Beginner's Guide To Working With 3D in Photoshop®


Lesson Info

Texturing 3D Objects in Photoshop

We're going to talk now about texturing this 3D Earth and when you're working in Photoshop, you can use obviously 2D images to wrap around a 3D model as we've discussed. And we're going to be using graphics provided by NASA and you can download them for free. There's a link to it on my website. I have a page dedicated just for this class. And I have a link for the NASA website where you can download the files that we're going to use for this example. So actually, you know what? Before we even go into that, I want to just quickly point out that when you're working in Photoshop, on 3D rather, especially in elements that are a sphere, that there shouldn't be any seam, I want to briefly talk about how to create seamless textures. The textures that we're going to use are seamless but in case you're working with something that is not, I want to show you a quick example of what to do when you don't have a seamless texture. So let me open up this 3D object. And I ca...

n double-click on it and it opens it up. I can click in the shape material, or sphere material, excuse me. And I can open up in the diffuse, which controls the color, I can edit the texture. And that is going to open up this section. It looks really crazy and that is because we have the UV overlays in the properties panel. The UV overlays simply shows us what the 3D mesh looks like. If I zoom in, you'll see that they're just a bunch of polygons. It's just the outline of the polygons. You don't really need to see them in this example. So I'm going to click on the UV overlay checkbox to uncheck it, and now we just have a blank layer. If I go into filter, render, clouds, we get clouds, of course. If I save this file and come back into the project that I'm working on, you'll see that that texture has been applied to the 3D Earth. Now, if I rotate it, I should see a seam somewhere, and I may need to move to infinite light to find it, and maybe it created a perfect texture that doesn't have a seam, which is possible. But anyway, so maybe we could fake it somehow. I don't know. How can I fake a seam? I don't know. Maybe I'll just create some weird line or... Let me try render those clouds again. I try this like 100 times and it worked. So let me try it again. So I'm going to save it, again, and see if I can find a seam and maybe it's the size that I'm using that just happens to create a perfect... But anyway. I'll fake it for you guys. How about that? So I'm going to click on here and I'm just going to press CTRL + T and I'm just going to rotate it horizontally. And now I know we have a seam. There you go. We have a seam. So I'll save it and I'll go back into my 3D Earth. And there you go. There's my seam. So if you're ever working with something that has a seam, usually it won't be in the middle like that. Usually it will be off to the side but I guess the trick that I was trying to show you guys is that if you go into filter, other, offset, you can offset your 2d image either horizontally or vertically. So let me show you how that works. There you go. See? Now you see the seams. So there is a slight seam that I couldn't see earlier for whatever reason but there it is. If I offset her horizontally, you can see the seam on the edges so it sort of like stitches it together and moves it to the side, and you can do the same thing vertically. So once you do that, see? Now I have all these seams. Once you do that, you can use one of the... Actually, for some reason, my tools bar is not default so let me just bring it back to the default here, tools bar, restore default. There we go. Done. So you can use something like the clone stamp tool or maybe the spot helium brush tool and just paint over those seams to remove them, like so, depending on the image that you're working with, you may want to take a little more time, of course, or use the clone tool to really mask those seams out. But again, the trick is going into filter, other, offset, and you have offset the image and try to find those seams and then when you're done and save it, you go back into the 3D Earth and those seams should disappear. Obviously, this wasn't one of the best examples but I hope that at least you get the idea of how the trick works, or the filter works. So I'm going to close this for now. I'm not going to save it. And now we're going to apply the real texture that we're going to be working with. So we have this sphere material selected and I'm going to go into replace texture. And I have some files in this computer that we're going to use. It's called "Earth textures." And I have one called "Earth day." I'm going to click on open and it's going to create a nice little planet here. And I can adjust the lighting, of course. And there it is. Now, if we come back into the sphere material, we can edit the texture and now we have, essentially, a smart object that we can manipulate any way we want. We can add as many layers as we want. We can add filters, adjustment layers. You name it. Any way you can manipulate a regular Photoshop file, we can manipulate this file. So we can actually start doing some compositing to create a more realistic 3D Earth. So I can go into file, place embed, and I can select Earth night, place, and I can just match that up, and notice now that we have two textures, daytime and nighttime. We can use a layer mask to reveal part of one layer and part of another layer. So in some parts of the Earth is going to be daytime and other parts is going to be nighttime. So I can click on the rectangular marquee key tool and just makes a selection right about here. So we'll just say that in the Americas, it's daytime. So I can click on the layer mask to create a layer but actually, it didn't work. If I