This technique can be applied either to text or any other “thing” you’d like to add some cool chrome to. For the purposes of this tutorial, I’ll be using text in my example, however feel free to apply the technique to any other shape.
Begin by creating a new image 500x500px with a dark gray background. Set your foreground color to white and use the Type tool to create whatever text you’d like to use — make it as big as possible (the example uses the Times New Roman font). Next choose Layer » Type » Render Layer. After that’s done, hold Ctrl and click on the text to select it. Now go to the Channels palette and create a new channel.
On the new channel fill the selection with white, then deselect (Ctrl+D). Go to Filter » Blur » Gaussian Blur, and use a radius of 8. Repeat Filter » Blur » Gaussian Blur, this time using a setting of 4. Again, Filter » Blur » Gaussian Blur and enter 2. Aaaaannnd, you guessed it… once more Filter » Blur » Gaussian Blur and enter 1. When you’ve completed this, go back to the Layers palette and click on the type layer.
Note: If your font is very “thin” overall, you may get a bevel in the following step that looks too rounded - if that’s the case, consider using lower values during the multiple-gaussian-blur step (such as beginning with 6 or 4 instead of 8).
Now with the type layer active, go to Filter » Render » Lighting Effects and use these settings.
Next go to Image » Adjust » Curves and match your settings with those in the example below… by this point things should be starting to look a lot more like chrome. You can, of course, alter the curves as you wish, as long as you’re happy :)
If you’re having trouble getting it right, here’s a Curves setting file I’ve made, similar to the example, that you can load to give you the right starting point. Download this file and unzip it, and in the Curves dialog box, click Load and select this file.
Now that the chrome is all set, it’s time to add the highlight. Go to Filter » Render » Lighting Effects and use these settings.
I’ve made a Lighting Effects setting similar to what is used in the tutorial, that you can download and use if you’re stuck. The Lighting Effects menu doesn’t have an option to load settings though, so you’ll need to follow a few quick steps.
Download this file and unzip it. If you’re using Windows, copy the file (Highlighted-Chrome-Blue-Light) into the following directory…
C:\Program Files\Adobe\Photoshop CS\Plug-Ins\Filters\Lighting Styles\ (or wherever Photoshop is installed for you). The new setting should then be available in the Style drop down menu in Lighting Effects.
That’s it - just resize your type down to about half the size and add a drop shadow.
As I mentioned before, you don’t have to use this effect only on text. Here is something completely different that I made using this effect, this time applied to a fancy shape.
You don’t have to stop there though. You can add a whole other level of depth and detail to your design by creatively messing around with Photoshop’s layer styles.
A few suggestions to get you going… perhaps try Satin (with lower than default opacity), or some variations with the Inner Shadow, Outer Glow, and Inner Glow. Also consider a Gradient Overlay, with low opacity and an angle such as -35. Make sure to also try the different blending modes, as most will look more interesting than Normal. On Inner Shadow, consider raising the Choke value for a really cool looking angular bevel effect.
It’s amazing how many great looking ideas you can come up with while digging around in the various Layer Style options. Remember that you can save snapshots of any cool ideas you come up with along the way — just press the New Style button (and don’t forget to save them all later by clicking Styles at the top left of the window, clicking the arrow button to the right, and choosing Save Styles.
Here’s an example with many of the above suggestions applied: