Learn how to create a super cool illuminated text effect using Photoshop’s 3D Layers. We’ll make your text really stand out by making it glow. Read on to find out how.
What you’ll be creating
In this tutorial we are going to create a super cool illuminated text effect using Photoshop’s 3D Layers. The key to making your Layers glow lies in exploring the hdr based Illumination property, and in providing another item mesh from which light can then be reflected. Firstly we’ll be creating 3D layers from Text and then merging 3D layers to create a single unified scene. Once we’ve done that we’ll create a wireframe, adjust the UV Scale and wrap and then work with roughness and reflection to get the glow effect just right. You’ll need Photoshop CS6 or newer to follow this tutorial.
Use Cmd / Cntl +N to create a new document. In the dialog box, set the following properties: Width x Height: 1400 x 700 pixels Color Mode: RGB Background Color: White
First we’ll create the background environment for our scene a simple ‘L’ shaped profile. Use the shortcut Cmd/Cntl + Shift + N to create a New Layer. Name it ‘Wall and Floor’. Select the Rectangular Marquee tool (M) and draw a rectangle shaped selection, centred in the canvas. Press ‘D’ to reset the toolbox colors and use the shortcut Alt. /Option + Backspace to fill the selection with black.
Use the keyboard arrow keys to nudge the selection 3 pixels up and 3 pixels left. Press Backspace to delete the selected area, and use the shortcut Cmd / Cntl +D to drop the selection
Next we’ll turn the L shaped profile into a 3D Extrusion. Go to the 3D menu > New 3D Extrusion from Selected Layer command:
The initial 3D extrusion will need a little more depth. Go to the Window menu > 3D Panel and select the Mesh item in the list. In the Window menu > Properties Panel, increase the Extrusion Depth slider to 30 cm:
We’ll now add some text as another 3D Layer. Select the Type Tool (T) and click on the document to create a Text Layer. Set the character attributes and colour using the Options bar. In our example, we’ve used the font Chalet Tokyo, 200 px size and colour R0 G0 B0. Enter your text and press Cmd / Cntl + Enter to create the Type Layer
Go to the 3D menu > New 3D Extrusion from Selected Layer. In the Window > Properties Panel, set the Extrusion Depth to 1 cm. Select the Cap tab in the Properties Panel and set the following Bevel and Inflation values: Sides: Front and Back Bevel Width: 10 % Bevel Angle: – 60 degrees Inflation Angle: 25 degrees Inflation Strength: 12%
In order for our text to illuminate the background, we need to have both mesh items on the same 3D Layer. In the Window > Layers Panel, select both 3D Layers. Go to 3D > Merge 3D Layers command:
Select the Move tool (V) and click on the text mesh in the document window. Using the Move handles that appear, reposition the mesh so that it’s closer to the wall and resting on the floor. Use the Rotate handles to orient the mesh so that it faces away from the wall:
Next we’ll reposition the render camera. Click anywhere in the document outside the meshes with the Move tool – a yellow frame will appear around the edge of the document window to indicate that the camera position controls are now active. Click and drag on the Dolly and Move tools in the bottom left corner of the document window (highlighted in red in the following screenshots) to move the camera closer to the text. Click and drag on the Rotate tool to adjust the camera angle. Continue adjusting the camera angle and position until you have a nice front on view:
Next we’ll adjust the scene lighting to create a low key ambience. Go to the Window > 3D Panel and select the Environment item. Uncheck the Ibl tick box to disable the default image based light that comes with the scene. In the 3D panel list, click on the Infinite Light. In the document window, adjust the lighting angle so that the light direction is from above. In the Window > Properties Panel, set the following values for the illumination: Color : R0 G128 B200 Intensity value: 30% Shadow Softness: 100%
The scene will appear quite under exposed at this point, but we’ll now adjust the material properties to create a glowing illumination effect. In the Window > 3D Panel, select the wall and background mesh and click on the Extrusion Material in the list. In the Window > Properties Panel, set the following values: Diffuse Color : R255 G255 B255 Shine: 20% Roughness: 100%
In the Window > 3D Panel, open the Material Properties for the Text Mesh and select the Back Inflation Material. Click on the Color box next to the Illumination property. The Color Picker dialog allows you to specify both the color and illumination intensity that a material emits. By varying both the color and hdr intensity values, materials can become self illuminating and appear to glow with light. Using the picker dialog box, set the illumination color using the following values : RGB Color values: R0 G128 B200 Intensity value: +3.5 stops
As illumination properties are only calculated at render time, you won’t notice any difference in your scene. Test the results in your scene using the 3D menu > Render command
You may need to alter the illumination intensity value once you’ve previewed a test Render. This may depend on the amount of glow you want, and also the distance between the text and the background wall. Press the Escape key at any time to pause the render process and adjust the Intensity value for the Illumination Color value. Run another test Render from the 3D menu to check the results.
We’ll now add some front illumination to our text by adjusting the other Materials. In the Scene list, select the Front Bevel Material. In the Window > Properties Panel, click the Illumination Color value and enter the following into the HDR Color Picker: Illumination Color: R0 G105 B190 Intensity: + 1.2 stops
In the Scene list, select the Front Inflation Material and apply the following settings: Specular Color: R255 G 255 B255 Shine: 0% Reflection: 10% Roughness: 100%
As before, the true effect of changing the Illumination Properties will not show in OpenGl display. Use the 3D Menu > Render command to preview the results in the scene:
Finally, in the Scene List, select the Text Extrusion Material and apply the following values: Specular Color: R0 G150 B200 Shine: 10% Reflection: 10% Roughness: 100%
Once you’ve applied the final Material Settings, it’s time for the final Render. Save the file, then use the 3D menu > Render command to create the final image. Lighting scenes by reflection and use of increased Roughness values will require a longer final render time to achieve a good level of image quality. The example shown below was allowed to render for 58 mins to produce the finished image.