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Discovering photoshop new 3D tools

The last major update of photoshop, CS5 has come out for a while with many new great features concerning 3D image management. You can now directly open a 3D object in a photoshop layer and modify many parameters for including it in your creation. The basics 3D objects functions are, scaling, rotating, moving, meshes, and of course texture work.

There is a very long list of photoshop's 3D functionnalities to talk about, but in this article we will just focus on the texture work functions.

Form our point of interest, texture work in photoshop CS5 has been greatly improved.
Like in many other 3D programs, all texture work is regrouped under the "material" window.
A Material is a group of textures layers : Diffuse, bump, glossiness, shininess, opactity, reflectivity, environement and ... normal.
Each layer can be modified independantly and combined to achieve the best result.

You can now marry the best of a 3D texture tool with all photoshop possibilities without ever leaving this single app.
Read more after the link : Learning to texture an object


3D materials window

The top part of the 3D panel lists the materials used in the 3D file. One or multiple materials may be used to create the overall appearance of the model. If a model contains several meshes, there may be a specific material associated with each mesh. Or a model can be built from one mesh but use different materials in different areas.

ti materialspanel


A selected material and its associated texture maps.

  • A. Displays Materials options
  • B. Selected material
  • C. Materials picker
  • D. Material Drop and Select tools
  • E. Texture map menu icon
  • F. Texture map types

For a selected material in the top section of the 3D panel, the lower section shows the particular texture maps used by that material. Some texture types, such as Diffuse and Bump, commonly rely on 2D files to supply a particular color or pattern that creates the texture.

For other texture types, you may not need a separate 2D file. For example, you can directly adjust Gloss, Shine, Opacity, or Reflection by entering values.

The texture maps used by a material appear as Textures in the Layers panel, grouped by the texture map category.

To see a thumbnail of a texture map image, hover the mouse over the texture name (for example, Reflection or Illumination).


Options panel:


The color of the material. The diffuse map can be a solid color or any 2D content. The Diffuse color swatch value sets the diffuse color if you choose to remove the diffuse texture map. You can also create a diffuse map by painting directly on the model. See Paint on 3D models (Photoshop Extended).


Increases or decreases opacity of the material (0-100%). You can use a texture map or the scrubby slider to control opacity. The grayscale values of the texture map control the opacity of the material. White values create complete opacity and black values create complete transparency.



Creates bumps in the material surface, without altering the underlying mesh. A bump map is a grayscale image in which lighter values create raised surface areas and darker values create flatter surface areas. You can create or load a bump map file, or begin painting on the model to automatically create a bump map file. See Paint on 3D models (Photoshop Extended).The Bump field increases or reduces bumpiness. It is only active if a bump map exists. Enter a number in the field or use the scrubby slider to increase or decrease bump strength.

Bumpiness is most pronounced when a surface is viewed head on, rather than at an angle.


Like a bump map texture, a normal map increases surface detail. Unlike a bump texture map, which is based on a single-channel grayscale image, a normal map is based on a multi-channel (RGB) image. The values of each color channel represent the x, y, and z components of a normal on the model surface. A normal map can be used to smooth the surfaces of low polygon meshes.

Note: Photoshop uses World-space normal maps, which offer the fastest processing.


Stores the image of the environment surrounding the 3D model. Environment maps are applied as spherical panoramas. The contents of the environment map can be seen in the reflective areas of the model.

To prevent an environment map from reflecting on a given material, change Reflectivity to 0%, add a reflectivity map that masks the material area, or remove the environment map for that material.


Increases the reflection of other objects in the 3D scene, and the environment map, on the material surface.


Defines a color that doesn't rely on lighting to display. Creates the effect that the 3D object is lit from within.


Defines the amount of light from a source that reflects off the surface and back to the viewer. You can adjust glossiness by entering a value in the field or using the scrubby slider. If you create a separate glossiness map, the intensity of colors in the map controls glossiness in the material. Black areas create full glossiness, white areas remove all glossiness, and middle values reduce the size of a highlight.


Defines the dispersion of the reflected light generated by the Gloss setting. Low shininess (high dispersion) produces more apparent light, with less focus. High shininess (low dispersion) produces less apparent light and brighter, crisper highlights.

ti glossy shiny

Adjusting Gloss (left number) and Shine (right number)

Note: If a 3D object has more than the nine texture types Photoshop supports, additional textures appear in the Layers panel and the 3D Paint Mode list. (To display the latter, choose 3D > 3D Paint Mode, or use the Paint On menu in the Scene section of the 3D panel).


