Digital Imaging

11 – Creating New Objects

Lesson Objectives

At the end of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • make a 3D object using software that can be printed
  • use the extrude function for 3D objects
  • find tutorials online for 3D creation of objects
  • use a 3D interface to create a simple object


This week we’re going to make a new 3D object from a very simple line drawing. Since the holidays are coming up, you can think about something you could potentially give as a gift if you like. Printing the object will be optional of course but it is super easy to do so if you like your work and want to send it away to have it printed, that is an option.

You can also use the 3D interface for creating a 3D version of a 2D object to place onto a 2D scene but many professionals have switched over to using Adobe Dimension CC, available through the full Creative Cloud subscription, for that sort of work. Most professionals also use a CAD (Computer Aided Design) interface like Autocad, Sketchup or Blender for creating 3D models for printing but we can do some in Photoshop.

The intersection of objects on a screen into a 3D space is so amazing and will continue to become something that we can take advantage of more and more in our everyday lives so this unit is meant to give a very brief introduction to the creation process. There is a whole new vocabulary and technical interface associated with it and we are only scratching the surface. You can explore 3D further in other courses.

First, you will need to see if your computer is ready for running Photoshop 3D.

Setting Up for 3D in PS CC


Working in 3D requires a bit more processing power out of your computer than the 2D files require. If your 3D menu is greyed out, you must enable the graphics processor in the Photoshop preferences panel (Top Menu -> Photoshop -> Preferences)

* 3D features are disabled on computers having less than 512MB of VRAM.  

* A compatible graphics processor  (also called a  graphics  card, video card, or GPU) lets you experience better performance with Photoshop and use more of its features. Also, display problems, performance issues, errors, or crashes can occur if your computer’s graphics processor or its driver is incompatible with Photoshop. If your graphics processor is unsupported or its driver is defective, the 3D interface won’t work in Photoshop.

Screen Shot 2015-11-19 at 11.11.13 AM


What this will do is allow your computer to use more Video RAM (VRAM) for processing 3D, which does require more processing power. (If your computer is not sufficient I have provided an alternative assignment for you just in case, see alternate below.) When you’re not working with 3D, you can leave the Graphics Processor turned off.

Screen Shot 2015-11-19 at 11.12.29 AM

Make a 3D Printed Object - Tutorial

This is a tutorial on how to make a pair of 3D earrings (or basic extruded shape) in Photoshop CC and send them to a 3D printing service. Much of this is based  on the information in this awesome tutorial from Adobe.  

Follow this tutorial carefully.

Step 1 – Create a new Photoshop CC document

Use these settings (2-3 inches square is about the largest earring or pendant size you’d want):

set file size

Step 2 – Create a drawing

Create a basic brush or vector line drawing in  Photoshop.

The important thing is that the lines are at least 3 pts wide and that it is created on a transparent layer.  You will know the layer is transparent by the checkerboard pattern.

Your document should now look something like this (your line shape will be different than mine). If you are making earrings or a pendant, consider a loop of some sort at the top to put your hanging apparatus through. Estimate the size of your item by knowing that the size of the Artboard is 2 or 3 inches square.

create line drawing

You can resize your object as usual using free transform tool

scale line drawing




Step 3 – Create 3D extrusion

Once you have a shape in Photoshop on a transparent layer, go to the  top menu and choose -> 3D -> New 3D Extrusion from Selected Layer.

The Photoshop environment will change to the 3D Workspace and you will see new 3D layer panel and properties panels.

Step 4 – Set extrusion depth

You will now see your drawing now on an XYZ axis in the 3D interface.

XYZ axis

The planes X Y and Z are color coded. So if you are rotating your object into place it will rotate around the axis you click on:

X-axis is blue

rotate around x axis

Y-axis is red

rotate around y axis

Z-axis is green

rotate around z axis

Your drawing will be extruded, meaning that the line will be pulled into the z axis dimension. The default extrusion thickness is too deep for an earring or pendant so change it to .125 in:

  1. Click on item – the actual shape you created
  2. Click on Deformation Settings and set extrusion depth to 0.125 in

3D interface


Step 5  – Set  location and angle

Now we need to place the item to be printed in the middle of the x/y/z axis and lying horizontally.  It also needs to be lying on  top of the ground, as it represents the printing plate surface.

  1. Make sure you still have the object selected
  2. Select coordinate settings and set the X rotation angle to 90 º
  3. Click ‘Move to Ground’

3D interface


Step 6  – Set  printing specifications & export

  1. select Scene in 3D panel
  2. Select printer settings:
    1. Print to
    2. Printer: (your choice ‘frosted detail plastic’)
    3. Detail level: High
  3. Choose 3D Print… from Top Menu->3D

3D interface

It will take a few minutes once you click on ‘3D Print…’. Photoshop is optimizing your image and getting it ready for packaging.

Eventually, a dialog box will appear asking you to review the model and export. Click on export.

