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Brushed Metal

I recently saw this classic brushed-metal effect used in FORTUNE magazine in an ad for Garmin, a company that makes a GPS-based PDA navigation system. They did a great job of subtly integrating it without making it look overly techie, and in their example, it was a perfect “bed” for their headline and product shot. Here’s how to re-create a similar effect and layout.

Step One. Our project starts with a photo, so open the source image (you can download this same image at the book’s companion website at Press the letter “d” to set your Foreground color to black and your Background color to white. You’re going to add some text below the photo, so go to the Image menu and choose Canvas Size. Turn on the Relative checkbox, and in the Height field enter 3 inches. In the Anchor grid, click the top-center square, and in the Canvas Extension Color pop-up menu choose White (as shown). Click OK to add 3 inches of white space below your photo.
Step Two. Press the letter “m” to switch to the Rectangular Marquee tool and draw a rectangular selection just inside your entire document’s borders (as shown here). In the next step you’ll put a stroke around this selection, which will serve as the boundary for your ad, so go ahead and create a new blank layer for the stroke by clicking on the Create a New Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers palette.
Step Three. Now you’re going to add a stroke around your selection. Go under the Edit menu and choose Stroke. When the dialog appears, enter 1 pixel for Width, choose Center for Location, and click OK to put a thin, black stroke around your selection. Don’t deselect yet.
Step Four. Go under the Select menu and choose Inverse. This selects all the area outside your thin black stroke. In the Layers palette, click on the Background layer to make it active, then press Delete (PC: Backspace) to erase the areas of the photo that extend beyond that stroke (as shown here). Now you can deselect by pressing Command-D (PC: Control-D).
Step Five. Click the Create a New Layer icon in the Layers palette. Take the Rectangular Marquee tool and draw a horizontal selection just under your photo, like the one shown here. This is where you’ll build a brushed metal “bar” and your headline text will go over that brushed metal.
Step Six. Press the letter “g” to switch to the Gradient tool, then press Return (PC: Enter) to bring up the Gradient Picker. Click on the Copper gradient, as shown here (it’s in the second row in the default set of gradients). Now take the Gradient tool, click in the top-left corner of your selection, and drag diagonally across to the bottom-right corner of your selection (as shown here) to apply a copper gradient to your selection. Don’t deselect yet.
Step Seven. Now you’ll need to remove the copper color from the gradient, so press Shift-Command-U (PC: Shift-Control-U), which desaturates all the color, leaving you with a metallic-looking gradient. Next, to lighten the gradient up a bit, go under the Image menu, under Adjustments, and choose Levels. In the Levels dialog, drag the bottom-left Output Levels slider to the right (as shown) to lighten the overall tone of your metallic bar, then click OK.
Step Eight. Okay, so you’ve got the metal—now it’s time for the “brushed” part. Go under the Filter menu, under Noise, and choose Add Noise. When the dialog appears (shown here), set the Amount to 20%, the Distribution to Gaussian, and turn on the Monochromatic checkbox (if you don’t turn on Monochromatic, the noise you create will have little red, green, and blue dots). Click OK to apply a noise pattern over your metallic gradient (as shown here).
Step Nine. To turn that noise into brushed metal, go under the Filter menu, under Blur, and choose Motion Blur. Set the Angle to 0° (for a horizontal blur), the Distance to 200, and click OK. Press Command-D (PC: Control-D) to deselect. That creates the brushed-metal effect. Now, you’ll just finish things off by adding a bevel, a shadow, and some text, so continue on to the next step.
Step Ten. To add a sharp beveled edge to your brushed metal bar, choose Bevel and Emboss from the Add a Layer Style pop-up menu at the bottom of the Layers palette. You’re only going to make two changes: (1) Increase the Depth to 200%, and (2) decrease the Size to 1 pixel. This gives you a sharp, slightly beveled edge on the top and bottom of your brushed metal bar (as shown here). Don’t click OK yet.
Step Eleven. Next you’ll add a very soft, light drop shadow under your brushed metal bar, so click directly on the words “Drop Shadow” in the list of Styles on the left-hand side of the Layer Style dialog. Lower the Opacity to 40% (to make it lighter), set the Angle to 85° (so the shadow appears directly below the bar, rather than offset to the left or right), and increase the Size to 10 to make the shadow softer (as shown). Now click OK.
Step Twelve. In the real ad, they had a PDA extending up into the photo from the metallic bar, but since I didn’t have a PDA photo, I used this image of a flat-panel display (you can download this flat panel from the book’s website). Open the image of the flat-panel display. First, we need to select the display, so press the letter “w” to switch to the Magic Wand tool, hold the Shift key, and click on all the white background areas in the image. Choose Inverse in the Select menu to select just the display. Press the letter “v” to switch to the Move tool, click inside the selection, and drag the flat-panel display onto your ad and position it on the bar (as shown here). Use the Free Transform command (Command-T; PC: Control-T) to size the image if needed.
Step Thirteen. Now press the letter “t” to switch to the Type tool and add a headline. The headline here is set in the font Cronos (from Adobe) in all caps, but if you don’t have Cronos, try the next best thing—Myriad Pro (which comes with Photoshop CS). In the real ad they used an effective little trick that made the type look embossed into the metal. Start by duplicating your Type layer by pressing Command-J (PC: Control-J). Press the letter “d” then “x” to set white as your Foreground color, then fill this duplicate headline layer with white by pressing Option-Delete (PC: Alt-Backspace). In the Layers palette, drag this white Type layer below your black Type layer, then switch to the Move tool. Now, press the Left Arrow key on your keyboard once to offset the white type, which creates the effect.
Step Fourteen. To finish off the project, just add some body copy with the Type tool (in this case, it’s set in the font Cronos as well), including the fictitious company’s name and tag line.
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