Deke’s Techniques 68: Rendering Type in Brushed Metal in (Good Old But Also Recently New) Photoshop

Today, I show you how to create brushed-metal text in Photoshop. I’d tell you more, but content curator Colleen Wheeler did such a brilliant job of it that I figure I’ll just turn you over to her:

This week’s free Deke’s Techniques falls into my favorite category of effects: those that create something from nothing. In this case, the "something" is elegant, cool, weighty letters that appear to be made of brushed stainless steel. The "nothing" is a window full of black pixels (to which you apply a couple of Photoshop filters to make a pattern), a few text and shape layers, some layer effects, and a couple of very important blend modes.

Deke starts by applying noise and blur filters to a base layer of solid black, and then defining it as a pattern. Once you return to your text and shapes, it’s a matter of applying layer effects (variations on Drop Shadow, Gradient Overlay, Bevel & Emboss, and Pattern Overlay using the aforementioned pattern). Once you get them applied to one layer, you can Alt-drag (or Option-drag) them to the others to duplicate them, and then tweak to taste.

Inspired by yesterday’s official announcement of CS6, and a desire not to disturb Deke for source files when he’s in the both recording a new course, I decided to try the technique on my own:

Letters rendered in metal in Photoshop CS6

I happened to use the Photoshop CS6 Public Beta for my experiment, and during the process I subconsciously stumbled on one of the quietly awesome new features in CS6. Because "six" is my theme today, I decided to make six hexagonal shapes to serve as "bolts" in my composition. I wasn’t quite sure where I wanted them to go, so I left each one on a separate layer and grouped the layers together. When it came time to apply the effect, without thinking I just Option-dragged (or, you know, Alt-dragged) the layer effects onto the entire group, expecting it to apply to each layer. Which it did (!), as you can see here in this view of the Layers panel:

Finally, you can apply layer effects to all layers in a group!

It suddenly dawned on me that this kind of process used to be way more tedious. The ability to apply styles to an entire layer group is in fact new to CS6. Adobe calls these "so obvious it always should have worked this way" improvements JDIs (as in Just Do It). And I for one am glad they did.

Meanwhile, if stainless steel isn’t to your taste, Deke’s got an exclusive movie for members of on creating a coppery cousin to this effect.

And Deke will be back next week with another free technique.

Just the other day, I was asking the Adobe folks if JDI is really what they want to call these minor improvements, given that it’s a Nike trademark and all. And here Colleen comes up with a better acronym: SOIASHWTW. Sure, it’s long and impossible to pronounce, but it scores high points for accuracy.

Next entry:Deke’s Techniques 310: Create Your Own Passport Photo

Previous entry:Deke’s Techniques 308: Auto-hiding Iconic Panels in Photoshop


  • Your ‘Light Rays’

    Nice tut… but hate to say this, your light rays are going the wrong way. IOW, the direction of light doesn’t match the highlights and shadows on the lettering.


  • Good thing my light rays are fully editable smart object!

    Hmm, shunith, you may have a point. Good thing the light rays are a fully editable vector-based smart object!

    Here’s my quick fix because I’ve got curation emergencies to consider when I could use this as an excuse to play in Photoshop all day:

    Letters rendered in metal in Photoshop CS6

  • I like Colleen’s response

    But they’re not rays of light! (Do I say they are?)

    They’re supposed to be areas of light shining in through a window or something. I dunno. Looked cool, I thought.

  • stereographic doodles please

    I have a challenge for you Deke..
    Can you create preferably in photoshop, a stereoscopic wiggle image!
    Basically some animated GIF goodness…
    The gif is still as fresh as it was back in Phil Hartmans days..
    and have recently become more popular than ever..

    eg. cinemgram, cinema 4d gifs..and many a random tumbr.

    Check these shortened url examples:

    Personally I really want to know how I can make my doodles come to life…

    How I go about taking my doodles into PS and creating the 3d wiggle effect?

    Please could you squeeze this stereographic wiggle technique in for 69..?;)

  • Stop nitpicking Deke ;)

    Stop nitpicking Deke wink Point is the fall of light doesn’t match the highlights and shadows on the text… an oversight i’m sure and easily fixable if needed.

  • Wow, this is some seriously awesome stuff

    My dream is to one day view 3D without glasses. You know, the way it works IN REAL LIFE!

    So I like the wiggle graphics you submitted. Especially “Flying lizard protects family from rampaging baby!” Those babies are such a menace! Thank the gods Flying Lizard was there to protect us!

    Do me a favor if you will. I’m up to my knees in One-on-One at the moment. But I will return to this theme. If ever you feel the impulse to post, “A flying lizard is worth 2 rampaging babies,” I will know what that means and get to work.

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