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In this final installment of Photoshop CS5 Extended One-on-One, Deke McClelland creates a total of seven 3D type effects from scratch. This project-based course shows how to create and modify 3D type, craft hand-drawn effects, and design complex character extrusions. The course also explains how to color-correct and post-process 3D type in Camera RAW.
In this exercise, I am going to show you how to generate the masks around the extruded edges for each one of these words: zap, bang, and pow, independently, so that we can ultimately create the effect of the letters coming through the smoke. Now, I'm looking at the final version of the composition. Go up to the Window menu, and choose the Layer Comps command, and notice here in the Layer Comps panel that I have created a couple of layer comps in advance. Click the right pointing arrow head in order to switch to the Type with smoke comp, which represents the final version of the composition.
Now, notice here in the Layers panel, there is a layer called smoke, and it includes a layer mask. Go ahead and Alt+Clic,k or Option+Click, on that layer mask, and then zoom in on the image. Now you will see that I have gone ahead and masked the letters, and the extruded sides, independently of each other. I mention this because we have these very thin, white outlines traced around each one of the letters. That's not necessarily ideal. Usually, I prefer seamless transitions. However, given the fact that this is a graphic image, not a continuous tone photograph, these edges aren't going to cause us any problems.
The good news is that we have these very precise contours around the areas of extrusion. Now, given the nature of these contours, the fact that we are seeing the smooth curves, punctuated every once in a while by a slight corner, you may figure the tool to use in order to trace them would be the Pen tool. Normally that would be the way to go, but when you're working with a 3D composition, there is no reason to resort to the Pen. You can mask every single surface in a 3D image automatically, and let me show you how that works.
I have saved my progress so far as Brighter letters.psd, found inside the 03_cables folder. If you are working along with me, make sure to save your progress right now, because we are going to need to tear this image apart in order to generate the masks. Meanwhile, you will also want to make sure that you have your Project masks.psd file open, so that you can add some more channels to it. All right. So I will switch back to the composition at hand. I am going to go ahead and turn off that letters layer, so that we are seeing the original darker version of the letters.
And I will scroll to the bottom of the stack, click on the Background layer, press the D key to make the foreground color black, and then press Alt+Backspace, or Option+Delete on the Mac, in order to make the background black. Now select the 3D layer, and double-click on its thumbnail in order to bring up the 3D panel. And with the Scene item selected at the top of the panel, go ahead and restore the quality to Interactive (Painting) so we can make some modifications without waiting for the ray trace. We need to make the image as dark as possible, so click on the Global Ambient Color swatch, and change the brightness value to 0, then click OK in order to apply that change.
Now I'll go ahead and scroll to the bottom of the 3D list, and turn off each one of the light sources, so that the image goes entirely black. All right, now it's time to work on the extrusions. I am going to click on the pow Extrusion Material, click on the Illumination swatch, change that brightness value to 100%, and click OK. All right. Let's go ahead and ray trace the scene so that we have less jagged outlines. Click on a Scene item, and then drop down the Quality, and change it to Ray Traced Draft. And a moment or two later, Photoshop should go ahead and generate the smooth outlines.
As usual, we are going to go ahead and speed up this process, of course. Now, if you find that you have to wait too long, you can go ahead and click to interrupt the process. After two or three passes, most of the smoothing process should be done. Now I'll go to the Channels panel. Press the Alt, or Option, key, grab any one of those channels, and drag and drop it onto the little page icon down there at the bottom of the panel. Switch the document, change the Document setting to Project masks.psd, and I am going to go ahead and call this new channel pow trail, and click OK. All right; now we are done with pow, so you can just go ahead and turn off the pow mesh, if you want to. And that's going to inspire Photoshop to re-render the scene, which is fairly hilarious, given that it's not getting anything done. It's just a bunch of black pixels, but I guess they're subject to refinement.
I am going to go ahead and scroll up the list and click on the bang Extrusion Material. Click on its Illumination swatch and change the brightness value to 100%, click OK, and Photoshop will go ahead and automatically update the ray trace. You might want to go ahead and give it a few passes. Again, two or three passes should do the trick. I am going to go ahead and click to interrupt the process. Then, once again, press the Alt or Option key, grab one of those channels, drag and drop it onto the page icon at the bottom of the Channels panel, and change the Document setting to Project masks.
Let's go ahead and call this one bang trails, and click OK. Now turn off the bang mesh, click inside the image window in order to interrupt the ray tracing process. Click on the zap Extrusion Material, click on its Illumination swatch, change the brightness value to 100%, click OK, and let the ray tracing process resume. Again, after a couple or three passes, go ahead and click to interrupt the process. And likewise again, press the Alt key, the Option key on the Mac; drag the channel of your choice.
It doesn't matter which one, so I keep dragging the blue channel, because it's closest. Drop it onto the page icon, change the Document to Project masks, go ahead and name as newest channel zap trails, and click OK. And then notice, if you go over to the Project masks.psd document, you now have four channels inside your Channels panel. You've got letters, you've got pow trails, you've got bang trails, and you've got zap trails. So everything is good to go. Now at this point, you can go ahead and return to the Brighter letters.psd image. Go up to the File menu -- this is very important -- and choose the Revert command so that you undo all the mess you've made of this document, and a moment later you will see the restored image with all layers intact.
We are done with the 3D panel, so I am going to go ahead and close it. All right. So we've generated every single mask we could possibly need. In the next exercise, I will show you how to use those masks to mask the smoke.
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