a Summer Inspired 3D Text Effect in Photoshop


n this tutorial, we will show you how to create a summer inspired 3D text effect. In the process, you will learn how to use Photoshop’s 3D features to create the basic text shape and then combine it with various images in order to achieve a desired result. Let’s get started!

Tutorial Assets

The following assets were used during the production of this tutorial. Please download them or find alternatives before you begin.

Before We Get Started

Before getting started, make sure to download all the tutorial assets above. Some of them are stocks photo that need to be purchased from Photodune. You don’t have to purchase the images to complete the tutorial. Feel free to find alternatives, but if you want the best result, it is always a good idea to use professional stock photography, especially since we will be working in high resolution.

1. 3D Text

Step 1

The first step before you open Photoshop is to choose a nice font for our 3D text. In my case, the font used was RBNo 2.1 Black DEMO, which you can download on Myfonts for free. Just click “Add to Cart” complete the process, and you will be given a link to download the font. However, feel free to use any font you like. Usually for large 3D text, I find that bold condensed sans-serif font works best.


Step 2

Once the font is installed, open Photoshop and create a new document (Cmd/Ctrl + N). Since we will be working in a resolution of 1920×1080 pixels, we will want our 3D text to be twice that size to maximize quality. Set up your document to 3840 per 2160 pixels, and click OK.

Select the Type Tool (T) and write “SUMMER” in the center of your canvas. Open the Character panel and give it the following values.

With your text layer select, go to 3D > New 3D Extrusion from Selected Layer. You should get the following result.

Step 3

Now if you’ve never used Photoshop’s 3D capabilities, this might be a bit confusing. Basically, to play with 3D in Photoshop, you need to use two panels together: the 3D panel and the Properties panel. The 3D panel allows you to select different aspects you want to work on (Environment, Shape, Light, etc) and the Properties panel allows you to edit the values. Open the two panels. In 3D, select your text shape, and give it the following values in Properties. In the Contour Editor, make sure that the “Corner” checkbox is checked for all of your input points, otherwise you won’t get the same result.

Then, give the Environment, the Scene and the Current View the following settings. Make sure that the FOV is set to 10 mm, in order to give the text more perspective.

Finally, give your text the following materials. Giving the bevel, extrusion and inflation different colors will help us define selections in the next step.

When you’re done, render your 3D text (this could take a while) and rasterize it. Since we’ve worked at twice the resolution of our final image, the render doesn’t need to be high quality.

Step 4

In this step, we will prepare our text for the photo integration. To do so, we will need three versions of our text.

The first one is quite easy to obtain. With your rasterized layer selected, just go to Select > Color Range, pick the blue color, and create a Clipping Mask (Layer > Create Clipping Mask). Name the layer “Blue.”

The second one is a bit harder, The easiest way to get it is to duplicate the layer and invert the mask (Cmd/Ctrl + I) [A]. Then, with a black brush, paint out the green extrusion [B]. Retrieve the selection from the “Blue” layer by holding Alt and clicking on its mask [C]. Finally, fill the selection in white [D]. Name the layer “Red + Blue.”

For the last one, just duplicate your “Blue” layer again, hide its mask, and use Color Range to create a selection from the red. Unhide the mask, fill the selection with white, deselect (Cmd/Ctrl + D) and invert the mask. Name the layer “Green”.

There is still a little bit of work to be done on this one. Create a new layer (Cmd/Ctrl + N), clip it to “Green”, and use the Clone Stamp Tool to clean up the blue extrusion.

2. The Beach

Step 1

Now that our 3D text is ready, we need to create the perfect beach. First, create a new 3840x2160px document just like the last time.

Place the Beach stock and fit it into the following perspective using Distort (Edit > Transform > Distort).

Duplicate the layer, flip it horizontally (Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontal) and place it to the right. Use a Layer Mask with a soft black brush to hide the left part of the layer, so the two of them together nicely.

Place Paradise at my Fingtertips in your canvas, scale it down to 61% and stretch it to 200%. Use a Layer Mask to blend the bottom with the background, and add a Color Balance and a Curves adjustment layers. In this example, I also darkened the sides of the layer using a soft blue brush with a layer set to Multiply. Once you are done, group everything together (Cmd/Ctrl + G) and name the group “Sea.”

Step 2

Open up Cuba, cayo largo 1 and Cuba, cayo largo 2 and place them in your canvas so that the horizon fit your background. Use the same technique as we did in step 5 in order to blend the layers together, then group them and mask out the bottom.

