Archive for May, 2015

#CreativeFriday – Photoshop CC’s Content Aware Tools – Structure and Colour Controls

Sometimes within an area of an image, there is a section that needs to be cleaned up. Normally, this is simple, but on some occasions it runs through a gradient. An example of this is in a sky or some simple foreground texture like grass or sand/beaches etc.

Before the release of CC 2014 these areas could be fixed with the Clone Heal tool, but you had to spot the source area and make sure it’s inline with the destination. The Clone/Heal tool is amazing, but can take up precious time, sometimes speed is required.

In Photoshop CC 2014 an additional colour feature was added to the Content Aware tools in Photoshop. The colour feature now means that when the content aware tools are fixing area that contain gradients in tone, they can be tuned to recognise the colour shifts and take them into consideration, as part of the automatic fix.

Here is an example.

I’ve recently been scanning images into Lightroom from a 1995 cycling trip to Iceland. This particular image was taken on colour negative, and was taken in the North West of the island.

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There are a few things in the lower area that are not quite right and ideally need to be removed. For example, the shower block, the single tent and car, as well as the gravel path.

Of course getting rid of these areas is quite simple, however, if you notice there isn’t a lot of grass to clone from, also the tones in the potential candidates of grass are a combination of light and dark areas. This can cause us a problems, and cloning of these areas we need managing.

The Content Aware Patch tool (as well Content Aware Move and Extend, Edit / Fill (under colour adaptation)), have the capability to replace areas of content and examine and source/destination and attempt to match the colours, even if the source areas are darker or lighter than the destination (across a gradient).

In this first example it’s quite simple to replace the area of the three pipes with the ‘Content Aware Patch Tool’, as there are similar colours and textures around it. The structure value is set to 1 and the colour is set to 0. Notice that i’ve created an empty layer above the image and the ‘Sample All Layers’ is turned on. This technique will allow me to keep the file size nice and small (so the changes can be saved for future use/reference), as well as employing a non destructive editing technique. At any point in time, the empty layer can be adjusted using the standard layer controls (like opacity), or turned off. In the example, the area around the three black pipes has been selected for removal.

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When the selection is moved to an area near by, the contents are replaced.

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The same is applied to the concrete area between the three pipes and the shower block.

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Getting rid of the shower block is more tricky. The area is selected as previously, then another similar area is selected in the scene. However, the greens are not quite the same, they are tending to be darker or lighter in tonality.

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The first sample is taken from the left of the scene and the Content Aware Patch tool is set to Structure 1 and colour 0. The result of the patch doesn’t seem to fit in the scene very well, because the tones from the destination are different. New values in the structure and colour can be entered while the patch is still active, the contents will change once the processing has completed.

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If we increase the values of the Content Aware Patch to Structure 1 and colour 3, the patch is better and seems to blend in to the scene.

Screen Shot 2015-05-29 at 20.52.20If we try a larger value in 7 in colour, the result isn’t great.

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From the samples above, the version for colour value 3 is selected. Additional blending can be made to using the Healing Brush tool and takes just a few seconds, this gives the realistic effect, which is what we are looking for.

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The other area that is tricky is the car and tent. The areas of water around it are light and dark and using a standard structure and colour configuration, the result will be very obvious (as shown below).

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A few changes of the structure and colour values can be tested. The values of structure 3 and colour 5 have been used to blend in the destination area.

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Other areas can be replaced using the same technique and sampling from different areas, and modifying the Structure and Colour values as appropriate.

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The gravel path can be replaced using one of couple of ways. One is to select it’s complete width and sample from a similar areas. If no other area is long enough, then the path patching can be broken up into multiple pieces. Also, the Content Aware Move and Extend have the Structure and Colour controls, so this tool can be used also.

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A few samples and a bit of trial error later using different techniques, but all based on the Structure and Colour controls result in a pretty good blended grassy area

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The resulting left area is still a little patchy and can be replaced with an area to the right of it. This sample is shown below. Using the Structure and Colour values (in this case 1 and 3) will give a reasonable patch.

