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In the first installment of his new Photoshop Extended One-on-One series, Deke McClelland covers the basic techniques for working with 3D in Photoshop, showing how to create textured type and drawing objects that can be manipulated in 3D space. The course covers creating 3D type with Repoussé; moving, scaling, and rotating objects along the X, Y, and Z axes; applying materials to create believable textures; adding realism with lighting, shadows, and contrast; and more. Exercise files are included with the course.
In this exercise I'm going to show you how to take 3D model created inside of Google SketchUp and import it into Photoshop CS5 Extended. But first I want you to have a sense of what we're trying to accomplish inside of this chapter. In the previous chapters we were building these frankly beautiful 3D compositions. In this chapter we're just going to take this image right here, which comes to us from Bart K of the Fotolia image library. It's your standard everyday average frankly low-quality photograph. But what I like about it, it has this obvious sense of two-point perspective, and we're going to import a chair into that photographic scene, and of course we'll position the chair and light the chair and so forth, but that's about the extent of it.
We'll ultimately end up switching out this chair for this gargantuan chair right here, as if it's an art installation or something like that, just so we can get a sense of some of the things that can go wrong and how to fix those problems. However, I'm keeping the project simple because we've got a lot of tools that we have to grapple with here and I want you to have a firm sense of how these tools work. Now I've mentioned to you that Photoshop doesn't provide any modeling tools, none whatsoever. You have Repousse, which allows you to take 2D layers such as text layers and vector-based shape layers and convert them into 3D objects, but that's the extent of it.
And while it might I suppose be possible to fabricate this chair using Repousse, you would be at it for an awfully long time. There is much more efficient ways to work and those ways are to work with an independent modeling application. Now I might go-to app is SketchUp, not because Photoshop and SketchUp work all that well together, they actually kind of don't, but rather namely because SketchUp is free. You can download it from sketchup.google.com. For both the Mac and the PC the standard edition of the software is free, so you don't need any 3D modeling experience to get started.
There is free videos at the Google site. There's frankly even better SketchUp videos from George Maestri here at the lynda.com Online Training Library. And finally SketchUp includes a community site where folks can trade their models and there is just thousands upon thousands of these things to cull from. So you can get started very quickly. Problem is things can go wrong as you bring these models into Photoshop. Let me show you what I'm talking about. I'll go ahead and switch to this file here. It's called Low back.skp and I created this model. And by the way I am not a SketchUp aficionado, but I was able to create this model here inside SketchUp.
And then what you do is you export the file. You can't just save it because Photoshop doesn't support SketchUp's native SKP format. You have to go up to the File menu, choose the Export command, and then choose 3D Model. Then make sure to set the export type to the Collada file format, which is a DAE extension, because that'll serve you best. And then finally in this you only have to do once, but you have to do it, click on the Options button and turn off this checkbox Preserve Component Hierarchies. Now problem with turning this checkbox off is without those component hierarchies the meshes can kind of drift away from each other, as we'll see.
However, if you turn a checkbox on, why Photoshop really does a bad job of interpreting the file. So turn that checkbox off. This is a known issue by the way; Adobe is aware of it and Adobe in fact recommends the checkbox be turned off. Then click OK. You only have to do that once. Then go ahead and export the file. Now I want you to notice something about this chair. It is up-right. Now that may seem like an obvious thing to point out to you but in just a second you will wonder if it really was. But it is absolutely up-right. The bottom of the chair is resting on the ground plane and the legs are drifting below. I could fix that if I wanted to, but it is not really all that necessary.
However, despite the fact that it's up-right, ready to go, it's absolutely aligned to the X, Y and Z axes, when I bring it into Photoshop it's a different matter. So I'm going to switch back to that original image, which is called Checkerboard floor.jpg, and to import that file I'll go to the 3D menu and choose New Layer from 3D File, and then I'll go ahead and locate that SketchUp model subfolder and click on Low back.dae and click on Open in order to open that file, and curiously it arrives on its back.
So Photoshop has not oriented the chair properly at all. Well that's kind of a drag but it's not that big of a problem, because we can lift that chair and set it up-right in no time whatsoever, and I'll show you how to do exactly that in the next exercise.
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