Design Festive 3D Candy Cane Typography

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The holidays are here, and there’s no doubt that you will come across a few holiday-related design projects on your to-do list. Being able to create themed designs and artwork is part of the designer’s job description. Having the ability to create a wide variety of styles in your work makes you a versatile asset to any design firm. If you’re a freelancer, it makes it easier to market yourself when you have a more versatile skill set. With the holiday season coming up, candy canes are going to be passed around everywhere. We’ll create 3D candy cane typography to go with the tradition.

Create a new document within Photoshop CS6. I set the size to 1024px x 768px at 72ppi. We have to approach this project the right way from the start, so we have to think about the typeface that we choose to begin with. The typeface needs to be rounded, such as Arial Rounded, but the typeface I chose is Bariol Bold. The typeface is thick, and the ends are rounded, which makes for a smooth transformation into 3D. Type your holiday message and make it large enough to fill your canvas. Set the color to #7f7f7f, because it will be easier to see in 3D instead of black or white. The size of my type is 212pt with a leading value of 170.

Next, we need to convert our text to 3D, so go to “3D” > “New 3D Extrusion From Selected Layer.” The workspace will be converted into a 3D workspace. We will mainly be working in the 3D and the Properties Panels. The results when you first convert to 3D will be blocky and square, but with a few changes to the settings, we can fix this easily.

The way in which we approach this will make all the difference. We will want to make the front and back faces rounded, while removing the extrusion, making the two semi circular faces (the front and back faces) meet up, making a perfectly cylindrical shape. This is fairly easy to do, you just have to know which settings to change to get the results that you want. Click on the layer in the 3D Panel with a “T” symbol and your message within it. This is the section where you can contort and manipulate the shape of your text within the 3D plane.

When you click the “T” Section in the 3D Panel, the following options become available in the Properties Panel. First, we must set the extrusion to 0, so that the front and back faces meet. Notice the four icons at the top of the Properties Panel for this section. We will be using these to change our type. With the extrusion removed, we now need to round the front edges.

Set the sides option to front and back, and set the bevel to 70%. Leave the angle at 45°. You must increase the width to something other than 0%, or you won’t see your changes when you change the contour. Click on the “Contour” section and choose “Half Round” as your option. This will give our text the desired tubular shape.

Now, we need to make our text look like a candy cane with the right pattern. Click on the “Front Inflation Material” section. Within the Properties Panel, you will see several different options, but the one that you want to select is the sphere icon in the top-right of the Properties panel. This is an important section where you can apply textures and patterns to your 3D work, as well as opacity, reflection, and more. The one we will focus on is in the bottom-right corner called “Environment.” Click the down arrow next to Environment and select “New Texture.” Click it again, but this time click “Edit Texture.” A new tab or window will come up with a blank canvas. Here, you can create the texture for your 3D object.

Create a new layer above the background layer. Select the Marquee Tool and draw a rectangle across the entire canvas. Here, we will be creating our candy cane’s stripes. Fill the selection with red. Deselect the rectangle and hit Command/Ctrl + “J” to duplicate the stripe layer. Duplicate it several times. Then, move the last stripe layer downward off of the canvas. Hold shift and select all of the stripe layers. In the options bar at the top of the screen, you will seen the standard align and distribute icons. Click on “Distribute Vertical Centers,” and Photoshop will distribute your striped evenly across the space.

Make sure that the stripes go off of the canvas, because you are going to eventually tilt this texture at a 45° angle, and they need to fill the space. Either merge the rectangles or hold shift to select them all and hit Command/Ctrl + “T” to transform them. Hold Shift to rotate them in exact increments until they are at a 45° angle. Then, position them to fill the space of the square entirely. You can stretch the rectangles along their width if you need to.

Save the file and exit this document to go back to the original 3D workspace. You will see that the sphere icon has been update to show the stripes you have made. Click the down arrow and choose new material to make this into a preset. You can save this texture as a preset, which means you can use it later.

To make things faster, you can access the properties of your 3D object by right-clicking on the object itself. As you can see from the example above, it shows the texture that is applied to the text and all of the other settings applied to it, just as you would see it in the Properties Panel. Click the candy cane texture in the drop down menu to apply it to the front bevel. Next, click and drag your mouse on the canvas to rotate around the text. (Just make sure you have Environment selected in the 3D Panel or it will rotate your text instead of rotating your camera view.) Right-click on the rear inflation material, which is gray at the moment. Select the same candy cane texture to apply it to the back of your 3D text.

The settings of your material can have an effect on how your text will look. The different properties determine how your your object and its surface interacts with its environment. Depending on your object, you will need to consider how it would react with its surroundings in real life. A candy cane is hard with a smooth surface. It is glossy, so it should shine when light is applied. It will cast a slight reflection, but it isn’t transparent like glass, so it wouldn’t refract light. This is how we would determine our settings. Shine would be set high, all the way to 100%, Reflection would be roughly 25%, Roughness and Bump would be set to 0%, Opacity is 100% and Refraction would be 0%.

You won’t see much of a difference at the moment, but when you render the final design, it will show all of the reflections and shininess that you have specified. Next, we need to add a holiday background to our text. Open a new document (this will make it a little easier to work with) and create it at the dimensions of 600 x 450 pixels. Fill the background with a dark green; I used #0b2409. Create a new layer and use the Marquee tool to create a tall rectangle from the top to the bottom of your document, and about 1/3 of the width. Fill it with a nice holiday red (#5e0202). Center it using your alignment options at the top.

Double-click the red layer to bring up your layer styles. Choose Stroke — we are going to create a golden stroke down the sides of our red rectangle to break things up. Add a gradient stroke that goes from a medium gold(#807c03) to a lighter gold(#d3c200) and set the angle to 90°.

Click Command/Ctrl+ “E” to merge your document, or you can flatten it. Then, use the Move tool and drag your design onto your 3D document. It will create a new layer over your 3D layer. Move it below your text, and with it still selected, go to “3D” > “New Mesh From Layer” > “Postcard.” This will make your background 3D in its own space. It will move independently from your candy cane text, but we can easily add our background design to the scene. Hold Shift, click on both the postcard and the type 3D layers, and go to “3D” > “Merge 3D Layers.” Once You merge the 3D layers, you will see them all together in the 3D panel. When you want to manipulate a certain portion of your 3D scene, simply click that object’s layer within the 3D Panel.

Use the 3D Controls to position your text over the background. Next, we are going to add a light source over our text, so that a shadow shows on the background. Click on the “New Layer” icon within the 3D panel and choose “Infinite Light.” In the Properties Panel, increase the softness to around 15%. Once you are finished tweaking your light source, you can render your scene by clicking the icon in the bottom-right area of the Properties panel, or you can go to “3D” > “Render.” below is a shot of our scene in 3D.

Everything is a little too straightforward for me, so if you want to add a dimensional tilt to your work. Click “Environment” within the 3D Panel, and then click and drag your mouse onto the canvas to rotate your view of the scene. I rotated the scene, and the finished product is shown below.

Conclusion

Creating 3D candy cane text in Photoshop isn’t too difficult, but you can apply the same principles to just about any other 3D text effect in Photoshop. Now, you can create 3D text of any kind for any occasion. You will be able to make any text stand out by adding a new level of dimension to your work. The PSD File is included below so you can take a look at it if you get stuck.

Download the Source File

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