3D inflation from scratch
We’ve looked at a couple of different ways of inflating photographs, but – this being Photoshop, after all – we’re not limited to just what we can capture with a camera. Any design can be turned into a 3D object, which means we can create the items we need without having to source images or models.
Here, we’ll see how to draw a basic lifebelt, starting with nothing. It’s not a complex model, but try finding a photograph of a lifebelt from the right angle and you’ll see how hard it can be to track one down. It’s so much easier to make an object that can be turned around at will.
Start by making a new layer on a new document. Create a circular selection by holding as you drag with the Elliptical Marquee tool.
Select a pale gray as the foreground color (white will be too bright), and press to fill the selection with that color.
Enter QuickMask mode (shortcut: ): the selection appears in white on a red background. Use to enter Free Transform mode, then hold as you drag a corner handle toward the center, shrinking the circle.
Press again to leave QuickMask mode, then just hit to delete the new selection from the gray disc, leaving a donut shape.
Now for the color. Use the Rectangular Marquee tool to select the upper-right corner of the donut.
Select a bright red, and press to fill the selection with red (the stops the color from leaking outside the existing pixels).
Make a similar selection in the bottom-left corner, and use the same method to fill that area with red as well.
Open the 3D panel and use the usual method to extrude the lifebelt, turning it into a 3D object.
Use the preset created at the beginning of this chapter to turn that basic extruded shape into a rounded, three-dimensional lifebelt. When viewing it head-on, you can only guess at the inflation amount, but it’s easy enough to fix this later.
Rotate the view so you can see the life-belt from a side angle, and make the inflation double-sided by checking Front and Back in the Mesh section of the Properties panel, as we did before.
The lifebelt now looks a little too bulbous: in reality, they’re flatter than that. So either use the Head-Up Display to make it thinner, or drag the Strength slider in the Inflate section of the Properties panel to make the inflation amount less extreme.
Here’s how the lifebelt can appear when it’s merged with other images to make a complete illustration.
If we wanted to make it more realistic it would be easy to add some more texture to the original design; or we could even start with a photograph of a real lifebelt.
Either way, the point is that it’s easy to create exactly the object you need without having any source material at hand.