7 days of PS Actions, graphics, templates & fonts - for free!* Unlimited asset downloads! Start 7-Day Free Trial
  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Typography

Design a Retro Typographic Poster Using 3D Elements in Photoshop

Scroll to top
Read Time: 8 mins

Before we get started, I need to issue a fair warning. If I were to go into full detail, this tutorial would consist in 3, maybe four long parts. I've compressed the 3D creation part so that it's more of a hint at how to create the objects, and not so much a detailed description of the tools.

The source of inspiration for this poster is the company Envato itself, and particularly the video/audio side of the Tutsplus Network. To illustrate this, I've created letters as musical instruments and video equipment.

Step 1

The first thing you need to do is create a new scene in C4D. Switch to your front view and draw a profile line for the trumpet. We're going to rotate this along its own axis with the Lathe NURBS effect. This will give us the end of the trumpet.

Step 2

As mentioned before, use the Lathe NURBS to create the following shape.

Step 3

It's now time to create the second section of the trumpet. Draw another spline.

Step 4

This time use the Sweep NURBS effect with a large circle spline. Sweep the circle along the path. To make the end smaller, go to the Object tab and click on the arrow next to 'Details'. Expand it and drag one of the ends to a similar size.

Step 5

Use the same technique to sweep the next portion of the trumpet, but in a different direction.

Step 6

Remember to add details that hold the pipes in place. I used 'Tubes' and 'Cillinders'.

Step 7

Remember that while you are creating these shapes, you need to maintain the resemblance of a letter. Create the following portion using the same techniques.

Step 8

Just to keep things interesting, I'm using a 'Helix' spline to create a twisting pipe. Use the following settings.

Step 9

Sweep the helix with a NURBS effect and use the same portion as on the bottom, but rotated by 180 degrees.

Step 10

Duplicate the trumpet and make a smaller, rotated version for the bottom of the letter.

Step 11

It's now time to create the next letter. I'm using Illustrator for this part. When importing paths straight into C4D as splines, be sure to save them at Illustrator version 8 or earlier, or C4D won't import them.

Create a large (I'm using 200 pt, but you'll need to make it a little smaller in C4D) Helvetica 55 Roman letter 'N'. Expand it.

Step 12

Give it a 20 pt outline and round off its corners.

Step 13

Expand its appearance, ungroup it and with the Pathfinder tool, Merge the expanded outline and the main body together.

At this point I also changed the background color to red, so that the strokes remain visible.

Step 14

Just as before, create an outline but this time make half of its previous thickness (10 pt) and instead of merging the two objects, extract the outline from the body. This should give us a nice rounded look for our font.

Step 15

Create a circle from side to side of the slab and merge it with the body.

Step 16

The letter we're making now plays of on old cassette tapes, so right now we're going to make the spinners and some tape. Create a similar pattern of paths that you can extrude and sweep in C4D in order to create these objects.

Step 17

rab the body of the letter, place it in a file separate from any other elements and save it as a Legacy format. Import the path into C4D and extrude it.

Step 18

Do the same for the rest of the paths.

Step 19

Add a few elements to further realism, like teeth and edges.

Step 20

Time to move on to letter 'V'. Use the same technique as with the 'N' for the body. Create a Spline mask using Mograph and cutout two connected circles from the body. Then extrude the resulting mask.

Step 21

If you have the Broadcast edition of C4D, you can import the lens of an HD camera into the scene. Simply import the camera found under 3D Objects (accessible through the Content Browser) and delete everything except the lens and its casing. Erase all materials as well.

Step 22

Place the lenses and a record button on the bottom center.

Step 23

Next up is letter A. For this letter, I'm creating a network of power cables. Create the spline in whatever program you're more comfortable with. I created them in Illustrator.

Step 24

Use point by point mode to move points up and down so they don't intersect.

Step 25

Sweep them using a 1m circle spline.

Step 26

Don't forget to create the jacks.

Step 27

Duplicate these elements, spin them by 180 degrees and place them behind.

