Create A Sci-Fi Poster with 3D Elements In Photoshop

Today we’ll be making a scene for a film poster set in London using 3D objects. I think London is an amazing backdrop for films however is not used as often as it should be, so I thought I’d create my design here.

Photoshop’s ability to import 3D objects is incredibly useful, it saves time having to import and resize in a different 3D program.

Step 1

To start with place this image into Photoshop, then take this image and place it on top just behind the cab, you can lower the opacity so you can place it in the correct area, then increase it again after.

step one of Photoshop tutorial

Step 2

We’ll then add a layer mask. This allows what is known as non-destructive editing because you are not directly editing the image itself, any edits are done purely to the mask. With a black colour, we can cover over areas we do not want to show. So using a black soft brush with a low opacity we can brush away parts of the image.

To make the smoke around the cab appear more realistic, cut out the top section of the cab with the pen tool, save the path by double-clicking it, then CTRL+press the path to make a selection.

Step 3

Essentially do the same thing as step 2, add a mask and use a path around the cab to make the smoke look like it is coming from the cab.

Step 4

Next, we’ll add in a gradient and fade using the colour #a41a24 and #8d1521 and reds between.

Step 5

Take this image and add it onto the scene, then press CTRL+T and right-click select perspective and make the image look as if it’s being fired from a spaceship, just like a rocket.

Next, we’ll do the same as for the flames, add a mask and remove the areas around the yellow rocket, change the blending mode to screen and duplicate the layer. We can then group the layers and add a layer mask to the group. Keep playing around with the opacity until the rocket looks realistic.

Once this is done duplicate the group and move it to the left, then lower the opacity 50% for the reflection of the rocket.

Step 6

Next, we can import the 3D model, you’ll need to sign up for an account on TurboSquid which takes 2 minutes and is free, then download this file, which is also totally free. Extract the zip and find the .obj file called “SciFi_Fighter”. This can be opened with Photoshop. Press yes to all the default settings, copy the opened 3D model into your scene.

Use the controls highlighted in red

Make the spaceship further back behind the rocket, facing down a bit and above the eye line. This can be accomplished with the three tools highlighted in red. Add a layer mask and remove the shadow by brushing it away with a black brush on a low opacity.

For the reflection on the left duplicate then flatten the layer by merging it with an empty layer. Then set the blend mode to darken, lower the opacity to 60% duplicate again, set the blend mode to luminosity and lower the opacity to 25%. Add a mask to both layers and use a black brush to fade away the area on the building, leaving the reflection on the glass areas. It can be seen now how layer masks are a key technique for creating scenes with many layers and elements.

Step 7

Now we can import the other 3D model from here. Find the .obj file and import it into Photoshop, then copy the layer into the poster document.

Make the ship face the audience as if it’s almost flying out of the image.

Using the three tools in red again move the 3D model backwards and rotate it until it looks like the above image. Copy and then flatten the layer, we can then leave the original and turn the visibility off. Add a mask and remove the shadow.

Step 8

Move the duplicated layer to the right to use the skew and perspective tools to stretch the reflection slightly.

We can then use a displacement map to make the reflection look real. To do this make a Photoshop document with the original street image and label it displacement. Then go-to filter distort displace, use the default settings, this will make the reflection have the same contours as the building for an extra layer of realism. Change the blend mode to darker colour and lower the opacity to 70%.

Step 9

We can then add in some more gradients from red to orange and set the blend modes to colour, subtract and lighter colour and lower the opacity right down to around 8%. Keep playing around with these settings until the light from the models is the same as the background, this makes them blend in together as if they have the same light source.

We can also lower the smoke a lot with more brushes playing with the blending modes and lowering opacity on layers.

Step 10

Now we can add in the names at the top, just add a white rectangle and use a motion blur to add the fade. Then write “Andy Goodwins Jessica Miolop” in this font. Then type out “UPRISING”, we can add the titles at the bottom using Lorem Ipsum.

Step 11

Add in the other ship which is the same 3D model as before. Copy the layer then flatten it, then add a layer mask and remove the shadow. You should be getting good at removing areas from objects with layer masks, which is a key part making photo manipulations.

Here is the final image we were making. 

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