Transform a Custom Shape into a 3-D Template

with 25 Comments

Do you ’heart’ 3-D? I do! I love the look of nicely produced 3-dimensional scrapbook pages. In digital scrapbooking, this is achieved with layers of paper and elements. Realistic-looking drop shadows complete the effect. The more layers there are, the more I “ooh” and “aah”!

And have you noticed that almost every movie produced these days comes with its very own 3-D version? When my family saw one recently, they couldn’t stop talking about the “totally awesome” effects, which got me thinking… why let the movie-makers have all the fun?

Let’s have some fun making a 3-dimensional heart template! It will add a personal touch to your scrapbook pages that I’m sure you’ll love. Follow along with me, and I hope that by the end of this tutorial you, too, will ‘heart’ 3-D!

Tutorial:This complete Digi Scrap Tutorial is available to our Premier Members. If you’re a member, please take a moment to log in, then just come back here and refresh this page. Not a Premeier Member? Find out more information here.

Step One: Prepare the Workspace

  • Create a new document (File > New > Blank File) that is 7in wide by 8in high at 300ppi with a white background. (Photoshop: Choose File > New.)
  • Press the letter D to reset the Color Chips to the default of black and white.

Step Two: Create the Shape

  • Get the Custom Shape tool.
  • In the Tool Options, open the Geometry Options and choose Fixed Size. Enter 6in for the Width and 7in for the Height. Place a checkmark next to From Center.
  • Click on the Create New Shape Layer icon and set the Style to None. (Photoshop: Also set the Tool Mode to Shape.)
  • Open the Custom Shape Picker and choose Heart.
    • Elements Note: If you do not see the Heart shape, open the flyout menu and choose Large List. Open the drop down menu and choose All Elements Shapes.
    • Photoshop Note: If you do not see the Heart shape, open the flyout menu and choose Large List. Open the flyout menu again, choose All, and click OK.

  • On the document, click once in the center to create the shape. (Photoshop: Click and drag slightly in the center of the page to create the shape.)
  • To reposition the shape, hold down the Ctrl key (Mac: Cmd key), click inside the shape, and drag it to the center of the page.

Step Three: Duplicate and Resize the Shape

  • In the Layers Panel, make sure the top layer is the active layer.
  • Press Ctrl J (Mac: Cmd J) to duplicate the layer.
  • Press the letter X to switch the Color Chips.
  • Press Alt Backspace (Mac: Opt Delete) to fill the shape with the Foreground Color Chip.
  • Press Ctrl T (Mac: Cmd T) to get the Transform options.
  • In the Tool Options, check Constrain Proportions and enter 90% for either the Width or the Height. (Photoshop: Check Maintain Aspect Ratio.)
  • Double click inside the Bounding Box to accept the changes.
  • Repeat Step Three as many times as you’d like. In my example, I repeated Step Three three more times.

 Step Four: Link the Layers and Save As a PSD

  • In the Layers panel, click on the Background layer and drag it to the Trash.
  • In the Menu Bar, choose Select > All Layers.
  • In the Layers Panel, click on one of the Link Layers icons. This keeps the shape layers together and prevents them from being accidentally nudged out of place.
  • In the Layers panel, click on the top layer to activate it all by itself.

Note: At this point, the shapes are still vector shapes. That means they can be resized without any loss of quality. Now is a good time to save your layered shapes file.

  • In the Menu Bar, choose File > Save As. Enter a file name such as “layered-hearts-template” and be sure that Photoshop *.PSD is selected. Check Layers, then save to a folder of your choice.

Step Five: Create a Finished Product

You now have a lovely 3-dimensional heart template to use on your scrapbook pages.

  • Use the template layers as clipping masks. For more information about using clipping masks, click HERE.
  • Apply a small drop shadow to each of the clipping mask layers. For my example, I used a drop shadow with a Size of 23, a Distance of 20 and an Opacity of 60%.
  • Save your finished 3-D shape (File > Save As) as a PNG file. Give it a name such as “3d-heart-pp0409-2hearts-anita” (be sure to include the paper designer’s name). When the PNG dialog box pops up, choose None for Interlace and click OK.

This technique is extremely versatile and can be applied to almost any shape. It works best with ones that are not too intricate. Have a play and fill your template shapes with different papers, layer styles, colors, textures or even gradients. See what you can create… the possibilities are almost endless! Then, post your creations in the Digi Scrap Tutorial of the Week Gallery… I’d love to see them!

Happy creating!

🙂 Hx

Here are some examples of how I used the 3-D heart template:

As a small embellishment to anchor photo strips and frames. I clipped two different papers to alternate layers of the template.

As a large photo frame. I duplicated my photo a couple of times and clipped it to three layers of the template. I then clipped papers below and between the photo layers to add interest.

As a card topper. I clipped alternate papers to the template layers, then finished it with glittered stroke outlines and cut-out lettering.

Digi Scrap Tutorial: Transform a Custom Shape into a 3-D Template by Helen Ash (aka SimplyHx).
Layout: Happy Together by SimplyHx.
Kit: Two Hearts by Anita Designs (February 2013 Digital Scrapper Premier).
Overlay Border: Boys and Toys by Digital Scrapper Designs.
Fonts: CK Becky, Calibri.
Layout: Love the Sea by SimplyHx.
Quote: Robert Henri.
Cardstock and Overlays: NauticaTextures Volume 1Textured Overlays Volume 2 and Shipmates Nautical Overlays by Susie Roberts.
Staple: Botanist Exclusive by Katie Pertiet.
Fonts: Garamond, CK Heritage.
Layout: ‘Love You’ Card by SimplyHx.
Kit: Two Hearts by Anita Designs (February 2013 Digital Scrapper Premier).
Solid Pink Paper: Winter Wonderland by Elise Hansen.
Plus: Digital Scrapper Glitter Layer Styles (if you are a Premier or Plus member, download them for free here).
Fonts:  Edwardian Script ITC, Eccentric Std.