press CMD + OPT + Z and instead I hold OPT when I click on the layer mask, it inverts the selection as I create it. So then you can now we have the Americas as daytime. Now, the line is very, very sharp with the layer mask select that I can click on the feather slider here in the properties panel and we can feather that accordingly. So this looks good to my eye so I'll press CMD + S, CTRL + S on a PC, to save. I'm going to click on don't show again. And you can see now on this little planet, it's daytime here and actually we would need to adjust the infinite light. So I'm going to double-click on the 3D layer, click on infinite light and adjust the infinite light, and you can think of the infinite light as the sun. It's a light that just is like the sun. It's out there. You really can't see the light source, but you can just control where it's coming from, and I'll just briefly mention that in Photoshop you can also create a spotlight and a point light, and those lights work more like real world lights. For example, the spotlight here, you can see how I can click and drag it and move it around and you can actually see the light. There it is. It's right here. This is where the light is coming from. But I don't need that for this example. I just wanted to point that out. Anyway, so we have our Earth. You can rotate around it. It's nighttime in Europe, daytime in the Americas, and we can continue working on it. We can continue compositing this 3D scene. So if I click in the layers panel, double-click... Actually, I was already there, and the sphere material, I can go back into the diffuse, edit texture, or I already have the tab open here, and I can continue adding more layers. So I'm going to add one more layer. So I'm going to go file, place embedded, and I'm going to select this cloud layer here, and click on place. And there it is. So these are clouds going around the Earth. Now, if you're familiar with blend modes, you'll know that there's a blend mode that hides dark pixels and reveals bright pixels and that is the screen blend mode. So watch what happens when I select screen. The black pixels disappear or become transparent, rather, and leaving only the brighter pixels which are the clouds. And we can duplicate this adjustment layer just because the clouds over the areas that are the continents where it's nighttime, they don't look very realistic to my eyes. So I'm going to duplicate this adjustment layer to sort of soften that effect. So I'm going to hold ALT, OPT on a Mac, click and drag, but it sort of creates the opposite effect. So you can actually duplicate a layer by holding OPT + SHIFT, click and drag, and it duplicates the layer and inverts it at the same time. So OPT + SHIFT, that's ALT + SHIFT on the PC, to duplicate a layer mask and invert it at the same time. So now with that layer mask selected, I can sort of adjust the opacity of that layer mask. In this case, it's called density. So if I bring it down, you'll see that the effect is not as strong. If I go to zero, the layer mask, essentially, disappears at 100%. It's completely there so I can just adjust the intensity of those clouds. So maybe at around 83% then I can press CMD + S to save, that's CTRL + S on the PC to save. We can go back into my Earth planet. And there it is. I'm going to rotate around it so you can see it. We have clouds. We have nighttime and it's looking pretty good. Just so you can see it better, I'm just going to double-click on the background here. This is a solid and I'm just going to make it black so it starts looking more like the final result. So there it is. Now, we're going to talk about a different kind of texture. We're going to talk about a bump map. And so you could see how this works, I'm actually going to create a new document. I'll do that. I think it'll be easier for you to understand if I just create a new document and show you how the bump map works. I'm just going to just quickly create one document that's... I don't know. We'll just do 80 by 720. And I'm also going to create a sphere. So I'm going to go into 3D, new mesh from layer, mesh preset, sphere, and I'm going to double-click on here and I'm just going to apply a bump map, new texture. Press OK, and in this texture, I'm going to paint with... Actually, I'm going to fill it with 50% gray. So I'm going to hit SHIFT + DELETE which brings up the fill window, and you can click on 50% gray, and with the brush tool selected, I'm going to paint with black and then I'm going to switch my foreground and background color. You can also press X on the keyboard to do that. And I'm going to paint with white here at the bottom and I'm going to save. And I'm going to go back into that 3D model. And if I adjust the bump, you will see now that I've added some detail. The black creates the illusion that you're pushing pixels in, or 3D geometry in. You're not really changing the 3D geometry. It's just a lighting illusion. And the white makes it seem as if the 3D geometry is pushing out. So we're going to use that to create more detail on our 3D Earth. We're going to use a bump map and we're going to let Photoshop generate it for us. We're not going to go in there and paint every single continent. It's going to take forever. So we'll just let Photoshop do the hard work for us. So let me just close these files here and I just created them so that you could see more clearly what we're going to do instead of just showing it to you. It might be a little more confusing when you have layers and all kinds of textures on the planet. So now that you know how that works, we're going to go back into the sphere material and I can go into bump, new texture, and I'm just going to press OK. I'm going to go back into the Earth material there where we composited all these layers together. And I'm only