How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Combining 2D and 3D styles in different creative ways has been a part of multiple design trends over the years. This tutorial will show you how to use Photoshop’s 3D tools and settings to create an abstract 3D displaced text effect, with a touch of a Retro/Memphis Style feel. Let’s get started!

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop
This text effect was inspired by the many Layer Styles available on GraphicRiver.

Tutorial Assets

The following assets were used during the production of this tutorial:

1. How to Create the Background and 3D Elements Layers

Step 1

Create a new 1000 x 1000 px document, click the Create new fill or adjustment layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel, and choose Gradient.

Create the gradient fill using the Colors #d99c9c to the left, #b294c5 in the center, and #72a9be to the right, and change the Angle to -120.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 2

Create the text in All Caps, each word in a separate layer, using the font Bahn Pro. Set the Size to 200 and the Tracking value to 100.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 3

Create three new layers, fill them with any color you like, and name them from bottom to top: Sphere, Pyramid, and Cylinder.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

2. How to Create 3D Layers

Step 1

For each text layer you have, select it and go to 3D > New 3D Extrusion from Selected Layer.

Then, select the Sphere layer and go to 3D > New Mesh from Layer > Mesh Preset > Sphere, select the Pyramid layer and go to 3D > New Mesh from Layer > Mesh Preset > Pyramid, and select the Cylinder layer and go to 3D > New Mesh from Layer > Mesh Preset > Cylinder.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 2

Select all the 3D layers, go to 3D > Merge 3D Layers, and rename the merged layer3D Scene.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 3

To access the 3D mesh settings and properties, you’ll need to open two panels: the 3D panel and the Properties panel (both found under the Window menu).

The 3D panel has all the components of the 3D scene, and when you click the name of any of those, you’ll be able to access its settings in the Properties panel. So make sure to always select the tab of the element you want to modify in the 3D panel before you change its settings in the Properties panel.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 4

If you select the Move Tool, you’ll find a set of 3D Modes for it to the right of the Options bar. When you choose one of those, you can then click and drag to perform changes (on the selected element in the 3D panel).

Use those modes to change the Current View into an angle you like.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 5

Click the eye icon next to the Sphere, Pyramid, and Cylinder tabs to hide them.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

3. How to Adjust the 3D Mesh Settings

Step 1

Select all the text mesh tabs in the 3D panel, and change their Extrusion Depth in the Properties panel to 0.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 2

Select each text mesh tab separately, click the 3D panel menu icon, and choose Move Object to Ground Plane.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 3

What we’re going to do next is assign values to theZ Positionof each of the text meshes to set them apart from each other evenly.

So, for example, if you have three text meshes, you can change the one in the middle’sZ Positionto0, the one in the front’s to300, and the one in the back’s to-300.

To assign theZ Positionvalues, click the text mesh tab, and click the Coordinates icon at the top of the Properties panel to make the changes.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 4

You can use any values you think look best for your text and number of meshes, but just make sure to keep an equal distance between them.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

4. How to Transform 3D Meshes

Step 1

Show the Sphere mesh and select its tab, pick the Move Tool, and use the 3D Axis to scale it up or down.

The arrows at the ends of the axis move the mesh, the part below them is used for rotation, and the cubes are used for scaling. The cube in the center is used to scale the object uniformly. All you need to do is click and drag the part you want to use.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 2

You can also use the Coordinates values for that, and if you click the Scale icon, you can check or uncheck the Uniform Scaling option depending on the result you want.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 3

Move the Sphere to the Ground Plane, and use the 3D Axis to move it to the final position.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 4

Repeat the same steps for the Pyramid and Cylinder meshes.

Notice how when scaling the Cylinder you might need to uncheck the Uniform Scaling box if you’re using the Coordinates values.

Make sure to always move the objects to the Ground Plane once you’re done transforming them.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

5. How to Create Basic 3D Materials

Step 1

Select all the text Material tabs, and use these settings in the Properties panel (the color values used are in RGB):

  • Diffuse: 255, 255, 255
  • Specular: 183, 183, 183
  • Shine: 20%

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 2

Select the Sphere_Material tab, click the Diffuse icon in the Properties panel, and choose Remove Texture.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 3

Keep in mind that you can use any other values for the material settings, but the ones used here are:

  • Diffuse: 163, 216, 236
  • Specular: 121, 114, 114
  • Shine: 30%
  • Reflection: 3%
  • Roughness: 30%

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 4

Select all the Pyramid Material tabs, remove the Diffuse texture, and use these settings:

  • Diffuse: 241, 155, 93
  • Specular: 221, 199, 147
  • Shine: 30%
  • Reflection: 3%
  • Roughness: 30%

