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  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Text Effects

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

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Read Time: 14 mins
This post is part of a series called Retro Text Effect Tutorials.
How to Create a Warm, Retro Text Effect in Adobe Illustrator
How to Create a Quick Retro Video Glitch Text Effect in Adobe InDesign
Final product imageFinal product imageFinal product image
What You'll Be Creating

Combining 2D and 3D styles in different creative ways has been a part of multiple design trends over the years. This tutorial will show you how to use Photoshop's 3D tools and settings to create an abstract 3D displaced text effect, with a touch of a Retro/Memphis Style feel. 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 the Background and 3D Elements Layers

Step 1

Create a new 1000 x 1000 px document, click the Create new fill or adjustment layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel, and choose Gradient.

Create the gradient fill using the Colors #d99c9c to the left, #b294c5 in the center, and #72a9be to the right, and change the Angle to -120.

Gradient Background FillGradient Background FillGradient Background Fill

Step 2

Create the text in All Caps, each word in a separate layer, using the font Bahn Pro. Set the Size to 200 and the Tracking value to 100.

Create the TextCreate the TextCreate the Text

Step 3

Create three new layers, fill them with any color you like, and name them from bottom to top: Sphere, Pyramid, and Cylinder.

Create the 3D Shape LayersCreate the 3D Shape LayersCreate the 3D Shape Layers

2. How to Create 3D Layers

Step 1

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

Then, select the Sphere layer and go to 3D > New Mesh from Layer > Mesh Preset > Sphere, select the Pyramid layer and go to 3D > New Mesh from Layer > Mesh Preset > Pyramid, and select the Cylinder layer and go to 3D > New Mesh from Layer > Mesh Preset > Cylinder.

Create the 3D LayersCreate the 3D LayersCreate the 3D Layers

Step 2

Select all the 3D layers, go to 3D > Merge 3D Layers, and rename the merged layer 3D Scene.

Merge 3D LayersMerge 3D LayersMerge 3D Layers

Step 3

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.

The 3D and Properties PanelsThe 3D and Properties PanelsThe 3D and Properties Panels

Step 4

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 ModesMove Tool 3D ModesMove Tool 3D Modes

Step 5

Click the eye icon next to the Sphere, Pyramid, and Cylinder tabs to hide them.

Hide the 3D Shape MeshesHide the 3D Shape MeshesHide the 3D Shape Meshes

3. How to Adjust the 3D Mesh Settings

Step 1

Select all the text mesh tabs in the 3D panel, and change their Extrusion Depth in the Properties panel to 0.

Extrusion DepthExtrusion DepthExtrusion Depth

Step 2

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

Move Object to Ground PlaneMove Object to Ground PlaneMove Object to Ground Plane

Step 3

What we're going to do next is assign values to the Z Position of each of the text meshes to set them apart from each other evenly.

So, for example, if you have three text meshes, you can change the one in the middle's Z Position to 0, the one in the front's to 300, and the one in the back's to -300.

To assign the Z Position values, click the text mesh tab, and click the Coordinates icon at the top of the Properties panel to make the changes.

Z Position ValuesZ Position ValuesZ Position Values

Step 4

You can use any values you think look best for your text and number of meshes, but just make sure to keep an equal distance between them.

Separate the MeshesSeparate the MeshesSeparate the Meshes

4. How to Transform 3D Meshes

Step 1

Show the Sphere mesh and select its tab, pick the Move Tool, and use the 3D Axis to scale it up or down.

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 to use.

Scale the SphereScale the SphereScale the Sphere

Step 2

You can also use the Coordinates values for that, and if you click the Scale icon, you can check or uncheck the Uniform Scaling option depending on the result you want.

Uniform ScalingUniform ScalingUniform Scaling

Step 3

Move the Sphere to the Ground Plane, and use the 3D Axis to move it to the final position.

Move the SphereMove the SphereMove the Sphere

Step 4

Repeat the same steps for the Pyramid and Cylinder meshes.

Notice how when scaling the Cylinder you might need to uncheck the Uniform Scaling box if you're using the Coordinates values.

Make sure to always move the objects to the Ground Plane once you're done transforming them.

Scale and Move the Other Shape MeshesScale and Move the Other Shape MeshesScale and Move the Other Shape Meshes

5. How to Create Basic 3D Materials

Step 1

Select all the text Material tabs, and use these settings in the Properties panel (the color values used are in RGB):

  • Diffuse: 255, 255, 255
  • Specular: 183, 183, 183
  • Shine: 20%
Text Material SettingsText Material SettingsText Material Settings

Step 2

Select the Sphere_Material tab, click the Diffuse icon in the Properties panel, and choose Remove Texture.