The color displayed for specular properties (for example, highlight glossiness and shininess).


Sets the color for ambient light visible on reflective surfaces. This color interacts with the Global Ambient Color for the entire scene. See 3D Scene settings (Photoshop Extended).


Sets the refractive index when scene Quality is set to Ray Traced and the Refractions option is selected in the 3D > Render Settings dialog box. Refraction is the change in light direction that occurs at the intersection of two media (such as air and water) with different refractive indexes. The default value for new materials is 1.0 (the approximate value for air).

Sample and apply materials directly on objects

The 3D Material Drop tool works much like the traditional Paint Bucket tool, letting you sample and apply materials directly on 3D objects.

  1. In 3D panel, select the 3D Material Drop tool  .
  2. Move the pointer over the 3D object in the document window. When the material you want to sample is outlined, Alt-click (Windows) or Option-click (Mac OS).
  3. Move the pointer to outline the material you want to change, and click.

For a visual example of an outlined material, see Outline the selected material or mesh in the document window.

Select materials directly on objects

  1. In 3D panel, hold down the 3D Material Drop tool , and select the 3D Select Material tool .
  2. Move the pointer over the 3D object in the document window. When the material you want to select is outlined, click.

Apply, save, or load material presets

Material presets let you quickly apply groups of texture settings. The default presets provide a variety of popular materials like steel, fabric, and wood.

ti 3d material presets

Click the material preview to display the preset pop-up panel.

  1. In the 3D panel, click the material preview.
  2. In the preset pop-up panel, do any of the following:
  • To apply a preset, double-click a thumbnail preview.
  • To create a preset from the current texture settings, click the pop-up menu icon , and choose New Material.
  • To rename or delete selected presets, click the pop-up menu icon, and choose Rename or Delete Material.
  • To save the current group of presets, click the pop-up menu icon, and choose Save Materials.
  • To change the displayed group, click the pop-up menu icon. Then choose Reset Materials to restore a saved group, Load Materials to append a saved group, or Replace Materials.

Create a texture map

  1. Click the folder icon  next to the texture map type.
  2. Choose New Texture.
  3. Enter the name, dimensions, resolution, and color mode for the new map, then click OK.

To match the aspect ratio of an existing texture map, view its dimensions by hovering the mouse pointer over the map name in the Layers panel.

The name of the new texture map is displayed next to the texture map type in the Materials panel. It is also added to the texture list under the 3D layer in the Layers panel. The default name is the texture map type appended to the material name.

Load a texture map

You can load an existing 2D texture file for any of the nine available texture map types.

  1. Click the folder icon  next to the texture type.
  2. Choose Load Texture, then select and open the 2D texture file.

Create a bump texture map

A bump texture map filled with a neutral grayscale value provides more range when painting on the map.

  1. In the Tools panel, click the Set Background Color swatch.
  2. In the Color Picker, set brightness to 50%, and set R, G, and B values to equal values. Click OK.
  3. In the 3D panel, click the folder icon  next to Bump.
  4. Choose New Texture.
  5. Choose the following settings in the New dialog box:
    - For Color Mode, choose Grayscale
    - For Background Contents, choose Background Color.
    - (Optional) Set Width and Height to match the dimensions of the diffuse texture map for the material.
  6. Click OK.

The bump texture map is created and added to the texture map files listed in the Materials panel. It also appears as a texture in the Layers panel.

Open a texture map for editing

 Click the image icon , and choose Open Texture.

The texture map opens as a Smart Object in its own document window. After editing the texture, make the 3D model document window active to see updates to the model. See Create and edit textures for 3D models (Photoshop Extended).

Delete a texture map

  1. Click the image icon  next to the texture type.
  2. Choose Remove Texture.

If the deleted texture is an external file, you can reload it using the Load Texture command from the texture map menu. For textures that are internally referenced by the 3D file, choose Undo or Step Backward to restore a deleted texture.

Edit texture properties

ti texture properties

A texture map is applied to a particular surface area of the model, depending on its UV mapping parameters. You can adjust UV scale and offset if necessary to improve how the texture maps to the model.

  1. Click the image icon  next to the texture type.
  2. Choose Edit Properties.
  3. Choose a target layer and set UV Scale and Offset values. You can enter values directly or use the scrubby sliders.
    Target Determines whether settings apply to a specific layer or the composite image.
    U and V Scale Resize mapped textures. To create a repeating pattern, decrease the value.
    U and V Offset Reposition mapped textures.

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