How to Make Translucent 3D Text

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Tutorial Resources

Download Link Type Author
ChunkFive Font The League of Moveable Type

Step 1: Create a New Document in Illustrator

Open up Adobe Illustrator. Create a new document with the artboard’s size at 1200x1200px.

Create a New Document in Illustrator

Step 2: Create the Text

Use the Type Tool (T) to write your desired text (in this tutorial, I’ll use the text: "DI"). The font I used is ChunkFive and the font size is around 630pt.

Change the text’s color to orange – #FF9900.

Create the Text

Step 3: Make the Text 3D

Make sure that your text is selected in the artboard, and then go to Type > Create Outlines (Shift+Ctrl+O) to convert the text to a vector shape.

Now go to Effect > 3D >Extrude & Bevel and change your 3D settings to match the image below. Press the OK button to apply the effect.

Make the Text 3D

Step 4: Create a Wireframe

Next, we need to duplicate the 3D text: First make sure that your 3D text is selected in the artboard, go Edit > Copy (Ctrl+C) and then Edit > Paste (Ctrl+F).

If you can’t see Illustrator’s Appearance panel in your workspace, go to Window > Appearance. Now, in the Appearance panel, click on 3D Extrude & Bevel, which will open up the 3D Extrude & Bevel Options window.

In the 3D Extrude & Bevel Options window, there’s a dropdown option called Surface that’s at the bottom of the window. Change the Surface option to Wireframe.

Now we should have the 3D wireframe text, and also the solid 3D orange text we created earlier that’s behind it.

Create a Wireframe

By making a wireframe, it makes the individual components of our 3D text easier to work with. The 3D orange text behind our wireframe will only be used as a reference (for later).

Step 5: Change the Color of the Wireframe

Let’s change the color of our wireframe text to an orange color.

Change the Color of the Wireframe

Step 6: Switch Over to Photoshop

Fire up Photoshop. Create a new 1200x1200px document. Fill the background layer with black – #000000.

Copy (Ctrl+C) and paste (Ctrl+V) the solid orange text from Illustrator into our Photoshop document.

Next, Copy (Ctrl+C) and paste (Ctrl+V) each piece of the wireframe text into our Photoshop document. If asked, choose the Smart Object option when you’re pasting a piece into Photoshop. Make sure you line up the pieces with the solid orange text layer that’s already in Photoshop. Also make sure that each piece is on its own layer.

Step 7: Apply Layer Effects to the Wireframe Layers

After you’re done copy-pasting each piece of the wireframe, give each layer a Gradient Overlay and Stroke.

For the Gradient Overlay, change the gradient colors so that the gradient goes from an orange-brown color to a white color. The Blend Mode option should be Multiply and Opacity should be set at 20%.

For the Stroke layer effect, the stroke should be a yellow-orange color – #FF9900 and the Size option should be set at 1px.

Now, in the Layers panel, change the Fill option of each layer to 40%.

We are changing the Fill option instead of the Opacity option because it doesn’t change the opacity of the Gradient Overlay or Stroke, whereas the Opacity option will.

Here’s where we are right now:

Step 8: Add a Curves Adjustment Layer

Let’s add a Curves adjustment layer to make overall changes to our document’s colors, and to do this, go to Layer > Adjustment Layer > Curves. This will give our text a darker see-through look.

Step 9: Modify the Stroke of the Text Faces

We want to have a thicker stroke on the front faces of the "D" and "I" letters to make them stand out more. In the Layers panel, locate the layer that has the face of the "D". Double-click on Stroke, which will open up the Stroke settings for this layer for us to modify.

Modify the Stroke of the Text Faces

Change the stroke Size option from 1px to 3px.

Do the same thing for the letter "I" too.

Modify the Stroke of the Text Faces

Step 10: Edit the Gradient Overlays

To make the face of our text look a bit better, we’re going to change the black gradient to a brown – #993300 and white gradient. See the image below for the settings I used.

Edit the Gradient Overlays

For the rest of the sides of the text, edit their Gradient Overlay layer effects by changing their Blend Mode options to Color Burn and angle the gradient so the darkest part is coming from the bottom and the back of the text sides. Also change the Opacity of each layer to 20%.

Edit the Gradient Overlays

Edit the Gradient Overlays

Step 11: Create a Glow Effect

We are going to make the text faces glow. To do this, start by changing your Foreground Color (which you can find in the Tools panel) to white.

