I’m always looking for good stock images to use in my photoshop composites. I find them online, or use the awesome Texture Store. Or I make my own. But sometimes its impossible to find the right image that fits your idea.
And if you do find the right image, it’s at the wrong angle or too small, or not lighted the way you want to. So you’ll just end up with a crappy composite, or spending hours of time to get it right.
A while ago I was preparing a workshop and looking into the possibility to teach everyone about using photoshop’s built in 3D options. Photoshop has been developing integration with 3D for a while and you can even get as far as prepare a file for 3D printing now.
What is 3D?
If you never worked with 3D it can get a bit complex to get your head around how to use and place into 3D workspace. We’re all used to flat images and layers, and the image has a dimension in pixels width and height. But with 3D you have a 3 Axis universe, so there’s width and height AND depth, called the X, Y and Z Axis. And you basically move an object in that space. Then you add a camera and lights and “render” that image. It’s like a digital photostudio, where you have lights and models floating in an endless space.
As I said Photoshop can handle 3D objects and it works well-ish, but compared to actual 3D programs like Cinema4D or Maya, it’s sluggish and takes ages to “render” an image. So I’m not an avid user of the 3D options Photoshop has to offer, but I’m pretty sure it will grow over the years.
So while looking for 3D content to show during my workshop, I stumbled upon the Pixelsquid website and being a curious and app-hungry fellow, I dove right in. I created an account and downloaded the photoshop plugin, all free to use and easy to setup.
The website integrates perfectly into Photoshop and you’ll have access to thousands of 3D objects to choose and use. Getting 3D objects from the site into photoshop is simple and easy, you go to the website, find the object you need and click the “add to Photoshop” button. It will then load into your plugin in Photoshop and you can select it from there.
Pixelsquid will download the object and add it to a new smart-object layer on top of your open document. You can rotate the object inside the plugin window and it will update on your image. If you want to resize the object, use the free transform tool and scale the layer. Since it’s 3D the resolution stays good enough to work with. And you can even click the high-res button on the Pixelsquid plugin to bump up the resolution.
Watch the video where I go through a few steps.
I think it’s a great way to add stock objects to composites, and you’ll get a grasp on the possibilities of 3D within Photoshop. And they even have an app for smartphones as well, so you can even pimp up your smartphone pics.
- it’s free
- simple to use and integrate
- good quality objects
- some advanced options are available (like zDepth) once the layer is embedded
- no lighting controls
- plugin sometimes needs to re-login
- no numeric input