3D TRON Legacy Text Effect in Photoshop CS6

Skill level

TRON Legacy has been out for quite some time, and many people have done tutorials on the TRON text effect, but since Photoshop CS6 is fresh out of the oven, I figured I’d take a shot at recreating the logo using Photoshop CS6’s new and improved 3D functionality.

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The Document

Starting off with the document, I’m starting with a 1280 by 720 pixel document, with a very dark blue background (#0f1013). Using a dark background will help your final text pop! However, you don’t want to use a pure black background, as it will cause issues when adding the final Outer Glow.

The Text

Now for the text. Over at DaFont.com, they have several TRON style fonts, but the one I found most accurate was called TR2N. With the font of your choice active, a nice large size, around 400 points will work nicely.

Once your text is ready to go, under the 3D menu, choose the New 3D Extrusion from Selected Layer option. This will convert your text into a 3D Layer.

Now the fun begins. We’re going to go through the different elements in the 3D panel, which will slowly form the effect we’re looking for. If your 3D panel is not visible, you can find it under the Window menu.

Infinite Light

Let’s start simple with the Infinite Light. All we want to do with the light is rotate it downwards, using the handle in the middle, so it’s almost directly facing the text, then crank up the Softness of the Shadow in the Properties panel to 60%.


Hoping over to the Environment properties, the only setting we’re going to adjust is the Reflections. To allow the text to reflect on the ground plane, turn up the Reflections Opacity to 60% and the Roughness to 5%, just to ensure that the reflections aren’t too sharp. Don’t worry if you can’t see the reflections too well. They’ll become more visible shortly.

Text’s Mesh

Moving down, select the main mesh of your text layer in your 3D panel:

We need to add a bevel to the edges of our text. This can be done by selecting Bevel from the Shape Preset picker. We’re also going to decrease the Extrusion to around 50.

At this point, the bevel isn’t complete. To give the text a bit of depth, and to help with the eventual glows, we need to adjust the text’s Cap. At the top of the Properties panel, the 3rd icon will allow you to do just that. Increasing the Width to 100% will create a nice bevel on our text.

Now that we’ve dealt with the outline of the text, it’s time to start working on the materials. Due to the nature of this font, our Front and Back Inflation materials are covered up by the bevel, so the only materials we’re going to need to change are the Front Bevel, and the Extrusion Material. However, just to be safe, click on the Front and Back Inflation Materials, and set the Opacity to 0%. Let’s start with the Front Bevel.

Front Bevel Material

Starting at the top with the Diffuse color, set that at a pure black. The Specular can stay the same, but the Illumination, which will give us a much stronger overall fill than the Diffuse would, will be set at a nice baby blue. #4fa3f9.

As for the sliders, all we need to change is the Shine and Bump. Increase the Shine to 75%, and reduce the Bump to 0.

Extrusion Material

Now the Extrusion will be slightly more work. Let’s start with the colors.

The Diffuse will be set to a bright blue. #0090ff.
The Specular, which will help bring out the Bump’s texture, will be a baby blue: #00bbff.
The Illumination will be set at a slightly darker blue: #234f92.

Now down below, the Shine will be set to 30%, the Reflection and Bump both at 100%, and the Opacity will be 30% as well.

The Bump

Now in terms of the Bump’s texture, it’s really up to you how you want this to look. Over at CGTextures.com, I found a nice scratched texture which will give a nice ‘glassy or icy’ feel to the extrusion.

But even after the texture has been added, it’ll need some tweaking. First off, because bump maps work off light and dark tones, we’re going to quickly edit this texture. Clicking to the right of the percentage, choosing Edit Texture will allow us to edit the original file.

Now all we really need to do, is pump up the Contrast. Head up to Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast.

Turn on Legacy mode, then turn up the Contrast to around 70. Now the reason I turned on Legacy mode, is because in recent versions of Photoshop, you can only increase the Contrast to the point before the tones in the image start to become ruined. But in this case, we want to go beyond that.

Now that the Contrast has been increased, save the document with your Command/Ctrl + S shortcut, and hop back over to your original document.

The next tweak we’re going to make to the bump’s texture, is in regards to the UV map. This will ensure that it wraps nicely around the text. This time, select the Edit UV Properties option. When the window pops up, set the U Scale at 1000% and the V Scale at 10%.


Let’s give our text a render (3D > Render) to see how things are looking. You’ll notice, especially in regards to the reflections on the ground plane, that during the first few passes, you may see a lot of noise and roughness:

It won’t be until the fourth or fifth pass that your elements will start to smooth out nicely. Once the render slows down, you know you’ve hit the crucial point.

You’re also going to notice something missing. Nothing’s glowing. I figured, instead of going insane and attempting to create a glowing effect using Photoshop’s 3D features, it’ll be just as effective to add them in using Layer Styles.

Layer Styles

So now that the Render is complete, hop into your Layer Styles start with an Inner Glow. The color of the glow will be a very light blue, almost white. #ebf7ff.

*If you chose to use a larger or smaller font, you may need to tweak the Size and Range values.

And finally, let’s add an Outer Glow to finish the design off. This time, the color will be a more neutral blue, #0c75d7

Final Result

And that, should do it! Your own TRON style text using Photoshop CS6’s new 3D features, and a touch of Layer Styles. Again, if you want to download the final PSD tile, check out the post on IceflowStudios.com. Take care.