Create glowing 3D text and beautiful effects using only non-destructive Photoshop techniques. This tutorial will show you how to create 3D text, give it a futuristic blue glow, and finish it off with a modern bokeh and grid background. There are also a few really cool Photoshop tricks scattered in this tutorial. To follow this tutorial, you’ll need Photoshop CS5 Extended (Not the regular version).
What You’ll be Making
Download the PSD
TRON-Inspired Text.zip | 5.98 MB
TRON-Inspired Text Photoshop Tutorial
Before you begin this Photoshop tutorial, make sure you have these fonts installed. You’ll need to have them installed before running Photoshop or else you won’t be able to use it. You also need the extended version of Photoshop CS5 (not the regular version).
You can substitute the Raleway Thin font with Neue Helvetica 35 Thin if you have it.
Start by creating a new 1920×1080 pixels document. To create a new document, go to File > New.
Make the background black. You can do this quickly by pressing Ctrl/Cmd+I or going to Image > Adjustments > Invert to invert the color.
Type in the text you like to use with the TR2N font with a font size of 480pt. It’s best to use something around 4 characters. I’ll be writing TR2N instead of TRON to give credit to the author Jeff Bell for this beautiful font.
Duplicate the text layer then rename it to TR2N 3D. Make sure this layer is positioned as the top layer.
Make sure you have the TR2N 3D text layer selected then go to 3D > Repoussé > Text Layer. You’ll get a popup that asks if you want to rasterize the text – just click yes. If you don’t see the 3D menu, you might not be using Photoshop CS5 extended. There are two versions of Photoshop and the 3D tools are only available in Photoshop CS5 Extended.
In the Repoussé tool, reduce the Depth value so that the thickness of your 3D text looks similar to ours. Don’t click OK yet.
In the Materials area, click on the drop down menu then choose the sphere with no texture. This will remove all the textures from your text. Don’t click OK yet.
Here’s how the text currently look.
In the Bevel settings, select Front then set the height to 5, width to 0.5, and contour to the deep cove contour. Click OK to apply the changes.
This bevel settings you just set gives your text a slight bevel like this:
We’re done creating the 3D text! Now that we’re done, we can allow Photoshop to improve the quality of the 3D text.
One of the most common problems people experience when trying out the 3D tools is that they get jagged low quality edges. Photoshop does this to improve the performance while you’re editing. Once you’re done, you can change the quality and have Photoshop render a higher quality image.
This quality setting is hidden in the 3D panel. Go to Window > 3D to bring up the 3D panel. In the Quality drop down menu, select Ray Traced Final.
Photoshop will now render the image and you’ll see a blue grid moving across your image. This process will take awhile depending on your computers speed. If you press anything, Photoshop will pause the render. To resume the render, just right-click on the layer and choose Resume Progressive Render. When the text quality looks good enough for you, simply click anywhere to stop the render.
After the render, you’ll get a smooth text like this.
Now we’re going to apply some layer styles to give it a glow. Before we begin, I’m going to convert it to a Smart Object. This step is optional – you don’t have to do it. I just like doing it because it protects me from accidentally changing the settings (ex. clicking on the visibility icon of the 3D settings). Every time this happens, Photoshop will have to restart the rendering. If you want to convert the layer into a Smart Object, right-click on the layer then choose Convert to Smart Object.
If you want to go back to edit the 3D settings, you can double-click on the layer thumbnail. Photoshop will open the layer as a new document and give you instructions on how to save the changes.
Edit the settings you like then save and close. The changes will show up in your original Photoshop document.
We’re now going to use layer styles to give the 3D text a blue glow. Right-click on the TR2N 3D layer then choose Blending Options.
Select the Color Overlay option then set the color to #00B4FF. You can also change the blending mode to Overlay if you like. Don’t click OK yet.
Select the Outer Glow layer style then set the color to the same color we used earlier (#00b4ff). Set the size to around 30px. Note that the size you use will vary if you used a different font size than the one we used. Click OK to apply the changes.
Here’s how the blue glow looks like.
Now we’re going to work on the front face of the 3D text to give it a glowing effect. In the Layers palette, move the TR2N layer above the TR2N 3D layer. You can move the layer by dragging it above the TR2N 3D layer.
Your text will now have a nice white glow.
If you zoom in and look closely, chances are that your white outline is not aligning perfectly with the 3D text.
To fix this, use the Free Transform tool by going to Edit > Free Transform. Zoom in and drag the handles of the transform box to scale it so that it fits your 3D text. If your bounding box is snapping and you don’t want it to, hold the Ctrl or Cmd key while dragging to disable snapping.
We’re now going to add a very thin outline that will improve the look of your text. Right-click on the layer then choose Blending Options.
Select the Stroke layer style then set the size to 3px, position to inside, and color to white. Click OK to apply the changes.
It’ll look like you did nothing because the text is white and the outline is white. To fix this, set the Opacity and Fill of the TR2N layer to 75%.
Here’s what we just made.
Select the Text tool and type some below the TR2N text. I used the font Raleway. If you have the Neue Helvetica 35 Thin font, you can use that instead – it’s the same font that was in the movie but it’s not free ($35 USD).
If you want to increase the spacing between the letters, go to Window > Character then adjust the spacing value. Make sure you have the text highlighted.
Use the Move tool to position your text if needed.