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Now that the patches have been completed, it would be a shame to loose them. Of course some image editors don’t mind this. This image can be flattened and the modifications blended into a single image, or actually, my preference is to preserve the layers with a  non-destructive technique. I would convert the three layers to a Smart Object. To do this, select the layers that are to be placed into the Smart object, then right click on them and select ‘Convert to Smart Object’.


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Once completed, the image can be cropped and rotated into position (the horizon line is a little wonky).

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Now that the cropped image is within a Smart Object and the foreground is clean, the editing of the image can commence. Because I came into Photoshop from Lightroom, i’m not going to go back to Lightroom to complete the edit. I want to keep the adjustments in Photoshop, just in case i need to edit them later. If I go back into Lightroom, then the Lightroom adjustments will flatten the PSD.

To do this, i’m going to use the ‘Camera Raw Filter’ (available under the Photoshop menu / Filter / Camera Raw Filter.

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I can now work on the sky with a graduated filter and bringing the exposure down, exactly as I would in Lightroom.

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Of course the exposure comes into the mountain on the right hand side, therefore, i’m going to use the new brush control (marked in Yellow), that is available on both the radial and the graduated filter to customise the mask.

With the brush, new areas of mask can be selected by using the + (marked in pink) or can be removed by using the – brush (by default the brush is set to – (remove), and using the alt key, can be switched to +(add mask)).

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It’s always worth while checking the image for dust spots, or as this is a scan, hairs and scratch marks from the negative.

The Clone/Heal tool is available on the Camera Raw filter (marked red below). The visualise spots (marked in yellow), will allow seeing of any oddness (the slider next to the visualise spots check box is the tolerance slider and can be used to increase or decrease the frequency settings).

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The round mark (halo) that can be seen can be removed using the Clone/Heal tool. But i’m going to demonstrate the non-destructive quality of the Smart Object.

To do this, click OK and return to Photoshop and apply the Camera Raw adjustments. The area of concern is marked in Yellow below. To make the adjustment on the original layers (held within the Smart Object), double click the Smart Object layer, marked in red below.

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This will open the original layers into a new canvas, this contains the original layers.

To fix the area, I would create a new layer (marked purple), similar to the way that the original layers that hold the previous fixes were made. This new layer will contain any new fixes. The ‘Content Aware Patch’ tool is selected (marked in red), then the area (yellow) is selected and replaced. A low Structure and Colour value are used to make sure that the new area blends seamlessly into the original position.

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Once completed, just a save and a close of the canvas, this will update the original layer. Any adjustments will be sent to the canvas and if there are any Smart Objects, and filters, they will be updated as part of this process.

You can see that in just a 20 minute process, the image looks completely different from the original version that came from the scan.

Fixed Version

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Original image

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With a final touch of Black and White and a custom Platinum tone, the image can be turned into a moody Black and White image.

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#CreativeFriday – An hour in Photoshop CC #2

Whilst at the Met in New York city, I was inspired to re-create a Picasso painting using just the 3D features in Photoshop CC.

The piece that inspired me was this one :-

Nude on the beach (Nu debout au bord de la mer), 1929

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The final image from Photoshop CC, and one that we will walk through today is :-

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The final image is available on my Behance page .

The beauty of Photoshop CC when creating some components in 3D are that they are created from 2D source components. The image above was created just from 2D shapes within a standard PS 3D canvas.

N.B Each shape is made on a new layer, then merged once drawn.

This post is based on the previous blog post, which explained how to use Photoshop’s 3D move tools and the object widget, you can refresh yourself or read this tutorial by heading over to this page.

Back Leg

The legs need to be vertically extruded and a long taper applied. This will provide the desired effect.

Essentially the legs start out life as a rectangle. The rectangle is then extruded. The reason that I didn’t use a longer rectangle (for the length of the leg), is because it would be harder to taper vertically on all sides.

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This is then converted to a 3D Object by using 3D / create 3D extrusion from selected Path or selected Layer (from the 3D menu), then extruded upwards and a taper applied (see the yellow area below). It is worth while noting that it’s a good idea to structure and the label the model components (labeled in red below)

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Front Leg

Font leg is formed from a new 2D shape, which is the same as the back leg.

