Although Photoshop has the word “photo” in its title, a remarkably small percentage of Photoshop users identify themselves as photographers. In contrast, more than half call themselves designers. (In case you’re wondering who the heck else uses the program, think realtors, medical practitioners, lawyers, law-enforcement professionals, insurance investigators, scientists, and anyone else who makes for good TV drama.) If you fall into this superhuge “designer” bucket—which includes all walks of visual artists, btw—there’s nothing better you can do to get a leg up on the competition than learn and eventually master 3D in Photoshop CS5 Extended. Why? Because 3D is exciting, liberating, and outlandishly powerful. Not to mention, no one else in your immediate vicinity has a clue to how it works.
Which is why, just yesterday, I released the Part 3 of my 4-part Photoshop 3D series in the lynda.com Online Training Library. Titled Photoshop CS5 Extended One-on-One: 3D Scenes, this nearly 9-hour video course takes you to the far reaches of 3D, including scene building, lighting, shadow casting, camera manipulation, and stereoscopic imaging. Below you see me introducing 3D lighting. Note that I’m taking the topic so seriously that I’m wearing a jacket, even though the temperature on the set is roughly that of the sun. And I’m so bulging with 3D info that my left arm (the one on right) looks like I borrowed it from the Michelin Man.
I should mention that the live-action illustrations and many of the 3D models hail from Paul Roper, an incredibly talented guy at lynda.com.
Meanwhile, here’s an illuminating chapter-by-chapter description of this transformative and, I freely admit, life-affirming course.
Chapter 13, Advanced Scene Building
In this chapter, I fill you in on the stuff that you haven’t yet learned about 3D scenes in my previous two courses, 3D Fundamentals and 3D Objects. Specifically, I show you how to combine objects into a scene so that you can make them interact with each other, and in a systematic manner so that you don’t altogether losing your mind. We start with the dozen-or-so simple shape layers shown below:
Then we extrude and assemble them into this 3D scene. All set inside a giant spherical panorama that serves as an ambient environment for reflections and shadows. It looks pretty impressive, but we’re not done yet.
Chapter 14, Working with Glass
In case you missed the last two courses, a material is a combination of color, texture, and reflective attributes that makes a 3D object look like a real-world thing. Examples of materials include leather, metal, and plastic. But the ultimate material is glass. Translucent, reflective, and refractive, glass is that one material that contributes the most to a scene by calling the least attention to itself and providing support for everything around it. Check out the lens element below, which sports multiple layers of glass interacting with each other as well as the larger scene.
Chapter 15, Lighting Your Scene
In Photoshop, we typically think of each pixel as having a single, distinct color. But in the realm of 3D, an object has what’s known as a diffuse texture, which means a color or photographic image spread across a 3D surface. Photoshop then casts lights on that texture to calculate the final color of a pixel. I demonstrate the wonders of light and diffuse texture in the context of the strangely mirrored-wall bedroom scene below.
Chapter 16, Advanced Lights and Shadows
In this chapter, we finish off the bedroom, replete with an embossed bedspread, shiny hardwood floor, moonlight streaming in the windows, and light shining through type-shaped holes in the ceiling. Plus, two stuffed giraffes fall in love. Seriously, this chapter not only teaches, it’ll make your crusty old heart young again.
Chapter 17, Mastering the Camera
Have you ever wanted to create a 3D automobile? (Don’t sass me, just say yes!) In this chapter, we import the following plastic-looking SUV and set it against a photographic background from the Fotolia image library:
And then we transform it into the next forced-perspective work of automotive engineering. Along the way, I show you how to work with cameras, which represent your view into a 3D scene: objects, materials, lights, and all. I even demonstrate such real-world camera controls as depth-of-field and field-of-view.
The resulting composite looks pretty good, but not great. Which is why we keep working at it in the follow chapter.
Chapter 18, The Art of the Mesh
Have you ever wanted to drive an SUV with horns? (Don’t sass me, just say yes!) In this chapter, we make such a thing. More importantly, we spend some quality time with that most important ingredient in a 3D scene, the individual wireframe object, better known as the mesh. Meshes are wildly powerful. Can you spot the four boulders, two horns, and three reflected (out-of-frame) self-illuminating tubes that integrate the car into its background? These are meshes, every one. And once you come to terms with meshes, you’ll have mastered an art that’ll make your scenes sing.
Chapter 19, Customizing the Render
Photoshop provides three primary render modes: Interactive (no shadows or reflections), Ray Traced Draft (relatively fast, but rough), and Ray Trace Final (beautiful, but slow as molasses). And yet, that’s just the beginning. You can render flat art, wireframe outlines, and 3D anaglyphs. Remember the stereoscopic photograph I documented in my recent Me in Real 3D post? You can do the same in 3D as well, but from whole cloth, as pictured below.
Click the image to see it larger. You’ll need a pair of red/blue 3D glasses to view the camera in stereoscopic depth. (Those wearing 3D glasses may see some artifacts. The red lens imperfectly filters screen images, the blue lens imperfectly filters printed ones. It’s not Photoshop’s fault; it’s the glasses.) Try backing away and moving your head from side-to-side. And if you have kids, show it off to them. My two boys went nuts.
In the course, I demonstrate stereoscopic imaging in the context of another image, the bedroom scene below (also clickable). But I’m thinking of showing off the 3D camera (above) in a future Deke’s Techniques. Would you like to see that? Lemme know.