In the group, place the following adjustment layers to lighten up the sky and give it a nice Caribbean feel.

Step 3

Hide both groups and open up Mangsnag beach in Korea. Place it in your canvas to the left and then duplicate and flip it to the right. On a new layer, use the Clone Stamp Tool (S) to clean up the sand (make sure to set the sample to Current & Below)

Add a Gradient Map adjustment layer on top, and give it the following gradient. Group everything and name the group “Sand.”

Unhide everything. Give “Sea” a mask to cut out the foam from the sand, and give the group a soft Drop Shadow to give it a nice contrast.

Clip the following adjustment layers to “Sea.”

Step 4

Let’s add a sun to the sky. With a soft round brush, paint three superimposed spots on a new layer, starting with a larger blue one, a medium cyan, and finally a small white one. Set the layer to Screen.

Repeat the same process, but this time, do it larger and outside the “Sky” group. Group the layers together and name the group “Light.”

To better integrate the sun, we will add a bright reflection to the sea. Place Sunset. Isolate the reflection, desaturate it (Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + U) and darken it with a Curves adjustment. Shrink the layer down and set it to Screen.

3. Integration

Step 5

Now that we have both our 3D text and our beach prepared, we can bring the two together. Create once again a new document, but this time make it 1920×1080 and name it “Hello Summer”. Back in your “Beach” document, convert everything to a Smart Object (select all layers, then right-click > Convert to Smart Object) and duplicate it to “Hello Summer.” Duplicate the 3D text layers into your document as well.

Using Free Transform (Cmd/Ctrl + T), scale everything down to 50%.

Now we can start the integration by clipping the “Beach” layer to “Red + Blue.” Make sure to keep “Beach” as a Smart Object, so that you will be able to modify it later on if you need to.

Step 6

Set “Blue” to 15% Fill and give it the following Layer Styles. Duplicate “Beach” and clip it to the layer.

Merge “Green” and the clipped layer together. Hit Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + U to desaturate it, and set it to Multiply. Duplicate “Beach” once again, place it at the bottom, retrieve the selection from “Green” (Alt + Click on the thumbnail), and create a Clipping Mask.

Clip a Curves adjustment and a Solid Color layer to “Green” to lighten it.

Then add the following curve to “Beach” and give it a 25px Gaussian Blur.

Now we will darken the bevel a little bit more. Duplicate the “Green” layer, place it on top of everything, set it to Multiply, and erase the outer extrusion. Give the layer a 5px Gaussian Blur, and clip another “Beach” layer to it.

Step 7

Now that we have our 3D text done, let’s give it a little bit of context. Duplicate “Beach” once again and rasterize it (Layer > Rasterize > Smart Object). Give it a 50px Gaussian Blur and the following Hue/Saturation adjustment. Group all of the text layers together and name the group “Summer”. Do the same for the background layers, and name the group “BG.”

Now we will give our text a shadow so it looks like it sits on the ground. Duplicate summer and merge the group together (Layer > Merge Group). Hit the Lock Transparent Pixels button and fill the layer with # 8A725F (Edit > Fill > Use Color). Move the layer downward.

Unlock the transparency and give the layer a 15px Gaussian Blur. Scale it down vertically, and mask out the upper. Place the layer under the “Summer” group.

Repeat the process once more, but this time with a 3px Gaussian Blur. Group both layer together and name the group “Shadow.”

4. The Extra Stuff

Step 8

In the following steps, we will start to add various images to our composition in order to make it more interesting. We will start with a Palm Tree, which you can download here. We will need to extract the tree from its background. To do so, open the image in Photoshop, pick the Magic Wand Tool (W) and make a rough selection of the background. Disregard the clouds and the islands at the moment, and create a Clipping Mask. Then, with a hard black brush, paint out the rest as shown below.

With the layer’s mask selected, open the Properties panel, click on Mask Edge, and paint out the sky around the leaves. Set the Radius to 0,6px, the Smooth to 1, and check Decontaminate Colors.

You can then convert the layer into a Smart Object, duplicate it into your main document and scale it down to 64×44%. Rename the layer “Palm Tree” and mask the bottom right corner. The tree being a smart object, you will be able to transform it as much as you want without losing quality.

Since the main light source of our composition comes from the sun at the center of the text, we will an inner shadow to our palm tree. To do so, create a Curves adjustment layer and clip it to “Palm Tree.” Give the layer a mask, invert it, and paint in the right part of the tree. Give the layer a Smart Sharpen and place it in a group of the same name. In this example, I also painted out the sharpen filter around the tree’s leaves as it was a bit too strong.