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The final 3D extrusion is created with a taper and a twist along with the extrusion (see yellow reference below)

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The body is a custom shape made by using the Pen tool in Photoshop, then extruded the same way as above (3D menu / Create Extrusion from Path or Layer)

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Once the object has been converted into 3D, it is extruded and a bend applied

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A bevel is then applied to the same object

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Cones on the back

Each cone is actually a lathed object. The source for each one of these is half an isosolese triangle, one side being vertical, the other forming half the vertical cone angle.

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A 3D Object is created from the layer or path, then extruded around it self. This is performed by changing the Deformation axis to the far right hand side (indicated by the white dot on the deformation below).

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If the cone is to large or small. It’s easy to reshape it by clicking on the object, then choosing source within the properties panel and editing the original shape with a combination of the direct selection tool and the pen tool.


The Pyramid is actually created from a pre – determined shape, and is available from the 3D menu / New Mesh From layer / Mesh Preset / Pyramid.

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The final shape is tweaked by using the scale controls on the 3D navigation tool. The 3D navigation tool can be found by making sure that the Photoshop move tool (V key) is selected (top of the tools palette), then clicking once on the 3D object that needs to be moved. The 3D navigation tool has three axis, each has three controls, the top most one is a move, the middle is rotate and the last one is the scale tool (The middle square tool is used to uniformly scale the object).

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The sphere at the top of the pyramid is created the same way as the pyramid. There is a mesh preset that can be created from a sphere template (see below).

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Once the sphere has been created, it can be scaled and moved into place by using the 3D navigator (explained in the pyramid section of this post).

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Bar through the model

The bar through the back of the model is an extruded ellipse shape, that has been created using the 3D circle tool and scaled along one of the axis.

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The object is been extruded and moved into position using the Photoshop 3D move tool

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Back arm and front arm

The back arm and the front arm have been created by using a path/shape (same as the body), then moved into place on the body, so that it interlock at the hands.

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Front arm

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Both arms are placed on the body and moved into position.

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The shape needs a background to come to life, for this, a new layer was created below the 3D model, then a gradient to simulate the sky and the ground placed on it.

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To set up a realistic lighting rig, the original infinite light that was created in the base scene is selected, and within the properties, the colour and intensity have been changed to simulate a warmer colour.

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To create better shadows than a basic lighting setup will create, i’ve added an Image Based Light (IBL). The IBL properties are available on the ‘Environment’ tab within the 3D menu (marked in red), and the IBL data is then accessible within it’s properties (marked in yellow). You are able to download IBL’s by navigating to this page, and locating IBL’s.

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The IBL I have chosen, looks like the following and simulates a studio. In this case a yellow reflector, two soft-boxes and a large white diffused light from the top of the scene.

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Once the IBL has been loaded into the scene, then it can be moved around and placed into position using the IBL move tool (marked magenta above).


The most important part of the job, is to render the scene. The objective of this is to throw light and create the shadows, textures etc within the scene. The render button in Photoshop is available in many places. One of the most accessible buttons is located on the properties panel (marked in red).

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Full Quality Rendering can take a while, depending on many variables (lights, textures, materials, number of objects in the scene etc etc).

Rendering settings

I usually set my renderer up with the following settings (Note that the shadow quality is set to very Low, this will give me back some performance when moving the model in the scene).

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I hope that you have fun with creating things using Photoshop CC. As an aside, there are something that Photoshop cannot create, you can always create the part required in 3D software, then import into Photoshop, merge into the 3D layer  and move into place.


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Adobe at the London 3D Print show with an open seminar room

We are pleased to announce that Adobe will be attending the London 3D Printing show. The show will be taking place at Truman Brewery from Thursday 21st May until Saturday 23rd May.

Adobe will have an open seminar room holding talks on the hour for all three days. The talks will be covering everything from an introduction to working with 3D in Photoshop and 3D Printing, to talks from artists that use Photoshop CC as part of their workflow. We will also be hosting other partners that are supported in the Photoshop 3D Printing ecosystem.

