This tutorial will go over the steps involved in creating artistic 3D typography and blending it into a scene.
This tutorial is for learning purposes only, you will agree not to recreate this “Evoke” and call it your own work. If you disagree to this, then close this window immediately.
STEP 1: Find a suitable stock image
I had a good idea of what kind of stock I needed before i began. I wanted a cliff mountainside with water for my typography to lay on.
I usually start off with a concept then go searching for stock that is suitable for it. I found this particular photo on iStockPhoto.com which cost me a couple of credits.
STEP 2: Visualize the design
I wanted my typography to say “Evoke” and look ancient, like it had been there for ages. Now for this to look convincing it needed to be rock like, and match the environment. I also wanted it to look tall and surreal so the individual letters should be at awkward angles / perspectives thus creating more depth in the scene.
STEP 3: Cinema 4D
Cinema 4D will be used for this tutorial because it’s a user-friendly 3D program that anyone can learn with time. If you don’t want to use Cinema 4D, you can use any other 3D program but just make sure you can play with the perspectives and the textures of the typography. What I needed was a good stone-age looking font that wasn’t too cartoonish. After searching on the internet for some time, I found Berlin Sans FB Demi – which is a free font that worked perfectly for what I needed.
In C4D I chose the text spline:
Then, in the attributes text window i typed “E” and clicked on fonts (circled)
and navigated to Berlin Sans FB Demi.
I Ctrl + clicked and dragged on the text layer in the objects window, and duplicated them 5 times.
This made each letter separate object which was helpful later when I wanted to create different perspectives on each letter.
To give the text a 3rd dimension I dragged each text object into an Extrude NURBS.
I then changed the movement to 40
Now that my text was in 3D I needed to apply textures and position it according to how I wanted it to sit in my scene.
In the materials window I clicked File > New Material
In the attributes window I clicked the little arrow next to texture, then load image. I navigated to a rock texture i had found earlier that day.
I dragged the material onto the object and choose “cubic” for the material projection.
I angled the camera to how I wanted each individual letter to look best in the scene.
In render settings I checked global illumination, ambient occlusion and anti-aliasing as best. After rendering to picture viewer, I saved it as a .targa-straight alpha so that I could easily extract them in Photoshop.
I repeated this process for each letter.
STEP 4: Photoshop polishing
All the letters were rendered and ready for some heavy Photoshop work. I knew this was going to be a long process so I came back to it some time later.
I opened all the letters in PS and extracted them by selecting the alpha channel that was saved in it.
After all the letters were extracted, I dragged them into my scene and resized them according to my initial idea.
STEP 5: Light and Shadow
One of the most important things is to establish coherent sense of lighting and shadows according to the scene. I had a look at the cliffs and tried to get an idea of where the light source is, and whether they it projecting hard or soft shadows. There’s an overcast sky in this scene, so the shadows/light would be softer; and also the light seems to be coming from behind where I planned to put the text.
Keeping in mind what I established in step 2, I started brushing the shadows with a soft brush on low opacity (around 20-30%)
The further the shadow from the object the less opaque and more blurred it would be.
I did this for all 5 letters and this is what it looked like after the shadows were brushed.
Then I started on the lighting. The letters contrasted the setting too much, and needed a touch of light to fit the scene properly.
I brushed white with a large soft brush on the top end of the letters then lowered the opacity of the layer to 33% to depict a sense of subtle lighting.
It still wasn’t real enough so using the same technique i brushed some light in front of “V” but behind “O”. This created depth between the letters.
This is what it looked like after all the light had been added
STEP 6: Grass and Vines
There’s no way that the letters could have been there for long without some kind of grass/vines forming on them. Foliage like this will help give the stone letters a little organic feel to them.
I found the perfect stock for this on http://sxc.hu ; I extracted it, and resized it so it covered just the bottom half of the letter
I applied a layer mask to the grass layer, and then selected the brush shown above.
In the brush engine i used these settings.
In a layer mask brushing with black hides, and white reveals so with black selected i brushed out the areas i didn’t need until i got something like this.
The first image is what I had initially but it didn’t look convincing. So I dragged the grass layer under the shadows layer, then right clicked on the grass layer -> blending options and applied inner shadow. These are the values I used.
I repeated these steps for each letter.
In my opinion this was the most fun and creative part of the whole process. It allowed lots of creative freedom and the longer i spent on it, the better the outcome. In the end I had probably spent more time on this alone than the whole piece. What really makes this effect work are the little details like the vines hanging off the “K”
on the right side, and the strands hanging off the “O”.
I repeated these steps for each letter.
Those are the foundations of creating a piece such as this. After a few extra finishing touches:
20 yr old Texas based digital artist/photo-retoucher. 4 years of Photoshop experience.