PixelPerfect #121: 3D Lighting Tips in Adobe Photoshop

Posted in Graphics, Podcasts on April 13, 2009

3D functionality is a huge part of Adobe Photoshop CS4. Bert shows you some tips in applying light sources to your 3D projects.

Create a 3d object
This week, Bert teaches us that 3D is not just about angles, shapes, and depth. Lighting is equally as important. We begin with a 900x600, RGB file set to 72dpi. Fill screen with a solid blue in a new layer. Turn the layer into a 3D Postcard so we can apply lights. In 3D controls, you can scale down the solid block of color and apply rotations.

A note about resolution in your Photoshop files
If working in print, your resolution should be double your halftone screen. i.e. If the magazine prints at 150 line screen, you need 300 dpi. If working for the computer screen only, use 72dpi as it speeds up the computing speed when working on images. Higher resolution requires more time for processing.

About 3D lighting
There are 3 different sources of light, which can be controlled in the 3D (Lights) panel: Point lights, spot lights, and infinite lights. In this window you can also adjust the lighting source position, color, intensity and angle.

Point lights
Point lights are simulate the light from a regular lightbulb.

Spot lights
Spot lights shoot the light out at an angle like a cone - narrow at first, then widening as the light travels.

Infinite lights
Infinite light is like an ambient light, much like sunlight. Changing the angle of the Infinite light will lighten or darken your image with more coverage. You can also use Infinite light much like a photographer's reflection screen to hide shadows.

Adjusting light properties
- Hotspot and Fallout values will change the softness of the light's edges.
- Attenuation determines the distance of how far the light travels, and you can set inner and outer values to manipulate the light to be realistic with distance.

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Tags: Photoshop, Design, 3D, Revision3, PixelPerfect, Broadcasting, Screencasts, Lighting, Point Light