Deke’s Techniques: Rendering type in brushed metal with Photoshop

Published by | Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

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, weighty letters that appear to be made of brushed stainless steel. The ‘nothing’ it takes to create this brushed metal effect starts with a window full of black pixels, and adds a couple of basic Photoshop filters, a few text and shape layers, some layer effects, and a couple of very important blend mode settings.

After transforming his window full of black pixels into a Smart Object, Deke starts by showing you how to create a pattern with noise and blur filters, and how to define your application of those filters as a pattern to be used later in the working document. Next, it’s a matter of applying a series of layer effects including variations on Drop Shadow, Gradient Overlay, Bevel & Emboss, and Pattern Overlay to your text and shapes that you would like to appear as brushed metal. Once you get these effects applied to one layer, you can Alt-drag (or Option-drag on a Mac) your effects to other layers to duplicate them, then tweak to taste.

Inspired by Sunday’s Adobe CS6 release, I decided to try this technique on my own:

Brushed metal text effect made in Photoshop.

Using the Photoshop CS6 public beta for my experiment, during the process I subconsciously stumbled upon one of the quietly awesome new features in CS6—the ability to apply styles to an entire layer group. Because it is the sixth Adobe Creative Suite, 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 them each on separate layers and grouped the layers together. When it came time to apply the brushed metal effect, without thinking I just Option-dragged the layer effects onto the entire group, expecting it to apply to each layer. As you can see here in this view of the Layers panel, it was a success!

Applying styles to an entire layer group in the Photoshop CS6 Layers panel.

As I was doing this, it suddenly dawned on me that this kind of process used to be way more tedious. Adobe refers to updates like this improvement as Just Do Its, or, JDIs—I refer to them as ‘so convenient it always should have worked this way’ updates.

Meanwhile, if a brushed stainless steel effect isn’t to your taste, Deke also has an exclusive movie for members of that discusses how to add a a brushed copper effect to your objects or shapes.


See you back next week with another free technique!


Interested in more?
• The entire Deke’s Techniques weekly series on
• Courses by Deke McClelland on
• All Photoshop courses on

Suggested courses to watch next:
• Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Mastery
• Photoshop for Designers: Layer Effects
 Photoshop CS6 Beta Preview

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