Intro to 3D in Photoshop CS6/CC

Introduction to Photoshop 3D Tutorial

This tutorial will show and explain how to use the basic 3D tools and functions in Photoshop CS6/CC to create and render a piece of 3D text.


A new canvas is created in Photoshop CC (the one below is 1024px by 768px).

Creating the 3D object

Two text objects are created with letters in each as shown below.

At this point you can set a colour on the text, as this will be transferred to the 3D object when it is created.

Select one of the pieces of text and click on the ‘3D’ logo (marked red) in the tool bar. Photoshop will then turn this 2D text into a 3D object. This same is performed for the second piece of text.

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Create one 3D object by Merging 3D layers

When Photoshop creates 3D objects, they are each placed into a 3D layer, as shown below.  Ideally these 3D text objects should be in the same 3D layer, this will enable them to interact with each other, share lights etc.

To merge the two 3D layers into one, both layers (marked red) are selected and menu item  3D / Merge 3D layers (marked orange) is selected.

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Re-arranging the 3D objects

Once the 3D objects are in their own layer, the objects will most likely need to be re-arranged.

Everything 3D in Photoshop CC is on the move tool or keyboard shortcut ‘V’ (marked red below). The move tool is chosen and the 3D letters are selected, Photoshop CC will place a cage around the 3D text and show the on screen widget (marked yellow). The widget has 3 modes and they can be accessed by pressing the ‘V’ key multiple times

  • Positioning of the object
  • Extrusion, twist and taper
  • Bevel and Inflate

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The movement widget (marked red below) has 3 arrows; each arrow corresponds to a direction of movement.

  • The arrow will move the object in the direction it is pointing
  • The second element on the arrow will rotate the object across it’s axis.
  • The third element will scale the object along this axis.

For the object to be rotated it’s axis, the rotate widget (second element) is selected on the red arrow below.

The object can then be rotate freely, it is moved so that it is 90degrees to the other text object. The second window can be used to align the objects to each other (the secondary window (marked orange)).

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Moving the light source

3D objects usually have a light source that will be used to illuminate the scene, as well as cast shadows (if needed). Creating an object in Photoshop  3D will, by default, create an infinite light. The white light icon (marked yellow) is  used to select a light source, moving the this widget is done by dragging the small ball (marked red). This will re-position the light source and move the shadows. The shadows can also be moved into position without using the widget, by holding the SHIFT key and dragging within the scene (the pointer will turn into a cross hair).

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Editing the source document

Photoshop CC creates the 3D object with non destructive editing in mine. A 3D objects source can be changed even after the 3D object have been created. Once the 3D object has been clicked, the cage appears and an ‘EDIT SOURCE’ option in the properties panel will be displayed. Clicking the ‘EDIT SOURCE’ button will open up the source for this object. Anything can be changed at this point, including the text, font, colour etc. Closing and saving any changes will cause Photoshop CC to automatically update the 3D object.

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Changing Materials

An objects material is changeable by clicking on the object twice (once to select the cage, the second time to select part of the object (the front face element is marked green below (any that are visible are selectable))). To select the front face, click on the front of the object twice, Photoshop CC will select the front extrusion (as shown in the 3D panel below, marked pink), selecting the appropriate part of the object in this panel, will also select it’s properties (marked red)).


The material currently selected is shown in the small square box in the properties panel (marked yellow), and clicking on the down arrow will show materials that can be applied the selected part of the object (marked orange).

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Changing physical appearance

The physical appearance of the 3D model can be changed. Clicking on the object once will show the movement widget, and pressing the ‘V’ key twice more, will show the bevel and inflate widget (marked red below). The left hand side of the widget will increase the bevel edge of the object (it’s strength is controlled by the outer widget). The bevel is modified on the right hand side widget (it’s strength is also controlled by it’s corresponding widget)

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Ray Tracing

Once the 3D object has been created it needs to be rendered or ray traced. The ray tracing process will apply light to the scene, the ray-tracer will render the materials, illumination, texture, shadows, bump maps etc., to create the final 3D object. The quality of the Ray-tracer can be configured in the menu option Preferences/ 3D / Ray Tracer.


The screen shot below shows the final ray traced render, which is available for download at

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The 3D capabilities in Photoshop CC are much deeper that what is shown here. For more information on Photoshop CC 3D you are able to download the Dimensions book This book has been created by the Adobe Photoshop 3D team and will show more features, capabilities and examples that are possible in this version of Photoshop.


The 3D engine in Photoshop CC requires a minimum of 512mb of Video RAM (VRAM) on the computers graphics card to operate.

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