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Actually, many designers think the 3D feature in Photoshop CS6 will replace other 3D applications such as 3Ds Max or Maya, which is not true. The 3D in Photoshop does not aim to kill other 3D products; it aims to fulfill an intermediate gap between Photoshop and 3D applications. In many designs, you need to add 3D elements such as a 3D model or scene to use in your web, print or desktop design project.

This does not require you to learn complex 3D applications. You can easily implement 3D models, add maps and textures and work with light from the 3D options in Photoshop.

In this tutorial, we will build a 3D scene in Photoshop CS6 using imported 3D models and modifying it. This Photoshop tutorial requires you to have basic knowledge of Photoshop and the 3D feature structure in Photoshop.

So, let us start by viewing the final look for the 3D scene below:

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The first part of this tutorial is to prepare the scene background. We will use the following stock images from Shutterstock:

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Step1

Create a new Photoshop document. From the File menu, choose New. Set the size to be 800px x 600px and resolution to 72ppi.

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Step2

Open the first stock image in the first figure and drag it to the new document. This image will represent the ground of our scene.

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Step3

Drag the second stock image to the new document. We will use its dramatic clouds look as our scene sky. Click on the Mask icon from the Layers panel to create a mask.

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Step4

While the mask thumbnail is selected, choose the Gradient tool and set it to Foreground to Transparent preset from the Gradient presets. Create a gradient on the clouds image to fade with the ground as the figure below.

Now, we will start adding the first 3D model to the scene using imported 3DS model for deserted house. You can download this mode for free from the following link:

http://artist-3d.com/free_3d_models/dnm/model_disp.php?uid=3419&count=count

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Step5

From the 3D top menu, choose New 3D Layer from File and navigate for the file New-ruins.3ds after downloading from the above link. This will place the 3D model in the Photoshop file. You will notice that the 3D tools appears on the top of the Properties bar and on the stage to let you edit the 3D model. If it does not appear, you can simply select the 3D layer while choosing the Move tool.

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As a quick note, you can directly move, rotate and scale the 3D model, part of it or the light applied to it using the 3D navigation arrows. Each of these arrows allows you to control the model in specific direction. For example, the Red arrow lets you control the model in the X axe, the Blue arrow controls the model in the Z axe and the Green arrow controls the model in the Y axe.

When you rollover each arrow, you can find the controller turn to yellow to indicate it is active. The tip of each arrow lets you move the model in specific directions. The small Arc lets you rotate the model and the small cube lets you scale the model in this direction.

The big square in the middle allows you to scale the model with preserving the dimensions aspect ratio.

Step6

Go to the 3D panel, and click on the Filter by Mesh icon from the top of the panel. Click the eye next to the Box01 mesh, as we do not need this part of the model to appear in our project.

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Step7

From the 3D panel, make sure to select the Scene from the 3D panel. This allows you to control the 3D model. If you select the current scene, you will change the camera that controls the current view of the model.

Use the 3D controller tools on the top to rotate, drag, slide, and place the model in position similar to the figure below.

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Step8

Now, we will add texture to the building to give it a rocky look. While the model is selected, go to the 3D panel and click on Filter by Material icon from the top of the panel. This will filter the materials that are applied to the object.

Select the first material N03___Default. This is the material that covers the building. We will apply the following texture to the building:

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Step9

Go to the Properties panel, if it is closed, you can open it from the Window menu. Click on the color next to the Diffuse value and change the color as the figure below.

Scroll down to the Bump value, click the icon on the right side and choose Replace Texture. Navigate for the texture, open it, and set the Bump value to 0.5.

Apply this for the three meshes that construct the model CityRuins1, CityRuins_ and CityRuins0 by selecting each mesh and apply the color and bump as we mentioned above.

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Step10

In the 3D panel, click on the Filter by Light icon, this previews the current active light sources on the model. Select the Infinite Light 1 and from the Properties panel, set its Intensity to 0.5.

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Step11

Click on the Add New Light icon, and choose New Point Light. Move the light source on the stage using the 3D navigation arrows as the figure below. Set its Intensity from the Properties panel to 0.5.

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Step12

Now, Open the third stock image that we previewed in the beginning of the tutorial and copy it to the document. We will use this image to add some sand and old grass texture on the ground of the scene.

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Step 13

While the layer is selected, choose Hue/Saturation from the Image> Adjustment. Click the Colorize. Set the Hue to 40 and Saturation to 40. This will normalize the new image colors with the rest of the scene.

