Eric Renno, aka TipSquirrel, Fotolia’s guest Photoshop Guru is on hand again, this time to give us a detailed, step-by-step tutorial. Over to you Eric…..



In this tutorial we’re going to take some tentative steps into the world of 3D. Photoshop has an amazing 3D section and it can be quite daunting, don’t worry though, in this tutorial we won’t be getting in too deep.

1: Design Your Can

My design isn’t going to be too big, just right for sharing on Facebook, so 950 x 950px works well.



As you get used to this technique you might want to make sure you have a repeating pattern, in my case I’m going to end up with a thicker dark strip at the back.  I have no intention of anyone seeing the back, so I’m not worried here, but a true 3D image might want a little more care.

2: Work Smart.

Highlight all your layers that make up your design and convert them to a Smart Object to keep them all together. You could also flatten the image if you wish but a Smart Object means you can come back later and change things if you wish.


3: Hard Bit Done! Let Photoshop Take the Strain.

From the 3D menu choose New Mesh from Layer > Mesh Preset > Soda


You may get a dialogue box pop up here. I’d advise that you always say Yes here, it makes working with 3D images a lot easier.


4: Photoshop Can Do.


Very quickly and easily Photoshop has mapped the image onto the can, things are too bright however and need some refinement.

5: In the Layers panel, click the Layers tab (1) and then make sure the can layer is selected (2);


6: Click back on the 3D tab (1) and then on the Filter by Lights button (2)


7: Let There Be Daylight

You’ll see there’s just one light here, a default light called Infinite light. This isn’t what we want at all, but clicking this opens the properties panel for it. Change the Preset to Day Lights (This is my choice, your can might look good under other lights, have a play)


8: Don’t Panic!

So the can looks better but there’s all kinds of shenanigans happening on screen! Let’s demystify it a little:


  • These are handles that move the lights around in 3D space.
  • These icons plot the position of the lights
  • An alternative view of our can, in this case, top down.

You’ll also notice your cursor changes, this is the Rotate 3D object tool. As it is the lights that are selected, that’s what we’ll move if we click and drag.

9: Reposition the Can

If you’ve never worked in 3D before the next step is going to get a little freaky, hang in there, it will get easier with practice, don’t get too ambitious.

Remember Ctrl+z (PC) Cmd+z (Mac) will undo the last thing you did and Ctrl+Alt+z (PC) Cmd+Alt+z (Mac) will step backwards.

Use the cursor to click on the can. You now get a 3 dimensional box around the can. Clicking and dragging outside the box rotates the can.


10 : Take More Control

There’s a set of arrows in the box that you might find helpful and less confusing (I know I do). Each control the object on one of 3 planes, w, y and z. The arrow on the end (1) has a lateral movement, the curve (2) rotates and the block (3) squishes or elongates.


11: Adding a Shadow

3D works best with shadows so let’s switch shadows on for this object. For this we need to go back to our lights.


Then, in the properties panel check the box marked Shadows.

This was checked with the default light but was switched off when / if we changed it to Day Lights.


12 : Add a Background.

You might want to get an image of a table or work surface to put your can on, for me a little gradient work fine.

13 : Extra Credit

If you want to explore more, select the can in the Layers panel and then switch back to the 3D panel. Here click the Label Material. The properties panel gives you a whole host of sliders to tinker with, in this case you may find that just the Shine has any great effect though, however we may explore these more in later tutorials.


14 : Finishing off

Photoshop has been showing us our can in the simplest, and quickest, way it can. Before we save it lets render it to get the best quality image we can.


At the bottom of the 3D panel you’ll see a little icon that looks like a 3D box. Clicking that and away Photoshop goes, making your can tip top. Depending on your system configuration you might want to pop the kettle on about now.

15: All Done

And there it is, not as scary as you might have thought!



As always, a big thanks to Eric for supplying this super detailed tutorial. Check out more of his tutorials on his websiteYouTube and you can find him on Facebook and Twitter should you wish to get in touch with him!