We look forward to seeing you at the show and answering any questions that you may have on 3D/3D Printing with Photoshop CC

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#CreativeFriday – Moving 3D Objects, Cameras and Rendering in Photoshop CC

I was asked a while ago to create an article on how to move 3D objects and cameras around in Photoshop CC and, in general how to work with the 3D scene. Having an ability to moving objects around a scene is the basic building blocks of putting something interesting in 3D in Photoshop CC together. Knowledge of this will smooth out the 3D Photoshop experience.

The exercise and objective of this post is to take two individual objects, place them both into one scene and align them against each other, by using just Photoshop’s move and camera tools. The final part of the exercise will be to light the scene using Image Based Lights (IBL’s).

Importing 3D objects into Photoshop CC is straight forward, you can either open then as you would regular file, the 3D file formats that Photoshop CC supports are :-

OBJ, STL, PLY, 3D PDF, VRML, Flash 3D, Collada (DAE), IGES. The Collada, (STL and OBJ are the most common in this arena), Collada is a wonderful format, which is highly flexible and was designed to be an interchange format between 3D applications. Collada, also has the ability to contain animation of the models, which can also be processed and leveraged in Photoshop CC.

3D Objects will be imported into separate canvases and will at some point need to be merged into a single scene, if  the objects need to interact and occupy the same space.

In the following screen shot, you can see there are two canvas, each with a 3D Object. 3D Objects are represented in the Layers panel as a special 3D layer. This 3D layer also contains references to any materials and other specific 3D obejcts that are associated with the scene (i.e below you can see the diffuse/texure map, as well as the Image Based Light (IBL)).

When a 3D object has been selected (by using the regular Photoshop Move tool, accessed by using the ‘V’ key), the ground plane will become visible (if not already). Also, any lights (white circle on the lower part of the interface) will become accessible. The Photoshop CC 3D environment also has the option to have the secondary orthographic view available (window in top left below), we will discuss this in more detail later, but essentially it’s useful when lining items up in the scene.

Moving the camera

There are two ways to move the camera(s) in Photoshop CC. The original 3D move tools are highlighted in yellow below and the new CC tools are highlighted in red. You may ask, what’s the difference? The yellow tools are only available when the Photoshop move tool is selected, while the red tools are available when in the move tool or in the brush tool. This enhancement was made so that the cameras could be moved when you are painting directly on the model and wish to move to another area, or zoom in/out of the model.

Both sets of tools are equal :-

  • Dolly – This moves the camera toward or away from the object
  • Orbit – This moves the camera around the object
  • Pan – This moves the camera above, below and to either side of the object

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To get another 3D layer into a single canvas, you can either drag and drop it in from another canvas (the same as in 2D), or use the 3D menu 3D / New 3D Layer from File.


Once the objects exist in the same canvas, you will need to merge them into the same scene to allow them to interact with each other.

Combining objects into a single scene

When multiple objects are brought into a Photoshop canvas, they will be on separate layers. To merge them together,  select the destination scene, then select the source scene and choose from the 3D menu / Merge 3D Layers.

N.B. How to choose the destination 3D scene.

This is an important consideration. When you are merging 3D layers you need to be conscious of any environment configurations (Lights, IBL setup etc). You should always select a single destination which contains your desired lighting setup and merge into this one. As Photoshop will preserve the lights in the destination and when merging, will only move the object from the source.


In the following example, two layers have been selected (the rocket scene being the destination that contains the lighting will be set up). Then the menu option 3D / Merge 3D Layers is selected.


Once the merge has completed, the two objects (marked yellow and red below) will be in the same scene, any materials will be available in the layers panel (as shown below).

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Once the objects are merged, they can interact with each other. Each item is also independently selectable as well as they are jointly selectable with other objects (for moving or rotation as a group etc).

Whilst the move tool is selected, a click on the object(s), this in turn will select the cage and will activate the 3D navigation widget. At this point, the object(s) can be :-

  • Moved – At the end of each axis on the widget an arrow is available that will move the object in direction (as well as the opposite) direction.
  • Rotated – The second feature (from each axis end) is the rotation tool, this will rotate the object along the axis.
  • Scaled – The third feature will scale the object along the desired axis
  • Scaled Uniformly – The centre point of the widget, will uniformly scale the object to be smaller or larger.


