings

Step 3

This will open the new texture file. If it does not, click the Bump texture icon and choose Edit Texture.

When the file opens, duplicate the Background layer.

Edit the Texture

Step 4

Double-click the copy layer to apply a Pattern Overlay effect with these settings:

  • Pattern: denim 7
  • Scale: 50%

Save and close the file to go back to the 3D Scene.

Pattern Overlay

Step 5

Edit the Bump texture's UV Properties, and zoom in to better see the effect.

UV Properties

Step 6

Change the Bump value to 5, or any other value you like.

The Bump Value

11. How to Save and Reapply a Material

Step 1

With the Front Inflation Material tab still active, click the Material Picker box, click the pop-up menu icon, and choose New Material.

New Material

Step 2

Type in a name for the material, and then click OK.

New Material Name

Step 3

Select the rest of the first Text Material tabs except for the Extrusion. Then, open the Material Picker, scroll down to the material icon you've just saved, and click it to apply it to the selected materials.

Reapply Saved Material

12. How to Replace Material Textures

Step 1

Apply the saved material to the second Text Front Inflation, Front Bevel, Back Bevel, and Back Inflation Materials.

Apply to the Second Text Mesh

Step 2

Select the second Text Front Inflation Material tab, click its Diffuse texture icon, and choose Replace Texture to open another pattern image.

Replace Texture

Step 3

Select the second Text Front Bevel, Back Bevel, and Back Inflation Material tabs, click the Diffuse texture icon, and choose the name of the pattern used from the list you get, instead of replacing it separately for each material.

You might need to change the UV Properties for the new texture, so just keep that in mind after adding each new one.

Replace Texture and Edit UV Properties

Step 4

Repeat the same steps for the rest of the letters you have.

Replace the Rest of the Letters Textures

13. How to Create Simple Piping Material

Step 1

Select the Front Inflation Material tab of the first Front Piping mesh, click the Diffuse texture icon, and choose Remove Texture.

Remove Texture

Step 2

Change the Diffuse Color to (233, 231, 226).

Diffuse Color

Step 3

Click the Bump folder icon, and choose the Text Front Inflation Material - Bump texture from the list.

Zoom in to edit the UV Properties, and change the Bump value to 2.

Add the Bump Texture

Step 4

Save the material and apply it to the rest of the Piping Materials.

In order to tile the Extrusion Material, you need to select all the Piping mesh tabs, and set the Texture Mapping to Tile.

Texture Mapping

Step 5

Go back to any of the Piping Extrusion Material tabs, edit its UV Properties, save the material, and apply it to the rest of the Piping Extrusion Materials you have.

Piping Extrusion Materials

14. How to Reposition the Letters

Step 1

Select the Text, Front Piping, Sides, and Back Piping mesh tabs of the first letter.

Use the 3D Axis or the Coordinates values in the Properties panel to rotate and move the letter.

Move the Letter Meshes

Step 2

Repeat that for the other letter meshes you have. You can always go back to any letter and adjust it.

Move the Other Letter Meshes

Step 3

Select the first letter's mesh tabs again, click the 3D panel menu icon, and choose Move Object to Ground Plane.

Repeat that for the rest of the letters.

Move Object to Ground Plane

Step 4

Select all the mesh group tabs, and nudge them just a little bit downwards along the Y Axis. This will help create the illusion of the letters' weight on the sofa, by pushing them into the ground plane.

Move along the Y Axis

15. How to Create a Background

Step 1

Go to File > Place Linked, and open the Empty clean white room with branches decor 3D rendering image.

Resize it as needed, and rename its layer to Background Image.

Background Image

Step 2

Place the Plant (Epipremnum pinnatum) image on top of the Background Image layer, and rename its layer to Plant.

Hide the 3D layer to focus on the background elements if you like.

Add the Plant

Step 3

Resize, rotate, and move the plant image to place it over the vase's sticks in the Background Image. You can stamp-clone the sticks, but we are going to blur the background anyway, so you can skip that.

Place the Plant

Step 4

Select the Background Image layer, go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur, and set the Radius to 5.

Gaussian Blur

Step 5

Repeat that to blur the Plant image.

Gaussian Blur

16. How to Select and Isolate an Image

Step 1

Open the White sofa isolated on white image, pick the Quick Selection Tool, and you can check the Auto-Enhance box in the Options bar if you like. It might slow down the process a bit, but can create cleaner selections.

Click-drag slightly to select the sofa.

Quick Selection

Step 2

You can press-hold the Option key, and click-drag to deselect any unwanted areas. Just make sure to drag slightly over small areas to get the best result.

Deselect Unwanted Areas

Step 3

Once the sofa is selected, click the Select and Mask button in the Options bar.

