Creating the Step Up 3D Effect in Photoshop

3D is taking over the film industry, with more and more movies, games and magazines being released in 3D I thought I would share the secret with you on how to achieve 3D effects in your photos using Photoshop. I am going to use Step Up 3D’s Movie poster and then transform it into a 3D image using Photoshop. This is a easy tutorial to follow and I am sure a lot of people will find it very useful. You will now be able to turn any photo into a 3D image. Let’s get started.


Final Preview

Step 1

Let’s setup our Photoshop Canvas. Firstly I make sure I have everything I need and in this case you only need a Photo, I used Step Up 3D’s Movie Poster and opened it up in Photoshop. Once I had it opened in Photoshop I unlocked my Background Layer in the Layers Palette, if you don’t have a layers palette on the right then go to (Window>Layers ) a Layers Palette will appear with a Locked Background layer located in it. Hold down ALT on your keyboard and Double click the background layer to unlock it and turn it into a editable layer. This is what I have.

Step 2

Now I went to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Levels I set the settings to 0 | 1.15 | 255 and hit OK. Then I went back to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Brightness/Contrast. I set the Brightness -2 and the Contrast +25. Now I created a new layer by going to Layer>New>Layer or hitting CTRL+SHIFT+N and then with the newly created Layer selected I went to Image>Apply Image. This basically copied and merged all the layers into one image on top of the rest of the images. Now with the newly Applied Image Layer selected I went up to Filter>Other>High Pass I set the radius to 8.5 and hit OK. Now I changed the Layers blending mode from Normal to Overlay and dropped the Opacity to 85%. These added adjustments aren’t required to create the 3D effect, they are just adjustments I added to spice up and sharpen the image a bit.

Step 3 – 3D Effects start

Now we are going to start adjusting the image to go 3D. Select all your layers in the layers palette by clicking on the top layer and then holding shift and clicking on the layer at the bottom and then right-clicking on the selected layers and selecting Merge Layers or going to Layer>Merge Layers. This will merge all your layers into one single layer and retain all your added adjustments and effects. Now duplicate your single layer by selecting the layer and pressing CTRL+J or right-clicking and pressing Duplicate Layer. Now rename your layers to Top and Bottom by double-clicking on the layers current name or right-clicking and choosing Layer Properties. This is what my Layer Palette looks like at the moment.

Step 4

Now that you have your layers set, select your Top layer and drop the Opacity to 50% now grab your Move Tool in the Left Toolbar or press V to use the shortcut. Now use your arrow keys on your keyboard and press Right 3 times and Down 3 times. You could use the mouse and move it too. You should have a blurred image at the moment. Now I went up to Edit>Free Transform and a bounding box appeared around my image. I then rotated it 1.1 degrees to the left. I made use of the degree meter at the top and set it to -1.1. It is located right next to the Width and Height properties.

Step 5

Now set the opacity of your Top layer back to 100% and hide the Top Layer by clicking on the EYE next to the Top layer window. Select your Bottom Layer and go to Image>Adjustments>Channel Mixer… With the Red Output Channel selected drop the Red amount from +100% to 0% This will bring out the Full Cyan Color in your image at the back. This is what you will have.

Step 6 – Final Step for 3D effect

Unhide your Top Layer and select it. Now go to Image>Adjustments>Channel Mixer…Make sure the Output Channel is set to Green and drop the Green Source Channel’s value to 0%. Now change to the Blue Output Channel and set the Blue Source Channel’s value to 0% and finally you can hit OK. Now your Top Layer will be RED and your Bottom layer will be CYAN. Now set the Blending mode of the Top Layer to Screen and Viola you have a 3D effect. Now all you have to do is grab your Crop Tool and crop the image so that you have whole image and not the overlapping side. Here is my final effect below.

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Jacques is an Entrepreneur and Founder of the An1ken Group. He recently launched a daily vlog on Youtube — JacquesvhTV. He started Creativeoverflow in 2009 as a hub for creatives. Connect with him: - @Jacquesvh - Facebook - Instagram - Pinterest

  1. Reply David August 31, 2010 at 12:09 AM

    Viola —> voilá

    But, it’s a decent tutorial. I didn’t know about the rotating trick. Thanks!

  2. Reply TJ McDowell August 31, 2010 at 12:28 AM

    Since this actually has different colors for the different layers, I wonder how this would look with 3D glasses. Do you think it would work at all?

  3. Reply Childmonster August 31, 2010 at 5:34 AM

    Very easy. Thanks :)

  4. Reply HD Guy September 1, 2010 at 2:24 PM

    Wonderful, comprehensive tutorial. Thank you!

  5. Reply ola September 3, 2010 at 10:13 AM

    At what screen mode is the top layer still needs to get the 3D effect?

