PixelPerfect #113: 3D Animation in Photoshop is Out of This World!

Posted in Graphics, Podcasts on March 18, 2009



Use 3D shapes and animation to create rotating planets and moons in Photoshop. Bert demonstrates how to apply lighting and styles to create a realistic outer-space experience.

This week, we're looking at 3D in Photoshop from a different perspective: Deep Outer-Space! You'll learn how to create planets and moons in their orbit. Here are the steps:

Set up a tiled Earth graphic for animation
Bert shows us how to rotate a moon around our Earth using movie files. Start with a full, flat image of the earth (just Google the image for a free, public graphic). Copy, and paste the image into a new document (don't delete your original document - we'll return to it later). Enlarge the new canvas width by 300% and make an additional 2 duplicates of this earthly image, tiled horizontally. Copy all that is visible, then paste into your original document.

Apply animation
In your animation window, switch to frame view, a new frame, and move the image to the opposite edge. Apply about 5 frames of tweening, then render the video. You'll need to wait for a few minutes while Photoshop processes the rotating image of Earth. A Quicktime video will be created when the animation is complete.

Apply rotation to the globe
Import the movie file to your original document (Layer > Video Layer > New Video Layer from File) and delete your old layer of Earth. The new layer will have a movie icon on the layer thumbnail. Create a globe by choosing 3D > New Shape from Layer > Sphere. Adjust the lighting as desired through the 3D Lighting panel.

Add stars
Monochromatic noise on the dark background creates stars with some adjustments.

Add a moon to Earth's orbit
With a flat moon image file, apply a Sphere shape as done previously to the Earth. When sized correctly, move the moon to the side of the Earth. To adjust the lighting to match Earth, select both layers, then choose 3D > Merge 3D Layers. The moon will then take on the same properties as the Earth.

Cast shadows on the Earth
To apply shadows on the Earth as the moon orbits, apply 3D Render Settings > Ray Trace. When you choose OK, a shadow will appear. You can apply layer styles to the shadow to make it look realistic.

Render the video
When exporting your movie, rendering will take some time (at least a few minutes) to create the movie frame-by-frame for every element in this file, like positioning, shadows, and lighting. Apply a loop and you're done!

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Tags: Photoshop, Design, Revision3, PixelPerfect, Tutorial, Lesson