Montréal animation studio E.D. Films has created a bridge between Photoshop and Maya with PSD to 3D, a new plug-in that converts layered 2D Photoshop drawings into 3D Maya scenes.

PSD to 3D was developed in-house by E.D. Films as an alternative to an existing Photoshop-to-After Effects workflow that artists found cumbersome. With PSD to 3D, Photoshop documents are automatically converted to meshes for use in Maya — imagine a layered PSD transformed into a series of cardboard cutouts that can be manipulated in Maya’s 3D workspace.

“An illustrated look is hard to replicate in 3D, even if you know the software,” said E.D. Films Creative and Technical Director Daniel Gies. “With PSD to 3D, every line and brushstroke is passed onto the 3D meshes so artists can bring a unique look to their animations.”

An alternative workflow for more advanced 3D artists (available in a “Pro” version of the plug-in) allows the use of Photoshop’s pen tool or imported shape objects to create vector layer masks that determine how a drawing’s geometry is defined when it becomes an object in Maya. Once the file has been opened in Maya, meshes can be given a finer edit using tools in Maya or Photoshop; an artist’s preference may depend on their comfort level with the software or the specific way a drawing is being used.

Once a mesh is committed, Maya’s more powerful toolset — including sculpting, physics and cloth simulation as well as cameras and lighting — is available to manipulate the scene. For ease of use, the plug-in adds a line of buttons near the top of Maya’s interface identifying some of the most important functions for basic 3D workflow. And, at that point, it’s possible to bring the scene back into After Effects, for users who are more familiar with that environment, or, for a more advanced animation process, to begin rigging it directly in Maya.

Watch the demo video, below, to see how it works:

PSD to 3D Lite sells for $18.61 ($25 Canadian), and PSD to 3D Pro costs $55.83 ($75 Canadian). Both versions are available at a reduced rate until June 3, 2019: $14.89 ($20 Canadian) for the Lite version and $44.66 ($60 Canadian) for Pro. They are on sale in the E.D. Films online store.

E.D. Films: