#CreativeFriday – 3D Shapes and Bump Maps in Photoshop CC

This post is all about how to create a 3D object from shapes inside PhotoshopCC. Then look at texturing the object and creating some bump maps to give it a realistic effect.

First thing to do is create a new canvas and place a shape on it. Below a polygon has been used and will be used for a simple bird house for a bird table (the polygon tool is available under the shapes tool bar (marked in red)).


Before the Polygon is drawn a black fill and a white stroke (3pt) (marked yellow above), have been chosen. Also, the new layer (marked in purple) has been selected. A straight forward Polygon is created by holding down the SHIFT key (this will keep the format of the shape and not distort the vertical or horizontal).


The shape will grow in size fairly quickly so you may need to re-size it using the free transform tool ((CMD+T(Mac) or CTRL+T(PC) can be used once it’s committed), or to just move it, select the Path Selection tool (using the keyboard shortcut A), or by selecting the black arrow (marked in red).  The Path selection tool (Black arrow), can be used to move the shape around the canvas (but it won’t change the size, only the position). The direct selection tool is used by clicking on the edge of the shape that is required (they may be more than one), the black dots (marked in green) should be then displayed. With the ‘New Layer’ option turned on (marked in purple above), a new empty layer is created and the shape is placed on this by default (marked blue below). Once this has happened, the combine shapes option (marked in yellow) will be chosen automatically (it can be changed to another if required). The shape can now be moved around the canvas, and also have it’s size and format changed by pressing the free transform tool.

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The bird house will have a door way. This will be a circular hole punched through it. The shape tool or any other tool may be selected and the same layer where the polygon is should be selected in the layer panel.

This time an ellipse tool will be used in this example (marked yellow) to create a cutaway part to the existing shape (marked in green below). This can be done by holding the ALT key down (this will move the shape options into subtract front shape mode), as well as holding the SHIFT key down (to keep the original shape format), whist dragging a new circle on the canvas. A subtraction shape is made, which will be used as to cut a doorway.

Notice that a new layer has not been created, this is because the path tool was in the subtract front shape mode and not new layer mode.

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The shape can be moved freely by selecting the black arrow (Path selection tool) (shortcut key A), or by changing the shape using CTRL+T. Other shapes can be created, moved and changed as well, by just using the black arrow (Path selection tool), then selecting them directly. The white arrow (direct selection tool) is used to change the shape of the shape by exposing the handles of the bezier curves.


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Once the shape has been moved into position, it can be extruded into a 3D object. To extrude the shape make sure the black or white arrows are enabled and the shape is selected. Then right click anywhere on the shape, to show the context menu. At the bottom of the list, Extrude path to Extrusion should be available.

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Selecting this option should convert the object to 3D.

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Now it can be positioned in to the correct place and textured.

Don’t forget that by clicking on the object once will show the move widget, where the model can be moved left, right, up, down and rotated, as well as change the size of the model uniformly.

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The camera can be moved into different positions by using the three tools marked in red.

To apply a texture to the front of the bird house, click on the front face twice (marked in pink), or navigate to the 3D menu and choose inflation material of the shape (marked in red). This will show all of the properties of the material (marked yellow).

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Inside the materials list there are lots of built in ones (selecting the drop down arrow on the materials box will show what’s available. In the example below, a large list is shown, as this shows the names and the effect). There are materials like leather, glass, plastic etc and these make a great start. If they contain a colour then the colour will be loaded automatically into the diffuse property. In the example below, brown leather is chosen and applied to the front face.

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To add something more interesting, the diffuse folder can be opened and the texture opened for editing (marked in red).


Once opened the original 2D UV map and texture will be shown. At this point you can apply any texture to this surface. For this example the actions palette has been used (covered last week, in this post) and the action that is needed it run. In this texture action, it will run the texturizer and the parameters in the dialog box are applied.

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This can cover the whole canvas as it will only impact the surface. In the example below, a selection has been to the edge of the shape, the result of the action will fill the selection.

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Keep the texture open for a few moments, and return to the 3D object. This time, head over to the properties panel and click on the folder on the bump map (marked red). A texture might not already exist, if not, then one can be created by using the create a new texture option.

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A dialog will be opened, that will create a canvas the same size at the diffuse texture. When opened the UV overlay should be shown (UV overlay visibility is marked in red). This is showing the unwrapped polygons that make up the surface.

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Open the original diffuse window (that contains the texture map) and select the texture layers that were created earlier. The textures can then be copied to the new Bump texture and will be used to create relief.

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Both Diffuse and the bump should now be similar/same (it’s not imperative that this is the case and could even be a completely different texture to get an unusual effect). Navigating to the 3D panel and selecting the front inflation should access the properties of the material. The bump slider can then be increased and will create relief based upon the texture in the bump map channel (this can be changed at any time, by clicking on the folder and selecting edit texture).


To see what the results look like, you can press the Render button (marked yellow above), the render button is available in many places inside Photoshop CC (marked yellow above).




For Photoshop render settings, it will depend on the quality that is needed. I would use a minimum of 4 in Ray Tracer High Quality Threshold in the 3D preferences panel, a value of 5 will extract more information in the ray trace but will take substantially more time. The Photoshop CC Raytracer will create beautiful  high res renderings, photo quality.


N.B. For working with models in the Photoshop environment, I tend set my shadow quality to very low, this will increase performance.

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After the initial render.


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For the outside, a rusted metal effect which can be found under the texture actions panel is used. For this, the extrusion surface will be used. The same process is applied as before. The extrusion surface is located in the 3D panel and the diffuse on the material is opened and the texture applied. The bump on the same material is opened and the same texture is applied to this as well, and the Bump value increased by using the slider.

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Notice on the example above, the extrusion surface applies to both inside and outside extrusions,  the outer shell has the colour applied to it and the inside is the same texture but no colour. This is because the texture in the bump and diffuse covers both the inflation for the outside and the inside.

The red area is the inside of the hole, the yellow is the outside. Textures and colour information don’ t have to cover the whole mesh, The texture can be transformed using the free transform tool and can cover an areas that you require, or multiple textures can be used. The UV Overlays (marked pink) are shown in black (red) in the example below.

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Removing the overlays is achieved by  turning off the UV on the properties panel.

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Next week will look at finishing off the bird house by adding a roof, but there should be enough for you to play with here until next time.


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