This is the third of three articles that demonstrate how you can use the 3D tools in Photoshop CS4 Extended to create composite images with a mix of 2D and 3D content. For this series, I'm using a 3D orb that rises through the "parting clouds" in a 2D image, reflecting the world around it to create an interesting and surreal scene. In part 1, I set up the 2D background image, which included the cloud formation. In part 2, I created the 3D orb and the basis to place it among the clouds. In this article, I'll scale the orb and correctly position it in the 2D cloud background.
In part 2, we left off with the 3D orb having been placed approximately in position, giving it the correct sense of scale as it "receded" toward the cloud formations. However, the orb was still just a featureless gray object at this point. I needed to add reflectivity, material properties, and other characteristics to make it more interesting! This can be accomplished for any project with 3D elements by using the 3D panel shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1 The 3D panel in Photoshop CS4 Extended allows you to assign material properties, lighting characteristics, and render settings to your 3D content.
As a starting point, I smoothed out the 3D orb a bit by changing the default Anti-Alias and Render presets, both of which are accessed from the 3D Panel's default Scene view. (You can access Scene view by clicking the leftmost button on the top of the panel; the icon looks like a file hierarchy tree.) I chose Solid as my Render Type and Best as my Anti-Alias Quality. The only other change I made from the Scene view was choosing a very light white-blue color for Global Ambient Color. This setting helps to mimic the midday sun.