Advanced Photoshop Tutorials - 3D Effects
by Piero Desopo

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Part 1: working on the channels

Well, the first thing that you need to know is that to make 3d effect you should use the channels. Combining the channels and the layers you'll get all Photoshop's power.

Ok, let's start!

To begin you need a simple black shape to work on it. For this example I've made a PSD file (zip format) that you can download and work on it following this step.

This image has two layer.

The first at the bottom has a background and the second at the top has a shape that you'll turn in a 3d shape.

Now you need to save the shape selection into a channel. To do this first select the shape transparency. Press hold the CTRL key and then click on the shape layer.

From Select menu click on Save selection: if you want you can give a name to the selection, for example "shape".

Go to the channel window: here you'll find the Shape selection.

Press CTRL/d to deselect the current selection.

Now drag the shape channel on the new channel icon.

By this way you'll have a new channel that is a copy of the shape channel: its name by default is Alpha 1 (you can change its name simply with a double click on the channel).

The next steps are basics for the 3d effect.

Filter Menu, Blur, Gaussian Blur: 4.

This value fix the 3d effect: more greater it will be more higher will be the 3d effect.

Here's the current image:

Well, now start the fun!

Fileter Menu, Stylize, Emboss: angle=150, height=3, amount=140. Also for the emboss filter more greater the height and amount values, more higher the 3d effect.

Duplicate the Alpha 1 channel and then press CTRL/i to invert the current image(or Image menu, Adjust, Invert).

Here's the channels:

Ok. Press CTRL/L (or Image menu, Adjust, Levels). Press on the first picker.

Now move your mouse on the image and click on a 50% gray area.

Repeat the same operation for the channel Alpha 1.

The original shape layer has a black shape (do you remember?). It's good to work on the channels but the final shape must have a more realistic color.

So, select the shape layer, press CTRL/a to select all, press CANC to clear the layer. Go to the channel window, press hold the CTRL key and click on the shape channel.

Choose a color that you want to use to fill the final shape. Click on the shape layer, press hold the ALT key and then press CANC to fill the selection.

(Since you should use still the channels, it will be a good idea make the channel window visible: you can make this also from Window menu, Show Channels).

Press hold the CTRL key and click on the channel Alpha 1.

So you have loaded the Alpha 1 selection keeping active the shape layer.

(You can make the selection invisible and at the same time active simply pressing CTRL/h).

Go to the Image menu, Adjust, Brightness/Contrast: brightness=-100, contrast=0.

Now load the Alpha 2 selection. Again Image menu, Adjust, Brightness/Contrast: brightness=100, contrast=0.

You can still improve the brightness values repeating the previous steps. This once you can use the Curve instead of the Brightness/Contrast.

In the next image I've loaded the Alpha 2 selection and I've used the curves (CTRL/m).

And here's the final image:

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