By special request…
The following tutorial will be written for the basic to intermediate understanding of Photoshop. If any steps are not clear or need to be elaborated, please feel free to ask. For the sake of brevity, let’s begin.
Begin in Adobe Illustrator. Create your vector.
With the vector selected, go to Effect — 3D — Extrude and Bevel.
Adjust the settings in the dialog box to your liking. You have many options to manipulate. The x,y,z coordinates, Perspective depth, Extrude depth, Bevel settings, Capping, and Shading settings. The settings I used and the results are shown below.
Next, after the Extrude and Bevel has been applied, Expand the Appearance.
Once the Object has been expanded, you should see something similar to what is shown below.
Deselect the Object. Choose the Direct Selection Tool from the toolbar. (The white arrow as opposed to the solid black arrow). With the Direct Selection Tool, select the face of the vector object and change the color. This will aid in the selection process later on in this tutorial.
Now it’s time to begin moving this object into Photoshop. Open Photoshop. Create a New Document. Select the face of your vector in Illustrator. Copy. (CMD-C) Paste the copied vector into the Photoshop Document.
Continue this process for the remaining back and side elements, individually copying from Illustrator and Pasting into the Photoshop Document.
Once you have completed pasting and aligning your elements into the Photoshop document, it’s time to create some order in the Layer’s Palette. I have ordered each letter into its own subfolder, the face being above the background.
It’s time to bring in some texture. Open your texture file and copy and paste the texture into your Photoshop document. (click on the image to visit the source)
Now that you have chosen the texture you will be applying, it’s time to put it aside for one moment and create our selections. (We moved the texture into the document now instead of later so you can see up close how your texture will relate to your vector.)
Let’s begin with the face. Either by using the magic wand tool, or by command clicking on the appropriate layer’s thumbnail, create a selection that encompasses the face of your “vector.”
Now using the Lasso Selection Tool, we want to “roughen” the selection a bit. While holding the SHIFT key, begin to add to the edge of your selection, mimicking your chosen texture.
Now, Save the selection by going to Select — Save Selection.
Name the saved selection appropriately. I named this selection S-Face.
Repeat this step for the remaining faces.
Next, we need to create and save selections for the back of the “vectors.” Load the face selection for the appropriate back we will be working on. Next, COMMAND–SHIFT–Click the thumbnail in the layers palette for the chosen back.
Add to this selection, again, mimicking the chosen texture. Save and Name this selection and then repeat for the remaining “vectors.”
Now it’s back to the texture we moved in. Duplicate the layer, CMD-J. Move the duplicate layer to the appropriate subfolder for the “vector” you will be working with. Resize the texture accordingly to meet your desired effect.
Copy and paste this texture, tiling the texture to cover the entire “vector.”
With every texture layer highlighted in the layer’s palette…
… Merge these layers.
With all the textures now resting in one layer…
… it’s time to make the texture seamless, losing it’s tiled and repetitive appearance. Using the Clone-Stamp Tool…
…with a soft brush, clone away the gaps, seams, and noticeable repeating patterns.
Now that the texture is ready for use, it’s time to load a selection.
Now, with the selection loaded, and the texture layer highlighted in the layer’s palette, press CMD-J to duplicate the layer. (With the selection active, pressing cmd-j should duplicate the texture layer only where the selection is active giving the results shown below)
Repeat this step for the back using the saved back selection.
Repeat this step for the remaining “vectors.”
Now it’s time to work on the beginning stages of shading. If the pasted back “vector” is a smart object, it’s time to rasterize the layer. With the layer highlighted, press CMD-U. This will bring up a Hue/Saturation dialog box. Bring the saturation all the way to the left completely desaturating the layer.
With the “shade” back layer still highlighted, load the back selection. Using the clone tool, bring the shade all the way to the edge of the selection. (Remember, the selection is mimicking the texture while the shade layers edge is still crisp and clean. We want to have the shade layers edge match the texture’s layer edge.)
With the edges matching, and the selection still active, we will want to use the blur tool to help remove any banding (the hard color breaks between shades) that Illustrator may have created.
Once that’s done, set the shade layer to Multiply. You may want to adjust the layer’s Opacity setting depending on your desired darkness.
Repeat step 14 for the remaining “vectors/shapes.”
If you are not satisfied with the Multiply setting for the shade layers, you may want to experiment with different transparency modes. I found for my needs, that Linear Light worked better for the outside letter, while Multiply was satisfactory for the other two.
Don’t forget to name your layers appropriately to it’s contents. This will help keep all future edits a little simpler. (We no long need the original face layers for each individual shape. Feel free to disregard these layers.)
For a little fine-tunning, break out the burn, dodge, and sponge tool. This takes experimentation to get just right, but by using these three tools, you can really add to the depth of your design.
You can use these tools on the texture and the shade layers, giving you different results. You can also determine the exposure (strength) level of the tool, along with the brush size. You can even dictate whether the tool affects the shadows, midtones or highlights. These tools are only limited to your experimentation, and experimentation is extremely encouraged to find suitable results.
Grass Time! Open the Grass Texture. Place, Import, Copy and Paste, just get that grass texture into the document. Resize the grass to match your needs. Make sure the grass texture is large enough and covers the entire face of your shape, “individually.” DO NOT tile and repeat the grass texture like you did with the dirt texture. Click here for the grass file source.
With the grass texture covering your first shapes face, load the saved selection for the face that was used for the dirt texture.
Now, using the Lasso Selection Tool, add to the selection, mimicking the grassy texture. It doesnt need to be perfect, but try following the blades of grass as closely as possible without being obsessive about it, unless you just feel the need to burn an exuberant amount of time.
No need to save this selection, unless you just want to. With the selection active, and the grass texture layer highlighted, Duplicate the layer, CMD-J. Again, this should only duplicate the grassy texture layer where the selection was active.
Okay, now comes the tiresome part. Go back to the grassy texture layer, the one before the selection duplication was applied. Flip or rotate this layer, careful that you are still completely covering the shapes face. Now, repeat the entire face selection creation and duplication process. In total, there will be two grassy textured layers for each shapes face. They need to have different selections from each other, this way the blades of grass on the edges of each layer are different from one another.
Repeat this ENTIRE STEP for the remaining shapes faces.
Inside each subfolder, your layers should be ordered with two grass layers, a dirt face layer, a shade layer, then a bottom/back dirt layer.
For the top grass layer, we want to add a bevel/emboss layer effect. Experimenting with the settings are essential, my settings used are shown below.
For the second grass layer, we want to apply a different bevel/emboss layer effect along with a color overlay layer effect. Again experimentation, but my settings used are shown below accordingly.
Here is a view of how my layers are ordered and where the layer effects are applied.
(As you can see, I went back duplicated and modified the shading layer. Again experiment to find the best results. I also went back and worked with the burn and dodge tools a a bit more. After applying the grass texture I saw more areas that needed a little help.)
Here are the results thus far.
I tried to keep this tutorial short and sweet, but as you can see, there is much more that can be done. However, that exceeds the scope and purpose of this tutorial. Adding a ground shadow and some dust are near essential. Adding elements like falling dirt or blowing grass can help add movement and excitement to the image. Background colors and additional elements can help aid in the mood of your image. Afterwards, using color correction layers and sharpening techniques such as the highpass filter can add to the image as well.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the tutorial, if you have any questions, or would like to add any tips of your own, please feel free to message me or add a comment!
To view the final image at a larger size, click here.