Exporting will take a few minutes and will result in a file ending in ‘’ that will download to your computer.

Step  7 – Upload file for printing

Log into, click on ‘Design’ and upload your file. You will have to set the units (inches) you used in your design.  Once uploaded, you can customize, publish, and order from a variety of materials.

upload to shapeways

If you see this error ‘Thin Walls’ try clicking on the words ‘Thin Walls’.  Shapeways will help you diagnose and fix some problems:


Advanced 3D modeling

Photoshop is not the best 3D modeling tool for complex 3D designs. However, you can still combine multiple 3D layers fairly easily.

  1. Create multiple pixel layers as described above in steps 1-2.
  2. Create new extrusion layers for each layer (must be done independently)
  3. Merge 3D layers (Top Menu -> 3D -> Merge 3D Layers)

Now each layer is on the same x/y/z field and they can each be moved around individually.

combined layers 3D object


For each object, set the location on the x/y/z axis approximately where you want it to be.

You can move objects either by selecting them and using the Coordinates panel in the Properties box or by selecting them and manipulating the x/y/z axis/rotation/scale tool:

combined layers 3D object

View the  composite design above on Shapeways.

Keep in mind that a 3D printer can not print into thin air so your design must be able to layer from the bottom up.

Additional Resources

Alternate Software

If your computer is not able to run the 3D interface, you can use a free online tool like  Tinkercad  instead to create your 3D object. Tinkercad will also let you send it for printing if you like. If you choose to use Tinkercad, there are  many lessons and tutorials  available on their website to get you started. Choose a tutorial but make it your own somehow with a slightly different shape.



Exercise 11

Earrings made in Photoshop and printed at Shapeways in black plastic (hook added separately).

Follow the tutorial above carefully for creating 3D earrings or pendant and post screenshots of your progress. Remember the History panel (Top Menu -> Window-> History) – you can always step back a step or two if you get lost.

You do not have to send the final file out for printing but you can if you like (it’s not very expensive if you use a basic plastic material) — it’s pretty fun to get your creation in the mail a couple weeks later — a few students have done this in the past!

If you would like to try a different 3D object tutorial for creating a new object that can be printed, feel free to find one. If you do, please link to the tutorial you used.

Keep notes and screenshots as you go along in your tutorial process.

Alternate  — Exercise 11

If your computer is not able to run the 3D interface, use  Tinkercad  to create your 3D object. Tinkercad will also let you send it for printing if you like. If you choose to use Tinkercad, there are  many lessons and tutorials  available on their website to get you started.

Take notes as you create your design in Tinkercad   and take screenshots while creating your object.


Create a new post on this class site. Give it the title ‘Exercise 11 – your name’ and the category ‘Exercise 11’.
Post your screenshots of your work – either from Photoshop 3D or from Tinkercad.
Post a screenshot of your final work.
Write about your process – What did you do/make? Did you run into trouble? What are you excited about making in the future? Did you send your project out for printing? If so, include the link so we can see it rotate in 3D on the Shapeways site!


Comment on at least one student’s work from last week, rotoscoping animation – Exercise 10.  

Oral Presentation #2 - Video

Record a video of yourself, 2-5 minutes length based on your script that you wrote last week. If you need to tweak the script a bit, that’s fine, this should also be a process.

Video Best Practices & Steps to follow

You can use a video recorder, your phone, your laptop. There are only 7 basic rules to follow:

  1. do not use a cluttered background  (no dirty dishes)
  2. use good lighting  with a good camera angle  (if you record from your laptop, for example make sure it is level with your face not up your nose)
  3. record good audio  — it doesn’t have to be studio quality but we must be able to understand what you are saying clearly without too many background distractions (no music, dishwashing, TV, etc).
  4. good eye contact
  5. steady the camera  — no hand-held selfies! if you use your phone, place it where it will be steady
  6. no vertical video  — make sure your camera is recording horizontally not vertically because it doesn’t fit into the right shape for playing on YouTube.
  7. keep it within the required length  — 2-5 minutes.

Step 1.  Use your script as a guideline. Feel free to make it fun (holding your pet?) as long as you follow the rules above.
Step 2.  Practice to make sure the lighting, camera angle, audio, and background all look good. Practice a few times to get comfortable.
Step 3.  Record your video.
Step 4.  Upload your video to YouTube:

  1. Go to and log in with your account. The first time you do this, you will be walked through some steps to set up your account. Contact your instructor if you run into trouble. Click on the upload button at the top of the YouTube account  upload button. You can set the privacy level to either Unlisted or Public.
  2. Once your video is uploaded to YouTube, copy the URL

Step 5. Create a new post.  Paste the URL into  a new post  on this course website and give it the category of   ‘Oral Presentation 2’. Don’t link the URL, just paste the plain text, you should see that it magically appears to be embedded. That’s because WordPress uses a protocol called oEmbed that whitelists YouTube video (and others).

Step 6.  View the  Oral Presentation 2 Category  section of the site and make sure that your post shows up.