Remove TextureRemove TextureRemove Texture

Step 3

Keep in mind that you can use any other values for the material settings, but the ones used here are:

  • Diffuse: 163, 216, 236
  • Specular: 121, 114, 114
  • Shine: 30%
  • Reflection: 3%
  • Roughness: 30%
Sphere MaterialSphere MaterialSphere Material

Step 4

Select all the Pyramid Material tabs, remove the Diffuse texture, and use these settings:

  • Diffuse: 241, 155, 93
  • Specular: 221, 199, 147
  • Shine: 30%
  • Reflection: 3%
  • Roughness: 30%
Pyramid MaterialPyramid MaterialPyramid Material

Step 5

Select the Cylinder's Top_Material and Bottom_Material tabs, remove the Diffuse texture, and use these settings:

  • Diffuse: 17, 17, 17
  • Specular: 75, 72, 75
  • Shine: 50%
  • Reflection: 10%
  • Roughness: 30%
Cylinder Top_Material and Bottom_MaterialCylinder Top_Material and Bottom_MaterialCylinder Top_Material and Bottom_Material

Step 6

Select the Cylinder_Material tab, remove the Diffuse texture, and use these settings:

  • Diffuse: 141, 128, 179
  • Specular: 190, 194, 220
  • Shine: 80%
  • Reflection: 30%
  • Roughness: 30%
Cylinder_MaterialCylinder_MaterialCylinder_Material

6. How to Create a Simple Vertical Stripes Pattern

Step 1

Create a new 50 x 10px White filled document, use the Rectangular Marquee Tool to select the left half, and fill it with Black.

Create the Stripes PatternCreate the Stripes PatternCreate the Stripes Pattern

Step 2

Press Command-D to deselect, go to Edit > Define Pattern, type Stripes Pattern in the Name field, and click OK.

Define the Stripes PatternDefine the Stripes PatternDefine the Stripes Pattern

7. How to Create a Bump Texture

Step 1

Select the Cylinder_Material tab, click its Bump icon in the Properties panel, and choose New Texture.

New TextureNew TextureNew Texture

Step 2

Set both the Width and Height values to 500 and click OK.

Dimension ValuesDimension ValuesDimension Values

Step 3

This will open the new file; if not, select the Bump texture icon and choose Edit Texture.

Create a new layer and fill it with White.

Add a White Filled LayerAdd a White Filled LayerAdd a White Filled Layer

Step 4

Double-click the new layer to apply a Pattern Overlay effect using the Stripes Pattern.

Pattern OverlayPattern OverlayPattern Overlay

Step 5

Save and close the file.

Save and CloseSave and CloseSave and Close

8. How to Edit the UV Properties

Step 1

Click the Bump texture icon and choose Edit UV Properties.

Edit UV PropertiesEdit UV PropertiesEdit UV Properties

Step 2

Change the Tile's V/Y value to and the U/X value to whatever looks best on your Cylinder mesh, and click OK.

Change the Tile ValuesChange the Tile ValuesChange the Tile Values

9. How to Add a Mesh Environment Texture

Step 1

With the Cylinder_Material tab still selected, click the Environment folder icon at the bottom of the Properties panel, and choose New Texture.

New TextureNew TextureNew Texture

Step 2

Change both the Width and Height values to 1000 and click OK.

Dimension ValuesDimension ValuesDimension Values

Step 3

Duplicate the Background layer, and double-click the copy to apply a Gradient Overlay effect using the Stainless Steel 166c gradient fill.

Gradient OverlayGradient OverlayGradient Overlay

Step 4

Save and close the file when you're done.

Save and CloseSave and CloseSave and Close

Step 5

You can try other gradient fills as well to get different lighting results.

Try Different Gradient FillsTry Different Gradient FillsTry Different Gradient Fills

10. How to Adjust Miscellaneous 3D Settings

Step 1

Select all text mesh tabs, and uncheck the Cast Shadows box in the Properties panel.

Cast ShadowsCast ShadowsCast Shadows

Step 2

Select the Scene tab, and under the Remove Hidden option in the Properties panel, check the Backfaces option.

Remove Hidden BackfacesRemove Hidden BackfacesRemove Hidden Backfaces

Step 3

Click the Current View tab, and click the Orthographic icon in the Properties panel.

What this does is maintain parallel lines without convergence, which means displaying the meshes in accurate scale view without any perspective distortion.

Orthographic ViewOrthographic ViewOrthographic View

Step 4

Now is a good time to choose a final camera angle, so that you can make any final changes to the scene.

Choose a Final Camera AngleChoose a Final Camera AngleChoose a Final Camera Angle

Step 5

After you choose the final view, you can use the 3D Axis to move the meshes around, or scale them as needed.

Move and Scale the MeshesMove and Scale the MeshesMove and Scale the Meshes

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

Step 1

Select the Infinite Light 1 tab, and change its Intensity to 20% and its Shadow Softness to 50%.