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Step14

While the layer is still selected, apply a layer mask to the layer by pressing the Mask icon in the Layer panel. Fill it with a black color to hide its content. And use the Brush tool with a white color to reveal parts of the image as below:

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Step15

Now, we will add a tree model next to the house. From the 3D menu, choose New 3D Layer from File and choose the tree model. You can download it in 3DS format from the link:

http://artist-3d.com/free_3d_models/dnm/model_disp.php?uid=2029&count=count

Similar to what we did in the first model, place the tree model as shown in the figure below:

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Step16

Here, we will add a wood texture to the tree. We will apply the below texture:

Select the 3D tree layer, and from the 3D panel, choose Filter by Materials icon and select the first material.

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Now, go to the Properties panel and click the icon next to the Diffuse, choose Replace Texture and choose the wood texture above.

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Step17

Click on the Adjustment icon in the Layers panel, and choose Brightness / Contrast. Set the Brightness to -150 and the Contrast to 40. This will add a dark effect on the scene.

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Step18

Add a mask on the adjustment layer using the Mask icon in the Layers panel. Select the Gradient tool and set it to Transparent preset from the Gradient presets and set the gradient type to Radius gradient from the top Properties bar.

Apply the gradient to the adjustment mask, it should look like the following figure:

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Step19

Next, we will add the third 3D model, which is the airplane. You can find the 3D airplane model in the following link:

http://artist-3d.com/free_3d_models/dnm/model_disp.php?uid=518&count=count

From the 3D menu, choose New 3D Layer from File and open the airplane model above. Use the 3D navigation arrows to move and place the airplane as below:

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Step20

While the Airplane model is selected, go to the light section in the 3D panel. Select the Infinite light available and from the Properties panel, set its intensity to 1.

In some cases the imported model may lose some of the texture applied to it especially when it is a complex model. You can fix this by mapping the texture again from the Diffuse in the material properties through the Replace Texture.

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Step21

In the next steps, we will try to give the airplane more foggy effect by adding the clouds over the airplane body.

Drag the airplane layer to the new Layer icon to duplicate it and right-click on the duplicated layer and choose Convert to Smart Object. Click the airplane layer while holding the Cmd key (Ctrl+Windows) to make selection from it.

Then, remove the duplicated layer, this step ensures accurate selection for all the parts of the model.

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Step22

While the selection is active, select the clouds layer, Click Cmd+C (Ctrl+C in Windows) to select the layer and Cmd+V (Ctrl+V in Windows) to paste the selected area in a new layer. Move this layer to the top of the airplane model.

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Step23

While the partial cloud layer is active, click the Mask icon to apply a mask on it. Click the Gradient tool and set it to Transparent preset from the Gradient presets and set the gradient type to Linear gradient from the top Properties bar.

Start removing parts of the cloud layer to reveal the airplane as the below figure:

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Step24

Repeat the selection steps again to select the airplane. From the Select menu, choose Modify>Feather and set the feather value to 3.

Create a new layer under the airplane and fill it with black to show the shadow of the airplane on the ground.

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Step25

Select the shadow layer using the Free transform tool or click Cmd+T (Ctrl+T in Windows), right click the shadow and choose Flip Vertically.

Set the layer Opacity to 37% and move the layer to be on the ground.

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Step26

Move the airplane layer, the fog layer and the shadow above it to under the Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer to give them the same theme of the global darkness.

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Step27

In the next steps we will add more global effects to the scene and we will start by adding dramatic color to the sky and ground. So, create a new Adjustment layer using the New Adjustment icon and choose Hue/Saturation. Set its Hue to -88 and Saturation to 40.

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Step28

Create a mask over the adjustment layer by clicking the Mask layer. Click the Gradient tool and set it to Transparent preset from the Gradient presets and set the gradient type to Radial gradient from the top Properties bar.

Draw a circle over the mask to remove the color from the center of the scene.

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Step 29

Now, we will create a lens flare over the scene. Create a new layer and fill it with the black color.
From the Filter menu, choose Render>Lens Flare. Set the Brightness to 100 and the type to 50-300mm zoon.

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Step30

While the filter effect layer is selected, choose Screen from the layer modes in the Layers panel.
Now, the final step is to render the scene. From the 3D menu, choose Render. This will render the 3D models to appear in the final result.

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At this point we reached the end of our 3D in Photoshop CS6 tutorial that I hope you enjoyed and find useful. In the above tutorial we went through the steps to build a 3D scene in Photoshop CS6 using the new and improved 3D capabilities.

In order to get the most of this tutorial, you should have basic knowledge of using Photoshop and the 3D feature from the previous version. I would be glad to answer any of your questions and if you have any comments or concerns, please feel free to provide them below.