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Bas relief filter and unusual 3D like Backgrounds in Photoshop tutorial

bas relief and gradients and landscapes surreal 3D effects tutorial
  1. Use a gradient with multiple stops via gradient tool in Photoshop

  2. set the color for the bas relief filter to black and white via foreground / background

  3. filter menu and filter gallery and bas relief filter

  4. Smoothness to the max

  5. Re-apply the bas relief filter over and over

How to create some really weird and unusual bas relief inspired 3D backgrounds / landscapes using gradients in Photoshop tutorial. The Photoshop bas relief filter can be used with many sources in Photoshop CC CS6 etc such as gradients. Gradients can be created in 1000s of ways in Photoshop and the bas relief filter (found in the filter menu) can then manipulate that to create all kinds of strange and weird 3D like backgrounds and designs. The gradients in Photoshop can be changed via the gradient panel. Adding many different stops and then using the linear gradient with the bas relief filter and repeat apply the bas relief will result in truly unusual distorted artworks. The Photoshop bas relief filter can be used to change the direction of the light of the gradient effect. The bas relief filter comes with many options such as smoothness to create unusual smooth surfaces. The bas relief surfaces and Photoshop gradients can be manipulated even further using the 3D tools in Photoshopand again manipulating the angle of light. The color of the bas relief / gradient / unusual landscapes can be further changed using adjustments. This tutorial shows the steps for creating the Photoshop gradient stops for use with the bas relief filter in Photoshop. The tutorial also shows how multiple applications of the bas relief filter can be used to create very unusual surfaces and landscapes as well as showing the result of additional 3D work. You can use the bas relief filter / Photoshop gradients to create all kinds of melting surfaces, ripple surfaces, distorted surfaces, mountain range surfaces and more

Bas relief filter and gradients in Photoshop

bas relief background gradient

This is a tutorial that all kinds of results can be generated. You can start from different gradients (I am using a gradient from the graphicxtras gradients collection) and depending on the stops in the gradients. You can start from any type of gradient but create something similar to the opposite with about 11 stops and have black and white and purple and then white and then green etc all evenly spread out.

  1. select the gradient tool

  2. click the gradient panel

  3. select a gradient or create a new one such as on the left by clicking on the bottom part of the gradient line and adding stops. Space them out. Once you have the gradient, set the gradient to a linear gradient and apply from top left to bottom right.

  4. Set the color for the bas relief to black and white for the bas relief filter

  5. Now the bas relief filter can be applied to the gradient. I am using a small image (400 x 400 but you can use larger. The results may vary depending on the gradients, size etc


Bas relief and gradient

bas relief gradient filter
  1. go to the filter menu in Photoshop

  2. filter gallery and sketch

  3. bas relief

  4. smoothness to the max and detail set to 1 and light to the right

  5. Apply the bas relief

  6. re-apply the bas relief via the last filter in the filter menu

  7. Apply as many times as you like until you are happy with the background generated


You can also alter the light direction after a number of applications and then apply the bas relief filter multiple times

Gradient overlay and bas relief

bas relief and ripples to the landscape in Photoshop gradients
  1. You can also re-apply the gradient over the bas relief background and perhaps use it with a difference blend

  2. Apply the gradient once or twice with the difference blending mode

  3. Re-apply the bas relief filter in Photoshop and repeat and perhaps change the light direction


Re-apply the gradient or a different gradient and again use the blending mode of difference (or perhaps overlay etc)


The results of the combination of the gradient and the bas relief and the re-applied gradients and different blending modes can result in 1000s of combinations of different 3D backgrounds or landscapes

3D and mesh and depth maps and bas relief filter

You can also use the result of the bas relief and gradients as a 3D model in Photoshop (CC 2017 etc)


  1. 3D menu

  2. new mesh from layer

  3. depth map to plane option

  4. Use the 3D mode / move tool to scale, shift etc (move the lights to create different surfaces)

  5. Flatten the 3D layer

  6. Perhaps use filter menu and stylize and oil paint or perhaps re-apply the bas relief filter in Photoshop and repeat the process of creating yet more 3D models (you can also save the 3D model via the 3D menu via the export 3D layer to OBJ etc.


In the image on the right, the gradient was added to the imge on the left (you can vary the angle of the linear gradient to get the best result) The artwork can then be re-used as a 3D model or perhaps yet more bas relief filters can be applied or adjustments can be added such as sepia (see the top image) to create unusual landscapes / backgrounds / surfaces

Other tutorials

1. Bas relief and gradient generation tutorial in Photoshop

Other resources

Check out our gradients collection for Photoshop etc, 32000 amazing gradients that can be used with the bas relief filter to create all kinds of wonderful design

Video tutorial (youtube)

A quick video showing the approach used on this page to create all kinds of unusual landscapes / backgrounds (youtube)