Move – The example below shows the Move point of the widget.

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Rotation – The example below shows the rotation point of the widget.

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You might notice the yellow points on the cage, these points allow interaction, supporting movement and rotation of the cage. Also, by selecting the cage, the properties of the object will allow direct input of new positions of the object (marked in red).

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The scene lights are accessible using the light object (marked in red). Once selected, the light widget will appear (marked in Yellow). This widget allows the light source (in this case the infinite light) to be moved, along with any shadows that might be created on the ground plane. The Light properties (marked in green), show which parts of the light can be modified (including, colour of the light, intensity, as well as and shadow presence and softness required).

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The colour of the light can be changed, and a new colour selected from the colour picker. By clicking on the area marked in red below (any lighting modification will only affect the render and not the final colour print, to alter the colour prints, the materials will need to be changed, this will be covered in a separate blog post).

3D Panel 

The 3D menu is available from the Photoshop menu bar (Window / 3D ). This menu will show the structure for the scene (marked in red below) :-

  • Environment
  • Scene
  • Current View
  • Default Camera
  • Model(s) (There will one of these for each model in the scene)
    • Material(s)

Individual or multiple Object(s) can be selected from the 3D menu (using a single click or CTRL+Click on multiple objects), this action, will in turn will select the physical object(s).

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(Screenshot showing the 2nd object selected by using the 3D menu.)

Moving and aligning objects 

Successfully lining objects to other objects in the scene works best when you have more than one view of the scene. The secondary view (marked in purple below) certainly helps with this task. The secondary view (if not already enabled), is available on the regular Photoshop menu View / Show / Secondary view, and is only available when the 3D layer is selected. This view will show an orthographic view of the model(s) and helps the moving/aligning process.

Using the arrows that are available on each axis of the Move tool widget (marked in Purple), allows the object to be moved into position (you may also need to scale, uniform scale or rotation to get the objects into the correct position). Moving the object in the main window, will also move the object in the secondary view as well, therefore aiding the lining up process.

Creating Other 3D Extrusions from 2D Objects

In this example, I would like to have the logo attached to the Rocket. But there is some existing geometry which I cannot remove in Photoshop. I would need to open a 3D application to remove the polygons manually. In this example, a shape will be extruded which will be used to cover the existing geometry. This process is being used to show the extrusion of a shape, rather than show how to correctly replace polygons/geometry. If i was in a production environment, I would open in 3D software and remove the polygons manually. A quick way to fix this issue, is to place a blank area over original polygons and hide them. This can be achieved by extruding a simple ellipse shape from the shapes menu.


Once the ellipse has been created, it can be extruded into a 3D shape, as shown below.

This shape can then be merged (the same as before, by selecting the relevant layers in the correct order, then moving into place, intersecting the place on the 3D object where the logo needs to be placed).


Switching views

Within the secondary view, it’s possible to change the orthographic view. The menu for this is available from the down arrow icon on the secondary view (marked in green below).

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Once the new view has been selected on the secondary view, it can then be switched to the main view by clicking on the switch arrow (marked yellow below). Sometimes, it can be simpler to work in orthographic view in the main window, especially when moving and aligning objects.

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The following screen shows when the objects are aligned.


Once the object has been aligned, it may need to have it’s material changed. In this case i would like it to stand proud of the rest of the model.

The example below shows how a simple material (shipped with Photoshop) can be applied to a model(s). The material element is available on the 3D menu (marked in Red, there may be more materials depending on the complexity and number of surfaces of the object selected). The shipped materials (marked in purple) are available from the materials selector, within the same marked area. Selecting a new material here, will update the object in the main scene window as well as the secondary view.

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Once the objects are in position, we can finish the lighting of the object

Image Based Lights – IBL

Image Based Lights (IBL’s) are extremely powerful and will allow the Photoshop rendering to look amazing. IBL’s will give a natural lighting effect to the scene and are based on a simple black and white mask, but can get more complex when required.

Accessing the IBL is available from the Environment tab of the 3D menu (marked red). Within the properties (marked yellow) the IBL textures can be replaced or removed etc.