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 5

Select the Cylinder’s Top_Material and Bottom_Material tabs, remove the Diffuse texture, and use these settings:

  • Diffuse: 17, 17, 17
  • Specular: 75, 72, 75
  • Shine: 50%
  • Reflection: 10%
  • Roughness: 30%

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 6

Select the Cylinder_Material tab, remove the Diffuse texture, and use these settings:

  • Diffuse: 141, 128, 179
  • Specular: 190, 194, 220
  • Shine: 80%
  • Reflection: 30%
  • Roughness: 30%

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

6. How to Create a Simple Vertical Stripes Pattern

Step 1

Create a new 50 x 10px White filled document, use the Rectangular Marquee Tool to select the left half, and fill it with Black.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 2

Press Command-D to deselect, go to Edit > Define Pattern, type Stripes Pattern in the Name field, and click OK.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

7. How to Create a Bump Texture

Step 1

Select the Cylinder_Material tab, click its Bump icon in the Properties panel, and choose New Texture.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 2

Set both the Width and Height values to 500 and click OK.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 3

This will open the new file; if not, select the Bump texture icon and choose Edit Texture.

Create a new layer and fill it with White.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 4

Double-click the new layer to apply a Pattern Overlay effect using the Stripes Pattern.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 5

Save and close the file.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

8. How to Edit the UV Properties

Step 1

Click the Bump texture icon and choose Edit UV Properties.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 2

Change the Tile’s V/Y value to 1and the U/X value to whatever looks best on your Cylinder mesh, and click OK.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

9. How to Add a Mesh Environment Texture

Step 1

With the Cylinder_Material tab still selected, click the Environment folder icon at the bottom of the Properties panel, and choose New Texture.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 2

Change both the Width and Height values to 1000 and click OK.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 3

Duplicate the Background layer, and double-click the copy to apply a Gradient Overlay effect using the Stainless Steel 166c gradient fill.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 4

Save and close the file when you’re done.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 5

You can try other gradient fills as well to get different lighting results.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

10. How to Adjust Miscellaneous 3D Settings

Step 1

Select all text mesh tabs, and uncheck the Cast Shadows box in the Properties panel.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 2

Select the Scene tab, and under the Remove Hidden option in the Properties panel, check the Backfaces option.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 3

Click the Current View tab, and click the Orthographic icon in the Properties panel.

What this does is maintain parallel lines without convergence, which means displaying the meshes in accurate scale view without any perspective distortion.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 4

Now is a good time to choose a final camera angle, so that you can make any final changes to the scene.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 5

After you choose the final view, you can use the 3D Axis to move the meshes around, or scale them as needed.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

11. How to Adjust a 3D Scene’s Lighting

Step 1

Select the Infinite Light 1 tab, and change its Intensity to 20% and its Shadow Softness to 50%.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 2

Move the light to an angle that best suits your final view, and you can use the Coordinates values if needed to do so.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 3

Select the Environment tab, click the IBL texture icon, and choose Edit Texture.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 4

Add a Solid Color fill layer, and use the Color fill (100, 100, 100). Save and close the file when done.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 5

Go to 3D > Render 3D Layer. The rendering might take a while, but you can stop it any time by pressing the Esc key.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 6

Once the rendering is done, right-click the 3D Scene layer and choose Convert to Smart Object to avoid making any accidental changes.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

12. How to Create a Basic Paper Shape

Step 1

Use the Rectangle Tool to create a rectangle shape behind the 3D Scene.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 2

Pick the Direct Selection Tool, and use it to select and move the anchor points, to get a parallelogram-like shape.

Use the 3D Scene as a reference to make the shape look like a part of it.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 3

Use the Add Anchor Point Tool to add an anchor point on each of the two vertical sides.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 4

Use the Direct Selection Tool to nudge each of the added points to make the vertical sides a little bit curved in the same direction.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 5

Add two more points, one on each of the sides next to the top right corner’s anchor point. These will be used to create the corner fold, so keep that in mind when placing them.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

13. How to Work With Anchor Points

Step 1

Rename the shape layer you have to Back, duplicate it, rename the copy to Front, and change its Fill Color to #ea6b9b.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 2

Select the Front layer, and use the Direct Selection Tool to click-drag the top right corner’s anchor point inwards to the center, creating a basic folded shape.

You can then adjust the shape by moving the surrounding anchor points and their handles.

Any adjustments should be very minimum and subtle, and should not affect the part of the shape that’s outside the two points around the corner.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 3

Pick the Delete Anchor Point Tool, select the Back layer, and click the top right corner’s anchor point to delete it.

