In this tutorial we are going to learn how to create a breaking apart effect using some simple, but effective, techniques in Photoshop. One of the greatest tools in Photoshop which is often overlooked is layer masks and when used correctly, they can blend images together seamlessly, giving that professional touch. We are going to combine the masks with brushes to compliment the original source image with subtle elements. Once you have completed this tutorial you can experiment with your own findings and combine the techniques used to create a unique and inspiring work. //
We begin the tutorial by extracting the model from the background. I’ve purchased a photo of a model from iStockphoto called “Painted Dreams” (This image is used only for tutorial purposes and the copyright remains with the photographer). There are a number of ways to cut out a selection, but we are going to use the pen tool to trace around the model.
The best way to do this accurately is to zoom in at about 200 %. Once you have carefully completed the selection, right click on the layer and choose rasterize it, then select it using the magic wand. With the selection active, click on the original layer, then cut and paste it into a new document measuring 1024 pixels width by 768 pixels length at 72 dpi.
This is going to be our new canvas. Reposition the model to the left of the document so that we have a nice composition as shown below.
Create a new layer, fill the foreground colour with a light blue colour (#8aa8c2) and then choose a dark blue for the background colour ( #090f1d ). Click on the swatches at the bottom of the Tools palette to input the colour references.
Now we are going to add render clouds to the layer Filter>Render>Clouds. You may need to repeat the render clouds, or even add difference clouds to the layer, until you get a similar effect to the one shown in the screenshot below. Move this behind the model so that we now have a background layer as the basis for our illustration.
Create a new layer and with the foreground colour set to a light greenish colour (#82947f), use a large soft brush set to 300px diameter and 100% opacity and spray three dots to the top left corner, setting the layer to screen mode.
Once again create another layer, but this time use a white soft brush set to 140px and spray three dots near the green ones, with the layer set in overlay mode. Last, repeat this process with a 220 pixel dark blue soft brush (#090f1d) and gently spray from behind the model towards the right of the canvas. Set the layer to overlay mode.
Now it’s time to add some more brush effects. Let’s begin with a large soft white brush (the diameter is approximately 60 pixels) with a 100% opacity. Go ahead and make some random marks behind the right side of the model.
Then add a Gaussian blur with the settings Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur>radius 8.9 pixels. Duplicate this layer and set to overlay mode.
Go back to the dark blue soft brush layer in Step 4 and add a layer mask to it. Now it starts to get interesting!! Click on the brush tool and open the brush parameters. Scroll down through the default brushes until you find “scattered maple leaf” (if you can’t find it, use a similar leaf).
Set the diameter between 30 pixels and 80 pixels and make some random strokes. With different size brushes, use a smaller brush so that you have smaller leaves closer to the model and have them gradually getting larger as they move further away to the right.
Remember to set the colour of the mask brush to black, so that the strokes will be clearly visible in the layer mask.
Here is a screenshot of the parameters I used with shape dynamics selected. At this time, you can add some jitter to the size and angle jittering (about 10%). Experiment with the values until you get the effect you’re looking for, adding scattering can also break up the regularity.
Add a gaussian blur of a 9.1 pixel radius to the layer mask. It is very important that you do not interfere with the actual layer and do this only on the mask. Set the layer mode to overlay.
To add more depth to the composition, we are going to give the impression that parts of the model’s body are breaking apart. Repeat the same technique described in step 6 by adding a layer mask to the red model layer and paint in the mask area using the same maple leaf brush. (Vary the brush sizes between 20 and 30 pixels).
Again, make random single strokes cutting away parts of the body and hair to the right of the model. It should look like the screenshot below.
To make the composition a little more interesting, select a small area of skin from the body of the model. I’ve chosen the thigh area and cloned this using the rectangular marquee tool, then copy and paste it into a new layer.
Using the transform tool Edit>Transform>Scale, distort the new layer by stretching it until it looks similar to the screenshot below. This will require you to pull the vertices horizontally and vertically. Remember to cover the models body slightly as this will be important in the next step.
