How to create a 3D layer explosion/expansion in Photoshop?


I need to depict a bunch of layers of an image similar to this:

Layer explosion

What is this style called? Is there any photoshop plugins that can automatically create this kind of view?

9/30/2014 4:10:00 PM

Accepted Answer

Ok, here is how you do this. Prepare your image layers and all. Im going to be using a very simple image with colored squares.

simple setup

Image 1: Original setup with simple shapes, this would work with any layered source however.

Select ALL your layers you intend to stack up, into isometric or perspective. I will be transforming to isometric [1].

  1. Scale down horizontally 86,60254037% using Edit → Transform → Scale
  2. Skew down horizontally 30 (or -30) degrees using Edit → Transform → Skew
  3. Rotate -30 (or 30 if you skewed -30) degrees using Edit → Transform → Rotate
  4. (Optional) scale to fit

Isometric transform of layers

Image 2: Layers after isometric transform

Then shift layers upwards with move tool (holding shift down and by hitting for precise control. Tip if you want a shadow or see where the layers started from duplicate them and hide the original guides are then easier to produce.

Final image with offset

Image 3: Result with outlines of layer positions on layer below.

Decorate to your hears content. Done. Ideas for improvement:

  • turn layers into smart objects befre transformation


  1. Walker C., 2009. How to Create Advanced Isometric Illustrations Using the SSR Method, Tutsplus, referenced 08/07/2014
8/19/2015 11:20:00 AM