Create a Scorching Hot Metal Effect with Photoshop

tagged Photoshop by Jon

This tutorial will show you how to make a raw unpolished metal texture that has been heated to a nice glowing orange. It uses some non-destructive effects that make it easy to transfer the effect from project to project by simply copying and pasting. Check it out.

Step 1: The Background

Hot Metal Effect: Step 1

Rather than using a dull solid background, I added a radial gradient with the colors #4b4b4b and #292929. This makes things more interesting and gives it some sense of depth and lighting.

Step 2: The Text

Hot Metal Effect: Step 2

Next, add some text or any kind of vector shape. This effect could be used on just about anything.

To position the text in the center with precision, use the shortcut [Ctrl-A, Cmd-A] to make a selection of the entire canvas. Then, with the Move tool [V] selected, choose Align vertical centers and Align horizontal centers from the options bar at the top of your workspace.

Step 3: The Outline

Hot Metal Effect: Step 3

To give the shape a little substance I gave it a basic drop shadow and a metallic looking border with some layer effects. To add these effects, double click on the layer with your shape or text. In this example, the layer is called 3nhanced because text layers name themselves after whatever you type in them. The following are the three layers effects you will need to add.

Hot Metal Effect: Step 3a

For the most part, I left the drop shadow at its default settings. I dropped the opacity down to 30% to keep it subtle.

Hot Metal Effect: Step 3b

These are the settings I used for the bevel and emboss effect. Keep in mind that these settings could change drastically depending on the shape and size of the object you are working with. Just keep the end result in mind.

Hot Metal Effect: Step 3c

These are the settings I used for the stroke.

Hot Metal Effect: Step 3d

This is the gradient for the stroke. I used white, #504f4f for the darker gray and #a8a8a8 for the lighter gray.

Step 4: The Metal Texture

Step 4: The Metal Texture

Okay, let’s start giving this a rough unpolished metal texture.

Create a new layer above the text layer and call it Metal Layer. Right click on the new layer and select Create Clipping Mask. This will slightly indent the layer and show a little arrow pointing down from the left of it. Clipping masks work just like any other layer, but are masked by the layer below them.

With the Metal Layer selected, select Filter > Render > Clouds and use the same foreground and background colors you used for the original background. #4b4b4b and #292929.

Select Image > Adjustments > Levels. This part gets a little tricky. There are no standard settings for this step. Depending on the formation of the clouds you used you will need to adjust the levels to match the desired effect. You want a happy medium of contrast to create a rough look. Use the image above for reference. If you can’t get the right look, you may need to redo [Ctrl-F, Cmd-F] the clouds filter and try the levels again. It took me half a dozen tries before I got a clouds formation that I was happy with.

Step 4: The Metal Texture Dry Brush

Next, apply a Dry Brush filter. Go to Filter > Artistic > Dry Brush. Use the settings above. Depending on the image and cloud arrangement, these settings may vary. Remember to focus on the end result, not just the settings.

Step 5: The Metal Texture Pt. 2

Step 5: The Metal Texture 2

In this step we will complete the unpolished metal look with one more texture. Create a new layer called Metal Layer 2. Just like in the previous step, right click on this layer and select Create Clipping Mask.

For this layer, select Difference from the blending mode dropdown located on the Layers palette.

Fill this layer with clouds as well. With the colors #4b4b4b and #000000, select Filter > Render > Clouds. Like in the previous step, you may need to render the clouds a few times before you get a formation that has a good formation.

Step 5: The Metal Texture 2 Noise

Roughen up the cloud texture by going to Filter > Noise > Add Noise and use the settings above.

Step 5: The Metal Texture 2 Motion Blur

To give the metal a light brushed look go to Filter > Blur > Motion Blur and use the settings above.

Step 6: The Heated Metal Look

Step 6: The Heated Metal Look

Create another layer, name it Glow Layer and make it a clipping mask like the previous two layers. Fill this layer with any solid color of you choosing so that you can add some layer styles to it.

Step 6: The Heated Metal Look Gradient

Double click the Glow Layer to open the layer effects dialog box. Set the fill to 0%. Then, give it a Gradient Overlay with the above settings.

Step 6: The Heated Metal Look Gradient Detail

The actual colors I used for the gradient are: #000000, #cb0e00, #ffde00 and #f8ffd9.

Step 7: The Polish

Step 7: The Polish

To finish things off I added some extras that I won’t get into details with this tutorial. I added a glow at the very end using the Inner Glow and Outer Glow layer effects and used a Layer Mask to hide all but what you can see on the tip. I also added a little plume of smoke (here is a tutorial that shows how to make great smoke) and a reflection.

Some heat waves would be an awesome addition if you are looking for more ideas.

The End

Because of the non-destructive layer styles you used in this tutorial, the effect can easily be transferred from project to project. All you would need to do to copy and then paste the layer style on the original text layer, then drag the clipping mask layers over.

Enjoy :p

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January 28th, 2008

Wow, looks great. Going to have to try this out.


January 29th, 2008

yup, i’ll give it a try, wondering if i can fine tune it a little bit

January 31st, 2008

@ andreic

That would be great. Let me know what you come up with.

February 8th, 2008

Good Tut and thanks! Glad to see you are back!

March 15th, 2008

What font is that in? Btw great tutorial :)

June 25th, 2008

How did you do that last part with the layer mask and the glows? I tried several different things but it did not look the same.

June 2nd, 2009

the font is ” Simply Mono Oblique (truetype)”

December 17th, 2009

Superb…Wonderful…Thanks a lot!

June 28th, 2010

:o Oh my word….

Lifesaver. Thank yew for this!!


January 14th, 2011

Hi, this effect looks awesome so I was playing around with it, but I got stuck at the Filter>Artistic>Dry Brush part, no matter what I did to it, the Artistic Filter would not function…am I missing an important step? Please help !!

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