Hello everyone! In today’s quick tip tutorial I will demonstrate how to create a really nice bas relief effect using a texture, any picture, and Photoshop’s 3D tools. Let’s get started!
The following resources were used in the production of this tutorial:
Create a New Document in any size you want, in this case mine is 1024 x 968 px at 72dpi, RGB. Fill the Background with any dark color (Black #000000 in this case) and create a new layer above it named "Plane", then fill this layer with another lighter color, like 50% gray.
Select the "Plane" layer and go to 3D > Plane. This action will create a 3D Layer with the gray background as Diffuse texture.
Select the "Plane" 3D layer and show the 3D Tools panel (Window > 3D). Select the Scene object and under Global Ambient Color set this one: #FFFFFF (White). You can change Anti-Alias to Best for a better rendering.
Double click at the "Diffuse" Texture on the Layers Panel. A New window will appear showing the texture's layers, then open the "Wood Texture", select it, copy it on the clipboard and paste it to the texture file into a new layer. Save the texture file and go back to your main document, you'll see the texture applied to the "Plane" layer.
Click on the "Materials" Button on the 3D panel, then, next to the Bump Strength box, click on the tiny button next to it and select New Texture. Make the size of the new Texture layer exactly the same than your document (1024 x 768 px) and hit OK to commit.
Double Click on the brand new "Bump" texture layer created in the previous step and just like the diffuse texture, a new window will appear. On this new document paste the "Lion Statue" picture into a new layer, you can do further editing here such as removing the white borders but it's optional since it has white background as well as the document background. Finally using the Hue/Saturation panel (Command + U) lower the saturation to -100 (you can use any other technique to make it 100% grayscale) and save it.
As an additional detail I'm using a swirl brush to paint details around the Bump texture, remember to always use a gray color for best results. Save the texture document, close it and go back to the main document, and you'll see the bump texture applied.
Using the 3D transformation tools, rotate the layer a little bit (if you have doubts on how to use the 3D tools take a look at my Basic Guide to Photoshop’s 3D Tools). Then, on the Bump Strength box, change the value from 1 to 5 (this is very important, if you want more strength on the effect try with a larger number), and set both Glossiness and Shininess to 0% to remove undesired reflections.
If you would like to try something different, change the Diffuse Texture (Double click on the Diffuse texture on layers panel) and on the texture file, add a new layer with another texture, in this case a brushed metal. After that, save the texture layer and you'll see the bas relief effect applied to this new texture. You can also change the Glossiness and Shininess values on the material to add some reflections.
Really simple right? You can also try this effect with different materials and images.