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Oooh ... Shiny!

Creating editable metallic effects on text in Photoshop By Dave Nagel
At some point in your life, there will come a time when you need to create a metallic effect on text. I don't know why. It just happens. There are volumes of tutorials on creating this effect in Photoshop, but today we're going to look at a method that will, in addition to creating the metallic effect, leave your text editable and give you some pretty good results at the same time.

Most of the steps in this method can be done in Photoshop 6 or 7. The only difference between the two will be in the variety of Blending Options available in Photoshop 7, which simply has more. But the options in Photoshop 6 should be adequate for most purposes. For this experiment, we're going to be using Layer Styles exclusively, which is the key to keeping your text editable.

Now, there are two crucial elements that go into the making of a good metallic effect, such as chrome or liquid gold or what have you. The first is, obviously, using the right bevel on your text to generate proper highlights. ut the second--and often overlooked--element is a faux reflection map.

The reflection map
What most 2D designers don't appreciate is the fact that without a reflection map, your metallic effect just won't look ... "right." I've seen example where designers fudge it by using a gradient map, but this just doesn't cut it in and of itself.

In 3D design, reflection maps are a given. No reflection, no metal. In Photoshop, since there is no way to create a true reflection map, we're going to have to fake it. We can accomplish this easily by opening up an image and defining it as a pattern.

First, select an image that will work well with the rest of your composition. For example, if your 3D text is going into a composition that involves an outdoor scene, choose an outdoor image for your reflection map. Make sure the image is not terribly cluttered and that it has both sky and ground elements. And make sure the image is large enough to accommodate any changes that you might be making to your text in the future. Also, remember that this is supposed to be a reflection, so flip the image horizontally (Image > Rotate Canvas > Flip Canvas Horizontal).

Once you've selected the ideal image for your project, choose Edit > Define Pattern. Done.

The bevel
Now you're going to want to create a custom bevel for your text. There is no one "right" way to do a bevel for this purpose. As the size and characters in your text change, so will your bevel's highlight and shadow effects. You're just going to have to eyeball it.

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