We’re going to apply a blue glow to the subtitle. Because we did this earlier, we can copy the layer style settings from the logo and paste it into the subtitle. To do this, right-click on the TR2N 3D layer and click Copy Layer Style then right-click on the subtitle layer and click Paste Layer Style.
Here’s what the subtitle looks like with the blue glow.
Before we continue, we’re going to reduce the outer glow a little on the subtitle. Double-click on the Outer Glow layer style.
Reduce the outer glow size then click OK.
We’re done with the 3D text! Here’s what it looks like.
Just having 3D text on a black background is boring so we’re going to create a cool grid background and top it off with some bokeh. We’re going to start off with the grid background.
This grid background is pretty cool because it uses only Smart Filters and you can create unlimited variations with two clicks. I’ll show you more about this later. First, let’s create a grid background. Create a new layer and position it above the Background layer. Rename this layer to “Grid Background”.
Right-click on the layer then choose Convert to Smart Object. By converting the layer into a Smart Object, we can apply Smart Filters which are the non-destructive version of filters that let us edit the settings anytime we like.
Now we’re going to apply a secret combination of filters to create a grid background – no drawing necessary! First, make sure your foreground and background colors are set to the default colors. You can reset the foreground and background colors by pressing D on your keyboard.
Go to Filter > Render > Clouds.
We’re going to turn the clouds into a mosaic pattern with round edges. Go to Filter > Pixelate > Mosaic. Set the Cell Size to 40 square then click OK.
To give the mosaic round corners, we’re going to use the Median filter. Go to Filter > Noise > Median. Set the Radius to 8 pixels then click OK.
Now we’re going to give the mosaic pattern some glowing edges. Go to Filter > Stylize > Glowing Edges. Set the Edge Width to 1, Edge Brightness to 10, and Smoothness to 1 then click OK.
Double-click on the blending options button for the Glowing Edges filter in the Layers palette.
A Blending Options window will appear. Set the blending mode to Screen and opacity to 50% then click OK.
Now we’re going to add some contrast to it by adjusting the black clip. We’re going to use a trick to do this because we can’t use the Levels or Curves tool on a Smart Object layer. Instead of using those tools, we’re going to use the Shadows/Highlights tool which is compatible with Smart Objects.
Go to Image > Adjustments > Shadows/Highlights. There is a black clip setting we can use but it’s grayed out unless you make changes to the shadows or highlights settings. To get around this, just set the shadows to 1%.
Checkmark the Show More Options option. The tool will expand and give you a lot more settings. Ignore all the other settings and just adjust the black clip setting to your likings. This setting will increase the black areas in your image. If you want to increase the white areas in your image, adjust the white clip setting. I’m just going to set the black clip to 10%. Click OK to apply the changes.
Here’s what the image looks like.
Reduce the opacity of the Grid Background layer to your likings. I set mine to 12%.
Here’s what the image looks like with the grid background. We’re not quite done yet… just one quick tip before we move on to the bokeh effect.
Here’s the coolest part of about the grid background we just created. You can randomize the grid simply by double-clicking on the Clouds Smart Filter. Photoshop will randomize the effect every time you do it.
Photoshop will give you a info popup when you double-click on the clouds layer. You can checkmark the “Don’t show again” option if you don’t want to see this popup again.
Keep double-clicking on the Clouds Smart Filter until you get a pattern that you like. Here’s the one I settled with.
Create a new layer and position it above the Grid Background layer. Name this layer Bokeh.
Select the Brush tool then right-click anywhere on the document to bring up the brush settings. Pick this brush here. It should be a round brush with a 100% hardness. Set the Size to 200 px.
If you don’t see this brush, you can click on the flyout menu and click Reset Brushes.
Go to Window > Brushes. Enable the Shape Dynamics option the set the Size Jitter to 100%. Make sure your Control option is set to Off.
Next, enable the Scattering option then checkmark the Both Axes option and set the Scatter to 1000%. Make sure your Control setting is off, Count 1, and Count Jitter 0%.
Enable the Color Dynamics Option then set the Hue Jitter to 3%.
Select the Transfer option then set the Opacity Jitter to 100%.
Finally, click on the Brush Tip Shape and enable Spacing. Set the spacing to 100%.
We’re done setting up the brush! Now we can start painting. First, set your foreground color to white. You can do this quickly by pressing D on your keyboard then X.
Paint around the image. You’ll get a bunch of randomly created circles. You may have to undo by pressing Ctrl/Cmd+Z and retry the painting several times before getting one that you like.
Go to Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation. Checkmark the colorize option then adjust the settings to get the color you like. Here are the settings we used:
Right-click on the Bokeh layer then choose Convert to Smart Object.
Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Set the Radius to 16 pixels then click OK.
Double-click on the Gaussian Blur Smart Filter blending options button.
Set the Opacity to 80% then click OK.
Here’s what the image looks like!
Finally, we’re going to erase some bokeh around the logo so that it’s not too distracting. In the Layers palette, click on the New Layer Mask button.
Select the Eraser tool. Make sure you have the default foreground and background colors. You can press D on your keyboard to reset your colors. Right-click anywhere in the document window to bring up the eraser brush settings. Select the Soft Round brush then set the size to 800 px.
Erase the area near the logo. We’re done!
You can also fill the background layer with any color you like:
Here’s a close-up at 100%.
Download the PSD
TRON-Inspired Text.zip | 5.98 MB