advanced photoshop

Tips feature preview: 20 CGI tips

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Latest issue, by Adam Smith

20 top 3D and CGI artists supply their tips on using Photoshop

The creative opportunities of merging 3D models with Photoshop are outstanding, whether you render them yourself or buy from a stock site. We spoke with 20 top 3D and CGI artists for their tips on using Photoshop to get the most from their images…

Tip: Use Photoshop to simplify tasks

Willem-Paul Van Overbruggen

“3D software has improved dramatically over the years, with more and more features enabling the artist to take complete control of their images, from the initial idea through to completion. However, time continues to be a bit of a bugbear for 3D software. To achieve the kind of detail expected by commercial clients, or simply an exacting artist, requires a lot of extra information to be applied to the image. This in turn makes for a large file and could mean high rendering time.

Using Photoshop for final details is a good habit to get into. It will save you loads of time, allows more freedom for quickly trying out effects and will still give you a phenomenal result. Take this example: Photoshop enabled me to apply three different effects in very little time. For starters, the base model received extra shading and definition simply by blending it with a Multiply mode. The Lens Blur filter was used with a ZBrush pass to add depth of field around the edge of the tentacles. The smoke of the gun was where the most time was saved. A smoke element was applied and then the Smudge tool was used with a mask to make it look realistic. If this had been created in 3D, it would have meant complex particle work.”

Tip: Comp elements together simply

Igor Rashkuev

“It’s often convenient to render some parts of your image separately, like I did with the background, tank and foreground pipes in this work.  This way you have much more control on separate objects, for example you can easily perform adjustments on them without using layer masks. In some cases you can move objects around and it’s quicker to re-render just one object without rendering the whole scene if you want to change something in 3D. Photoshop is a great tool for combining objects, because of its flexible layer system and powerful image-adjustment tools. In this work I created a group for each part of the image and altered it with adjustment layers, using clipping masks so only the selected object was affected.”

Read more in Advanced Photoshop 106, now on sale at and

Tips feature preview: 20 CGI tips