Infinite Light SettingsInfinite Light SettingsInfinite Light Settings

Step 2

Move the light to an angle that best suits your final view, and you can use the Coordinates values if needed to do so.

Move the Infinite LightMove the Infinite LightMove the Infinite Light

Step 3

Select the Environment tab, click the IBL texture icon, and choose Edit Texture.

Edit TextureEdit TextureEdit Texture

Step 4

Add a Solid Color fill layer, and use the Color fill (100, 100, 100). Save and close the file when done.

Solid Color FillSolid Color FillSolid Color Fill

Step 5

Go to 3D > Render 3D Layer. The rendering might take a while, but you can stop it any time by pressing the Esc key.

Render the 3D SceneRender the 3D SceneRender the 3D Scene

Step 6

Once the rendering is done, right-click the 3D Scene layer and choose Convert to Smart Object to avoid making any accidental changes.

Convert to Smart ObjectConvert to Smart ObjectConvert to Smart Object

12. How to Create a Basic Paper Shape

Step 1

Use the Rectangle Tool to create a rectangle shape behind the 3D Scene.

Create a Rectangle ShapeCreate a Rectangle ShapeCreate a Rectangle Shape

Step 2

Pick the Direct Selection Tool, and use it to select and move the anchor points, to get a parallelogram-like shape.

Use the 3D Scene as a reference to make the shape look like a part of it.

Move the Anchor PointsMove the Anchor PointsMove the Anchor Points

Step 3

Use the Add Anchor Point Tool to add an anchor point on each of the two vertical sides.

Add Anchor PointsAdd Anchor PointsAdd Anchor Points

Step 4

Use the Direct Selection Tool to nudge each of the added points to make the vertical sides a little bit curved in the same direction.

Curve the Vertical SidesCurve the Vertical SidesCurve the Vertical Sides

Step 5

Add two more points, one on each of the sides next to the top right corner's anchor point. These will be used to create the corner fold, so keep that in mind when placing them.

Add the Corner Anchor PointsAdd the Corner Anchor PointsAdd the Corner Anchor Points

13. How to Work With Anchor Points

Step 1

Rename the shape layer you have to Back, duplicate it, rename the copy to Front, and change its Fill Color to #ea6b9b.

Duplicate the Shape LayerDuplicate the Shape LayerDuplicate the Shape Layer

Step 2

Select the Front layer, and use the Direct Selection Tool to click-drag the top right corner's anchor point inwards to the center, creating a basic folded shape.

You can then adjust the shape by moving the surrounding anchor points and their handles.

Any adjustments should be very minimum and subtle, and should not affect the part of the shape that's outside the two points around the corner.

Create the Basic Fold ShapeCreate the Basic Fold ShapeCreate the Basic Fold Shape

Step 3

Pick the Delete Anchor Point Tool, select the Back layer, and click the top right corner's anchor point to delete it.

This will create the outer curve of the fold, which you can subtly adjust if necessary as well.

Create the Outer Fold ShapeCreate the Outer Fold ShapeCreate the Outer Fold Shape

Step 4

Change the Back layer's Fill Color to #8b8b8b, and duplicate each of the Back and Front layers.

Duplicate LayersDuplicate LayersDuplicate Layers

14. How to Create a Folded Shape

Step 1

Select both copy layers and move them on top of the 3D Scene layer.

Move the Copy LayersMove the Copy LayersMove the Copy Layers

Step 2

With both copy layers still selected, go to Layer > Combine Shapes > Subtract Front Shape. Rename the resulting layer to Fold, and change its Fill Color to #ee90b3.

Subtract Front ShapeSubtract Front ShapeSubtract Front Shape

Step 3

Pick the Direct Selection Tool, click the Path operations icon in the Options bar, and choose Merge Shape Components.

Merge Shape ComponentsMerge Shape ComponentsMerge Shape Components

15. How to Add Gradient Overlays

Step 1

Double-click the Fold layer to apply a Gradient Overlay with these settings:

  • Check the Dither box
  • Blend Mode: Soft Light
  • Opacity: 35%
  • Angle: -157
  • Use the Black, White gradient fill
Gradient OverlayGradient OverlayGradient Overlay

Step 2

While the Layer Style box is still open, you can click-drag the gradient inside the shape to adjust its Angle if you like.

Move the Gradient FillMove the Gradient FillMove the Gradient Fill

Step 3

When you're done, right-click the Fold layer, choose Copy Layer Style, right-click the Front layer, and choose Paste Layer Style.

Copy and Paste the Layer StyleCopy and Paste the Layer StyleCopy and Paste the Layer Style

16. How to Add Shadows

Step 1

Select the Back layer, and use the Direct Selection Tool to drag the bottom anchor points of the shape and create a shadow shape, which should follow the 3D Scene's shadow direction.