Then switch to your Brush Tool (B) and, in the Options bar at the top of your Photoshop workspace, change the brush’s Size to 10px and Hardness to 0%.

Choose the "D" text face layer in the Layers panel as the active layer. Afterwards, go to Select > Load Selection.

Now choose the "I" text face layer in the Layers panel as the active layer, and then go to Select > Load Selection again, but this time make sure you choose the Add to Selection option.

Create a Glow Effect

Create a Glow Effect

Create a new layer (Layer > New > Layer), rename the new layer to "Text Glow" and then put it just below the Curves adjustment layer.

With the text faces still selected, go to the Paths panel, click the button in the upper-right corner of the panel to reveal the panel’s menu, and then choose Make Work Path from the menu that appears.

Right-click on the work path and then choose Stroke Path from the menu that appears; make sure you choose the Simulate Pressure option.

Change the Blend Mode of the "Text Glow" layer to Overlay.

Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and change the blur’s Radius to 3px before applying the filter.

Create a Glow Effect

Step 12: Adding a Glowing Shadow

Finally, we’re going to add a glowing drop shadow at the bottom of our 3D text.

To start, change the Foreground Color to #FF9900 and then switch to the Radial Gradient Tool (G). Create a new layer below all the other layers and make a small radial gradient.

Adding a Glowing Shadow

Use the Free Transform Tool (Edit > Free Transform) to make the gradient wider (stretch it out) and so that it covers the bottom of the "D" letter.

Make another glowing drop shadow for the "I".

Drop the Opacity of both the glowing drop shadow layers to 50% and then let’s call it a day!

Adding a Glowing Shadow

Tutorial Summary

In this tutorial, we used Illustrator and Photoshop to create translucent 3D text. We used Illustrator to help us generate the basic shapes of our work. We then moved over to Photoshop to apply various styling effects.

Here is the final result:

Download Source Files

  • Tyler,

    I’m stuck on Step 5. How does one go about changing the color of the wireframe. I’ve tried this before with a wireframe. (Using CS6 here). Thanks, Justin

  • Correction: I haven’t tried this before….

  • juan

    Step 7 fundamental action can not achieve the effect of three-dimensional leader

  • Skyler

    Same. I can’t change the color.

  • Actor

    The wireframe not copying in 3d. What can be the problem?

  • wow! i like this effect! thanks!

  • Kate

    How do you select individual pieces of the wireframe in Illustrator to bring into Photoshop??? All I can get is the whole letter. Each is already ungrouped and the direct selection arrow won’t work either.

  • Done it! Nice tutorial.

  • Danny

    This tutorial confuse people who are not familiar with illustrator.

  • Tim

    It appears the comments aren’t answered but I will throw in my 2 cents, there are MAJOR gaps in explanation in this tutorial and I don’t recommend it. Yes I use both IA and PS, but there are jumps that don’t make sense. Stating -just change the color of the wireframe. No explanation.

    Solved that one, but its not just an obvious

    “Locate the Layre that has the front faces” there are only two layers (not including the background) in a good tutorial you would state the top layer, the lower layer, because we should all be on the same page with the same information.

    Change the letter D, then change the letter I?? They are on the same Layer, I created them at the same time, so why should I have to change them separately? Did I miss something?

    Then he says to change the face via a Gradient Overlay, ok, but then “For the rest of the sides of the Text, edit their Gradient Overlay layer” wait, the sides have their own layer? Since when? So I keep changing a Gradient Overlay once for the front, and then again for the sides?? How does one one tell PS this Gradient Overlay is for the Face, the Gradient Overlay is for the sides?? Makes no sense.

    I teach, I was hoping to use this tutorial, but its craps out when you are almost done. Don’t try it, don’t waste your time.

  • Sebastian Watts

    The question everyone has is “how do you change the color of the wireframe?”

    Answer: You can Object > Expand Appearance the wireframe object, and then change the stroke color on the resulting group of lines.

    The other question I read was asking how do you change just the different faces.

    Answer: When you do above to change the wireframe outline color you will be able to import a whole section that is just the face of each letter of text!

    PROBLEMS SOLVED. I do believe the individual who wrote this tutorial should have thrown those very few lines of explaination into here just in case some beginners happen across this tutorial, I sincerely hope I was helpful!