How to create a retro-style text effect in Cinema 4D and Photoshop

How to create a retro-style text effect in Cinema 4D and Photoshop

In this tutorial I’ll explain how to easily create a 3d text and merge it into a retro-style scene. We will use Illustrator for the text, Cinema4D to make this text 3D and Photoshop for all others remaining steps.

In these days I came across nice retro-style posters and this inspired me to realize this tutorial. I noticed that all these images are characterized by strong contrast and few details. Here you can see some of the images I used as a reference point:

And this is my result:


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Step 1

Open a new document in Photoshop. The size I chose is 1500×1000 pixels. Paste in the Pyramid image. Scale and rotate it (Press Ctrl+T to activate the transform tool).

Step 2

Now we have to create a strong contrast. So duplicate the image and set the duplicated to overlay. Duplicate again but this time set the duplicated image to multiply.

Step 3

Press Shift+alt+ctrl+E to merge all the visible layers into a new layer. Apply to this layer a curve adjustment (ctrl+M) and a saturation adjustment (ctrl+U)

Step 4

Lets create the text. Open illustrator and write something using the edistys font. Now go to object>Expand. Save the AI file and make sure to save as an Illustrator 3 file (3 is the software version) so that it’s compatible with Cinema 4D.

Step 5

In Cinema 4D go to File>Merge and open the Illustrator file.

Step 6

In the object window you can observe that there are 5 paths (one for each letter). Select all the paths (hold shift to select more than one path) and right click>Connect. Notice that we have created a new path. We will work with this, so eliminate all the other layers.

Step 7

We have to give depth to the text. So select the Extrude Nurbs object. Then in the object window drag the path inside the Nurb.

Step 8

Select the Nurbs object in the object window. Modify the caps options from “cap” to “fillet cap”.

Step 9

In the materials window add a nukei material. Then apply the material by dragging it on the text.

Step 10

Double click on the material icon to open its options window and switch the reflection intensity to 60%

Step 11

Add one or more light objects (Object>Scene>Light)

Step 12

Create a new material and in the colors menu upload the pyramids image.

Step 13

Create a sky object (Object>Scene>Sky) and apply to it the last material created. You should see something similar to this:

Step 14

It’s time for rendering. For the render settings follow the screenshot below. Note that we checked “Alpha channel” and “Separate Alpha” so that in Photoshop we could easily extract the text using alpha channels. After have updated render settings go to Render>Render to Picture Viewer and save as a Photoshop file.

Step 15

Open the just created PS file. We have to extract the text: go to the channels’ window. At the bottom there’s the separate Alpha. Ctrl+click on this channel to select its pixels. Now switch to the layer window, go to select>Inverse and press delete. The text is now isolated.

Step 16

Copy and paste the text in our main Photoshop canvas. Right click on the text layer and select Blending Modes. Add satin with the default options.

Step 17

At this point I really hate the color. The best way to change it is to apply a gradient map. So go to Image>Adjustments>Gradient Map…and choose a gradient going from red to blue to yellow.

Step 18

Now we have to increase the contrast, so apply also a levels adjustments:

Step 19

Create a new layer and switch its layer blending mode to overlay. With a soft white brush (hardness 0%) start painting over the text to enhance some parts of it. To make the effect stronger, duplicate one/two times the layer.

Step 20

Repeat the step 20 but this time set a nice pink as foreground color

Step 21

Paste in the folded stained paper texture. Press shift+ctrl+U to desaturate it and ctrl+i to inverse the colors. Set the layer blend mode to screen. Increase the contrast with the curves (ctrl+M and create a “S” like in step 3). We are going to achieve a nice result!

Step 22

Paste in the old paper texture. Set the layer to overlay and reduce the opacity to around 70%.

Step 23

Create a new curves adjustments layer (Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Curves)

Step 24

Press shift+ctrl+alt+E to merge all the visible layers into a new layer. Sharpen this layer (Filter>Sharpen>Sharpen). Yes, we’ve finished!


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(+add yours)
  1. Very good, congratulations.

  2. Good tutorial! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Nice tutorial Sebastiano.

    If you added a shadow to the typography, it would have looked realistic.

    The reference image ‘Visitors’ looks amazing….

  4. Iwan

    Nice, but i found some difference with my C4d render settings, I think it’s because the version.

  5. Dear God.. And people are wondering why the kiddies are cracking all the software. Tutorials like this one convey the opinion that you really need all these programs.

    Dude – no offense – but you didn’t even remotely need C4D and Illustrator to make this happen. Better show how to get the best out of PS before peops are downloading 2 progs they basically don’t know how to use…

    Keep it up.

    • Hi Freddixx,
      no offense. With this tutorial I simply suggest a way. For me it’s easer to work in C4D in order to create 3D text. But I never suggest to download illegal applications. Also I think it’s important to know that there are other powerful softwares, not only Photoshop.

  6. This is great idea….. I’ll try this tuts….

  7. ilko

    Thank you brother. Very useful :)

  8. cheers again mate : )

  9. Jesse

    how can i create that retro effect using only photoshop????
    is ther a possibillity??????????

  10. thanks for this wonderful share… loved each part of it

  11. Jackass

    I know everything, but i don ´t know how name ´s font? xD

  12. An impressive share! I have just forwarded this onto a colleague who was doing a little homework on this.
    And he actually bought me breakfast simply
    because I discovered it for him… lol. So allow me to reword this….

    Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending time to talk
    about this issue here on your internet site.

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