How to create a 3D spinning sphere in Photoshop CS6
ADOBE Photoshop CS3 Extended has some hidden gems that were part of the Ycademy Seminar August 2012 – one of them being the new 3D feature! It means that we can work in 2D as well as 3D now. After some initial startup exercises, I felt tempted to replace the sphere on the logo slide for Psychic Readings Online; so the question was how to create a 3D spinning sphere in Photoshop CS6 ?
How to create a 3D spinning sphere in Photoshop CS6
Here are the first basic steps on how to create a 3D spinning sphere in Photoshop CS6. Please note that this is just the beginning. There is much sophistication that can be added, but I record this also for me to remember in case I get distracted for too long with some other work and forget some important little points. We need to exercise these things like playing the piano every day, but Ycademy Seminars are explosive in content and knowledge provided, so it’s not only the globe that spins at the end of the day but also one’s head, at least mine!
First, in your normal screen mode in Photoshop CS6 Extended (meaning you see 3D in the top bar, meaning you have this feature), pull in a picture as a background. In my case it was the entire slide without the globe, but for this exercise I redid the process with a black and white digital photo I took in Cape Town a few weeks ago. Double-click your background layer so it is not locked.
Second, add a transparent layer. We now want to insert a sphere on this background – in my case the one I wish to transform into a spinning and slightly transparent ball. OK! What you do is this: click on 3D at the top, follow > New mesh from layer > Mesh preset > Sphere!
When you do this, you are invited to switch over to 3D – which is what you do.
You now arrive on the 3D plane, which reflects also top right, where you might have been on the “Essentials” or “Photography” work space where we normally work for 2D tasks.
The 3D plane in Photoshop CS6 Extended
Voila, you are in the 3D plane in Photoshop CS6 Extended!
On my example, you see the huge sphere on the black and white background photo on the Scene to the left with a little tab “Create Video Timeline” underneath.
On the right space, middle, you see three tabs: 3D, Layers and Channels. We come from Layers (open it and you see them in there) and we now work in 3D.
Make sure you open 3D – then you see in there Environment, Scene with Current View underneath, Sphere with Sphere Material underneath, and Infinite Light. I write these expressions bold here so we learn and remember the terminology. But I keep it very basic.
You also find 4 little icons inbetween 3D, Layers, Channels and Environment, which will always bring you back to these positions; just hover over them or press them to see.
Important now is to realise that each of the above (bold) items are linked directly to their own Properties panel! This gives us a lot of good, fast workflow and I encourage you to scroll through all of them to get the picture.
I want to work forward here now and click on Sphere under 3D. Immediately, I see the corresponding Properties Panel, which gives me the “Mesh” (meaning the object, i.e. the sphere) , where I can select/deselect for instance the cast shadow. And it gives me the “Coordinates” (the second icon at the top there).
Once I open the Coordinates panel, I get the X, Y and Z axis – all of which are needed to position my sphere.
Important: as my sphere is very probably not in the size nor position I want it for my picture, we need to correct that before opening the Video Timeline. Why? Well, each move is recorded. We want the freedom of finding the absolute correct size and position first – and if we look at the big sphere itself, we see the green vertical axis (Y), the red horizontal axis (X) and the Z axis, with a blue center dot. Hover over the blue dot and you see a yellow little square. Hover, rotate, click and see how you can move or rotate the sphere. Most importantly for me, I first want to scale it to the exact size I need. So the command I need to find for that – right here – is “Scale uniformly“.
How to resize your sphere
Due to sound problems during the seminar, I never heard and consequently never ‘got this’, which made my life pretty hard. So here is where, when and how to resize the sphere – scale uniformly! My sphere now hovers over the water and I decided to leave a shadow for the time being! If you wish to move the sphere higher up or to the side, do so along the Y or X axis. It should be pretty clear.
I save this into my 3D folder. You just never know.
Great! Now that our sphere is well positioned, we want to see it with another skin, another color or texture in other words. For this click on “Sphere Material” under 3D and the corresponding Properties panels opens at the top right, giving us lots of options. Click on the dropdown to the far right and play with diverse options, remembering that this is just a start.
Once you made a selection, click on “Diffuse” to get the colour picker and change your colour if you wish. Click on the little folder next to “Diffuse” and load any texture or picture you wish to wrap around this sphere! Play with the sliders defining Reflection, Opacity etc and why not pull in another background picture via “Bump“? See the effect! Move the slider to see the degree of extrusion! While we want to learn how to use the tool, it’s always fascinating to see the effects we get that are a bit beyond our control!
You may want to go on “Current View” to look at your scene from different angles under “View” and change the focal length (FOV). Just see what happens and find what appeals to you – this is a learning exercise and this includes experimenting with our tool.
How to use the Video Timeline
Once your position is defined and you are happy to get into spinning mode, save your project once more and then, while being on “Scene” on 3D, click on “Create Video Timeline” at the bottom and select “Create Video Timeline“.
Your video timeline opens with your sphere layer at the top. Click the dropdown so this section expands. You see the violet timeline goes until 10 seconds, defined in frames per second.
We only focus on this section now:
First, we want to set a keyframe as this is when our action starts: from keyframe onwards until the end keyframe. We do this by clicking on the little ‘clock’ next to 3D Scene position (and we are still on 3D Scene of course).
We immediately observe that a yellow diamond (also galled ‘losange’ in French) is set at the beginning of our timeline. Right at the bottom you see: 0:00:00:00 (30.00 fps). Here you can always double-check that you hit the exact frame in whatever you do.
What shall we do?
Let’s have this sphere spin around its Y-axis – say 180 degrees in 2:00 seconds and a full 360 degrees in 4:00 seconds – that’s our spin objective now.
So we pull the blue keyhead to exactly 2:00f. Now we need to set the angle. This we do on the right top side, under Properties > Coordinates. We get the 3 lines of coordinates. In the center of the Y coordinate we see O degrees – and this we want to spin by 180 degrees anti-clockwise; so we delete O and insert -180 degrees and hit ENTER.
Back on our timeline, we immediately see a white diamond (losange) on our 2:00 line.
We repeat the same with 4:00f and -360 degrees – watching what happens with our globe as we hit ENTER. It moves! So this is basically our first animation.
We shorten the piece to be rendered to 4:01 by pulling the keyhead to 4:01 and then grabbing the vertical little time blocker on the far right and pulling it over. It snaps to 4:01 and we see that the workspace underneath is reduced to 4:01 – giving us far less to render. As we want this spin to repeat forever, there is no need to do more.
Note: there seems to be a bug on 3D timeline that the rendering goes to 3:29 instead of 4:00. This we remedy by ending on 4:01 instead of 4:00. Just a tip…
Time to check our spin! On the far left under Timeline, bring the keyheader back to its start position and hit on START! There’s your first spin!
Loading your spinning sphere as a GIF
Save it and then, to see it in a browser or even insert it in a website or wherever, click on Save for Web and save it as a GIF. As you see on my screenshot, it is important to ensure that you select GIF, Adaptive (instead of Selective as that changes the colours), Tick Transparency, Untick “convert to sRGB, and at the bottom, under “Animation” change from ‘once’ to ‘forever‘ to get a loop.
Check it from your folder or load it to your server and see the result of your first 3D spinning sphere creation on the new Photoshop CS6 Extended. You can see the sphere spinning beautifully HERE, slide 2 at the top.
This is just the beginning… but it’s what we need to get right before digging deeper into the many features and options! Have Fun!