Photoshop CC Gets Physical: 3D Printing in Just One Click
Dragonflies with translucent wings, cross sections of conch shells, layered ginkgo leaves or graceful koi with flowing tails…these are the things that Paul Liaw dreams up when he’s not at work.
By day, Liaw is a character sculptor in New York, creating models that are animated for film or commercial purposes. After hours, Liaw takes his passion for sculpture and funnels it into his jewelry design. He’s created a series of cuff bracelets in various metals with great detail and texture that he sells via the online 3D printing community and marketplace, Shapeways. He plans out his designs in Photoshop CC and until now has used a collection of other 3D software to print out 3D prototypes. These 3D printed prototypes help him further refine his designs and understand how they will look in their final form.
To date, Liaw has struggled with the process of taking what he painstakingly designed and turning it into a physical object. He has run into issues with scale or with the prototype printing out too thin and brittle. Iterations can be one of the biggest bottlenecks in his design process.
Just Click ‘Print’
For the past three decades, Adobe has been at the forefront of several publishing revolutions, enabling creatives to easily produce their creations in desktop publishing, web publishing, and digital media and photography. Today, as we announce some exciting new 3D printing capabilities, Photoshop CC revolutionizes 3D printing by radically simplifying the 3D print process for creatives. With this new release, it is no longer difficult to create and print a beautiful, physical object. As part of a major update to Adobe Creative Cloud, the new 3D printing capabilities available in Photoshop CC enable Creative Cloud members to easily and reliably build, refine, preview, prepare and print 3D designs. All you have to do is click “Print.”
Photoshop CC supports the most popular desktop 3D printers, including the MakerBot Replicator 2, and also supports the full range of high quality materials available on Shapeways including ceramics, metals, and full color sandstone. Whether you’re an inventor, product designer, architect, animator or jewelry designer – there are limitless possibilities available to you to provide clients and customers with 3D prototypes and models of your work.
“My design process is so much easier with the new 3D printing support options in Photoshop CC,” said Liaw. “I can make my jewelry designs look beautiful and automate the process of using the least amount of material without going under the printable threshold – this back and forth used to take about 80% of my time!”
Without the new functionality in Photoshop CC, it’s actually quite difficult to determine exactly how to take what you designed in 3D modeling tools and produce a high-quality 3D print. Until today, you had to be both a technical print and materials expert.
Solving the 3D Print Dilemma
Just one year ago, Photoshop team members Pete Falco (Lead Scientist) and Zorana Gee (Sr. Product Manager) took a trip to the UK and met with universities, high schools and design agencies that were already doing a lot of experimentation with 3D printing. The number one challenge they all faced was how staggeringly difficult it was to successfully prepare and print an object.
That trip to the UK inspired the team to create a solution that would require simply hitting the ‘Print’ button in Photoshop, automating what used to take days of work. The team wanted to ensure that they also preserved the color and texture of the 3D designs – elements that most manufacturing focused software didn’t account for. The ultimate goal was removing all barriers that had kept creative pros from producing beautiful objects.
“My kids think 3D printing is the coolest,” said Falco. “My son built a crude model in Minecraft and we recently extracted and 3D printed it using Photoshop. He was really excited about it because the physical print brought his character to life. You can imagine it’s the same feeling that artists feel when they see their designs turn into a physical object. There’s something compelling about holding an object you created in your hands.”
You Can Try It Out
Download the new Photoshop CC update today and start experimenting with your own 3D prints.
All controls for printing 3D models are available under the 3D menu. Photoshop automatically analyzes the model and goes through a number of steps to prepare a print such as: scaling the output to printer capabilities, repairing mesh to ensure the model is water tight or in a solid form for printing, controlling the printer itself (heat-up, materials choices, estimated print time) and re-rendering of the file for the printer you’re using. Photoshop also provides the option to automatically generate support structures (scaffolding and raft) to properly reinforce the model as it is being printed.
There are just a few simple steps to get you started.
Using a local 3D printer (MakerBot Replicator 2 in this example)
The MakerBot Replicator 2 prints with a single-color plastic, building up the 3D model from layers of plastic.
1. Open a 3D PSD file.
2. From the menu bar, select 3D > 3D Print Settings; the Print Settings controls will appear in the Properties panel.
3. Select MakerBot Replicator 2 from the Printer menu.
4. Note the printer-specific options available.
5. Click Scale to Print Volume to fit the model within the printer.
6. You’ll see the preview update to indicate both size and material.
7. You can have Photoshop handle the print volume (the physical size of the model) automatically, or you can manually specify the scene volume.
Using an online print service (Shapeways in this example)
Shapeways provides high-end 3D printing services to the public, producing models in single, two, or full color using a variety of materials: plastic, ceramics, sandstone, and metals. The 3D Print Settings in Photoshop support all Shapeways output options directly. Photoshop even provides a cost estimate.
1. Select 3D Print Settings from the menu bar.
2. In Properties panel, select shapeways.com from the Print To menu.
3. Set the volume and detail options.
4. Select Estimate Price from the bottom of the Printer menu — the menu will update to show prices next to each printer.
For more information on 3D printing in Photoshop, please check out the Photoshop Help / Print 3D Objects documentation.