This tutorial will show you how to make some 3D text that has a cool sparkly and glittery look to it, with lighting effects that really make it stand out. In addition, we’ll turn it into a full desktop wallpaper to complete the effect.
Programs Required: Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator (CS5 versions were used by author)
Step 1: The Text
First we need to create the actual text in Illustrator. Although this could be done in Photoshop, using the 3D tools in Illustrator make it much easier. For the typeface I used one called Black Rose, which you can download free here, because it had a really nice flowing look to it.
Create a new document with a size that you’ll want your end creation to be. Although you’ll be moving to Photoshop, this allows you to find the size that you want easier. I used 1440×900.
The first word, “just,” is set to a size of 280pt, tracking of -25, and a color of #5A0532. The second word, “create,” is set to a size of 400pt, tracking of -25, and a color of #CF6745.
Note: No matter what colors you choose, make sure they a bit duller than the ones you want in your end results. The lighting effects will brighten them up quite a bit.
I then made some minor adjustments to the actual text shape to smooth edges and make the letters fit together better in some areas. The biggest change was rounding off the edge of the “t” in the word “just” so that it didn’t look so out of place beside the rounded “s”. You can also manually move the letters closer or further from each other to help with this.
You can do this by right-clicking the text with the direct selection tool and then selecting the “create outlines” option. Then just play with the shapes till they look how you want. This is how mine turned out:
Step 2: Making it 3D
Select the text layer then go to Effect > 3D > Extrude & Bevel… Now use the following settings on all text:
Once we’ve done that, let’s move it over to Photoshop to make it really shine. Simply select all text layers with the selection tool, then go to Edit > Copy. Now create a new document in Photoshop with the same dimensions and go to Edit > Paste and select “Smart Object” in the box that pops up.
Fill your background with black and this is what it should look like:
Step 3: The Lighting
Create a new layer above your text, name it “light”, and select a soft round brush set to 125px in size, 0% hardness, 50% opacity, and white.
What you’ll be doing here is creating a light shining down on the text. To do this, simply draw 3 or 4 random lines from the top left corner of your document. It’ll look something like this:
Now go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set that to 24px. That will take off any of the hard edges to your “light”.
Next you want to make sure that your layer is directly above your text and right click it in the “Layers” panel. Select “Create Clipping Mask” from the options. This makes sure that the light will only show up on top of the text. Finally, set the layer to “Overlay” so that it blends better.
Note: If your text is on two separate layers, you will need to copy your light layer and repeat the last couple steps for each layer of text, making sure they each have their own clipping masked light layer above them.
Your text should now look like this:
Step 4: Highlights and Shadows
For this step, you will need to convert your text layers to raster layers.
We’ll start with the highlights. Select your “Dodge Tool”, set the brush size to 50 with 0% hardness, and make sure the rest of the settings are like this:
Now start to paint on highlights over the edges of your letters. Since your light is coming from the top left corner, you want any edges that face this direction to have the strongest highlights. In this case, that would be any edges with a top or left face. For the most part, this is trial and error. Depending on the shapes of your letters, you will need to vary your brush size to fit into smaller areas and just play around with it until it looks good.
Then select your “Burn Tool” with the same settings as above, except select “Midtones” for the range setting instead of “Highlights.” This will create the shadows.
Simply do the same thing you did for the highlights, except this time you are focusing on any edges that face the opposite side. For this that would be edges facing bottom and right, although focus most on the bottom ones.
This is how mine looks now:
See how much more depth you have to your text now? The lighting really makes it seem more 3D and real.
Step 5: Adding Glitter
First, we are going to create our glitter brush. To do this, open the “Brush” panel (F5) and make sure all of these settings are selected, with a color of white:
Next, select your pen tool and make sure that it’s set to “Paths” mode.
Now you want to create a path that loosely follows the shape of your text. Do this one word at a time. Make sure to keep it very basic and without too much detail, otherwise you’ll end up with too much glitter. This is what my paths for “Create” looks like:
Once you have your path how you like it, you need to create a new layer above your text. Name this layer “Glitter”. Then go to your “Paths” panel (F7) and you should see something like this:
Note that I already have multiple paths created. Ignore that for now and just pay attention to the highlighted one. You can rename your path, if you wish. Then, with your path panel open and your “Glitter” layer selected, hit “B” on your keyboard to select your glitter brush again. Then click on the “Stroke Path with Brush” button at the bottom of your brushes panel. (It looks like a little circle outline, the second one from the left.)