We add another layer mask to the layer Layer>Layer Mask>Hide All but this time we hide all. With the mask selected, use the same maple leaf brush as before and paint strokes varying the size as discussed in step 9 – remember to use a white brush colour.
Once completed, change the layer mode opacity to around 30%. Repeat this process again with a new layer, but leave the layer mode to 100%. See the screenshot showing the two different layers:
Using the same principle in the previous step, we sample a portion of the hair of the model and copy and paste it into a new layer. Again we distort it using the scale transform tool stretching into a rectangular shape to cover a larger area.
Add a Hide all layer mask and using a very small maple leaf brush make some random strokes so that it looks like small bits of hair are breaking apart from the model. Don’t forget to use a white brush in order to see anything in the mask area.
You may need to experiment a little with the brush size to get the exact effect. Another cool tip is to use a mid grey brush so that the furthest pieces seem more transparent.
Using the custom shape tool we go to the default shapes as shown in the screenshot below and we select “Leaf 7”. I have highlighted the shape in red, but if you can’t find it or don’t have it, select another leaf shape.
Create the “leaf 7″ shape and resize it as shown in the screenshot below. Then, using the magic wand tool, go ahead and select the shape. With the selection now active, reposition it near the shoulder/neck area and hide the original shape layer.
Scroll down the layers until you find the original “red model” layer and copy and paste the selection into a new layer. Using the move tool, nudge it slightly to the left using the arrows on your keyboard.
In order to give it a 3D effect, we’re going to add a layer style located at the top menu of the screen. Layer>Layer Style>Drop Shadow.
With the blending options opened, check the drop shadow option and use the settings shown in the screenshot below. Blend mode>Multiply>Opacity 75%, Angle>175 degrees with global light selected, Distance>5px, Spread>0 px, Size>5 px. Quality>Noise>0% with the “Layer knocks out drop shadow” option selected.
You can slightly tweak the settings until you’re satisfied with the results.
Duplicate the layer nine times and distort each layer with the transform tool so that each one is different and reposition them as shown in the screenshot. I’ve resized them down between 70–90 % so that each one looks different. (If the image doesn’t quite look the same as the tutorial image, you may need to improvise a little).
Adding more layers will give the illustration extra depth and texture, so feel free to experiment with this effect.
Create another custom shape as described in steps 15 and 16 using a different leaf shape. This time we’re going to use a large “Leaf 5” shape with a reddish brown colour (#a01205). Take a look at the screenshot to give you an idea of the size of the leaf – once selected, rasterize the layer.
Move the new leaf layer behind the ”red model” layer and use the transform tools to distort the shape of the leaf. We want to give the impression that the leaf is a shadow sitting on the floor so we use the Transform>Distort tool at this time.
We’re almost done! Now if you wish, you can add a texture to the leaf using a Layer mask>Reveal all, painting random marks with the same leaf brush used throughout this tutorial. For finishing touches use a gaussian blur set to 10 pixels radius with a multiply blend mode set to 100% opacity.
To give it that fantasy feel, select all the layers and group them. Rename the group “final”, and duplicate it. With the duplicated group, select Layer>Merge Group. Use a gaussian blur with a radius of 15 pixels, change the blend mode to screen and the opacity to 85%.
Written exclusively for WDD by Vince Fraser
How to Create High Quality Metal 3D Text in Photoshop
Final Image Preview
Let’s take a look at the image we’ll be creating. Want access to the full PSD files and downloadable copies of every tutorial, including this one? Join PSDTUTS PLUS for just $9/month. You can view the final image preview below or view a larger version here.
Let’s start with a new document of 1500 pixel by 1500 pixel, and 300px/inch resolution. Create a new layer, name it “3D TEXT_first.” Then grab the Type Tool (T) and type big letters of your desired text, in my case it’s written as 3D TEXT. Also don’t worry if your text goes out of canvas, it has to be very big. Because we’re going to rasterize this layer and distort it in the next step.
So now, right-click on the “3D TEXT_first” layer and select Rasterize Type. Then use Edit > Transform > Distort and create a nice perspective to our text by dragging the corners. Make sure your text is way smaller. This way you won’t lose its quality and the text won’t get blurry.