Step 28

On to letter 'T'. Use components from a TV, also found in the Content Browser under Broadcast Edition.

Step 29

To create the casing, place 4 rectangle splines with rounded corners as seen below.

Step 30

Use the Loft NURBS to merge these splines together.

Step 31

Use the same rectangles with different proportions and extrude them to create the face of the T.V.

Step 32

Use the cage you made for the letter 'E' and add some cables on each side of the screen.

Step 33

Use the T.V's original buttons and place them on the front.

Step 34

And finally, letter 'O'. This one's the easiest. Use the same technique as with the letters 'N' and 'V, but create an extra outline too. This one's going to be a drum.

Step 35

Extrude each of these separately, and create a pair of drumsticks using a profile spline and the Lathe NURBS.

Step 36

It's now time to prep the scene. Place all the letters as seen below and create a large plane behind them. Place a camera as well in the front.

Step 37

To light the scene, I'm using the Greyscale Gorilla Light Kit Pro. If you don't have this kit, using regular lights works the same way, it just saves time. Place one large Overhead Softbox on top, and two smaller on each side.

Step 38

Create a new material and disable all except Color. Choose a similar color and place the material on the background plane.

Step 39

Create a new material and change the color to white.

Step 40

Add a 10% Bright Reflection.

Step 41

Make sure Specularity is enabled as well.

Step 42

From the Broadcast Edition Content Browser, find the Chrome2 material under Resources > Materials > Natural.

Step 43

Raise the color brightness.

Step 44

Change the Specular as shown below.

Step 45

Apply the white material to the letters, and Chrome to specific details.

Step 46

Time to set up the Render Settings. I'm using a small resolution for this tutorial, but that keeps an A4 ratio.

Step 47

Enable Ambient Occlusion and choose these settings.

Step 48

Enable Global Illumination and change the Depth to two.

Step 49

Add a Color Correction Effect and change the Gamma to 1.8.

Step 50

Render! :)

Step 51

We need a few different versions as well. Add a Cel Render Effect now.

Step 52

Render again and save this separately.

Step 53

After you've rendered the second file, get ready for a third. Disable the background plane, uncheck all effects, and delete all light sources. We need an alpha mask version that we can use to quickly isolate the elements from the background. Even if nothing is visible in the final render, the Alpha Channel will be there if you save as a Photoshop file and check the Alpha Channel option.

Step 54

And finally, the fourth file which is just an overlay of harsh shadows. Make sure there are no other lights in the scene and place a single light in a top right corner. Change its shadows to 'Hard'.

Step 55

Render this one as well.

Step 56

Go into Photoshop and isolate the letters from the background. To do this, open the Alpha Channel file, and go to the Alpha panel. Command/Ctrl + Click on the Alpha Channel to make a selection. Go to Select > Save Selection and save it in the document with the original, colored render. Switch to the color render and Load the selection. Add a Layer Mask, but to each letter individually.

Step 57

Place the Shadows layer as a mask to each letter. Change the blending mode to Mulitiply and Opacity to 50%.

Step 58

Add the Cel Render in the same way, but keep the Opacity at 100%.

Step 59

Create a new layer as a mask and fill it with a 50% gray.

Step 60

Go to Filter > Noise > Add Noise.

Step 61

Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur.

Step 62

Change the Layer Style to Overlay and Opacity to 50%.

Step 63

Add a Gradient Overlay as a mask and change the left color to #282828 and right to #cb5050.

Step 64

Alternate letters with a checkerboard pattern of red and cyan colors.

Step 65

Change the background color to #282828 and repeat the Noise process to give it a bit of grunge. Place this underneath all the letter layers.

Final Image

All done! If you've found this helpful in any way, let me know on twitter.

Did you find this post useful?
Want a weekly email summary?
Subscribe below and we’ll send you a weekly email summary of all new Design & Illustration tutorials. Never miss out on learning about the next big thing.
Start your 7-day free trial*
Start free trial
*All Individual plans include a 7-day free trial for new customers; then chosen plan price applies. Cancel any time.