Create 3D text in the form of the brain in Photoshop

Today you will learn how to create a realistic brain effect in Photoshop. This lesson will teach you to apply the textures of the brain and blood vessels, as well as light glare to 3D shapes.

Download materials for the lesson

Translator’s Note: screenshots, toolbar locations, and some of the techniques used in the lesson may not be compatible with Photoshop CS6 or later.

Create a new document in Photoshop size 1800 x 1457 px and resolution 72px / inch. Layer styles and proportions of patterns for 3D letters depend on the size of the shapes and resolution.

Unlock the background layer (to do this, drag the lock icon located on the right side of the layers panel to the basket below). Apply the following layer styles to the background. Download and set (brain_background.pat) the “paper” pattern to create a texture like in the example below.

To create a stylized brain letters, I used the usual round Brush (Brush Tool) in Photoshop, and then converted the result into a vector shape using Adobe Illustrator. In Illustrator, go to the menu Object> Fast Trace> Trace Options (Object> Live Trace> Trace Options).

You will find the finished figure (brain_shape.psd) in the archive with the materials for the lesson.
Insert the shape with the brain on a new layer. Highlight contour thumbnail.

Go to menu 3D> Embossing> From the selected outline … (3D> Repousse> Selected Path).

In the “Shapes” select preset Bloat (Inflate Sides), but change Extrusion depth (Strength) on 0.5. Also click on the inside of the letter “e” to create a hole effect.

Now go to Material palette (Materials Palette). Install brain.p3l, which you will find in the archive with the materials for the lesson and replace the lighting set.

If you do not need a shadow effect, as in the final image, you can leave the current position of the object. However, if you need a shadow behind the shape, change Object type (Object Position) with “Default” (Default) on “Front” (Front). You can also adjust the position of the shape using the tools in the upper left corner of the screen.

Change camera position (Camera Position) with “Default” (Default) on “Above” (Top). Can try “perspective” (Perspective Camera) or “orthogonal” (Orthographic) camera view to choose the option that suits best.

You can adjust the position / angle of the camera using the tools in the upper left corner of the screen.

To apply a texture, open 3D material panel (3D Materials Palette). For now, use the quality settings. “Interactive Drawing” (Interactive Painting).

Apply texture to Front bulge material (Front Inflation Material). In the archive with the materials for the lesson you will find “The texture of the brain” (brain.psb) and “The texture of bumps” (bump.psb). Upload them to folders “Diffusion” (Diffuse), “Relief” (Bump).

If you open these textures as separate documents in different windows, you can see that they were created using simple layer styles, a pre-installed Photoshop pattern, and a drawing of blood vessels (which was created using an ordinary small round brush).

After applying these settings to the front of the material, you can save it as a new preset and use it for other sides of the figure or other projects in the future.

To create a shadow, check the box. “Capturing the shadow on the base plane” (Ground Plane Shadow Catcher).

Then select a quality “Final ray tracing” (“Ray Traced final”). The process may take some time. Wait a bit until you see a glossy and soft texture, then click anywhere on the screen to interrupt the tracing process. The time required for the ray tracing process depends on the computer performance, so it can take from several minutes to an hour.

Here is the result of the trace.

Return to normal Layer Panels (Layers Palette). Right-click on the 3D shape layer, select “Rastrirovat” (Rasterize). Go to menu Image> Correction> Dynamic Contrast (Image> Adjustments> Auto Contrast).

Apply style to this layer. “Pattern Overlay” (Pattern Overlay). Use the texture nebula.pat (which you will find in the archive with the materials for the lesson)

Here is the final result!

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