Photoshop CC 3D Animation Parallax Effect Tutorial

Have you seen just how cool the 3D Parallax Effect is? In this Photoshop tutorial, we’ll talk about using the 3D and animation tools in Photoshop CC 2017 to create an animated 3D (2.5k) parallax effect to an image. This is an effect you can use to transform still images and almost make them look like very short cinematic video clips. It adds a false depth and sense of shape to your flat, still images or graphic. A very cool effect indeed! Make sure you grab the PSD so you can follow along as closely as possible!

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Finished Parallax Effect

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Gather/Create Resources For Parallax Effect

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Before we even create the document which will become our animation, I created a massive 10,000px wide document to build the scene which I wanted to animate. I created a starry sky, some vector style mountains in the foreground, and then stuck a girl laying on the moon in the middle and sprayed different space debris around her to give the composition some depth and element which our 3D camera could “push” through to sell the parallax 3D effect. I converted each layer to a Smart Object to preserve the larger size for animation later on.

Create Animation File and Layout the Composition

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Once I have my file built with my general composition at a much larger size than I really need, I created the actual file for the animation. It’s just a regular New PSD (File>New) and set the size to 2560 x 1440px in dimension. I then dragged each layer from my much larger composition over into this new document and used Free Transform (Cmd/Ctrl + T) to scale down the element so they fit wherever I wanted them to go.

Convert to 3D

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Once the layers are all sized and positioned, we can close the much larger document (you may want to save that higher resolution artwork) and right-click on each individual layer and choose “Postcard” to convert each layer to its own 3D Postcard. This will allow us to work in 3D space with each layer. NOTE: You’ll notice some of the layers with blurs will slightly disappear/become less noticeable. Don’t worry about it.

Merge all 3D Objects Together

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With all the layers converted to 3D objects, we want to select all the 3D object layers that we just created in the Layers panel (select the top-most layer and hold down the Shift key and click on the bottom-most layer) and go 3D>Merge 3D Layers to place all of these Postcards into one 3D Scene. It will basically look like we just mashed all of our 3D layers together. Don’t worry, all the individual objects are sitting inside that one layer waiting for us to play around with them.

Position Elements in 3D Space

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Make sure you’re in the 3D workspace (Window>Workspace>3D.) Look for the 3D panel. Select any of the “Mesh” entries that you see. (There should be a mesh for each of the Postcards that we merged into here.) We want to use the positioning options under the coordinates icon in the Properties panel to add space between all of our objects along the Z axis. It may be helpful to tune into the video to see exactly how I do this. It involves rotating the camera axis to see how things are looking and then actually shifting the elements along its Z axis. Sounds and looks complicated, but it’s fairly simply once you do it a couple times.

See all the Animation and Rendering to a Video File in the Video Above!

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There is SO MUCH MORE to be done in this tutorial. I could write 75 steps about what to do next, but that would prevent me from creating my next video, so these few detail-devoid steps will have to do for now. Please make sure you check out the full video at the top of this article for all the details and exactly how I created this animation and how you can use the files I’ve provided here to create your very own parallax animation in Photoshop CC.

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