Life & Style tutorial: 3D text and paint effects

Make your message heard with stunning painting and compositing techniques from Alex Beltechi.

This tutorial is part of our guide to the world's best type tutorials. See the rest here.

There’s a lot of talk in design circles about green design at the moment – and this digital illustration is inspired by this emphasis on green issues and a more sustainable future.

You’ll learn how to employ 3D extrusion techniques by creating elements in Illustrator for import into Photoshop; you’ll also hone your brush and drawing skills, and learn how to achieve this wonderfully subtle, cloudy background and the bold but not too in-yourface highlights.

A Wacom tablet is highly useful for achieving the look, although if you don’t have one then careful mouse-work and a lot of patience will do. While we’ll create almost every element in the tutorial from scratch onscreen, we’ll use a simple watercolour image to create a texture of our own, adding a grungy feel to the design – and we’ll also cheat slightly by adding some stock birds.

Creating your own elements can be very useful when illustrating – not only does it reduce your need for external resources, but it also contributes to an original outcome that represents you, the designer.

Step 1
To begin, open Illustrator and create a new web document. Type in the letters individually, using a light grey as foreground colour (colour reference #b9b9b9). Go to Effect > 3D > Extrude and Bevel. Use a 35º perspective and a Complex 2 Bevel. Depending on your font size, you should alter the Extrude Depth and Bevel Height values, so that the letters don’t show any distortion.

Step 2
In Photoshop, create a new A3 document at 300dpi. Paste in the letters as a Smart Object and add a Gradient Map Adjustment Layer with these colours: #a3bd41 and #124938. Add a Curves Adjustment Layer and darken it slightly.

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