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The IBL is a simple 2D texture that will control how ambient light will hit the model in the scene. You can create your own, or download the two setup’s from the web site (under IBL’s here, and navigate to ‘Stages and Sets’). For this example i’m going to use a simple one, which will give the model a realistic look and feel.


Once loaded into the scene, the IBL can be moved and controlled. The IBL and it’s properties can be accessed on the Environment tab in the 3D menu. Once selected, the IBL can be rotated into the best position by dragging the ball marked in Yellow. The ball shows the orientation of the mask and how the light source will be transmitted into the scene.

The IBL environment properties can be found in the standard properties panel (marked in Blue). Here you can manage the colour and intensity, as well as shadows and other ground plane parameters.

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The next step in this example is to create a background with a gradient (marked in red), then it’s positioned using the transform tool (CTRL+T).

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The rendering of the scene can be done by clicking the rendering button within the properties panel (marked in red below, there are many different places to render the scene).

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Saving 3D models as .PSD or .TIFF.

The last stage is to save the object and it’s layers to either a TIFF or PSD file.


We hope that from this post you are able to successfully navigate around the 3D scene and use the Photoshop CC navigation tools to make your objects interact and start some basic 3D modelling.

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Mike Scrutton of Adobe talks about 3D Printing and Colour from within Photoshop CC

As Microsoft, HP, Autodesk, netfabb & Shapeways launch the new 3MF file format, TCT interviews Mcor Technologies, Shapeways, Spectrom, Adobe and Faberdashery posing the question; does full colour 3D printing need a new file format?

Mike Scrutton of Adobe talks about 3D Printing and Colour from within Photoshop CC in this podcast. The section about the Adobe colour workflow is from 13.30 to 29.22.


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#CreativeFriday – Inline Mask creation in Photoshop CC

One of the most common tasks in Photoshop is creating a mask on a layer.  There are many ways to do this. However, I was speaking to a customer this week, and it reminded me of a great way to create a mask and also see what’s happening to the underlying layers.

This feature can be very handy to see exactly what areas of the mask are being concealed or revealed.

To do this, the ‘\’ key can be pressed when the mask itself has been created and selected. The ‘\\ key will show the mask ruby-lith as well as the underlying image, allowing you to see what’s happening to the mask as it’s being applied (This shortcut is also handy when you need to see varying levels of opaqueness in the mask).

The objective of this example in this blog will show how the mask can be created to reveal the underlying layer, and also use opacity to control the cut away sections. The mask combined with opacity will be used to control how much of the underlying layer will be shown through.

The example below includes a black to transparent gradient on the background, and a white layer above it. The numbers above the white background are the levels of opaqueness  that will be used for the mask. Essentially, to revel the layer/contents underneath the white layer, a mask will need applying to it and parts of it cut away with a black brush.

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Without the mask overlay

When the mask of the layer is selected and a black brush stroke is applied (notice the foreground colour below), the contents under the white layer will be revealed (each brush stroke will also have opacity amount applied (the blue number on the left), which will control how much will be revealed from the underlying layer. If a Wacom tablet/pen is used in combination with the mask, the pressure sensitivity on the nib will control the opacity of the mask reveal).

When areas of the mask are modified and the underlying contents are revealed, it can be difficult to see what’s been removed and what hasn’t. This can be tricky when working with and creating a complex mask.Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 14.27.36To see what is happening with the mask in isolation, the ALT key and a click on the mask, will show the mask in isolation (as shown below).

Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 14.52.26

With the mask overlay

However, it would be handy to see the reveal and the mask at the same time . To be able to see the mask that is being created inline with the underlying layers, select the mask, then press the ‘\’ (back slash key) on the keyboard. Now when the mask is painted on using the brush, the mask will be seen along with the pixels it is revealing / concealing (the pink area below).

Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 14.27.06

Once all masks have been painted (as below) the areas can easily be seen, including any feathering that has been applied and used.

Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 14.27.33

You can see below in a practical example below, that when the mask is shown and the layers below are revealed at the same time. A potentially better mask with more control can be achieved.

Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 15.38.46

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