Create the Shadow ShapeCreate the Shadow ShapeCreate the Shadow Shape

Step 2

Right-click the Back layer, choose Convert to Smart Object, and change its layer's Blend Mode to Multiply and its Opacity to 50%.

Convert to Smart ObjectConvert to Smart ObjectConvert to Smart Object

Step 3

Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur, and set the Radius to a value around 20.

Gaussian BlurGaussian BlurGaussian Blur

Step 4

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

Create a SelectionCreate a SelectionCreate a Selection

Step 5

Create a new layer below the Fold layer, name it Shadow, change its Opacity to 35%, and pick the Brush Tool.

Set the Foreground Color to Black, and use a soft round tip to add some shadow underneath the fold.

You can change the brush tip's Opacity value in the Options bar to get subtler results.

Add Shadow to the FoldAdd Shadow to the FoldAdd Shadow to the Fold

17. How to Create Zigzag Lines

Step 1

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

Choose the Path option in the Options bar, and click once to add anchor points that create zigzag shapes around the text.

When you're done creating a path, Command-click outside it to separate it from the next one.

Create Zig Zag ShapesCreate Zig Zag ShapesCreate Zig Zag Shapes

Step 2

Pick the Brush Tool, choose a hard round 4 px tip, and hit the Return key to stroke the paths you have.

Pick the Direct Selection Tool and hit the Return key again to get rid of the work path.

Stroke the Work PathStroke the Work PathStroke the Work Path

Step 3

Double-click the Lines layer to apply a Gradient Overlay effect with these settings:

  • Check the Dither box
  • Angle: 157
  • Create the Gradient using the Colors #f5cd2c to the left and #f1e48b to the right.
Gradient OverlayGradient OverlayGradient Overlay

18. How to Apply Global Adjustments

Step 1

Create a new layer on top of all layers, name it High Pass, and press the Command-Option-Shift-E keys to create a stamp.

Convert the layer into a Smart Object, and change its Blend Mode to Soft Light.

High Pass LayerHigh Pass LayerHigh Pass Layer

Step 2

Go to Filter > Other > High Pass, and change the Radius to 1.5.

High Pass FilterHigh Pass FilterHigh Pass Filter

Step 3

Add a Vibrance adjustment layer on top of all layers, and change the Vibrance value to 10.

Vibrance Adjustments LayerVibrance Adjustments LayerVibrance Adjustments Layer

Step 4

Add a Curves adjustment layer on top of all layers, and click-drag the center of the curve a little bit upwards to brighten up the image.

Curves Adjustment LayerCurves Adjustment LayerCurves Adjustment Layer

Step 5

Double-click the Curves layer to get its Blending Options.

We will use the Blend If's Underlying Layer's sliders to control how the Curves effect is applied.

So Option-click the Shadows slider to split it, and drag each of its ends to the right to exclude or protect the shadows from being affected by the Curves layer.

Splitting the slider will help create a gradual effect instead of a harsh one. So the right side will determine the amount of shadows protected, and the left side will fade the effect.

After adjusting the slider, change the Blend Mode to Soft Light, and the Opacity to 30%.

Blend If ShadowsBlend If ShadowsBlend If Shadows

Step 6

Add another Curves adjustment layer, but this time, drag the curve's center downwards to darken the image.

Curves Adjustment LayerCurves Adjustment LayerCurves Adjustment Layer

Step 7

Double-click the second Curves layer to repeat the same steps, only this time you'll be excluding the Highlights, which means you'll be adjusting the Highlights slider.

So make sure to split it and drag its sides until you get a result you like, and change the Blend Mode and Opacity values when done.

Blend If HighlightsBlend If HighlightsBlend If Highlights

19. How to Add Noise

Step 1

Create a new layer on top of all layers, and name it Noise.

Noise LayerNoise LayerNoise Layer

Step 2

Go to Edit > Fill, and change the Contents to 50% Gray.

50 Gray Fill50 Gray Fill50 Gray Fill

Step 3

Convert the Noise layer into a Smart Object, and change its Blend Mode to Soft Light.

Convert to Smart ObjectConvert to Smart ObjectConvert to Smart Object

Step 4

Go to Filter > Noise > Add Noise, and change the Amount to 7 and the Distribution to Uniform.

You can use any other values you prefer as well.

Add NoiseAdd NoiseAdd Noise

Awesome Work, You're Done!

In this tutorial, we created a couple of text and shape layers, and converted them to 3D meshes. Then, we adjusted the meshes' settings and created their materials, as well as adjusting the scene's lighting to render it. After that, we used shape tools and options to create a folded paper shape and some zigzag lines. Finally, we added global adjustments to finish off the effect.

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

Final ResultFinal ResultFinal Result
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