Manipulating 3D objects
The advantage to working with 3D objects is, obviously, that you can work with them in three dimensions. You can also return to a 3D layer at any time to change lighting, color, material, or position without having to re-create a lot of the art. Photoshop CS6 includes several basic tools that make it easy to rotate, resize, and position 3D objects. The 3D tools in the options bar manipulate the object itself. The Camera widget in the lower left corner of the application window manipulates the camera so you can view a 3D scene from different angles.
You can use the 3D tools whenever a 3D layer is selected in the Layers panel. A 3D layer behaves like any other layer—you can apply layer styles, mask it, and so on. However, a 3D layer can be quite complex.
Unlike a regular layer, a 3D layer contains one or more meshes. A mesh defines the 3D object. In the layer you just created, the mesh is the cube wrap shape. Each mesh, in turn, includes one or more materials—the appearance of a part or all of the mesh. Each material includes one or more maps, which are the components of the appearance. There are nine typical maps, and there can be only one of each kind; however, you can also use custom maps. Each map contains one texture—the image that defines what the maps and materials look like. The texture may be a simple bitmap graphic or a set of layers. The same texture might be used by many different maps and materials. In the layer you just created, the image of the wood composes the texture.
In addition to meshes, a 3D layer also includes one or more lights, which affect the appearance of 3D objects and remain in a fixed position as you spin or move the object. A 3D layer also includes cameras, which are saved views with the objects in a particular position. The shader creates the final appearance based on the materials, object properties, and renderer.
That may all sound complicated, but the most important thing to remember is that the 3D tools in the options bar move an object in 3D space and the Camera widget moves the cameras that view the object.
- In the Tools panel, select the Move tool ().
- Select the Drag The 3D Object tool in the 3D Mode area of the options bar.
- Click on the wood, and drag it to move it from side to side or up and down.
- Select the Roll The 3D Object tool in the options bar, and then click and drag the cube.
- Experiment with the other tools to see how they affect the object.
- Rotate, scale, and move the cube using the widget.
- Right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Mac OS) the Camera widget in the lower left corner of the application window (it has two axes visible), and choose Top.
- Choose other camera views to see how they affect the perspective.
- When you’re done experimenting, choose File > Revert. You should see the front view of the wood cube again.
All the 3D capabilities are embedded into the Move tool, which recognizes when a 3D layer is selected and enables the 3D tools.
When you select a 3D object, Photoshop displays the colorful 3D Axis widget, with green, red, and blue representing different axes. Red represents the x axis, green represents the y axis, and blue represents the z axis. (Hint: Think of RGB color to remember the order.) If you hover the mouse over the center box until it turns yellow, you can click the box and drag to scale the object uniformly. Click an arrow to move the object along that axis; click the curved handle just before the arrow to rotate on that axis; and click the smaller handle to scale along that axis.
Options in the Camera menu determine the angle from which you see the object. The camera angle changes, but the object itself does not. Don’t be fooled by its relationship to the background image; that image is not 3D, so Photoshop leaves it in place when it moves the camera for the 3D object.