Deke’s Techniques: Building a sci-fi structure from scratch in Photoshop CS6 Extended 3D

Published by | Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

This week’s Deke’s Techniques uses Photoshop CS6 Extended to create an other-worldly structure from nothing but Photoshop pixels. In other words, Deke pays appropriate 3D homage to his alien overlords by building them a temple out of standard earthly linear gradients. The key to building this sci-fi inspired structure is to work in 16-bit/channel mode with a black-to-white basic gradient image. You’ll then use that gradient to create a depth map in Photoshop CS6 Extended 3D. Remember, the white areas will go ‘up’ and the black areas will go ‘down.’

During this free video, Deke explains how to set Photoshop CS6 Extended’s 3D tools to render, turn, repositioning, add a textured surface, and adjust the ground plane for the alien temple you see below. Deke will show you how to load his preset lighting and bring in his textured “alien-crafted brick” surface to use as your materials option. After a few fine-tuning operations (like incorporating the temple into the sandy environment and adding an appropriate acolyte), you’ll have turned this barren dessert landscape on the left, decorated with the basic gradient image in the middle, into the fully rendered alien-acceptable temple on the right:

3D sci-fi structure rendered with Photoshop CS6 Extended 3D.

If you’re a member of, Deke also has a member-exclusive movie in the library this week called Drawing a 3D object with Curves in which he uses a Curves adjustment layer to define the contours of a 3D object. In other words, he uses Curves to draw in 3D space.

See you back here next week when Deke returns with a (suitably patriotic) new technique!


Interested in more?
• The entire Deke’s Techniques weekly series on
• Courses by Deke McClelland on
• All Photoshop courses on

Suggested courses to watch next:
• Photoshop CS6 One-on-One: Fundamentals
• Photoshop CS6: New Features
 Photoshop CS5 Extended One-on-One: 3D Fundamentals

Share this:Share on Facebook7Tweet about this on Twitter7Share on Google+0Pin on Pinterest0Share on LinkedIn2 - start learning today

2 Responses to “Deke’s Techniques: Building a sci-fi structure from scratch in Photoshop CS6 Extended 3D”

  1. Jamee Hartz says:

    I found some wonderful information in your site and bookmarked to visit again . Thanks.

  2. Diana says:

    Cool. Thanks for this tutorial ! It really helped !

Leave a Reply