Making objects look metallic is easy with the 'chrome plating' special effect, but there are a few things you can do to improve it. Here we'll take a simple object drawn in ArtWorks and turn it into a fairly convincing lump of metal. In doing this we'll also cover masks, adding text, using the chrome effect and channel mapping.
- First we need an object. I made a simple wrench in ArtWorks, taking advantage of linear gradient fills to create a basic metallic look; having various shades of grey is a good basis for the chrome effect, which we'll add later on. You can download this file or use something of your own. You don't need to have the program to import ArtWorks files into Photodesk.
- Create a new canvas, A6 landscape at 90dpi, and fill with black.
- Drop the ArtWorks file (unzipping it first if you're using the download) onto the new canvas. A window will open with various rendering options.
- Use the bump arrows to set the scale to about 80% and the rotation to about 30°. Move the object around in the canvas so it's nicely framed. Click on Render, fix and save.
Importing the ArtWorks file
- Open the Masking effect window and select the Magic wand tool with a 1% Limit and Local scope. Click on the black background to create a mask (you'll see why shortly), then click on Smooth.
- Open the Special effects window and choose Stylise>Chrome from the pull-down menu. Set Strength to about 50%, Detail to 9 and Contours to 3. Get part of the spanner in the preview frame (you can either click somewhere in the image above the Preview button or drag inside the preview pane), and click on Preview. You should get something like this:
Applying the chrome effect
- Adjust the settings if you like, and click on Apply when you're happy. With this particular special effect filter, you'll find that it 'spreads' pixels beyond the boundaries of an object; that's why we created a mask to limit the effect to the wrench.
- Now we'll add some lettering, using a channel map to give a 3D effect. Open the Masking effect window again, and click on Erase.
- Open the Drawing tools window, and select Text. Type in "Stanley" (or whatever you prefer), set the parameters as shown and place the text:
Applying some text to the mask channel
- The text will appear in pink -- remember we're drawing into the mask channel. We're not going to use it as an actual mask, so open the image's Channels window and click on the Mask and Eye icons next to "Alpha" to turn it off; the text will disappear.
- Open the Special effects window and select Map>Channel. Set up the parameters as shown and click on Apply (Preview it first if you want).
Setting up the channel map
- The text will 'extrude' and take on shadows and highlights, as below. This is now a fairly realistic tool, so fix and save. In the next section we'll add some glints.
Adding channel-mapped text
- The Shadow outlines special effect is also useful in creating metallic surfaces.
- Applying a small amount (20%) of Gaussian grey noise can 'distress' the appearance slightly and give a more realistic effect (Image processing:Math>Apply grey noise).