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Work with 3D Artwork in Photoshop CC

Photoshop CC offers lots of 3D capabilities, including 3D extrusions from layers and paths, control over the spatial relationships among objects, improved rendering, and generally improved performance. The figure shows many of the features available when working in 3D.

Tools, menus, and panels specially for working in 3D.
Tools, menus, and panels specially for working in 3D.

You can use the tools in the 3D Mode section of the Options bar (to the far right) to rotate and roll and drag and slide and scale 3D objects. The 3D panel offers access to each of the materials (think “textures”) used with a 3D object, as well as a tab in which you add, subtract, or alter lights used in the 3D scene.

Create 3D objects

Working with a photo or any other 2D artwork, you can create any of a dozen different 3D shapes, from simple spheres, cubes, and cones to donuts, hats, and wine bottles. (Use the menu command 3D→New Mesh from Layer→Mesh Preset.)

Working with a layer that contains areas of transparency, you can extrude shapes as well, stretching the layer content backward into a 3D shape. (Use the menu command 3D→New 3D Extrusion from Selected Layer.) Active selections on a layer and even paths can be used to create extruded objects.

Import 3D objects

Among the file formats that support 3D that you can open into Photoshop are 3D Studio, Collada DAE, Flash 3D, Google Earth 4 KMZ, U3D, and Wavefront|OBJ. Many ready-made 3D objects can be downloaded or purchased from various websites.

And you’ll find additional resources by simply using Photoshop’s menu command 3D→Get More Content. Among the links you’ll find are those to Adobe Photoshop 3D Marketplace and Adobe Photoshop 3D Exchange.

You can use Photoshop’s File→Open command, or add a 3D object to an existing project by choosing 3D→New 3D Layer from File.

Render and save 3D scenes

After you have your 3D scene looking just the way you want it to appear as a 2D image, use the command 3D→Render, followed by File→Save As, to save in the file format of your choice. Photoshop uses the Shadow Quality and Ray Tracer High Quality Threshold settings set in the program’s Preferences→3D panel.

You can also use the command 3D→Export 3D Layer to save the project in any of five 3D file formats, including Collada DAE, Flash 3D, Google Earth 4 KMZ, U3D, and Wavefront|OBJ.

If you're interested in working with 3D in Photoshop, pick up a copy of a book that goes into more detail on the subject.

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