People asked for tutorials, so I figured that I would make my own showing facebooks new-ish 3D feature and how it can be used for illustrations or artwork.

This technique can work for photos, but it’s not as effective. And guess what, it’s not even that hard to do. If you have a decent knowledge of photoshop, give it a go and you’ll have a 3D artwork in no time!

Here’s an example:


I decided I wanted to do it with my Princess Mononoke piece because it has good depth and in it was just the most recent one I did. The stars aligned.

At the moment, the facebook 3D-ifier predicts the colours of the background really well, but often times with higher detailed backgrounds the artifacts, or the morphing become far more obvious. So, images with distinct background, midground and foregrounds work especially well.

Just a heads up. This is a 3 step tutorial, which is easy to skim read; however Step 2: Depth Map, outlines my personal process.


In order to make the depth map, we have to define what areas are in the foreground (with white) and what are in the background (in black). The further back an object the darker it is, the closer an object is the brighter it is.

For this you will need a bit of photoshop skills.

I worked from back to front, background to foreground. It’s easier to define the space this way.

Now the key here is always think of space in relation to the closest object next to it. For example San’s arm, I would distinguish a brighter grey than her body, because from my perspective (viewers perspective) her arm is infront of her body, once you figure that out, it’s just a matter of ‘behind, darker’, ‘infront, brighter!’.

Now go to the Tutorial >>>

Save the files like so...

original: filename
depth file: filename_depth

Save both as .JPG or .PNG, and make sure the ‘.jpg’ or ‘.png’ extension doesn’t appear in the file name otherwise it won’t work.

Upload these onto facebook, and facebook will compile it together for you.

Tutorial: How I did San, Princess Mononoke.

1. Background: Start with the Background! (Blacks)
A lot of the solid black areas from my linework were conveniently the background, so firstly I added my original linework on a new layer, and rubbed out most of the inside details. I made it a 90% black (#212121).

2. Midground: Defining the space (Leaves and wolves)
Under this layer, a new layer with a gradient 20% black to 80% black (these mark the midground - outside of the 20%/80% would be the ‘extremes’ the Background and Foreground). This gradient would create a good ‘guide’ for depth later on.

Holding ctrl + shift, left click I select my midground elements, from my ‘linework’ and ‘fill’ layers. On a new layer I then add a gradient straight onto the selection, 15% black to 65% black.

Note: If you don’t have ‘linework’ or ‘fill’ layers, alternatively the long way is to lasso tool everything (or quick selection tool [magic wand tool]).

3. Foreground: Silhoutte / Focal (San)
On my original artwork, I have a seperate ‘linework’ and ‘fill’ layer. By holding ctrl + shift, left click both the layers (make sure to click the layer icon) you’re able to make a selection of both. Fill this on a new layer with 5% black. I wanted San to be the most foreground element.

Rule of thumb:
81-100% Black = Background (BG)
20-80% Black = Midground (MG)
1%-19% Black = Foreground (FG)

I used this as a general guide, as it keeps in mind that when you look at your image dependant on how far back or how close it should be, I should apply 80% black, if it’s quite far back, or 10% black if it’s very close.

4. Adding details (for the Hardcore people)
From here on out, is the finesse. Similar to how I worked before, I generally worked background to foreground. These are all optional, but they make everything work smoother.

BG: I wanted to mimic the midground gradient, this would make the 3d effect smoother (more contrast = more 3D). On a new layer, I added a gradient I then use clipping mask to the BG linework. This makes the black blend in smoother.

MG: On a new layer, I wanted the head to be closer to the FG, so by painting it lighter, and the nose (which is closer to the FG), even lighter - this added a noticeable amount of depth. I moved this layer ontop of the BG linework.

MG: Under the linework I made a new layer, to mimic a more realistic depth for the wolves. This was done with a combination of painting with a solid brush, and a very soft brush. Parts of the wolf I felt should be closer to the FG, were the arm of the left wolf, and the tail of the right wolf. Parts I felt should be further, was the wolf on the right’s head (blended into the background pretty much), and the tail of the left wolf. I generally use hard brush to define features, and soft in parts I felt that the depth had too be smoother.

I would suggest uploading this onto FB (don’t post) if you want to test it. To figure out how to save this go to the tutorial on the left <<<

MG: Made a new layer, clipping masked to MG elements which I then painted, with either soft brushes or hard brushes the depth of each plant/leaf/wood. This part took a lot of testing for me.
Still keeping in mind where everything is in relation to the object infront/behind it. Though I also generally kept more elements at the bottom of the piece brighter than ones at the top, since this mentality is consistent throughout the whole illustration. Objects are closer to the FG, at the bottom of the image (generally).

FG: Finally I did the editting of San, a lot of this were very subtle. I knew I wanted her foot, and cape to be further behind her in the BG. Whilst making her face, in the FG, but her hands and the knife slightly more in the FG.

On top of all this, I added a curves layer to add contrast. This layer will help exaggerate the depth more, it also makes it so much easier to do this at the end, rather than throughout.