Chrome 3D Text in Photoshop [2020 Update!]

Learn to create a realistic 3D text effect in Photoshop using the new metallic slider in Photoshop’s 3D features.

This is a slow-paced step-by-step tutorial that you could easily follow along to.

Tutorial Image

Enhancing the Image with Camera Raw

Using a street photo as a background, right-click on the layer and convert it into a Smart Object so you can keep it editable. 

 Then, choose Filter > Camera Raw Filter and adjust the perspective of the image by using the Transform tool. On the Properties panel, click on the A icon for Photoshop to analyze the image and apply balanced perspective corrections.

Go back to the Basic panel and use the available sliders to enhance the colors and the details of the image. When you’re satisfied with the enhancements, press the OK button to exit Camera Raw.

Blurring the Background

To create depth of field that can improve the focus of the composite on our 3D text tool, apply blurring to the background. Choose Filter > Blur Gallery > Tilt-Shift, this shows two lines: the solid line and the dashed line. Anything between the two solid lines is focused, and between the solid line and the dashed line marks the gradual progression of the blurring. 

Adjust the lines so that only the street is in focus, and the storefronts and skyscrapers are blurry. On the Blur tools and Effects panel, adjust the blur properties.

Adding the Text

Use the Type tool to add text to your image and scale the text size so that the 3D effects display on a larger canvas.

Converting the Text Layer into a 3D Layer

Choose 3D > New Extrusions from Selected Layer for Photoshop to extrude the 3D text. Extrusion is a primary method for creating 3D objects in Photoshop. It takes a 2D shape and pushes it back in the Z-axis to create the 3D object, similar to pushing playdough into a cookie cutter.

Matching the 3D perspective with the Background Photo

At the moment, the perspective appears as if we are looking at the 3D object from above, but the background photo’s perspective is at ground level. To alter the perspective, follow the parallel converging lines in your image by using guides or the Line tool and take note of the vanishing point.

Double click on the 3D panel and select the Move tool to show the 3D elements that will allow you to adjust the 3D object’s placement in the Z-axis, Y-axis, and X-axis.

PRO TIP: You will often use the Move tool and the Rectangular Marquee tool when working with 3D objects. To easily alternate between the two tools, press the V key to activate the Move tool and press the M key to activate the Rectangular Marquee tool.

With the Move tool selected, you can see the ground plane, and it is visualized as a grid where your 3D object lies.

Utilize the three 3D tools to move your camera and change the perspective. As a guide, the gray line symbolizes the horizon line. With that in mind, you need to match the horizon line of the ground plane with the background photo’s horizon. 

To go back to the default perspective, go to the 3D panel and double-click on Default Camera.

You can also go to the Properties panel and use the coordinates to adjust the perspective. To reset, click on the Reset Coordinates button.

Note: Once you match the perspective of the scene, click the camera icon on the Properties panel. Click on the View drop-down menu and select Save. On the New 3D View window, type in the name of the view. 

This is important because if you accidentally moved the camera and altered the perspective, you can quickly go back to the saved view by going to the 3D panel and double-clicking on the view name. 

Working on the 3D tech

When you are working with 3D, you need to familiarize yourself with these 3D elements that help you to move and scale the 3D object. As a guide, here is the breakdown of each component:

  • Move on Y Axis (Green Arrow) – moves the 3D object along the Y-axis
  • Rotate Z (Green Arc) – rotates the 3D object along the Z-axis
  • Scale Along Y (Green Cube) – scales the object along the Y-axis
  • Move on X Axis (Red Arrow) – movies the 3D object along the X-axis
  • Move on Z Axis (Blue Arrow) – moves the 3D object along the Z-axis
  • Scale Uniformly (White Cube) – uniformly scales the 3D object along the X, Y, and Z-axes.

Introducing the 3D Panel

The 3D panel is located right below the Properties panel and is aligned with the Layers, Channels, and Paths panel. 

In 3D, the word “Material” pertains to what creates the visual appearance of a 3D object’s surface. It influences the texture, reflectivity, bump maps, and so on. You are also free to use Photoshop’s 36 Material presets that come with the application.

In Photoshop 2020, it now uses Adobe Standard Materials, which is universal in other Adobe applications. It means you can create a 3D object in Photoshop and use it across Adobe Dimension, Project Arrow, Adobe Stock 3D, and Adobe Capture.

When you click on any of the Material, the corresponding part of the 3D lights up, and you can also customize the color on the Properties panel by double-clicking the Base Color thumbnail.

Select the top-most material, hold shift, and select the bottom material to select all the materials in between. Then, change the Base Color into a dark shade of gray.

Click on the 3D text layer.

On the Properties panel, click the Shape Preset drop-down menu and select Inflate.

Applying Reflection

On your Layers panel, select the Background layer and press Ctrl A (Windows) or Command A (macOS) to select all and press Ctrl C (Windows) or Command C (macOS) to copy everything in the selection. 

Go back to the 3D panel and click on Environment.

On the Properties panel, check the box for IBL(Image-Based Light), click on the texture icon, select New Texture, and press OK. That step creates a solid white IBL and then edit it by clicking on the texture icon and selecting Edit Texture.

Then, paste the copied selection and choose Image > Reveal All to fit all the pixels into the canvas. Close the tab for the IBL and select Yes on the dialog box to save the changes.

Deselect the selection and activate the Move tool to rotate the IBL. 

To make the 3D material reflective, select all the Material layers, and raise the Metallic rate on the Properties panel at 100%.

Set the Roughness at 0% to achieve a smooth surface for your 3D object. 

By changing the Base color to a lighter color, you can see more of the reflection on the 3D object.

Use the Rectangular Marquee tool to select the 3D object and click on the render icon to start rendering it. 

Changing the Color of the Shadow

On the 3D panel, click on Environment. On the Properties panel, you can edit the Ground plane where you can set the Shadow Color and the Reflections Color. 

Double-click on the Shadows Color thumbnail to bring out the Color Picker window. Use the Eyedropper tool to select colors that already exist in your background.

For the Reflections, set the Opacity rate on high and decrease the Roughness rate at 0%.

To see the actual shadow, use the Rectangular Marquee tool to select the shadow and click on the render icon.

Separating the 3D Objects

If you wish to separate your 3D objects, choose 3D > Split Extrusion and press OK in the dialog box. This separates your 3D object, and you can individually edit them. 

Working with a Pixel-Based Version of the 3D Object

To work with a pixel-based version of the 3D object, go to the Layers panel and select your 3D layer.

Select everything on your layer and choose Edit > Copy Merged.

Once again, choose Edit > Paste Special > Paste in Place

That prevents you from accidentally adjusting the 3D layer.

With the pixel-based layers, you can start applying adjustment layers or use the Camera Raw Filter to enhance the colors and details of the image and make your new chrome 3D text in Photoshop more popping!

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This is a great tutorial! Thank you 🙂
Do you have further tutorials on the rest of the new 3D lighting titles like refraction, density, translucence? It seems more complicated than the previous version.
Thanks again!