How to create 3D Retro text effect in Adobe Photoshop

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This tutorial will show you how to use smart objects, with some textures and layer styles, to create a 3D, retro text effect in Photoshop.

Tutorial assets:

What we’ll create


1. Create the background

Step 1

Create a new 1000 x 700px document, then click the Create new fill or adjustment layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel, then choose Solid Color.


Step 2

Use the color #549094.


2. Create the text

Step 1

Create the text in All Caps using the font The Bold Font. Set the Size to 200pt, the Tracking value to 50, and the Color to #d3813f.


Step 2

Rename the text layer to Text, then right-click it and choose Convert to Smart Object.


Step 3

Duplicate the Text layer, then make it invisible, and drag it on top of the copy.


3. Create the extrusion

Step 1

Duplicate the Text copy layer by pressing Command-J.


Step 2

Hit the Right Arrow Key once, then hit the Down Arrow Key once as well, to move the copy 2 layer 1px to the right and 1px downwards.


Step 3

Repeat that 12 more times to create the extrusion. The last layer should have the name Text copy 14.


Step 4

Select all the copy layers you have, then go to Layer > Arrange > Reverse, to reverse the order of the extrusion layers.


Step 5

Deselect the Text copy layer at the top, then group the rest of the copy layers and name the group Extrusion.


4. Create the top layers

Step 1

Rename the Text copy layer to Text Top, then duplicate it, and change the copy’s Fill value to 0.


Step 2

Duplicate the Text Top copy layer.


5. Style the extrusion layers

Double-click the Text copy 2 layer inside the Extrusion group to apply the following layer style:

Step 1

- Bevel and Emboss

Depth: 250

Size: 0

Uncheck the Use Global Light box

Angle: 123

Altitude: 45

Check the Anti-aliased box

Highlight Mode:

  • Color: b5b5b5
  • Opacity: 100%

Shadow Mode:

  • Color: #363636
  • Opacity: 100%

Step 2


  • Contour: Half Round
  • Check the Anti-aliased box.
  • Range: 100%

Step 3

Color Overlay

  • Color: #f0ecdd

Step 4

Right-click the styled layer, and choose Copy Layer Style.


Step 5

Select the rest of the layers inside the Extrusion Group, right-click any of them, and choose Paste Layer Style.


6. Style the Extrusion group

Double-click the Extrusion group to apply the following layer style:

Step 1

- Drop Shadow

  • Opacity: 35%
  • Distance: 8
  • Size: 2

Step 2

Add another Drop Shadow effect by clicking the + icon next to the Drop Shadow tab, and use these settings for the new effect:

Drop Shadow 2

  • Opacity: 35%
  • Uncheck the Use Global Light box
  • Angle: 126
  • Distance: 23
  • Size: 2

Step 3

Add one more Drop Shadow effect with these settings:

- Drop Shadow 3

  • Opacity: 5%
  • Uncheck the Use Global Light box
  • Angle: 124
  • Distance: 37
  • Size: 0

This will create the shadow.


7. Style the top layers

Step 1

Double-click the Text Top copy layer to apply a Pattern Overlay effect with these settings:

  • Blend Mode: Soft Light
  • Opacity: 35%
  • Pattern: 11px sawtooth stripes
  • Scale: 50%

This will just add the pattern. You can choose any other pattern you like.


Double-click the Text Top copy 2 layer to apply the following layer style:

Step 2

- Stroke

  • Size: 1
  • Position: Inside
  • Color: #fbf9ef

Step 3

- Stroke - 2

  • Size: 1
  • Position: Outside
  • Color: #fbf9ef

Step 4

- Inner Shadow

  • Color: #545454
  • Opacity: 35%
  • Distance: 5
  • Size: 0

Step 5

- Inner Shadow - 2

  • Color: #545454
  • Opacity: 35%
  • Distance: 10
  • Size: 0

Step 6

- Inner Shadow - 3

  • Color: #545454
  • Opacity: 35%
  • Distance: 15
  • Size: 0

This will add a couple of layers of stroke and inner shadow to the text.


8. Add the texture overlay

Step 1

Place the Background 7 texture from the Abstract grunge backgrounds Free Psd pack on top of all layers, and resize it as needed.

Then, change its layer’s Blend Mode to Soft Light and its Opacity to 50%.


Step 2

Go to Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation, then change the Saturation value to -100.


Step 3

Go to Image > Adjustments > Levels, then change the Shadows value to 35.


That’s it!

Anytime you want to change the text, here’s what you do:

  • Double-click the original Text layer’s thumbnail.
  • Change the text in the file that opens.
  • Go to Image > Reveal All.
  • Go to File > Save, then File > Close.
  • The effect will be applied to the new text!


In this tutorial, we used smart objects to create a text and its extrusion. Then, we used a bunch of layer styled to create the retro 3D effect. And finally, we added a simple texture overlay to finish off the effect.

Please feel free to share your work in the comments section below.


Now you can show the world what you have learned.

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