Photoshop Tutorial: Smooth Metal

This tip explains a method of creating some great looking smooth metal, for use in your interfaces, website layouts, skins, etc. The great thing though is that once you’ve followed this tutorial one time, you’ll have a cool Layer Style which you can instantly apply to other images in the future as well—a great time saver.

Step 1

First, create a new image about 600x600 pixels (or whatever size is appropriate for the image you plan to create). If you haven’t already got a shape that you want to apply this effect to, now’s the time to make something. The shape in the example is simply made up of 2 circles blended together. Once you have your shape, fill it with this shade of gray: #e6e6e6. Keep your shape on its own layer and make sure you have nothing selected by pressing Cmd+D (PC: Ctrl+D).

Example 1

Step 2

Most of the steps from this point on will be using Layer Styles, which are available in Adobe Photoshop 6.0 and later versions. Once you’ve created this layer style, you can save it and use it instantly whenever you want, without the hassle of re-entering all the settings every time you need this effect.

With your shape’s layer selected, go to Layer » Layer Styles » Inner Glow, and match up your settings with these Inner Glow settings. This gives our shape its first hint of a bevel.

Next you’ll be adding a bright highlight (the light source). Click on the Inner Shadow category to the left, and match these settings: Inner Shadow

Example 2

Step 3

Next click on Gradient Overlay and dial in the following settings: Gradient Overlay

To add a final touch to the smooth metal, click on Satin and match these settings: Satin Settings

Your smooth metal style is complete at this point, though you may wish to add in an optional drop shadow. But wait… do not click OK yet. Remember, we want to add this layer style to your arsenal so you can call upon it when ever you need it.

Click at the top where it says Styles

Smooth Metal Styles

Now click the “New Style” button and give your style a name such as “Smooth Metal”, then click OK. You should then save your styles by clicking the arrow icon to the left and choosing “Save Styles” from the list.

Example 3

Step 4

At this point your basic smooth metal panel is complete, though if you’d like, follow along and take it to the next level. In the example, a glowing orb has been added, which you can learn to create with the LCD Orb tutorial.

To make the orb appear as though it’s inset into the metal panel simply complete the following steps…

Place the orb onto your image, and create a new layer underneath the layers containing your orb but above your smooth metal shape.

Now select the Elliptical Marquee tool, and draw a selection so that it’s just a little bigger than the original orb. To make this easier, place your mouse in the center of your orb, and hold Shift and Alt at the same time and drag your selection. Now, select your Gradient tool, and use the following settings:

Gradient Settings

Drag from top to bottom over your selection to create the inset effect. When done press Cmd+D (PC: Ctrl+D) to deselect.

Example 4

Step 5

Now, with new gradient-inset layer you just created still selected, go to Filter » Blur » Gaussian Blur and use a setting of about 0.5 to make it a bit smoother.

Example 5

Step 6

You can now apply the same techniques to other “stuff” you want to add to your new interface. Here’s an example. Be creative and enjoy your new layer style :)

Example 6

Note: This tutorial was originally authored by my friend Rob, of Robouk. This revised version is available on Absolute Cross with his permission.

No one can take away the old - school tutorials, I have some on my website back from the past.


Thanks for the great tuts. But I found it difficult to follow the “2 circles blended together” in step 1, all that I achieved to get was two circles combined into one shape, but the connecting was sharp, not like the rounded path in the example picture. Could you please tell me how to make it? Many thanks!

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