  6. Reply Gadget Guy September 4, 2010 at 1:59 AM

    Nice 3D effect, love the tutorial

  7. Reply Theo September 13, 2010 at 2:21 PM

    Awesome effect and tutorial, thanks!

  8. Reply Peter @ free 3d files and 3d tutorials September 14, 2010 at 8:43 PM

    I have a 3d glass I got for free when i bought some kids’ audio cassette. i’m going to try this image with those glasses. hope it works.

  9. Reply Chris September 15, 2010 at 4:42 PM

    Im confused… “Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Levels I set the settings to 0 | 1.15 | 255 and hit OK” when I create a new adjustment layer I have nowhere to type in the “0 | 1.15 | 255” can you post a screenshot of that window? Another problem is my Photoshop is half in italian andhalf in english, OS is Italian as its a work PC.. not helping matters at all! hahaha

    • Reply Jacques van Heerden September 15, 2010 at 8:25 PM

      Well the adjustment layer isn’t a necessity to make the effect work. It was just to help the tone of the image. Having your Photoshop in half Italian isn’t helpful at all haha

  10. Reply Chris September 16, 2010 at 10:27 AM

    yeh tell me about it!! hahahaha I have CS4 on my laptop COMPLETELY in english! Then I go to work.. CS2 and half in english adn half in italian.. I speak italian.. but it can be very confusing soemtimes.. there are, naturally, some words and terms in italian I dont know yet..

    anyway.. about the effect.. the adjustment layer.. it isnt neccessary to make it work? Hmm.. curious.. if I actually got 3d glasses and wore them.. would this effect work? like.. stand out? *unsure* if so.. would it work without the adjustment layer? Also.. I have a few black and white pictures, still RGB format but just no color in the image.. would it be possible to make them 3d as well? How would you add the green and red layers to an image without color? cant change hue/saturation because changing the hue of black is.. well.. still black! hahaha any help/advice would be greatly appreciated :)

    • Reply Jacques van Heerden September 16, 2010 at 11:40 AM

      Haha, will we ever entirely learn another language? I guess not.

      Yes the effect works with 3D glasses. I had the method tested by some people.
      You can apply the exact effect to black and white images as well.
      Give it a go and see how it comes out. It works great on black and white.

    • Reply Harsh March 27, 2011 at 12:02 PM

      turn your image into RGB filll in them colors.. and then make it 3D. there is no further way to create a 3D image from a Black And White image….!!!!

  11. Reply Chris September 16, 2010 at 2:03 PM

    thats true! hahahaha With different grammar and all that.. its a real mind job!!! hahahahaha

    Ahh so it does work with 3d glasses? Nice one :) Say.. you couldnt knock up a tutorial on how to do it with black and white photos could you? How would you create the red and green layers from a black and white photo?

  12. Reply Alex October 11, 2010 at 9:45 AM

    Hey, will the same techniques work on Photoshop 7.0?
    I’m new to this and I already got lost on Step 3.

    • Reply Jacques van Heerden October 11, 2010 at 10:17 AM

      Hi Alex, I am sure it should. Where exactly do you get lost in step 3 and I will see if i can help you out.

  13. Reply AJ November 5, 2010 at 7:26 AM

    Hi Jacques,

    What a great tutorial you share with us.
    I’m not a graphic design or photoshop expert, but I can suggest to you all who’s still having difficulties in following the tutorial steps. These what I did:
    1) I follow the tutorial by heart.
    2) IMPORTANT! in my Photoshop CS2, in palete area, notice the “action” tab, through there, I recorded our “Guru” Jacques’ steps.
    3) Finally,when you r done (edit the recorded steps also necessary), next time if u need to 3D-ing you photo, either color or B/W, just click play this recorded action. Voila!

    Btw Jacques, the 3D picture results, are they worked with all 3D glasses? I mean not only the red/blue but also the shutter type one (the one we wear in cinema, is it?)

    Thanks alot again
    (pardon my grammar spelling).

    • Reply Jacques van Heerden November 7, 2010 at 5:23 PM

      Hi Aj,

      Creating a action for the steps is very useful. the glasses that I have tested the effect with worked perfect. I also had others test the effect and they were very happy with the way it portraited through the glasses. Hope you enjoyed the tutorial.

  14. Reply Logomondo December 30, 2010 at 1:25 PM

    A friend of mine recommended this blog and she was totally right keep up the fantastic work!

  15. Reply Brett Widmann January 29, 2011 at 2:52 AM

    I have never seen a tutorial like this before! Thank you! It was really fun to do.