Download this Digi Scrap Tutorial

25 Responses

  1. Tora

    Hi my friend – even though I do NOT send the e-mail I had promised LOL I love this tut and am so going to try it out. Hugs

    • Helen Ash

      Hi Tora! It’s lovely to hear from you and I’m so glad you like the tut.
      Let me know when you’ve had a go at it, I’d love to see what you make!
      🙂 Hx

  2. mskinsey

    Thank you for the FABULOUS tutorial! The effect is absolutely gorgeous, and your tutorial makes it so easy! Very timely, too, with Valentine’s Day just around the corner … wooot!

    • Helen Ash

      You’re so welcome! Thanks for the nice comments about the tutorial… I hope you have a lot of fun with it! 🙂 Hx

  3. Mungo

    Thank you for this tutorial, you have some lovely effects – especially the photo frame, it looks gorgeous.

    • Helen Ash

      You’re very welcome, thank you! It’s such a versatile technique – I can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with 🙂 Hx

  4. plm1

    Love this! Thanks for a great idea to add to our Valentine and other layouts. I really appreciate and like your examples.

    • Helen Ash

      Thank you very much, I’m so glad you like the examples! I enjoyed playing with this technique myself – a little too much maybe?! 😀 Hx

  5. Nicki

    Thanks! I love the “cutout” love on the last example.

    • Nicki

      oops… I meant cutout YOU! =]

      • Helen Ash

        You’re welcome, Nicki! 😀 Hx

  6. Sharron Lamb

    Love the tutorial. BUT, if you want the individual layers to be used as clipping masks, the finished product needs to be saved as a PSD file so it remains layered, rather than a png file.

    • Helen Ash

      Thanks, Shar, and thanks for emphasising the necessity for keeping the layers too. Step Four explains how to save the template as a layered PSD file – very important to maintain the layers for the template to work! Step Five refers to saving the finished 3-D shape as a PNG file… useful if you’ve created a 3-D element you’d like to use over and over. 🙂 Hx

  7. Annette

    Looks like a great start on your tutorials. I am going to give it a try as soon as I finish this message.
    Looking forward to more.

    • Helen Ash

      Aww, thanks Annette! I look forward to seeing what you create – I know it will be fabulous! 🙂 Hx

  8. Linda H-T

    This 3-D template if fun to work with has many possibilities, but I’m curious as to how you added GLITTERED stroke outlines to the card topper you displayed. I know how to do stroke outlines, and I have the DS Glitter layer styles, but how do you get them together and make a stroke outline?

  9. Linda H-T

    Now I see what I was doing wrong – the Stroke layer has to be above BOTH the Shape layer AND the Paper Mask layer; then it works like a charm! Thank you so much, Helen, for your help and for such a wonderful Tutorial!

    • Helen Ash

      No problem, Linda! I’m so pleased it worked out for you in the end! 🙂 Hx

  10. Audrey Toews

    I love the different cards you created and want very much to learn how to do this. However, after trying at least 20 times to follow the instructions, I cannot get my Photoshop Elements 10 program to cut out the heart. Every layer is a rectangle even though clicking in the centre with the shape tool creates a beautiful heart. As soon as I colour it, I’m left with a rectangle. I’ve tried creating a clipping mask, but nothing helps. What am I missing? Audrey

    • Helen Ash

      Hi Audrey, I have looked into this for you and am wondering if you might have simplified the heart shapes? If that is the case, pressing Ctrl Backspace or Alt Backspace will fill the whole document layer (and take on the rectangular background shape) rather than just the shape itself.

      Try pressing Alt Shift Backspace to fill the shape with the foreground color (Ctrl Shift Backspace to fill with the background color). I hope that helps but please let me know if you’re still having problems. 🙂 Hx

  11. Audrey Toews

    Many hugs to you – I’m dancing – I’m dancing. It worked, I just saved the template ready to tackle the next step. At one point during my struggles, I clicked “shift, Alt, Backspace. I guess I had it a little turned around.

    How would I “unsimplify” the heart shapes? Thanks, Audrey

    • Helen Ash

      Yay! I’m so pleased you managed to create your 3-D template, Audrey… I think we all have times when something just doesn’t seem to want to go right!

      As far as I’m aware, once you have saved and closed a document, I don’t think there’s a way to change a simplified shape back into a vector shape. If you still have the document open, you can Undo as many steps as you need to revert back to the vector shapes you first created. I believe that is the only way but I’m sure someone will say otherwise if that isn’t the case! I wouldn’t worry too much unless you want to enlarge the template hugely before printing. 🙂 Hx

  12. Jill Sutherland

    Brilliant tut Helen and the examples really help to stimulate the imagination. Yes I’m still a PSP fan, but this will help me to use the opposition for once.

    • Helen Ash

      Hi Jill, it’s great to see you here and I’m so glad you like the tut, thank you. I’m chuffed that it’s got you trying out the ‘opposition’ hehe! Enjoy! 🙂 Hx