The Ultimate Photoshop Resource

Chrome text in Photoshop Tutorial

You might remember the original chrome text tutorial from here at PhotoshopCAFE. It was one of the very first Photoshop chrome tutorials on the web, and oh boy was it copied everywhere. I have just re-written the entire tutorial to update it for modern times. Not only is the result cleaner now, the steps take advantage of features that have been addied in the the more than 10 years since I wrote the original tutorial, I hope you enjoy this updated tutorial as much as you did the original.

Step 1

Create your type layer, or import your shape that you want to turn into shiny chrome Render type: right click/mac Cmd click the name on the layer and select “rasterize type”. This converts your text to an object, so you can apply all the filters to it.

(NOTE: If you are going for a cleaner look and are going to skip the plastic wrap step, you won’t need to rasterize the type. Plastic wrap works as a Smart Filter, but you can’t get the correct result with the gradient without rasterizing the type.)

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 9.08.47 AM

Step 2

select a dark gray for your foreground color and a light gray for your background.

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 9.09.44 AM

Step 3

Select the gradient tool (Linear, fore to background) and drag from the top to the bottom of the image. Tip: Hold down the shift key to constrain to 90 degrees.

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 9.10.06 AM

 Step 4

Apply the plastic wrap filter. This is found under Filter>Gallery Filter>

On earlier versions of Photoshop, it’s under Artistic Effects>Artistic

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 9.11.26 AM

Step 5

Making the Chrome

(In the past, I had you apply a curves adjustment directly onto the Type, but I think it’s a better idea to use an adjustment layer because we can change things later and keep tweaking until we get the perfect result.)

Create a curves adjustment layer and make a curve like the one in the example. Go easy the first time, you are laying down the base of the tones here. Also note that I am using the clipping option to only affect the text layer and not all layers (left button on the bottom of the Layers panel)

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 9.32.56 AM

Step 6

Add a second curves adjustment layer on top (make sure it’s clipped too) now you can really shape the way you want the chrome to look, make it bright, or dark depending on the look you are after.

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 9.35.19 AM

Step 7

Now we will apply a layer style to add some dimension to the chrome letters. Note that the gloss contour is changed to get more of a chrome look. I also added a drop shadow.

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 9.14.55 AM

And the result

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 9.38.31 AM



A variation with different curve settings

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 9.15.03 AM

If you want, Colorize the image with a Color overlay style

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 9.39.08 AM

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 9.39.15 AM


The great thing about using adjustment layers and Layer styles, is that it’s non destructive and you can keep playing with it to get different looks.

Here is one where I only use the top curves adjustment, it gives a cleaner look.

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 9.39.58 AMAnd another using only the bottom curves adjustment

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 9.40.11 AM


Or another variation where I tried a different blend mode (overlay) for the bottom curves adjustment

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 9.42.01 AMI hope you have enjoyed this updated chrome tutorial. As you can see, I have completely changed the workflow to make it more flexible. Also note, if you don’t use the plastic wrap filter, you don’t have to rasterize the text, you can keep it live.

Just for nostalgia, this is what the original effect looked like when I wrote this tutorial over a decade ago, you can see how things have progressed over the years!



PS Don’t forget to follow us on Social Media for more tips.. (I've been posting some fun Instagram and Facebook Stories lately)
You can get my free Layer Blending modes ebook along with dozens of exclusive Photoshop Goodies here photoshop goodies for free

11 responses to “Chrome text in Photoshop Tutorial”

  1. when i use the gradient tool all it does is create a huge gradient instead of applying to the letters. I am using photoshop cc

  2. Thanks for taking the time to write down all the steps and include screenshots. Much prefer this to YouTube video! I successfully applied this to a selection of the valve cover in a picture of my engine. I did have to make that layer B&W to keep coloring out. Good job, Colin!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Access The Photoshop Vault

Unlock dozens of valuable Photoshop resources for FREE

The Ultimate

Photoshop Resource