I need to create a "fake" 3D effect for some raster image, like this one below:


do you know how I can achieve this in Photoshop (CS5) or Illustrator? Thanks.


3 Answers 3


You can do this in Photoshop CS 5 (Extended) but somewhat painfully. However, if you have Photoshop CS 6 Extended it is now even easier to do this with Photoshop's updated 3D tools and user experience. Additionally, as it is in true 3D space all of the perspective is controlled by a virtual camera, which you can adjust like Field of View and Depth of Field.

Among the other benefits of it being in 3D, the scene is lit with and IBL and/or 3D Lights which can be picked up in the objects materials (Shine, Reflection), and all of your floating elements (3D objects) cast and receive shadows, which you can also control.

Best part is... it's non-destructive! You can go in at any time and change any of the elements positions, replace materials or Texture Maps (images) or even adjust the camera's Depth of Field for some cool effects and much more.

Here's how...

  1. Separate your elements into individual layers
  2. In the 3D panel, individually convert each layer to a 3D Postcard
  3. Select and move your 3D Postcard layers back and forth
  4. Select all your 3D postcards and rotate them to your liking
  5. Select the Current View and rotate the view to your liking
  6. Render your scene

Here's my super quick example for you: enter image description here

...and my Photoshop 3D workspace: enter image description here

...and one I did with the 3D camera's Depth of Field settings. (Note that I only let it go for 5 passes, the longer it renders the more noise it cleans up.): enter image description here

You get the idea. If you like the answer, +1 it, check it, leave a comment or do nothing at all but leave knowing another trick in Photoshop. (^_^)

You can get more information at Photoshop.com. Cheers!

Disclaimer: I am the editor-in-chief of Photoshop Dimensions.

  • Also, I should note, if you want some depth (thickness) to the floating layers, make 3D Extrusions as opposed to 3D Postcards. Cheers! Commented Aug 22, 2012 at 4:49
  • The 3D feature are now part of Photoshop CC (no more Photoshop Extended), so everyone has access to 3D in Photoshop. Woot! (^_^) Commented Jun 26, 2013 at 2:39

A good method for creating this sort of 3d perspective rim is as follows:

Using the perspective tool put the object into the correct perspective (or leave it in position for a different effect).

step 1

Copy the layer and use the original (make sure the layer is below the copy) and nudge it with the down arrow key until it is as low as you want the rim to be deep.

step 2

Then hold the alt key and repeatedly press the up arrow until your copied layer reaches the same position as your original (this duplicates the layer and nudges it up one pixel on each key-press).

step 3

VOILAH! Add some shadow or whatever 3D effects you want. I often find it a good idea to merge the layers that make up the rim you just made and then you can burn and dodge it in places to give the illusion of depth. If you just want to make it darker press CMD + U (mac) or CTRL + U (windows) and drag the lightness down until you are satisfied.

step 4 step 5

  • 1
    It's tad easier to take Move tool, hold down alt key and click down arrow key as many times as it takes go get the thickness you want. ( That automatically makes copy of the layer while you nudge it. )
    – Joonas
    Commented Mar 31, 2012 at 18:03

Hey I've been wondering about the exact same question for a while, and just found out exactly how they (fantasy interactive, the mock shown in your screenshot) did it.

Its actually a lot easier than the methods mentioned above. In illustrator, select the item you want to turn "3D", go to effect - 3d - extrude and bevel. You can play with the settings a bit to get the angle you want, and voila. Super easy.

  • erm... et voila*
    – SaturnsEye
    Commented Sep 24, 2014 at 16:25

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