Tip: If you fail by distorting, and some text edges look fuzzy, use Filter > Sharpen > Unsharp Mask, and increase the Amount.
Now that the text is way smaller and has a nice perspective, create a duplicate (Command + J) of this text layer and name it “3D TEXT_last.” Switch to Move Tool (V) and use keyboard arrows to position the “3D TEXT_last” layer a bit above the “3D TEXT_first” layer. In my case this was 16 pixels up and 2 pixels right.
Create duplicates (Command + J) of both text layers and position them as you see in the image below. Make sure you have exactly the same order as shown, as it’s important!
Now turn off “3D TEXT_first” and “3D TEXT_last” layers. Select the “3D TEXT_first copy” layer and make around 60 copies (Command + J). Now, select “3D TEXT_last copy”, go all the way down to the bottom of Layers Palette, hold Shift and left-click on the first “3D TEXT_first copy” layer – this should select all 60 layers. Next right-click on those layers and select Link Layers.
Switch to Move Tool (V), select “3D TEXT_last copy” layer. Go to the upper toolbar of the move tool. Click on Distribute Vertical Centers and Distribute Horizontal Centers. Then notice that our letters were perfectly distributed creating a nice 3D shape. Next, select all linked layers and merge (Command + E). Name this layer “3D TEXT_merged.”
Go to Layers Palette, turn on “3D TEXT_last” and open this layer’s Blending Options. Apply a Gradient Overlay from #1a3236 to #cffffb. As for setting the Angle, try to make this gradient look darker on the top of letters, and lighter on the bottom of them.
In the Layers Palette select “3D TEXT_merged,” turn it off, then hold Alt and left-click on this layer’s thumbnail to load the selection. Make a new layer, name it “3D TEXT_colored” and fill it with #a6e6fe. Deselect (Command + D).
Now go to “3D TEXT_colored” layer’s Blending Options. Select Gradient Overlay. Make sure you select the second preset in the Gradient Editor, that is Foreground to Transparent, and then set the color values starting as: #000000, #4a4747, #ffffff, #262626, #ffffff, and #000000. Next, depending on which direction your text is going, the Angle will be different. So in my case I set the Angle to 123, and as you can see the gradient goes through the center of the whole text. So that will be our lighting.
Some spots and the top of the letters look too bright, so we need to create just a touch of shadow in places indicated below. So hold Alt, left-click on the “3D TEXT_colored” layer to load its selection, then create a new layer above the “3D TEXT_colored” layer, and name it “Shadows.” Set your Foreground Color to #1a3236 or darker, then grab the Brush Tool (B), set Flow around 30%, Hardness to 0% and paint. Then Deselect (Command + D) once you’re done.
Now let’s start giving this text a quality look. Go to the Layers Palette, hold Alt and left-click on “3D TEXT last” layer thumbnail to load its selection. Then create a new layer above all layers, name it “Shining lines.” Grab the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M), right-click on your image and select “Stroke.” Set Width to 1 pixel, Color to white, and Location to Center. Grab a nice big brush with Hardness 0% and Flow around 30%. Then erase everything except places indicated with arrows. These arrows point to lights, and those pointed edges need some shine. So make sure you leave them untouched.
When you’re done erasing, create a duplicate of the “Shining lines” layer, lower its Opacity just a touch, and merge (Command + E) those two layers. You may switch for a moment to a black background to see if you did a good job with erasing, if not, make some further corrections. You should get something that looks similar to the image below.
Now go to the bottom of the Layers Palette, select and turn on “3D TEXT first” layer, rename it to “Bottom shadow 1.” Make a duplicate of it (Command + J), name this copy “Bottom shadow 2.” Now apply Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur to the “Bottom shadow 2” layer, with Radius of 3 pixels.
Switch to the Move Tool (V), and by hitting keyboard arrows move this blurred shadow 5 pixels to the left. You need to create an illusion that the curvy text lines drop more shadows inside. So we do not need some outside parts of this shadow. Grab the Brush Tool (B) and softly brush parts of the shadow shown below. Don’t be to picky, there is no need to make an accurate erase. It’s OK if you leave some gray shadow edges, like in the second image below.
