Photoshop, 3D and me


Screen cap of Photoshop 6.I've never been super-psyched by 3D modeling. A rendered model rarely appears in 3D, and I don't have much difficulty drawing the side of something that I'm seeing from the front or applying morning light to something that I'm seeing at noon. The times that I can really use a computer's ability to render or to light from any angle are when I need to put flat labels on curved products or compile an image from different objects shot at different angles and light conditions. Back around Photoshop 4, Adobe started including a little filter called 3D Transform, and it served those purposes when I really needed help. It's shown in the first three screen captures- all on a PC.

Screen cap of Photoshop 6.The filter wasn't a hack-perspective was accurate, and it easily beat anthing I could create using Spherize, Polar Coordinates, and Free Transform. Anybody wanting a 3D modeling environment would likely have been disappointed, but graphic designers appreciated what the filter did. Like many of Photoshop's filters, menus and tools, you don't often need them, but when you do, they're the right thing in the right place at the right time.

Screen cap of Photoshop 6.As my duties changed over time, my need for 3D Transform waned. Skills with other techniques allowed me to do what I needed without it. When Photoshop 8 (CS) was released, I didn't even notice that 3D Transform was gone. When I finally looked for it, I was shocked: I had to go online to discover that Adobe had stopped installing it with Photoshop, but still included it as a plug in "extra" on the installation disk. Then when Photoshop 9 (CS2) was released, I forgot all about it and never bothered to load the plug in. The new filter, Vanishing Point ,enabled me to do just about what ever I could imagine.

So flash forward another version. By now you've heard that Photoshop will open 3D objects. They come in as special layers very similar to Smart Objects. Double clicking the layer opens a brand new bank of 3D editing tools. Very cool, of course; you may have to wear an earring to access the tools. But as before, my needs, interests, or responsibilities would never lead me to model something that I would adjust in Photoshop. Though I can see how it could be useful, and I can tell that it's a pretty remarkable software enhancement, I probably would use it even less than 3D Transform. That is, until I saw that Vanishing Point will render to a 3D layer.

Screen cap of Photoshop 10, CS3.This is just a quick screen capture video with no polish- but hopefully it demonstrates some of this software's new power. Certainly there are new skills to hone, but there are new bars to leap, too.

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