If you walk the halls here in the Adobe San Jose office, you’re bound to find a group huddled around a monitor with 3D glasses on, all peering over the shoulder of Pete Falco, lead computer scientist for Photoshop, closely examining the latest Photoshop rendering. Or you may bump into Nikolai Svakhin, senior computer scientist, experimenting with hardware and carrying a tiny robot figurine (etched with the finest details) generated from a 3D model printer. And Daniel Presedo, software quality engineer, can often be found coming up with clever animations to rotate and manipulate with an assortment of 3D textures. It’s a 3D world that the team lives in and there’s all sorts of innovation and experimentation happening.
Recently, I sat down with Zorana Gee, senior product manager for Photoshop, to learn more about what’s new for 3D fans in Photoshop CS6 and why these tools are more compelling than ever for creative work.
What was the focus for the 3D team when it came to Photoshop CS6 Extended?
Zorana: I’m really excited about the 3D changes in Photoshop CS6 Extended. The main focus this time was usability and performance. We’ve completely overhauled the User Interface and 3D workflows are much more intuitive and easier to use. For example, we went from 14, 3D tools down to just 1 – where you can essentially use the standard Photoshop Move Tool and click on the element (light, camera, mesh) in your 3D layer (scene) and that will reposition it!
You can see it in action here:
We’ve done a tremendous amount of research to understand challenges our customers were facing and focused our efforts on addressing those. Another great example of this is with 3D Type extrusions. Not only can you easily generate 3D extrusions (using type, shapes, paths, etc) but you can also use the exiting Character/Paragraph panels to directly change the 3D type attributes. Having live 3D type hooked into the PhotoshopType Engine is exactly what users would expect when using 3D type in Photoshop. It’s these types of changes that I think anyone wanting to explore and start to integrate 3D into their designs will appreciate.
What are some of your favorite feature updates?
Zorana: As I mentioned before, performance is much better in terms of final rendering with the Adobe Raytracer as well as with real-time interaction using GPU acceleration. 3D interaction is completely leveraging the Mercury Graphics Engine so things are much faster in CS6. Now, shadows are easier to add and edit, as well as reflections. In fact, you can even directly SHIFT+click on a shadow and drag it around to the position you want. At the same time, it repositions the associated light that’s casting that shadow. Check this out as one of Russell Brown’s favorite features.
We’ve also improved 3D merging – that’s taking multiple 3D layers and merging them together in a single scene or layer, so that they share lights, cameras, shadows, etc. On the flip side you can also easily split apart any 3D object – for instance, take the string of text “word” and move each individual letter around on it’s own. Plus alignment is easier since it’s hooked up to PS 2D alignment tools (in the Move Tool Options bar) now.
There are so many more improvements to 3D workflows that I will be sharing more about in the coming months. Definitely check my Expert page for announcements, tutorials and other 3D related content.
What’s the benefit of using 3D?
Zorana: A lot of designers are starting to integrate more 3D into their designs. There are several reasons for this. For one, you have much more flexibility when you’re working with a 3D object. You can easily change the color, position, lighting, camera, etc. Also, for companies that already utilize 3D models, it’s easier if a designer can ideate and composite directly in 3D rather than having to communicate a 2D design into 3D later on in the process. Plus it’s fun to learn something new in 3D and it’s a great way to expand one’s skill set!
Why should people use Photoshop CS6 Extended for their 3D work?
Zorana: Photoshop is a compositing tool and it supports a lot of media types (type, vectors, video, etc). 3D is just another media type that we support. The great thing about having 3D directly in Photoshop is that you don’t need another application to create 3D designs. Plus you’re in a familiar environment and you can utilize your existing 2D Photoshop knowledge. Photoshop CS6 Extended offers great value for 3D work, whether you’re painting, material editing or applying post-effects like lens flare or other Filters, Adjustments or Layer Effects. You can even add video as a material and have it play on your 3D object. To me, not limiting yourself and leveraging all of your Photoshop skills for 3D editing is one of the strongest benefits of having 3D tools right within Photoshop CS6 Extended.
What are some tips you recommend for exploring 3D in Photoshop?
Zorana: The easiest is to download the magazine our team creates called “Photoshop Dimensions” and follow along with the tutorials, as well as the reference information. We just posted the second issue (the first issue is free and you can still get that one). It’s available for your iPad, Kindle and Nook devices. Alternatively you can download the ePub file and view it in Adobe Digital Editions on your computer.
There are also great tutorials on lynda.com as well as psdtuts.com. Corey Barker has awesome 3D tutorials on his website planetphotoshop.com. If you go to our Photoshop YouTube channel or search 3D PhotoshopCS6 on YouTube you can find some interesting 3D tutorials. Make sure that the tutorial actually covers real 3D geometry and effects and not faux-3D or making something ‘look 3D’.
You can also take a look at some sample renderings from Photoshop CS6 Extended. It’s really neat to see the range of things people are starting to do with 3D in Photoshop. Each image is composed of different 2D and 3D elements and photographs. All of them take the power of what they already know about Photoshop and apply them to 3D objects for their final pieces.