Step 9

To balance the composition, we will add a beach ball to the left. Download the ball and open it. You can create a circular shape with the Ellipse Tool (U) and use it as a mask to extract the ball from its background. As before, convert it to a Smart Object, bring it into your document, but this time flip horizontally and give it an Inner Shadow. You can give the ball a small shadow using the same technique as in step 11.

We will also add a red umbrella inside the “U.” Download the umbrella and open it. When extracting the background, leave out the handle. Place it in your document as a Smart Object as always. With a small hard brush, pick a grey color and trace a straight pole into the sand (click at one end, hold shift and click at the other end for a straight line). Give the pole a Bevel & Emboss layer style.

Download the seagull and do the same as before. For this one, it is a good idea to work on the highlight and the shadow by playing with layers clipped to the gull, in order to make the light come more from the top. This doesn’t have to be perfect as the gull will be drastically shrank in the main document.

Finally, you can add the “Hello” text. The font used in this case is Shelby, which you can find there. As always, feel free to use any font you like.

Step 10

In this step, we will add a little bit of spilled water on the ground. To do so, we will use some splatter shapes. In the example below, I use a custom shape made in Illustrator, but you can use any shape you wish. There are a lot of these on the Internet. Place the shape in your document, and using Free Transform (Edit > Transform > Perspective), place the shape into perspective and give it the following Layer Styles. Don’t forget to set the layer’s Fill to 0%.

Download the ripples stock, place it into perspective over your “Spill” layer. You can then retrieve the selection from “Spill” and use it to mask out your ripple layer. Then, desaturate it (Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + U) and darken it using a Curves adjustment. Set the layer to Soft Light and 20% opacity.

Repeat the process until you are satisfied. In this case, I grouped the various “Spill” and “Ripples” layers together and put the Layer Styles on the groups instead for easier manipulation.

Step 11

To better integrate our letters, let’s add a little bit of spilled sand on the ground. To do so, download and open Dirt Piles PNG. Scale it down and give it the following adjustments.

We can even better integrate this pile of sand by drawing sand grains on the ground. To do so, select a small hard brush, open the Brush panel (F5) and set your brush so it will randomly scatter small dots. Using the Eyedropper Tool (I), pick your sand’s color, and draw small grains of sand on a new layer. Once you are done, you can add a Drop Shadow to give them a little bit more contrast.

Repeat the process as much as you want.

Step 12

Using the same technique as before, add some flip-flops near the letter “U.” Name the group “Sandals.”

5. Final Adjustments

Step 13

At this point, this is what your image should look like.

It looks good, but we can still improve it. In this step, we will add some adjustment layers to help blend the various elements together. On top of everything, add the following adjustment layers. Set the Gradient Map‘s blending mode to Overlay 50%, and to use a Clipping Mask with a soft black brush on the Color Balance so that the palm tree’s leaves remain green. Group everything and name the group “Adjustments.”

Another way to improve your final image is to add a soft vignette effect near the borders. To do so, fill your canvas with black on a new layer (Shift + F5). With the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M), select the center of the canvas and erase it. Then, give your layer a 40 px Gaussian Blur and set it to Multiply. To better integrate the shadow, I clipped two layers over the vignette and painted colors picked from the text.

At this point, I found the sea to be a little bit too large for my taste. So I selected all the “Beach” layers, and scaled them down to 66% height. If you do so, do not forget to unlink the layers to their mask (by clicking the small link icon between the thumbnails) so the transformation won’t affect the mask.

Step 14

We are almost done. Another technique we can use to blend everything together is to add a little bit of noise. To do so, create a new layer and fill it with 50% gray (Edit > Fill). Go to Filter > Noise > Add Noise and set the amount to 2%. Finally, name your layer “Noise” and set it to Soft Light.

Finally, let’s sharpen our image a bit to give it its final look. Select all of your layers, right-click and select Merge Layers while holding Alt. Go to Filter > Sharpen > Smart Sharpen, enter the desired values, and press OK. Make sure to save your document. If you want, you can now flatten your image (Layer > Flatten Image) and re-size it down to 50% to get rid of all the imperfection.

This is what your Layer panel should look like.


Congratulations! You have now completed this text effect. In the process, you have learned how to create 3D text in Photoshop and how to combine 3D text with photography in order to create a summer inspired illustration that can be used for a wide-range of purposes.

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