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Chrome Effects

Adobe Photoshop is full of whizzy effects and filters that can do wide variety of things to your images. One that you may have noticed is the Chrome filter (from the menu it’s Filter: Sketch: Chrome). This sounds like a nifty filter to make all of those cool chrome effects that we have all seen, but you never seem to get the results you had in mind. This month, I’ll discuss a way of creating a chrome text that will dazzle.
First, make a new document in RGB mode, set your background to black and then add some text with the text tool. In my example I’m using the word ‘Alamode’ (figure 1). Use a 50% gray color for the text, and use a bold font for the best effect. Next, we need to make a texture channel for the lighting effect we’re going to use. To do this, select the text by Ctrl-Clicking (Command-Click on the Mac) the text layer (you can also do this through the menu by choosing Select: Load Selection; then pick ‘alamode transparency’ in the channel pop-up menu). Then to make a new channel, pick Save Selection from the Select menu, and name the new channel ‘texture.’
Fig. 1
In the Channels palette, you will now see the ‘texture’ channel. Select that channel by clicking on it. You will notice that you now see white text on a black field, this is normal. If you have a selection still active, deselect it by choosing Select: Deselect from the menu. To finish the texture channel, use the Gaussian Blur filter (from the Filter menu choose Blur: Gaussian Blur) to soften it (figure 2). In my example, I used a 5 pixel radius blur.
Fig. 2
At this point we are going to use the Lighting Effects filter to make some highlights. Select the RGB channel and then click on the Layers palette (usually the Layers and Channels palettes are docked together) and select the text layer. Now, pick Filter: Render: Lighting Effects from the menu (figure 3). Everything will look pretty flat gray until you change the Texture Channel pop-up menu to be the ‘texture’ channel that we made previously. Change the light to be over all of the text and click OK.

Fig. 3

This gives us a nice embossed look, but to get the chrome effect select Curves from the Image: Adjust menu. Make the curve into an M or W to bring out your chrome highlights (figure 4). Color can be added in various ways, my favorite is with the Variations (from the menu it’s Image: Adjust Variations). Add color to the shadows, midtones and highlights until you get your desired effect (figure 5).
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Paul Vaughn is the Director of Digital Services at River City Silver, the premiere photographic and digital imaging laboratory in San Antonio and South Texas. Mr. Vaughn is a graphic artist, his shiny web site is at, he can be contacted at

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