Create and render 3D text

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How to create 3D text?

November 13th 2005

This is a detailed tutorial on making 3D text in RealWorld Icon Editor. 3D text can be incorporated into icons or used as a standalone image.

This guide is intended for people with basic knowledge about RealWorld Icon Editor.


While the primary function of RealWorld Icon Editor is to create icons, it also harbors a raster image editor, a 3D graphics editor, and a rendering subsystem. These components make it possible to create 3D text and use it in icons or images.

Images with 3D text are created like any other images based on a 3D model:

  • Create a 3D model.
  • Render the 3D model to image.
  • Apply optional 2D effects to the image and save it.

Step 1: Creating 3D model of a text

Create new document using "New Unicorn3D document" prototype. The new document is empty.

Creating new document
Create new Unicorn3D document by selecting the New Unicorn3D document wizard and clicking the Create button.

Add a new component to clicking on the 'Insert Component' toolbar button and selecting '3D Text' from the popup menu. A 3D text component is added. Most of the properties of 3D text component are modified in the tree view.

Understanding the 3D text properties

Properties of the 3D text component

The actual text is controlled by the tree item marked with a red dot and a number (1). To change the text, select this item with mouse and start typing a new text.

Item (2) controls the font. Right-click the item and select a font from the popup menu. You may also change the font by manually writing its name or a part of it. Subitems of the font item allow selecting one of available code pages and styles (bold, italics) if the font directly supports them.

Item (3) controls the 3D shape of the text. You may choose whether to draw the back side of the characters and whether or not the characters should actually be extruded and have depth. There is also an experimental option, which allows you to control the extrusion using a NURBS curve.

The item with two or three numbers below item 'Geometry' controls the size of the text. Change the numbers to apply zoom to width, height, and depth. The other two items set the alignment of the text - current version only considers the horizontal alignment.

The material item (4) works in the same way as with other 3D objects. A diffuse and bump textures may be enabled and selected. Direction of generated texture coordinates is hardcoded.

An example 3D text

Change the text to '3D', font to 'Times New Roman', style to 'Bold', size to (0.7, 1, 0.5), and material color to (0.8, 0.2, 0.2).

3D text model from two parts
This model was made from two components ('3D' and 'text'). A rotation and translation is applied on the 'text' part.

Insert another '3D Text' component. Change its text to 'text', font to 'Times New Roman', size to (0.45, 0.5, 0.5), and color to (0.8, 0.2, 0.2). Click and expand the 'Transformation' node. Position the component according to the screenshot using the control point or by manually setting the rotation and translation items (under the Transformation node). Their values are (0, 0, 1, -1.584) and (1.8, 0.8, 0).

Step 2: Rendering to image

Before rendering the 3D model to image, add one more component - a box. Set the size of the box to (10, 0, 10), move it 0.2 down, and set its color to white. The result is a white plane below the 3D text. This plane enables us to have a shadow below the 3D text.
Preparing the scene

Turning 3D text model into image
Preparing a scene with a model of 3D text for rendering. The blue dots represent multiple directional lights used to create a soft shadow.

Click Create image command in 'Create' menu or in toolbar. A new window is opened. Set the camera according to the screenshot, increase image size to 512x512, and add one ambient and multiple directional lights.

The rendering device only supports hard shadows, but by using multiple low-intensity lights, we can successfully simulate soft shadows. Remember to reduce the intensity of the lights. Our example contains 11 directional lights with color intensities set to (0.1, 0.1, 0.1). The direction of each light should be slightly different.

Once you are happy with the camera and light, render the image by clicking 'Create image' in 'Create' menu.

Step 3: Finalizing the image

The work is nearly done. Resample the image to 128x128 pixels and remove the borders. The resulting image is displayed below.

Resulting image



This guide showed one of the possible ways how to create images with 3D text in RealWorld Icon Editor.

The article did not cover an important case, where 3D text extrusion is controlled by a NURBS curve. This option will be described separately in another article.

Recent comments

user icon Anonymous on July 30th 2007

cool thanx

user icon Anonymous on February 2nd 2008
user icon [OMG]Kevinicons registered user on February 9th 2008

3 text

user icon [OMG]Kevinicons registered user on February 9th 2008

Make cool text next time your text is shiny and gold.

user icon [OMG]Kevinicons registered user on February 9th 2008

The article did not cover an important case.

user icon Anonymous on April 26th 2008

nonsence, at olabisi onabanjo university in Nigeria we were taught diffrently

user icon taylorl3ighxo registered user on May 21st 2008

i like this

user icon Anonymous on August 13th 2012

8-) this is epic man thanks

user icon Anonymous on November 8th 2012

cool thanks

how can i get or download the setup

user icon Roxy-1 registered user on February 15th


Is cool

user icon Anonymous
What about ICL files?
I wish there were...