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Photoshop Effects: Metallic Foil

Creating stamped and leafed effects with Photoshop's built-in tools By Dave Nagel
If you're looking for tutorials on creating metallic effects in Adobe Photoshop, there's certainly no shortage on the Web. This is one of the reasons I've avoided doing these sorts of pieces in the past. However, I haven't seen any such articles that you can use for turning an ordinary photographic image into something resembling foil, leafing, stamped metal or other similar effects, which you might use to create the appearance of a gold charm, a coin or maybe the silver leafing on a wedding invitation. And so....

To give you an idea of what we're going to cover here, we're going to take an ordinary image, in this case a butterfly, and mask it out to produce the effect of a delicate metallic object. Here are the before and after shots.

Now, there are two techniques you can use to accomplish this effect, one using the native texture of the image for a stamped appearance, the other creating an entirely new texture for creating the effect of foil, leafing or pitted sheet metal. Since the two techniques are similar, I'll go ahead and show you both, starting with the longer approach of creating a texture from scratch. I'll have to narrow it down considerably, since any number of textures can be used in this approach, so I'll just show you a quick way to generate a sort of pitted effect. If you're not going to be creating your own texture, you can skip ahead to the next section.

Creating the texture
If you're starting with an image that already has a texture, begin by wiping it clean. You can do this by either reducing the contrast of the image to nothing through Brightness/Contrast controls or by applying the High Pass filer with a setting of 0.1 pixels. (The High Pass filter, which we'll be using later, is located at Filter > Other > High Pass.)

Now choose Filter > Noise > Add Noise. Set the value around 7.

Select the contents of your layer (assuming you have it masked out), and then apply a Gaussian Blur (Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur). Incidentally, the shortcut for selecting the contents of a layer is to hold down the Command key (Mac) or Control key (Windows) and click on the layer in the Layers palette. Set the value of the blur to 1.5, just enough to round off the noise you created in the previous step.

The key to this whole process for the purpose of creating a metallic effect is just to get a an incredibly subtle texture onto your shape. We're still not at the point of subtlety we need to create our effect, but, at this point, the process merges with our other technique, and you can move on to the next page to continue with the process.

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