concerned about this layer here so I'm just going to copy that layer. So I'm going to press CMD + A to make a selection around everything, go to edit, copy, CMD + D, CTRL + D on the PC to deselect, and if I go back into the bump material, I can paste that in there. And actually, let me reduce the size so that it fits on here, scale it down. There it is. And I'm going to create a black and white adjustment layer. Bump maps, you only need luminosity. Remember? White pushes up. Black pushes down. I'm going to save and I go back into the Earth. I have a lot of tabs open so let me just close these so they don't confuse us. I don't want to save this one. And here we are. And if I adjust the bump map, you'll see... Let me zoom in so you can see here. I'm going to dolly in here. And you can sort of see now how I'm sort of creating the mountain ranges and stuff like that. So this is an easy way of faking that effect. Now, this is by no means the best way of creating a bump map. This is probably the fastest. The way that you really want to do it, and I'll show you how to do that, is by not using a black and white adjustment layer but Photoshop actually has a filter that allows you to generate bump maps. So if you go into filter, 3D, generate bump map, Photoshop is going to give you this little preview here of what that's going to look like and you can either invert it or not and you can blur it. And this is really why I came in here because I wanted to blur it a little bit. If you have no blur, notice how you have a lot of detail that you probably don't want on that bump map, but if you blur it just a little bit then it starts looking more like it should. So maybe something like that and you can come in here and click and drag on these labels or type a number in here to adjust how that texture is going to look. We really don't need to worry about that in this example but you have those options. You also have these tools here that you can rotate and move this 3D model around. I'm using a sphere but I could also use a cube. Or use many other objects so we can try out our bump map but this really doesn't matter. Once we press OK, it's going to generate that to the image that is black and white and blurred and once we save it and come back into the Earth project now we have that layer applied so we can adjust it by using the bump map slider. So I'm going to zoom out. Oops. Sorry about that. I clicked the wrong one. So I'm going to dolly out and I'm just going to rotate the Earth a little bit and I want it right about here, and I want to just make sure that the lighting is right. So maybe somewhere around there. I still want to see some of that light here in Europe, maybe rotate it a little bit more. Something like that. I'm already thinking about how my final scene is going to look like. That's where I want it. And something that I mentioned earlier but we really haven't talked about is rendering and rendering is simply Photoshop calculating everything that we've applied, all these settings, and have it look like a final image. And that could take a long time. I'm going to press M on the keyboard to go into the marquee tool and if I just simply hit the render button here in the properties panel with my 3D layer selected, Photoshop will start rendering this image and we could be here... I don't know. For something like this, I'm not really sure how long it will take on this computer. I think at some point we may get a little preview here of how long this is going to take but it will be a long time, maybe 30 minutes, maybe more, maybe an hour. So what I recommend when you're working in 3D is... Actually, when you're rendering, you can press ESC to stop the render is with the marquee tool selected, just click and drag and make small selections and then click render and let that little piece render out and see if you like that. So you're sort of making small renders. See? Like that small little piece right there, 17 minutes, 21%, so... So that's what I recommend doing. Also, you can do that same trick when you're working on a really large file, and you want to apply a filter, just a regular filter on a 2D file, you just make a selection and apply that filter and if it looks good then you can go apply the filter to it as well. It doesn't take as long as rendering but it still saves you time so it's a similar technique that you could use. So I'm not going to take the time to render it now, but we can still work with it because at the end of this class I'll show you what the actual final render looks like. I have a file already saved. But for now, we'll pretend that this is rendered and we'll continue working with it and we're going to finalize it by using traditional Photoshop tools.

This class demonstrates the power of the 3D tools in Photoshop. You will explore the 3D interface, learn 3D concepts, and acquire new techniques through project-based examples. You will also take advantage of Adobe Stock to import templates and 3D models to quickly start and complete our creative projects. You’ll work with Fuse CC and Project Felix, two new user friendly 3D apps from Adobe, which work together with Photoshop. 

Through a series of design projects, this class covers: 
  • Using Adobe Stock for templates and 3D models to complete a design project 
  • Using Adobe Fuse CC to create custom 3D characters and animate them 
  • Compositing 3D objects into a design 
  • Creating photorealistic images without complex workflows 
After completing this class, you'll be ready to include 3D elements into your design projects.

Software Used: Adobe Photoshop CC 2017.0.1



  • Very informative class! I was expecting only basic information, but Jesus went into quite a few specific details and showed some useful tricks. Many many thanks!
  • Of Course this is amazing class