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Library: Creative Design


Create grungy metal surfaces with sophisticated corrosive effects

Added on Monday 15th of February 2010 04:52 am EST


Metallic effects are nothing new to graphic design. They can enhance any composition whether it’s inspired by the Constructivist artwork produced at the Bauhaus school at Dessau or the high-tech industrial graphics of today. They’re used as textures for type, user interfaces, information graphics, and artistic pursuits.
While compelling metallic effects can easily be created using Photoshop, adding a timeless corroded metallic finish to your designs is a little more complicated. However, it can be accomplished by creating 3D forms from basic shapes and layering realistic rust textures. We’ll show you how to do it.

Make metal hardware one piece at a time
To illustrate our layered metal effects, we’ll show you how to add metallic textures to the basic steam valve shape shown in Figure A. You can follow along with our valve transformation by downloading the file from the URL at the beginning of this article, and opening valve.psd in Photoshop. To create valve.psd, we drew simple shapes on separate layers to make each valve piece. If you plan on creating your own plumbing hardware or other metal object, it’s best to keep everything on separate layers—that way, you can apply separate gradients to each shape to give realistic dimension to each part.

Add dimension with gradients
Pipes are easy to make. With straight pipe fittings like our valve, you only need to apply gradients to create the perception of form. The trick to applying gradients to pipes is to use the right gradient combination.

To apply gradients:
1. Scroll down to the bottom of the Layers palette (Window > Layers) and select the Main Pipe layer.
2. Click the Add A Layer Style button at the bottom of the Layers palette, and select Gradient Overlay from the popup menu.
3. Choose Reflected from the Style popup menu...