This will create the outer curve of the fold, which you can subtly adjust if necessary as well.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 4

Change the Back layer’s Fill Color to #8b8b8b, and duplicate each of the Back and Front layers.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

14. How to Create a Folded Shape

Step 1

Select both copy layers and move them on top of the 3D Scene layer.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 2

With both copy layers still selected, go to Layer > Combine Shapes > Subtract Front Shape. Rename the resulting layer to Fold, and change its Fill Color to #ee90b3.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 3

Pick the Direct Selection Tool, click the Path operations icon in the Options bar, and choose Merge Shape Components.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

15. How to Add Gradient Overlays

Step 1

Double-click the Fold layer to apply a Gradient Overlay with these settings:

  • Check the Dither box
  • Blend Mode: Soft Light
  • Opacity: 35%
  • Angle: -157
  • Use the Black, White gradient fill

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 2

While the Layer Style box is still open, you can click-drag the gradient inside the shape to adjust its Angle if you like.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 3

When you’re done, right-click the Fold layer, choose Copy Layer Style, right-click the Front layer, and choose Paste Layer Style.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

16. How to Add Shadows

Step 1

Select the Back layer, and use the Direct Selection Tool to drag the bottom anchor points of the shape and create a shadow shape, which should follow the 3D Scene’s shadow direction.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 2

Right-click the Back layer, choose Convert to Smart Object, and change its layer’s Blend Mode to Multiply and its Opacity to 50%.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 3

Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur, and set the Radius to a value around 20.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 4

Command-click the Front layer’s thumbnail to create a selection.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 5

Create a new layer below the Fold layer, name it Shadow, change its Opacity to 35%, and pick the Brush Tool.

Set the Foreground Color to Black, and use a soft round tip to add some shadow underneath the fold.

You can change the brush tip’sOpacity value in the Options bar to get subtler results.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

17. How to Create Zigzag Lines

Step 1

Create a new layer on top of all layers, name it Lines, and pick the Pen Tool.

Choose the Path option in the Options bar, and click once to add anchor points that create zigzag shapes around the text.

When you’re done creating a path, Command-click outside it to separate it from the next one.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 2

Pick the Brush Tool, choose a hard round 4 px tip, and hit the Return key to stroke the paths you have.

Pick the Direct Selection Tool and hit the Return key again to get rid of the work path.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 3

Double-click the Lines layer to apply a Gradient Overlay effect with these settings:

  • Check the Dither box
  • Angle: 157
  • Create the Gradient using the Colors #f5cd2c to the left and #f1e48b to the right.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

18. How to Apply Global Adjustments

Step 1

Create a new layer on top of all layers, name it High Pass, and press the Command-Option-Shift-E keys to create a stamp.

Convert the layer into a Smart Object, and change its Blend Mode to Soft Light.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 2

Go to Filter > Other > High Pass, and change the Radius to 1.5.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 3

Add a Vibrance adjustment layer on top of all layers, and change the Vibrance value to 10.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 4

Add a Curves adjustment layer on top of all layers, and click-drag the center of the curve a little bit upwards to brighten up the image.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 5

Double-click the Curves layer to get its Blending Options.

We will use the Blend If’s Underlying Layer’s sliders to control how the Curves effect is applied.

So Option-click the Shadows slider to split it, and drag each of its ends to the right to exclude or protect the shadows from being affected by the Curves layer.

Splitting the slider will help create a gradual effect instead of a harsh one. So the right side will determine the amount of shadows protected, and the left side will fade the effect.

After adjusting the slider, change the Blend Mode to Soft Light, and the Opacity to 30%.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 6

Add another Curves adjustment layer, but this time, drag the curve’s center downwards to darken the image.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 7

Double-click the second Curves layer to repeat the same steps, only this time you’ll be excluding the Highlights, which means you’ll be adjusting the Highlights slider.

So make sure to split it and drag its sides until you get a result you like, and change the Blend Mode and Opacity values when done.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

19. How to Add Noise

Step 1

Create a new layer on top of all layers, and name it Noise.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 2

Go to Edit > Fill, and change the Contents to 50% Gray.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 3

Convert the Noise layer into a Smart Object, and change its Blend Mode to Soft Light.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Step 4

Go to Filter > Noise > Add Noise, and change the Amount to 7 and the Distribution to Uniform.

You can use any other values you prefer as well.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Awesome Work, You’re Done!

In this tutorial, we created a couple of text and shape layers, and converted them to 3D meshes. Then, we adjusted the meshes’ settings and created their materials, as well as adjusting the scene’s lighting to render it. After that, we used shape tools and options to create a folded paper shape and some zigzag lines. Finally, we added global adjustments to finish off the effect.

Please feel free to leave your comments, suggestions, and outcomes below.

How to Create a Retro 3D Displaced Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop