Fake 3D in Photoshop
Nik Ainley talks us through creating fashionable 3D artwork without touching any rendering tools whatsoever
Nik Ainley talks us through creating fashionable 3D artwork without touching any rendering tools whatsoever! Good Eh?
This is one of those tutorials where we will use Photoshop not because it is the ideal tool, but as a demonstration of Photoshop’s power and versatility.
This tutorial was inspired by a request to know how to replicate a certain imagery style using only Photoshop. These referenced images were produced using 3D software, such as 3ds Max, which are built for producing such scenes. Trying to reproduce this effect using just Photoshop (not even with the help of Illustrator and its useful line-drawing and 3D effects tools) is a wonderful way to get to grips with many of Photoshop’s functions. This kind of layered concept looks very cool when combined with natural textures and glossy Web 2.0 stylings, plus Web Designer adopted it for the cover of issue 145. What’s more, faking three-dimensional objects in Photoshop has a lot of uses in design other than being a demonstration of its abilities. Apart from the fact that it negates the need to either purchase or learn 3D software, it can often allow results to be produced far more quickly.
We will have a good look at Photoshop’s Transform function in creating the illusion of perspective, as well as clipping groups and airbrushing to create shading.
This image was created at about 3,000 x 3,500 pixels in size, so any measurements in this tutorial should be adjusted to whatever size you work at. Happy faking!
This tutorial was written by Nik Ainley and first appeared in Web Designer issue 152
Download all the files for this tutorial here http://www.webdesignermag.co.uk/tutorial-files/issue-152-tutorial-files/
01 Line ‘em up
The most important aspect of getting a good 3D feel is creating realistic perspective. To achieve this, we are going to create a guide grid. There are two ways to do this. The first involves drawing out a grid such as this using the Line tool or Pen tool, and then transforming it with Distort selected to give it some perspective. This method is preferable, but the next one is almost certainly quicker.
02 A bit of perspective
The second way is to use the Vanishing Point filter, which is rather useful for perspective-based trickery. On a new layer, enter the filter and draw out a plane with a nice perspective. Then click on the little arrow at the top and choose Render Grids to Photoshop, then exit the filter and you have yourself a nice grid to use. The filter can get oddly grumpy about producing differently orientated planes, though, so watch out. The Plane Drawing tool will change colour to let you know this is happening. We explain why we don’t use the filter for the whole process in the boxout on page 60.
03 Background work
Now place and keep this grid at the top of your image. We will be turning it on and off throughout in order to match various objects’ perspectives to it. Add a gradient to the background, trying to match the angle of your grid. This in turn adds a quick bit of depth.
04 Shape time
Now to add our first object. You can use anything you want here really; simple geometric shapes work very well. Using either the Pen tool or the Shape tool, draw out a simple shape. Make it quite big so that distorting it later doesn’t introduce fuzziness.
To make our shape a bit more interesting, we are going to add some colour and details. First of all, we made sure the shape was white, and then got a selection based on its outline (Ctrl-click on the layer’s thumbnail). We then contracted the selection by about 20 pixels (Select>Modify>Contract) and filled this with a dark pink on a new layer