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Creating 3D with Photoshop’s Repoussé Command

MografA new addition to Photoshop CS5 Extended is the Repoussé command. The command can be used to create a 3D model from a 2D object (like shape layers or text). Making a selection first can also isolate the effect. The target pixels can be extruded, inflated, and repositioned in 3D space. The resulting 3D model can be easily imported into After Effects for animation or compositing.

The following tutorial is adapted from my new Adobe Press book Motion Graphics with Adobe Creative Suite 5 Studio Techniques.

Creating 3D Text

One way to use the Repoussé effect in on a text layer. The command will convert the text from vector to pixels. You will no longer be able to edit the text. Be sure to adjust font properties such as kerning and color before running the command. We recommend avoid white or black as it’s difficult to see the properties of the effect. When ready, select a text layer and choose 3D > Repoussé > Text Layer. A dialog opens prompting you to rasterize the text layer, click Yes.

The Repoussé window opens, offering several controls. The point of the Repoussé effect is to add to the perception of depth. To do this, the flat text gets perspective and edges (Figure 1).


The Repoussé window offers several controls. We recommend starting with the left column and working top to bottom as you make adjustments.

There are several controls to adjust the appearance of the 3D model. As you adjust each, the model needs to redraw. Depending upon your graphics card, this process may take a few moments. Be certain to let the screen redraw before you adjust the next property, this way you can better judge the modification (Figure 2).


To make things easier, Photoshop offers several preset starting points. These should be experimented with to find a good starting point, but then customized to avoid a “canned” look.

The Extrude controls to extend the shape into 3D space:

• Depth controls the length of extrusion, the bigger the numbers the greater the depth.

• Scale controls the width of the extrusion. Higher numbers equal greater width.

• Twist can twist the extrusion (like a corkscrew)

• Choose Bend for a curved extrusion, or Shear for a straight one.

• Use the X and Y Angle to control the horizontal and vertical tilt.

• To change the bend or shear origin, click a point on the reference icon.

The Inflate controls expand or collapse the text:

• Use a positive Angle setting to expand the object or a negative to collapse.

• Strength controls the level of inflation for the object.

Photoshop offers additional controls for 3D viewing. In the bottom left corner of the Repoussé window is an icon to use options like a 3D Ground Plane or 3D Lights. This is the easiest way to control shadows and reflections.

The Scene Settings offer several controls over Lights and camera views.

• Lights offers several presets for how the model is lit.

• View offers preset camera angles. These are useful to reset your view to a default angle.

• The Render Settings control how object surfaces look and at what quality they render.

• The Mesh Quality settings increase the density of the mesh, which can dramatically improve appearance. However the quality can increase the processing time of the effect. A good video card can improve performance.

The Internal Constraints controls let you adjust the resolution of the mesh. The controls let you specify settings for specific areas such as inflation or curves. These controls can be a little tricky, but experimentation is the best way to learn. This is the best way to refine a model and remove “spikes” or unwanted detail.

The Materials controls let you assign color and texture to the sides of the model. You can apply a global texture to all faces, or assign unique textures to the front, sides, back, and beveled edges (Figure 3).


Be sure to visit Photoshop.com for a wide range of free 3D materials for use in the Repoussé command.

When satisfied, click OK to apply the Repoussé effect (Figure 4). If you ever need to, you can return to the Repoussé window by selecting the object and choosing 3D > Repoussé > Edit In Repoussé.


The generated model has true depth that can interact with the After Effects camera system.

While you can’t edit the materials directly in the Repoussé interface you can after applying the effect. In the 3D panel you can see the meshes and depth maps used. You can also double-click these items in the Layers panel to edit them.

Extruding a Selection

In addition to text layers, you can use the Repoussé command on a selected area. Create a layered file or export an layered file from Adobe Illustrator as a Photoshop document (File > Export). To load a selection hold down the Command (Ctrl) key and click the thumbnail icon in the Layers panel then choose 3D > Repoussé > Current Selection (Figure 5).


Using an active selection, any object can be beveled or extruded.

The Repoussé window opens with the controls we explored previously. A useful option as you adjust opbjects is to use the View pop-up menu to choose camera angle. Use properties like Inflate and Bevel to create a new effect. When satisified you can click the pop-up menu next to the preset controls to make your own presets.

About Richard Harrington (43 Articles)
A certified instructor for Adobe and Apple, Rich is a practiced expert in motion graphic design and digital video. Rich is a member of the National Association of Photoshop Professionals Instructor Dream Team, and a popular speaker on the digital video circuit. Rich is an internationally published author. His book, Photoshop for Video, was the first of its kind to focus on Photoshop’s application in the world of video. He is also a contributing author for Apple’s Aperture, iLife ’09 and iWork ’09, Video Made on a Mac, and Producing Video Podcasts. If you want even more Photoshop training, check out his book Understanding Adobe Photoshop CS4. If you have an iPod touch or iPhone, you can get <a href="http://tinyurl.com/upapps">Rich’s Training in your Pocket</a>

1 Comment on Creating 3D with Photoshop’s Repoussé Command

  1. oscar // 14/01/2013 at 2:30 pm //

    Can you please explain how to load your own customized textures in repouse? I tried to apply a textured photograph to an object and was able to do so after I imported it from the desktop after clicking on the arrow in the texture window. I later tried to save the preset and couldn’t. I then placed my textures in a folder on my desktop and couldn’t import it either, it was grayed out. I’m using a mac Lion 10.6 etc…

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