This is how mine looks:
To make it look more like glitter, you’ll want to set your “Glitter” layer to “Overlay”.
It should now look like this:
Note: If you think you need some more of this glitter on areas of the text that may have been missed, you can manually brush it on yourself after.
Repeat the above steps for your other word(s), making sure to create a new path (second to last button at the bottom of your paths panel) for each.
This is how the process looked for the word “Just” in mine:
Pretty cool, eh? We’re just about done with our text.
Step 6: Finishing Touches
To really make that glitter look shiny, we’re going to add some sparkles to it. To do this, you want to use the “Starburst – Small” brush that came with your Photoshop. You’ll find this in the “Assorted Brushes” category. Now, using your “Brush” panel, select all of these settings:
Now create a new layer and name it “Sparkles 1.” Then, using the color white, click once wherever you want a sparkle to be on one word at a time. Make a new layer for each word. My suggestion is to focus mostly on the areas where your lighting effects create the brightest spots on your text, and always to it close to or on the edges.
This is how mine looks:
You may be thinking the same as me, that those white sparkles seem a bit too bright, don’t they? Especially on the darker purple text. To fix this, we’re going to add a layer style to each layer. Click the little “fx” button at the bottom of your “Layers” panel and select “Color Overlay.” Then play around with a color that is very similar to the text color itself, but much lighter.
For my purple text I used #ff9a9a and for my orange text I used #ffe2ce.
See how much more they blend in now?
That’s it for the text! Looks pretty awesome, doesn’t it? Still, it’s a bit bland for a desktop wallpaper. So, let’s add some quick details to the background to finish it off.
Step 7: The Background
Create a new document the same size as your current one, but reversed. Meaning, we want the width to be the height and the height to be the width. For example: My main document is 1440×900. The new one will be 900×1440. Fill the background layer with black.
Now create a straight path in the center, going from top to bottom. Like we did for the glitter, we’re going to stroke this path on a new layer with a 4px round white brush, with a hardness of 0%. You should have a thin white line going down the center of your document.
Now for the cool trick part! Go to Filter > Stylize > Wind and select “Wind” and “From the Right” for the options. Then click ok. Repeat this step 3 more times (you can do this by clicking CTRL+F).
This is how mine looks:
Then we’re going to open up both documents in a split window like this:
Select your line layer and drag it into your original document. Then go to Edit > Transform > 90 CW. That will flip it to be horizontal rather than vertical.
Note: You must drag it via split-window instead of copy/paste; otherwise the image may try to re-size itself to the smaller height of your original document.
Drag your line layer to slightly below the bottom of your document, so that the strongest white part is hidden. Then select your Move Tool (V) and stretch it to be taller. You want it to go just a bit behind your text. Here’s an example:
Once you have it how you want it, duplicate the layer and go to Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontal. Then Edit > Transform > Flip Vertical. Now position your new line layer at the top of the document, like this:
This looks cool, but they are a little too straight to look right. So we’re now going to erase parts using a large 200-400px 0% hardness brush. It’s really a trial and error step, so just play around with it until it looks right. It’s never a bad idea to duplicate layers before erasing, so you always have the original to go back to if you make a mistake. This is how mine looks:
Let’s add some color. This part’s pretty simple. Make a new layer above your line layers and title it “Rainbow.” Using the gradients tool (G), select the brightest rainbow gradient, or any other gradient that you want to match your design. Then fill the layer horizontally with the gradient.
Set the layer to Overlay with an Opacity of 80%. This should make the background lines suddenly colorful.
Step 8: A Starry Finale
The wallpaper is pretty much complete now; all it needs is something to make that black area seem less bland. With the glitter-type look to the text, I thought that stars seemed fitting.
Go back to your brush panel and select the Star – Small brush that came with Photoshop. Use the exact same settings we used for our glitter brush to make the stars vary in size, position, and opacity. (Refer to tutorial images above in step 5)
Create a new layer and name it “Stars.” Make sure it is positioned below the Rainbow layer, so it gets the same coloring. Now paint on your stars in a random pattern, so they fill in the black area and slightly overlap the lines in places. You may want to adjust the brush opacity in some places to give it depth.
That’s it! You now have a fun, colorful, and glittery wallpaper for your desktop (or any other use you want).
Here’s my final results:
Note: You can download this as a wallpaper for your computer by clicking here.