Create your own retro 3d Images in Photoshop

Remember the good old days of red and blue glasses before all this high-tech 3d imagery came in. One lens red, the other blue? Well in this totally free tutorial I am going to teach you how to create your very own 3d imagery! The things you will need are a) patience and any version of Photoshop as the same rules apply for cs to cs6.


In this tutorial I am going to teach you to create the 3d image above. It isn’t particularly difficult but it is time consuming when you have a detailed image like that above. In the near future I will be creating a video guide along side this blog post so it is easier to see how it works.

To begin, download the image from fotopedia here, open it in photoshop and then let the fun begin!

I have created the video to make things a little easier to follow

New how to create red blue retro 3d image in photoshop video tutorial :

Step 1 : Judge the various fields of depth


In this image I have made it clear what I feel it is the varying fields of depth. A field of depth is the distance between the nearest and farthest objects in a scene. The reason this is important, particularly in an architectural photograph is that it allows you to break up the image into moveable fields making it more 3d.

Step 2 : Quick! Get the photoshop mask Batman!

If you press [Q] on a PC or Mac you will activate what is known as the “quick mask” tool, you will use this tool to select the foreground ,background and middle grounds in separate scenarios.

Select the paintbrush tool, set the hardness to 50% and opacity to 100%. Adjust the brush size depending upon if you are going around fine details or not..


Start filling in just ONE of the three sections in that have been identified in the depths of field above and you will notice a red overlay starts filling the area.


Step 3 : Cut it out already!

Once the area has been filled press [Q] again and it will select the area. Press Select > Inverse from the menu and then with the correct area selected press ctrl/cmd & x to cut out the middle ground.

Create a new layer. Press Shift/Cmd & V to paste the middleground back into the picture. Rename the layer “middleground”


Step 4: Get the foreground sorted out

Ensure the background ( or original layer ) is selected and then Go to Select Menu > Load Selection and load in the selection we just saved. Toggle quick mask back on again ( Q ) with the loaded selection and everything should now be that beautiful red mask. Invert the colour selection from black to WHITE and remove the background….this is where it can get a little trickier.

Step 5 : Intricate details

As you use your mask tool you will find that going around the lamps and balcony to be quite time consuming ( particularly if you don’t have a desktop mouse or drawing tablet! ) but it will be worth it in the end. Make sure to go around the main features as carefully as you posssibly can.


Once you have done this repeat step 3 but call the layer “foreground”. Once the layer is created make sure the layer is at the bottom of the layer list so it is at the back.

Step 6 : Repeat the process for the background

This is the easiest to mask and cut out so  i won’t repeat the process, I am sure you know it by now…

Step 7 : Back to the future in photoshop 3d retro vision!

Have you ever used Channels on Photoshop? It is sat right next to layers in the layers box. Don’t know what Photoshop channels are? Check out this indepth photoshop channels tutorial on .


1. Select the background layer.

2. When you first select the channels tab all 4 channels will be visible. The RGB combination ( how the monitor sees colour ) the red, the green and the blue as seperate entities. We want to just select the red so turn off all the others channels and leave just the red.

3. Press Ctrl+ A to select the whole of the particular layer you are working on and in the tool bar choose the Move tool. Shift the red channel to left using the left key possibly about three times and then reactivate the other channels and you will notice a red/cyan look to the image in this area.

4. Select a different layer on the layers channel and repeat the process.

5. Try moving the red to the right or up or down and see how it effects the 3d effect…

6. Also try using the various transform tools in the edit menu on the red channel to see if it can help create a more powerful 3d effect.

Once you are happy with all three layers red/blue effect put on your 3d glasses and enjoy your hard work!

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In the near future I plan to offer a video tutorial on how to make yourself stand out from a photograph for those who prefer a video guide. 

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to comment in the box below , enjoy your artificial 3d world :).