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Create a 3D Retro Text Effect Using Layer Styles in Adobe Photoshop

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Read Time: 5 min
This post is part of a series called Retro Text Effect Tutorials.
Create a One-Layer Retro Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop
How to Create a Retro Chrome Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop
Final product imageFinal product imageFinal product image
What You'll Be Creating

This tutorial will show you how to use layer styles, smart objects, and some other basic elements in Adobe Photoshop to create a simple, retro looking, 3D text effect.

Tutorial Assets

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

1. Creating the Background Gradient

Step 1

Create a new 800 x 600px document, and duplicate the Background layer.

Duplicate the Background LayerDuplicate the Background LayerDuplicate the Background Layer

Step 2

Double-click the Background copy layer to apply a Gradient Overlay effect using the following values:

  • Check the Dither box
  • Style: Radial
  • Scale: 150%
  • Create the Gradient using the colors #c8c5b8 to the left and #aaa593 to the right.
Gradient OverlayGradient OverlayGradient Overlay

This will create the background gradient.

Background GradientBackground GradientBackground Gradient

2. Adding Subtle Noise to the Background

Step 1

Duplicate the styled Background copy layer, and then right-click the new copy and choose Rasterize Layer Style.

If you're working with CS6 or earlier versions of Photoshop, you'll need to group the layer (Layer > Group Layers), and then merge the group (Layer > Merge Group) instead.

Set the Foreground color to #c8c5b8 and the Background color to #aaa593.

Noise LayerNoise LayerNoise Layer

Step 2

Go to Filter > Noise > Add Noise, change the Amount to 5 and the Distribution to Uniform, and check the Monochromatic box.

Add Noise FilterAdd Noise FilterAdd Noise Filter

Step 3

Change the Background copy 2 layer's Blend Mode to Darken. This will add subtle noise to the background gradient.

Noise Layer Blend ModeNoise Layer Blend ModeNoise Layer Blend Mode

Step 4

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


Step 5

Change the Shadows value to 72, the Gamma to 1.05, and the Highlights to 236. This will adjust the coloring of the background.

Levels ValuesLevels ValuesLevels Values

3. Creating the Text and the 3D Extrusion

Step 1

Create the text in All Caps using the font Freshman Normal. The Size is 125 pt, the color is #43a0a8, and the Kerning is set to Optical.

Create the TextCreate the TextCreate the Text

Step 2

Duplicate the text layer and drag the copy layer below it.

Duplicate the TextDuplicate the TextDuplicate the Text

Step 3

Enter the Free Transform Mode by going to Edit > Free Transform (Command-T). Tap the Right Arrow Key once, and then tap the Down Arrow Key once as well, to move the copy text one pixel to the right and one pixel downwards. Then hit the Return key to accept the changes.

Transform the TextTransform the TextTransform the Text

Step 4

Press the Option-Command-Shift-T (Alt-Ctrl-Shift-T for Windows) ten times to duplicate the layer with the transformation to create the 3D extrusion.

Create the 3D ExtrusionCreate the 3D ExtrusionCreate the 3D Extrusion

4. Creating the Smart Objects for the 3D Extrusion and the Shadow

Step 1

Select all the copy text layers, and change the text color to #c7b299.

Change Copy Text Layers ColorChange Copy Text Layers ColorChange Copy Text Layers Color

Step 2

With all the copy text layers still selected, go to Filter > Convert for Smart Filters. Rename the smart object's layer to 3D Extrusion, duplicate it, drag the copy below it, and rename the copy to Shadow.

Creating the Smart ObjectsCreating the Smart ObjectsCreating the Smart Objects

5. Styling the Original Text Layer

Double-click the original text layer to apply the following layer style:

Step 1

Add a Stroke with these settings:

  • Size: 2
  • Position: Inside
  • Color: #f2eee1

Step 2

Add an Inner Shadow with these settings:

  • Color: #464646
  • Opacity: 100%
  • Uncheck the Use Global Light box
  • Angle: 129
  • Distance: 5
  • Spread: 50
  • Size: 2
Inner ShadowInner ShadowInner Shadow

Step 3

Add a Pattern Overlay with these settings:

  • Blend Mode: Soft Light
  • Pattern: Fine diagonal lines

You can actually try the other patterns in the set as well—some of them look really cool.

Pattern OverlayPattern OverlayPattern Overlay

This will style the main text layer.

Styled TextStyled TextStyled Text

6. Styling the 3D Extrusion

Double-click the 3D Extrusion layer to apply the following layer style:

Step 1

Add a Bevel and Emboss with these settings:

  • Technique: Chisel Hard
  • Size: 13
  • Uncheck the Use Global Light box
  • Angle: 82
  • Altitude: 11
  • Check the Anti-aliased box
  • Highlight Mode - Opacity: 0%

What you're doing here is changing the Bevel and Emboss's Angle and Altitude values to create a 3D shading based on the extrusion's angle.

Bevel and EmbossBevel and EmbossBevel and Emboss

Step 2

Add a Contour with these settings:

  • Check the Anti-aliased box.

Step 3

Add a Color Overlay with these settings:

  • Color: #265559

This is the part where you choose the extrusion's color, so feel free to change it up if you like.

Color OverlayColor OverlayColor Overlay

You can see how this creates the illusion of a flat 3D effect just by using a couple of effects. You can of course further enhance the result you get by adjusting the shadow for the corners that need adjusting.

Styled 3D ExtrusionStyled 3D ExtrusionStyled 3D Extrusion

You can also pick the Move Tool and move the 3D extrusion a tad upwards if you like. Just take the time to work with the result you get if you feel like it.

Adjusting the 3D ExtrusionAdjusting the 3D ExtrusionAdjusting the 3D Extrusion

7. Working on the Shadow

Step 1

Select the Shadow layer, then go to Filter > Blur > Motion Blur. Change the Angle to -55 and the Distance to 20. You need the Angle value to match the 3D extrusion's angle.

Motion BlurMotion BlurMotion Blur

Step 2

Change the Shadow layer's Blend Mode to Multiply, and then use the Move Tool to drag the shadow and move it around until you like how it looks.

Motion Blur Blend Mode and PositionMotion Blur Blend Mode and PositionMotion Blur Blend Mode and Position

Step 3

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


Step 4

Click the Clip adjustment to layer icon at the bottom of the Properties panel, and change the Saturation value to -65.

Adjust SaturationAdjust SaturationAdjust Saturation

Congratulations! You're Done

In this tutorial, we created a gradient background and used the Add Noise filter to add a subtle noise effect to it.

Then we created the text, duplicated it with a transformation to create the 3D extrusion, and converted the copy layers into Smart Objects to create the shadow layer as well.

After that, we styled the text and the 3D extrusion layers to achieve the 3D retro effect.

Finally, we created the shadow using the Motion Blur filter, adjusted its layer's Blend Mode and color, and moved it around to achieve the final result.

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

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