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3D Hardcover Book Effect

This technique, from my “Down & Dirty Tricks” column from Photoshop User magazine, makes great use of what is perhaps the lamest filter in all of Photoshop—3D Transform—to create the pages and spine for a hardcover book. In fact 3D Transform was so lame, it no longer automatically installs with Photoshop CS. You'll have to look for it on the install CD and drag it over to your Photoshop Plug-ins folder. Any technique that manages to use this filter has got to be worth something.

Quick Tip: Setting better Shadow/Highlights defaults

If you've messed around at all with Photoshop CS's new Shadow/Highlight tonal adjustment feature (under Adjustments in the Image menu), you've probably already figured out it's pretty cool. However, when you bring up this dialog, the Shadows slider is already set at 50% (by default), so it immediately adjusts your image. So I always wind up setting the Shadows slider back to 0% (so the image is untouched until I move a slider, just like in Levels or Curves). However, if you always work in the standard mode (you don't click the Show More Options feature), you wouldn't know that at the bottom of the More Options panel is a button called “Save Defaults,” which will let you set the shadow to 0% and save that as your default setting. Hey, every little click counts.

Step ONE.
Create a new document in RGB mode. Create a new layer by clicking on the New Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers palette.

Step TWO.
Go under the Filter menu, under Render, and choose 3D Transform. Click the Cube tool, and drag out a cube (in the preview window) as shown here.

Switch to the Direct Selection tool (the hollow arrow), click on the bottom-right corner (as shown), and drag down and to the left to shrink the width of your cube, making it look more like a cereal box (as shown here).

Step FOUR.
Take the Direct Selection tool, click on the top center point (as shown) and drag to the right to tip the box back a bit (don't worry—it'll tip—it's in 3D).

Quick Tip: Quick Mask preferences

When you enter Quick Mask mode (by making a selection and pressing the letter “q”), the color red can display either what's masked or what's selected. By default, the color red shows the masked area. For some odd reason, I prefer having red show what's selected, so if what you see on your screen in Quick Mask is the opposite of what you'd like, all you have to do is change a simple preference setting. To find the Quick Mask preferences, double-click on the Quick Mask icon (located in the Toolbox, directly below the Foreground and Background Color Swatches).

Step FIVE.
Get the Trackball tool (it's right above the Zoom tool), click on the left side of the preview window, and drag to the right. Keep dragging until your shape rotates all the way around to reveal the back side of your shape (which is shaded). When it looks like the one shown here, click OK.

Step SIX.
In many cases, the edges of your cube will have some fringe, or look somewhat jaggy, but that's easy to fix. Hold the Command key (PC: Control key), go to the Layers palette, and click on the cube layer to put a selection around your cube. Then go under the Select menu, under Modify, and choose Contract. Enter 1 and click OK to shrink your selection inward by 1 pixel.

To get rid of that fringe, go under the Select menu and choose Inverse (so now the only thing that is selected on this layer is that 1 pixel, all the way around your cube shape). Then, press Delete (PC: Backspace) to remove this 1-pixel edge fringe. Now you can deselect by pressing Command-D (PC: Control-D).

Quick Tip: Wacom tablet users rejoice!

If you used a Wacom tablet with the old Photoshop 7, chances are the Brushes palette drove you crazy. That's because if you went to the Brushes palette, chose a Brush Preset, and then turned on a Pen attribute like Pen Pressure controls Opacity, or Pen Pressure controls Size, that attribute only worked for that particular brush. If you changed brushes, it turned the Pen sensitivity off. This made tablet users just short of suicidal. Now, in Photoshop CS, when you set a brush to respond to Pen Pressure in the Brushes palette, you'll see a little “lock” icon you can click to tell Photoshop to leave pressure sensitivity turned on, even if you switch brush presets. This calls for a major celebration throughout the kingdom.

Open the cover you want to use for your hardcover book. Here's a fictitious book cover you can download from this book's companion site to practice with. Press “v” to switch to the Move tool, click on this book cover, and drag it over into your cube document. Go to the Layers palette and drag this layer up/down until it appears directly above the cube layer in the stack of layers.

© Brand X Pictures

Step NINE.
In the Layers palette, lower the Opacity of this layer to 50% so you can see the cube through the cover. Press Command-T (PC: Control-T) to bring up Free Transform. If you can't see the Free Transform handles, press Command-0 (PC: Control-0) to zoom your image out. Then, hold the Shift key and scale the photo down by dragging one of the corner points until it's just a little larger than the cube (as shown).

Step TEN.
While Free Transform is still active, hold the Command key (PC: Control key), grab the top-left corner of the cover, and drag it over until it aligns with the top-left corner of the cube (as shown here).

Quick Tip: Levels tip

If you need to lighten or darken the overall image, the Output Levels sliders at the bottom of the Levels dialog box can help. Dragging the left slider to the right will lighten the overall image. Dragging the right Output Levels slider to the left will darken the overall image. Since this change is so global (affecting the entire image across the board), it's generally used for special effects rather than for image correction, in which case you would use the Input Levels sliders up at the top instead.

Keep holding the Command key (PC: Control key), grab the bottom-left corner of the cover and do the same thing—stretch that corner down to match the bottom-left corner of the cube. When you're close, drag it down just a tiny bit past the bottom of the cube, because you want this fake cover to hang below the pages just a bit.

Now grab the top-right corner and align it, but let it extend a little over the edge as well (you can see that tiny bit in the capture shown here), and do the same thing for the bottom-right corner—let a little hang over the edge (like a cover would on a real book). When it looks right, press Return (PC: Enter) to lock in your transformation.

Go to the Layers palette, and raise the Opacity of your cover layer back up to 100%. Now you're going to need a tiny drop shadow between your cover and the pages (your cube) so choose Drop Shadow from the Add a Layer Style pop-up menu at the bottom of the Layers palette. Decrease the Distance to 2 and lower the Size to 4 to create a subtle shadow along the edge (as shown).

Quick Tip: Adjust those Options on the fly

Want to quickly change the Tolerance setting for a tool (say the Magic Wand tool, for example)? You don't have to go up into the Options Bar, just press “w” to get the Magic Wand tool, then press the Return key (PC: Enter key) and the first field in the Options Bar will automatically become highlighted. All you have to do is type in your setting and you're set.

In the Layers palette, click on your pages layer (the cube layer) and press Command-J (PC: Control-J) to duplicate it. Press the letter “i” to get the Eyedropper tool and click on a color within your book cover (this will become the color of your spine and back cover). In this example, click on the dark blue in the sky to set it as your Foreground color, then press Shift-Option-Delete (PC: Shift-Alt-Backspace) to fill your duplicate cube with blue (as shown).

Go to the Layers palette and drag this layer under the cube layer. Press “v” to get the Move tool. Then, press the Down Arrow key (on your keyboard) two or three times, and the Right Arrow key two or three times, to reveal the blue cube, which forms the spine and back cover (as shown here). Last, choose Drop Shadow from the Add a Layer Style pop-up menu and click OK to add a soft drop shadow, completing the effect.

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