Photoshop is filled with cool tricks to create elements from scratch, such as 3D text. You can then use these elements in various projects to add character to your layout. Once you understand the fundamentals of creating 3D text, you can change a few settings to make your text unique.
Previously Photoshop featured a built-in 3D workspace, which is being phased out from version 22.5. Luckily, using text, shadows, and a few selections, you can create 3D text from scratch.
The custom method requires more effort on your part but also gives you a lot of room to customize the text. Alternatively, Adobe offers a line of products called Substance 3D to utilize in-depth 3D features.
How To Create Simple 3D Text In Photoshop
You can still create simple 3D text from scratch, even though Photoshop’s 3D workspace is being phased out. You can take this method further by adding your own creative effects once you understand the basics.
Step 1: Create A New Document
To create simple 3D text, create a new document by navigating to File > New. You can also use the shortcut by pressing Control + N (Win) or Command + N (Mac).
In the New Document window, you can choose a template on the left or from the top tabs or add a custom size for your document on the right. I would suggest creating a document of at least 1200 x 800 pixels to allow enough space to make your text. Press Create once you have set the size and resolution as desired.
Step 2: Add Your Text Layer
Once you have created the document, add text to the canvas by selecting the Text tool (T) from the toolbar.
Use the Options bar to change the settings for the Text tool, such as the Font and Size. Choose a bold font to get a better result when creating the 3D text effect. I have set my Font to Neue Haas Grotesk Text Pro set to 75 Bold and the Size to 150 pt.
Still, in the Options bar, click on the block of color (it may be set to white by default or to the last color you used). Then select the color you want your text to be from the Color Picker window. In this case, I chose a light blue.
Once you are happy with the settings, click anywhere on the canvas to create a text box and type in your text. The text is now set to the color, size, and font you have already chosen.
Step 3: Add The 3D Block
To create a 3D effect, duplicate the original text layer by clicking and dragging the layer to the New Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel, or press Control + J (Win) or Command + J (Mac).
Rename your layers to Foreground Text and Background Text for better organization. Rename them by double-clicking on the names and typing in the new name.
The Background Text will be on top of the Foreground text when it’s duplicated. Move it to the left and up by selecting the Background Text layer, hold in Shift and press the right arrow on the keyboard once and the up arrow once. The two text layers are now overlapping but separated slightly.
Now change the Background Text to a darker color to create the “shadow”. To do this, double-click on the Background text on the canvas to select all the text.
Then, click on the color box in the Options bar and choose a darker color from the Color Picker window. A simple way to make a shadow is to keep the same color and add 50% to the K box at the bottom. Then click OK, and hit Enter. The K amount is the amount of black in the text color.
You will now have a darker color over the original text. You can now move the Background text away from the Foreground text if you want a larger shadow.
Next, move the Background Text layer below the Foreground Text layer in the Layers panel by clicking and dragging the layer. This will move the darker text behind the lighter text on the canvas.
Step 4: Fill The Shadow
Since the shadow isn’t fully connected to the text, the next step is to fill in the gaps between the two text layers. To do this, you need to rasterize the layer, which means it won’t be editable from this point. Make sure you are happy with the text before continuing.
To rasterize the layer, right-click or control + click on the layer and select Rasterize Type.
Now fill in the areas using the Polygonal Lasso Tool. First, select the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L) from the toolbar and ensure the foreground color is the same as the “shadow” text. Then zoom in to the text using Control + + (Win) or Command + + (Mac).
Fill in the shadows by moving around the text and drawing a selection around each gap. To mark the selection, click the starting point, then move the mouse and click points to create the selection around the areas to fill.
Once the area is selected, press Alt + Delete (Win) or Option + Delete (Mac). This will add the color to the selection, then press Control + D (Win) or Command + D (Mac) to deselect the area. The shadow text is now connected to the foreground text.
When the Polygonal Lasso Tool doesn’t work for a selection, like in curved areas, create a selection using the Pen Tool to make a selection. Continue filling in the areas around the text to connect the two texts. Your text now has a 3D feel to it.
Step 5: Add Layer Styles
To further the 3D effect, you can add various Layer Styles to the foreground and background text. In this case, I will add an inner shadow to the foreground text.
Double click on the Foreground Layer in the Layers panel to add an inner shadow.
When the Layer Style dialog box appears, navigate to Inner Shadow in the left-hand panel.
Ensure the Preview box is checked and adjust the settings while watching the effect on the text in the workspace. In this case, I have set the Distance to 4, the Choke to 17, and the Size to 1. Once you have adjusted the settings to your liking, select OK.
If you are happy with the text, you can combine the two text layers to move the text around quickly without having two separate elements. Select both layers in the Layers panel by clicking on each one while holding Shift.
Then right-click or control + click on one of the layers and select Merge Layers. The two layers will now become one.
You have now created a 3D text that you can move around and add to various projects.
Changes To The 3D Workspace In Photoshop
Previously, Photoshop offered an interactive 3D workspace to add the 3D effect to text and other elements. The 3D workspace is being discontinued as of Photoshop 22.5, where the features are being phased out.
You may still have access to the 3D workspace in the latest versions of Photoshop. In this workspace, your text may achieve a 3D effect. However, in most cases, the workspace won’t apply the effect correctly, and many of the features won’t work or are glitchy when trying to change settings.
If you have accessed the workspace, navigate to Window > Workspace > Essentials (Default) to exit it. Or choose your custom workspace if you have previously created one.
In the 3D workspace, you were able to work with a 3D model of your text or elements to create global shadows, lighting effects, text extrusions, textures, spherical panorama editing, and much more. While these functions aren’t available, you can still achieve specific 3D results, as seen in the previous section.
The last version of Photoshop, which supports the fully-functioning 3D workspace, is Photoshop 22.2, which is available for reinstallation until August 2023.
To use the workspace in later versions to work on previously created 3D elements, you can use a workaround for a short time.
To do this, override the native canvas in Photoshop by navigating to Edit > Preferences > Technology Previews and checking the box next to Deactivate Native Canvas. Select OK and restart Photoshop to use the 3D features.
Adobe currently has no plans to introduce a new 3D workspace to Photoshop, and the best solution is to use alternative programs if you don’t want to create your own 3D text. Adobe offers a line of 3D products called the Substance line, available from the Creative Cloud, which consists of: