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Filled 3D Letters in Procreate (Digital Papercut style)

In previous posts and videos, I've shown you how to create realistic digital papercut artwork in Procreate, as well as how to Emboss and Deboss letterforms and how to use Clipping Masks and Layer Masks. Today, we're pulling ALL of those techniques together into one piece of artwork to create some 3D filled letters!

You can follow along with the tutorial video HERE, and I'll put the basic steps below as well.

Create the Debossed papercut word

  • Either draw your letters or use a font - I'm choosing to use a font. (NOTE: Bolder/thicker fonts will give you more room to add your elements later.)

  • If you used a font, make a backup copy and then hide/turn off that layer and drag it to the bottom of your layers panel. This is in case you need to make any changes later, you'll have a version that still has editable text.

  • On the copy of the font, tap the Layer and choose "Rasterize" which will turn the font into shapes.

  • Tap on the Layer again and choose "Select" and then "invert"

  • Add a new layer above this and choose "Fill Layer" - this will fill the layer with everything except the letters, which is what we want.

  • Make a copy/duplicate this layer twice. One copy (the bottom one) should be black, the top one will be the color of your "paper" (you can turn on Alpha Lock and fill with your paper color, then turn Alpha Lock back off), and the middle layer will be a lighter version of your paper color (this will be your highlights).

  • Use the same technique to fill your word shapes layer with the same paper color.

  • Now, we need to use the Transform tool to drag the Shadow and Highlight layers to create the 3D illusion (see video for more details) - Use Adjustments > Gaussian blur when done to smooth this out.

  • The paper texture will be added (with a clipping mask) above the top layer and above the word shape layer) - change the blend mode to make it look good (Overlay usually works well).

Create the Element Artwork to go inside the word (including shadows, highlights, edging, etc.)

  • Draw/Stamp/Import the artwork that you want to fill your letters with. If you want to add any shading or other textures to it with a Clipping Mask on a new layer, now is the time to do it. When you're done, pinch to combine the layers.

  • Duplicate this twice and fill the bottom layer with Black, and use Adjustments > Hue/Saturation/Brightness to bring up the Brightness on the middle layer a bit.

  • Offset your highlights and shadows (blur the shadows and adjust Opacity if needed)

  • Repeat the above process for any other elements that will be on different layers in the final art (in the video, I have the butterflies and vine on separate layers)

Set up the Masked Layers for the Elements to create the illusion

  • Once your elements are done, group the 3 layers and isolate the group (and turn off the Background).

  • Swipe down on the screen with 3 fingers to bring up the menu and choose "Copy All"

  • Add a new layer at the top, Swipe down with 3 fingers again and choose "Paste"

  • Now, you have your element all combined on one layer with shadows and highlights built in, but you have the grouped layers as a backup (turn the visibility off and drag to the bottom). Repeat this process for any other element layers.

  • To create the Filled Letters illusion, you'll tap on the new element layer and choose "Mask" (this is a Layer Mask, NOT a Clipping Mask). You should see a linked layer above the element that is solid white - this is the Mask. White means it's not masking anything right now - if you draw on that layer with Black it will block/mask the element below it.

  • See the video to watch how I use the mask to block out parts of the elements and reveal the letterforms to create the 3D illusion. You can repeat the Masking process for any other element layers. They each get their own Mask.

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