Join Deke McClelland for an in-depth discussion in this video Making cable-length I-beam extrusions, part of Photoshop CS5 Extended One-on-One: 3D Type Effects.
In this chapter, I've got a special treat for you. I'm going to show you how to create what I am calling 3D I-beam extrusions. So you know the idea behind an I-beam, right? It's essentially a beam in the shape of the letter I, and the extrusion goes out a long distance. Well, we're going to do the same thing, except you can extrude any letter that you like, and those extrusions can twist, and turn, and interact with each other as well. And then finally, we'll set all this text inside of this pattern of smoke. The great thing about working with 3D type inside of Photoshop is that you can use the type to self-generate the masks, and you won't believe how powerful this is until you give it a try.
We're going to start things off inside this image called Zap bang pow.psd. It's found inside the 03_cables folder. We have three words set in Cooper Black. Now, Cooper Black is a pretty common font, but I'm not sure if you have it on your system or not. So don't worry if you get a font error when opening this file, because I've gone ahead and converted every single one of these lines to a shape layer. We're going to start things off with the zap layer, and even though it's the top line of text, it's the bottom of the three shape layers inside the Layers panel.
Go ahead and select it, and then go up to the 3D menu, choose Repousse, and choose Layer Mask. You may get that alert message telling you that you'll no longer be able to edit the shape layer as a collection of path outlines. Just go ahead and click the Yes button to bring up the Repousse dialog box, and then I want you to start things off for this specific item by setting the Depth value to 5. Now, there is no magic formulas going on; this is all stuff I came up with through trial and error. Feel free, absolutely, to go your own way if you want to experiment. I then turned on the Shear option.
You can experiment with the Bend option if you want to. You can also get some cable effects using it; it's just that you have a little bit better control, a little more predictable outcome, if you work with Shear. I am going to go ahead and set the X Angle to 30, and then you have to press the Tab key three times here on the PC to get the Y Angle; it's just twice on the Mac. You'd still think it'd just be once to get over there, but that's the way it is. Anyway, I am going to change the Y Angle to -50. Something I want you to note: if you take this Y Angle, or the X Angle for that matter, all the way to -90, you're going to end up flattening out the extrusion so that it absolutely ends up becoming a flat surface.
Don't want to do that, so watch out for that one. Anyway, I will take it to -50, and then I am going to try out a very high Twist value for this one of 180, because after all, it is the top line of text, and its extrusion; it's going to appear in back of the other text. All right, now, if we were working with live editable text, then Photoshop would go ahead and automatically cut the holes for me. In other words, it would interpret the subpath inside the A, and that subpath inside the P, as holes, just as you would expect. However, because we're working with shape layers, Photoshop doesn't know what to do.
So even though these may look like holes, they're actually just filled with gray. What we need to do is change the Type option from Inactive, to Hole. Now, you will need to keep an eye out for what happens here. It looks like the hole inside the A ended up becoming a hole, but the hole inside the P didn't go anywhere. So when you change this Type option, you only change one of the holes, and you've got to keep an eye out for which one. Anyway, to change the other one, you go ahead and select one of these tools down here. I am going to go ahead and select the Rotate tool; doesn't really matter which one. Then I'll click on the hole inside the A, just to confirm that it's a hole.
Notice that we see this heavy dotted outline. I will look at the Type option, it is set to Hole; great. Now I'll click on the hole inside the P, drop down to the Type option, it's set to Inactive; that's wrong. So I'll go ahead and change it to Hole, and now everything is ready to go. All right; I click OK in order to accept that effect. Now this does pretty difficult to predict. You might look at this and say, gosh Deke! How in the world did you know that these were the right settings, especially given the fact that the end of the extrusion doesn't really drop off the end of the canvas? Again, these were just values I came up with by playing around inside this image.
So you get a feel for how to work with these options as you work inside your own artwork. All right; now there is one additional problem I didn't solve inside the Repousse dialog box yet, because I want you to see the problem before we solve it. Notice that the extrusion is kind of clunky. You can see these flat edges all over the place here. So, we've got a little flat edge above the surface of the Z, and then down over on the upper right-hand side, then another flat surface, and another one, and so forth. And that's because, ultimately, Photoshop is drawing a bunch of vertices; 3D points that are connected by these straight segments.
If you want to see how many points we have in total, you could bring up the 3D panel, and go ahead and click on the zap mesh there, and you'll see that we have a total of something like 36,000 vertices with 45,000 faces. And that ends up delivering, believe it or not, even though we have tens of thousands of different points to work with here, we're not getting completely smooth results. So to make things smoother, go ahead and make sure, again, that zap mesh is selected, then drop down to the little R icon near the bottom of the panel, then click on it to bring up the Repousse dialog box once again.
And what we want to do is we want to change the Mesh Quality setting from Draft, to Best, and now click OK. And not only will you see that things round off quite nicely here inside the image window, but you'll also see that we have many more vertices. All of a sudden, the number of vertices jumped up to 125,000. We have more than 200,000 faces as well. So, a lot more information for Photoshop to work with, but you know what? That's Photoshop's problem. All that I care about is that I have smoother and better results. All right.
So that takes care of the word zap. In the next exercise, we'll address bang and pow.
- Smearing colors across letters
- Creating drop-and-splatter effects
- Tracing character outlines with smart filters
- Rotating, positioning, and scaling words
- Quickly (and accurately) masking 3D letters
- Assigning complex, high-quality bevels
- Matching 3D type to a photographic scene
- Adding a crack to a grunge letter
- Making a 3D pillow inflation
- Simulating worn fabric with soft noise
- Making blocky type using depth maps
- Carving recessed type in a tree
- Creating a sunken extrusion
- Bending 3D text as a Smart Object