Now go back and apply Filter > Blue > Gaussian Blur to the “Bottom shadow 1” layer. Set the Radius just a little smaller, like 2 pixel. Next, switch to the Move Tool (V), and by hitting the keyboard arrows, position this shadow 2 pixels down, and 2 pixels to the right. Let it cover the whole space under the letters, and remember to keep the shadow edges very thin.
Great, we made our text really stand out. Next go to the Layers Palette, hold Command, left-click on the “Shining lines,” “3D TEXT_last,” “Shadows,” and “3D TEXT_colored” layers. Now that you have selected them, drag these layers onto the Create a New Layer icon. Next, merge those copies (Command + E) and name this layer “Reflection.” Place it above all layers and turn it off (it’s important to turn it off, so do not skip this step).
Now, turn off the “background” layer, or even delete it, we no longer need it. Go to Image > Merge Visible, name this merged layer “TEXT.” Position it above the “Reflection” layer. As you can see we have two similar layers with a small difference, the “TEXT” layer has a drop shadow, and “Reflection” has no shadow. We will be working now with the “TEXT” layer so let the “Reflection” layer remain invisible.
OK, let’s give these letters a higher quality look. Select the “TEXT” layer, duplicate it (Command + J), and this should automatically be named “TEXT copy,” leave it this way. Thenchange the “TEXT copy” layer Blending Mode to Overlay and Opacity to 63%. Next go to Edit > Adjustments > Gradient Map, and select the Black to White preset.
Next, make another duplicate (Command + J) of the “TEXT” layer, and position it above all layers. Name it “Sharp edges” and by the way change it’s Blending Mode to Hard Light. Then go to Filter > Other > High Pass, set the Radius to 1 or 2 pixels. Lower this layer’s Opacity around 60-70%.
Create a new layer below all layers, name it “Surface,” press D on the keyboard to set colors to default. Grab the Gradient Tool (G) and create a large gradient, through the whole image, from top to bottom. You can start it outside the canvas. Then go to Edit > Transform > Distort, and give this surface a touch of perspective. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Because when you’re done, select the Crop Tool (C), and crop the image nicely to get rid of the surface edges.
As I was looking to this image I thought the text is a little to bright for me, so next thing I did, was select the “TEXT” layer and apply Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast. I lowered the Contrast all the way down.
Next, go to the very bottom of the Layers Palette, and create new layer above the “Surface” layer, then name it “Glass”. Grab the Paint Bucket Tool (G), fill this layer with color #3f3f3f. Then apply Filter > Noise > Add Noise, set the Amount to 28%, Distribution to Gaussian, and leave the Monochromatic option checked.
Now, select Filter > Blur > Motion Blur, set the Angle to -90, and Distance to 144 pixels. Change this layer’s Blending Mode to Overlay, and set the Opacity to 50%. Grab the Brush Tool (B), then with a very nice soft brush of Hardness 0% and Flow around 20%, start erasing some spots of this blurred noise. Next erase places around the text to get a little of the glassy depth of the surface.
In the end, I decided to colorize this whole image. If you want to get the same final color effect, go to Layers Palette and add an Adjustment Layer on the top of all layers. Pick Hue/Saturation. Make sure you have the Colorize option checked. Then set Hue to 201, and Saturation to 17.
Next, select the “Reflection” layer, turn it on. Lower its Opacity to 20-30%, switch to the Move Tool (V), and by hitting the keyboard arrows, position it a few pixels down to make a nice reflection. Then you can apply a Layer Mask and softly erase some of the reflection bottom.
That’s pretty much it, here is our quality 3D text, simply made in Photoshop. If you want to add some flat text to this image, make sure it’s going towards the perspective. Also, try to discover your own use for this 3D typography by experimenting with colors and lights. You can get many cool, various results.
Thanks for reading the tutorial, I really enjoyed making it. Hope you’ve learned something new. You can view the final image below or view a larger version here.
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