  16. Reply The Animator February 26, 2011 at 10:40 AM

    Awesome blog post very informative, thanks for sharing 3D tutorials

  17. Reply Matt March 23, 2011 at 6:27 AM

    I don’t really get the last part “Now set the Blending mode of the Top Layer to Screen ” then what ? if i apply it to the bottom one it doesnt work

  18. Reply Daniel April 4, 2011 at 11:40 PM

    I looked at the poster with 3D glasses and his effect works, but I find the tutorial too long and too complicated. The 3D part really starts at step 4!

    Here’s another straightforward way using the color channels directly:

    1. Open a picture in Photoshop, go in the channels window and select “Red”
    2. Hit “Ctrl A” (select all) or make your custom image selection.
    3. Move the selected channel using the keyboard arrows.
    4. Select another channel and repeat step 2 and 3.
    5. When all 3 colors have been moved in different directions, select RGB (which will select all 3 color) and put your 3D glasses on!


  19. Reply lauren April 18, 2011 at 6:02 AM

    Hey, on step 5, when I press the eye next to the ‘top’ layer, I then cannot click the bottom layer, it just won’t highlight/select. Help?

  20. Reply Boris April 22, 2011 at 3:53 AM

    Wow man..this is so awesome!
    It’s so simple and i’ve did it from a first time!
    Thank you so much for this amazing tutorial!

  21. Reply ert May 10, 2011 at 10:51 AM

    how can i unlock the layers palette?

    • Reply Jacques van Heerden May 10, 2011 at 10:55 AM

      Isn’t the layers palette visible? Go to Windows>Layers

      • ert May 10, 2011 at 11:44 AM


      • Jacques van Heerden May 10, 2011 at 11:52 AM

        To merge the layers you can select the two layers you want to merge by clicking on the one layer and then holding down CTRL and clicking on the second layer. Then press CTRL+E. This will merge the two layers together.

      • sanket March 21, 2013 at 12:34 PM

        dont use photoshop if you dont know how to merge layers..

      • ert May 10, 2011 at 12:00 PM


      • Jacques van Heerden May 10, 2011 at 3:19 PM

        Yes sir in the layers palette

  22. Reply Joseph July 16, 2011 at 3:08 PM

    I wanted to make a 3D invitation, and I tried this method. I bought blue and red acetate at the hobby shop so I could make my own glasses and everything. At first I couldn’t get the effect to work. What I ended up doing is leaving the background photo alone. I made some J.J. Abrams Fringe-style 3D text in Illustrator and imported it into Photoshop (I have CS2 :( ). I put this effect on just the text, and used my new acetate glasses to test and make adjustments as needed. WOWEE!!! What a great effect it had! The text really does jump out and “wobble” when I turn the page. Great tutorial!!

  23. Reply Abel Baloi August 17, 2011 at 4:06 PM

    its perfect!

  24. Reply Justin Smith September 14, 2011 at 5:23 PM

    Baie Dankie Jacques
    This was exactly the effect I was looking for

  25. Reply Sellynia March 9, 2012 at 5:45 PM

    would it matter if i rotate it more or less than -1.1?

  26. Reply Quinn April 26, 2012 at 7:09 AM

    This is the exact 3d effect tutorial I was looking for. It’s perfect. Thank you so much for sharing!

  27. Reply Sergio Janeiro June 20, 2012 at 10:20 AM

    How do you do this to fonts/text?

  28. Reply Patamon November 1, 2012 at 8:44 PM

    hi im new here can someone give me some pointers plz.

  29. Reply Patamon November 1, 2012 at 8:49 PM

    hi im new here can someone plz tell me what im supposed to do.

  30. Reply João Lima December 24, 2012 at 3:13 AM

    Can someone help me? I’m not able to click on “Channel Mixer”. Why?

  31. Reply sanket March 21, 2013 at 12:35 PM

    Thanks, its super and useful also. again thanks very much….

  32. Reply gary June 12, 2013 at 3:17 PM

    I’m confused, when asked to set the first layer, I don’t have the options to input these adjustments, am I the only one confused? How do I do this? 1.15 | 255 all i see is color mode and opacity, i am using ps cs4 and mac… i really want to do this effect but can’t get past the first hurdle..

    would appreciate someones help, thanks

    Now I went to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Levels I set the settings to 0 | 1.15 | 255 and hit OK.

  33. Reply Rakesh January 23, 2014 at 12:25 PM

    Hi! Buddy,when i follow ur steps i get output its differs from ur’s. I couldn’t able to retain the same output like u.Nice job man.Please share many creative abstracts.

    • Reply Creativeoverflow January 25, 2014 at 4:20 PM

      Hi Rakesh,

      Thanks for the comment.

      If you followed the steps precisely, you should have the same output as I do.

      Let me know where you get stuck.


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