Change the View to On Black, and increase the Opacity to 100%.

Play around with the Smooth and Shift Edge values under the Global Refinements tab to get the best selection.

Select and Mask

Step 4

Click OK when you're done, and go to Edit > Copy.

Copy the Selected Sofa

Step 5

Go back to the 3D document, go to Edit > Paste, and rename the layer to Sofa.

Right-click the Sofa layer, choose Convert to Smart Object, and resize the sofa to fit within the scene.

Add the Sofa

Step 6

Make the 3D layer visible, and adjust the Camera View to place the letters on top of the sofa.

Adjust the Camera View

17. How to Adjust a 3D Scene's Lighting

Step 1

Select the Infinite Light 1 tab, and change the Intensity to 45% and the Shadow Softness to 30%.

Infinite Light 1

Step 2

Use the Move Tool or the Coordinates values to move the light to the window in the background image.

Move Infinite Light 1

Step 3

Click the Add new Light to Scene icon at the bottom of the 3D panel, and choose New Infinite Light.

New Infinite Light

Step 4

Change the Infinite Light 2's Intensity to 30%, and uncheck the Shadow box.

Infinite Light 2

Step 5

Move the light so that it illuminates the upper part of the text.

Move Infinite Light 2

Step 6

Click the Environment tab, click the IBL texture icon to choose Replace Texture, and open the Bedroom image.

Environment IBL

Step 7

Change the Intensity to 90%, and move the light around to get a lighting you like.

Environment Light

18. How to Add Invisible Elements and Render a 3D Scene

Step 1

Show the Back mesh, rotate it -90° around the Y Axis, and scale it until it fills the sofa's back.

Adjust the Back Mesh

Step 2

Move and rotate the Back mesh until it touches all the letters.

Move the Back Mesh

Step 3

Make sure to set the Current View to the final angle you want to render.

Select the Back mesh tab, uncheck its Cast Shadows box, and check the Invisible box. This will help create a surface that catches the shadows without being visible in the scene.

Back Mesh Settings

Step 4

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

You can also stop the rendering to adjust the lighting, the meshes, or anything else you think needs tweaking, and render again, until you get a result you like.

When you're done rendering, convert the 3D layer into a smart object to avoid making any accidental changes.

Render the 3D Scene

Step 5

Right-click the 3D layer, and choose Create Clipping Mask. This will clip the Back mesh shadows to the sofa.

Create Clipping Mask

Step 6

Click the Add layer mask icon at the bottom of the Layers panel.

Set the Foreground Color to Black, pick the Brush Tool, choose a soft round tip, and paint over any unwanted areas to hide them.

Mask Unwanted Areas

19. How to Add Shadows

Step 1

Create a new layer below the 3D layer, call it Back Shadow, and change its Blend Mode to Linear Burn.

Set the Foreground Color to #848285, and start painting shadows where the letters touch the sofa's back to intensify the effect.

Add Back Shadows

Step 2

Change the Back Shadow layer's Opacity to a value you like, and use the Eraser Tool to get rid of any unwanted parts of the shadow.

Back Shadow Settings

Step 3

Create a new layer under the Back Shadow layer, call it Drop Shadow, and change its Blend Mode to Linear Burn.

Add shadows where the letters touch the sofa. Then, press Command-T to enter the Free Transform Mode, scale them down vertically, and place them right below the letters.

Hit the Return key to accept the changes, and repeat if necessary.

Add Drop Shadows

20. How to Add Finishing Touches

Step 1

Place the Bokeh - Golden Lights 5184 x 3456 Pixels image on top of the Plant layer, and rename its layer to Bokeh.

Change the Bokeh layer's Blend Mode to Screen, and resize it as needed to fit within the scene.

Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur, and set the Radius to 3.

Add the Bokeh Texture

Step 2

Click the Create new fill or adjustment layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel, and choose Gradient Map.

Create the gradient fill using the colors #44386e to the left, #716d7c in the middle, and #d4a987 to the right.

Check the Dither box, and change the layer's Blend Mode to Soft Light, and its Opacity to 35%.

Gradient Map

Step 3

Select the Plant layer, and go to Image > Adjustments > Vibrance.

Change the Vibrance to -35 and the Saturation to -10.


Step 4

If the sofa looks very sharp, apply a Gaussian Blur with a Radius value around 0.25.

Sofa Gaussian Blur

Congratulations, You're Done!

In this tutorial, we saved pattern images, created a bunch of shape layers, converted them to 3D meshes, and created their materials.

Then, we started adding background elements and adjusting the 3D scene's lighting and camera view accordingly, to render the final result.

Finally, we added some more shadows and adjusted the coloring of the final result.

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

Final Result
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