Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018

Photoshop CS4 – 3D Layers Not Ready for Prime Time?


*Updated – see below…
Well – I’ve had some time to really try to experiment with the 3D layers in Photoshop CS4 and I have to say that the final GM release I’m working on seems like it is far from ready for prime time! Very disappointed so far… I think they should have waiting for another release cycle for this one! 🙁

What’s Happening:
Importing a simple model in various file formats (I’ve been using primarily 3ds) seems to ignore whatever surface texture you’ve applied to it, though it keeps the texture/material names. If you alter or apply a new texture (to say, a cube for example) then it will update on the screen okay, but try to animate it at all in the Timeline and it will indeed crash PSCS4. Worse than just that, even if you save your file and reopen it after it crashes, it will retain some kind of 3D layer data but the model will disappear on you. If you have a simpler model with fewer objects and materials, it isn’t crashing as bad as the last beta, but it still hangs and takes several minutes to “refresh” at times.

More Silliness:
If you have a model of something, like I had of a wooden modeling dummy, with a wood texture on it, and you try to “paint” a smiley-face on it in PS CS4, it will apply it to every single surface of the model. There’s not an intuitive way to just paint on layers like you’d imagine you could. Maybe I’m not doing something right here, but you’d think it would be more like Body Paint or something… but, it’s not. 🙁

*PS CS4 Updates here:
Well, I’ve experimented with other models to see what issues I could still have with it. Although I’ve been afraid to actually try to animate anything in the timeline, I’ve put my focus on simply opening up a more complex model and changing colors/moving it around on the workspace to see what might happen and I’ve discovered a few things along the way…

A more complex model with several objects grouped together (like interior and exterior surfaces of a car door) then Photoshop CS4 gets confused and just selects the first material in line with that object. As you can see in this first screen shot, the model comes in with mixed materials applied to the outer surfaces, like wood trim and gray leather that’s supposed to be on the dash and door panels. Even then, it’s only a solid color – not that actual material.

3ds Model as it’s imported into Photoshop CS4 as a 3D layer – mismatched materials applied.

This same model as I tried to zoom in on it, crashed the program so hard I could even get out of it to Force Quit – it KILLED my machine! (I had to take this pic with my digital camera!) – and you can see how it scattered all the polygons all over… what a mess!

So I thought, What if I REALLY simplified the model and removed the sub-grouped objects like interior trim, door handles, window trim and chrome emblems and regrouped into simpler objects. I gave that a shot and sacrificed the details in my original 3D model, but it seemed to work better at least! Notice that the car color is maintained but many details are now missing and the interior panels are the same as the exterior.

sacrifices in details and interior trim allowed this model to be opened and manipulated in Photoshop CS4 better.

Note also that the edges and seams of the model are pretty crude and the rendering of the 3D object is a simple rough, phong-shaded model. When I simplified the model, I didn’t change the number of polygons at all, just the groupings and material options. This is in all practicality, the same size model as the initial one.

But all-in-all, you CAN actually import and manipulate a 3D model in Photoshop CS4 to some extent. I still have to test the animation once I get the final shipping version next week – stay tuned for those results!

So what DID I do with this model once I got it into Photoshop CS4? I saved it and then imported it into After Effects CS4 and experimented with animation with other 3D layers and text to make this little spinning loop movie – which I’ll cover more in my upcoming posts, once I get a chance to review the shipping product. Until then, the jury is still out on Photoshop CS4… at least in my court.

Click on the image to view the QuickTime movie of this animation


3 Responses to “Photoshop CS4 – 3D Layers Not Ready for Prime Time?”
  1. Jeff says:

    Here it is nearly 18 months later and a new release of CS5. Adobe has further added to the 3D-layers-in-Photoshop arsenal with Repoussé – which allows you to create extrusions and models from flat text or layers inside Photoshop. However, the lack of real integration with After Effects still puzzles me. Don’t these product teams ever talk to each each other?

    Look for a more exhaustive review of this workflow in upcoming posts.


  2. there is no other photo editing tool that is as good as Adobe Photoshop, It is simpy the best *

  3. Great post.Thanks for sharing such a useful information with us.

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