How To Create The Chrome Effect In Photoshop (Step By Step)

The chrome effect utilizes a variety of layer styles in Photoshop to make a basic graphic or piece of text take on a shiny, metal-like appearance. In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to create this effect for yourself and how to save it as a layer style to save time in your future projects.

Understanding layer styles is key to mastering the art of adding effects to text. While each effect requires different combinations of styles, you can start making your own effects using this Photoshop feature once you learn what each effect does.

How To Create The Chrome Effect In Photoshop

As with any effect you add using Layer Styles, each style and its settings may need to be adjusted slightly for your text, logo, or symbol. Using the same settings will help you achieve a basic chrome effect, but you can always take this further by adding your own creativity to it.

So don’t be scared to change a few steps and adjust different settings to discover what you can create using this tutorial merely as a guide.

Step 1: Create A New Document And Add A Gradient Background Layer

To see the chrome effect on your object, it’s best to have a dark background, and one with a gradient looks even better. You can start with a dark gradient and then switch up the colors or background at the end of the project.

First, create a new document by pressing Control + N (Win) or Command + N (Mac). The document dimensions and PPI will depend on where you will use the text or logo. 

For this example, I will set mine at 3000 x 2000 pixels with a PPI of 72 since I will only use this for screen purposes. Then, set the Background Contents to Transparent. Click on Create to open the document.

To add a gradient as the background layer, click on the Adjustments icon at the bottom of the Layers panel and select Gradient. (You can also select solid color if you want to add a solid black background while working on the effect).

You can then set the settings as you’d like and click OK. This step isn’t crucial, as you can decide what background you want for the effect. However, remember a darker background works well to help you see the effect.

Step 2: Prepare The Text, Logo, Or Symbol

This step depends on what you use as the chrome effect’s base. If you are using text, you can add text to the document and format it as needed. You can add a flat shape as well and format it.

Otherwise, if you have a logo or symbol on a separate document, drag and drop it onto your new document. I am using a PNG version of my logo, so I can place it on the document and resize it.

If you use a logo or symbol that is on a background, you will need to remove the background before going forward. 

Step 3: Convert The Object Layer To A Smart Object 

Whichever type of object you are using, you need to convert it to a Smart Object. This allows you to non-destructively edit the object and go back at any point to edit it. If you are working with text, this avoids the need to rasterize the text and give up editing capabilities.

To convert the layer, select it and then right-click or Control + click and select Convert to Smart Object.

Now, you can add layer styles to the object and create the chromatic effect.

Step 4: Open The Layer Styles Box And Add A Color Overlay

All the adjustments you will add to the text are in the Layer Styles panel. To access this panel, ensure that your object layer is active. Then, you can double-click on the layer in the Layers panel or click on the Add a layer style icon at the bottom of the panel and select Blending Options.

The Layer Styles window appears, showing you the various effects in the lefthand panel, the settings for each effect in the middle, and the preview and confirm controls on the right.

The first layer style you must add is a Color Overlay, so click on the effect in the lefthand panel to add it. You will notice a checkmark appears next to it, showing that it has been added. Then focus on the settings in the middle.

The only setting you need to change is the color. To do this, click on the color box to open the color picker. Inside the color picker, set the HSB values as follows: H = 0, S = 0, and B = 70. The hexadecimal code should be #b2b2b2. Click OK to confirm the color change.

At this stage, there won’t be much difference in your object, especially if it’s a dark color.

Step 5: Add A Bevel And Emboss

Next, you can move straight to the Bevel and Emboss effect by clicking on it in the left-hand panel. This effect has several settings in the middle panel.

You can view your object in the Photoshop window by moving the Layer Styles panel to the side. Then, watch how the settings affect your object and adjust the settings as needed to create your desired effect. 

However, if you don’t understand Layer Styles yet, add my exact settings and alter them after the whole effect is done.

Some settings will remain as they are, and others need to change. Here is the entire list of settings in case any of your settings are not set to the default.

  • Style to Inner Bevel
  • Technique to Smooth
  • Depth at 700%
  • Direction set to Up
  • Size at 50 pixels 
  • Soften set to 10 pixels
  • Uncheck the box next to Use Global Light
  • Angle set to 130 degrees 
  • Altitude at 25 degrees
  • Gloss Contour is Linear
  • Highlight Mode set to Screen, with the color at white, and the Opacity at 75%
  • Shadow Mode set to Multiply, with the color at black, and the Opacity at 75%

You will now see the chrome effect starting to take place on your object.

Step 6: Create A New Smart Object

Convert your object layer to a new smart object to flatten the effects and keep them saved in the smart object while allowing you to add new layer-style effects to the object. Convert the layer by selecting it and then right-clicking or Control + clicking and selecting Convert to Smart Object.

You will now have a flattened smart object layer without the layer effects visible underneath the layer.

Step 7: Add A Bevel And Emboss

Open the Layer Styles window again and add a new Bevel and Emboss effect.

This time, the settings will be different, so adjust the following settings but leave the rest as they were:

  • Style set to Outer Bevel 
  • Depth at 100%
  • Size set to 7 pixels 
  • Soften is 0 pixels
  • Set the Gloss Contour to Ring – Double 

If you don’t know which icon to select for the Gloss Contour, you can make the names visible by clicking on the Gear icon and selecting Small List.

The names of each contour will be next to the icons.

The chrome effect will start taking shape, as shown by the added outline around the object.

Step 8: Add An Inner Glow

Next, add an Inner Glow effect to the object by selecting the option on the left.

Then adjust the settings as follows:

  • Set the Blend Mode to Screen with the color white and Opacity at 60%
  • Keep Noise at 0%
  • Change Technique to Softer
  • Set Source to Edge
  • Choke is set to 15%
  • Size at 5 pixels
  • Keep the Contour as Linear
  • Set the Range to 50%
  • Leave the Jitter at 0%

Your object should look something similar to my logo at this stage.

Step 9: Add A Gradient Overlay

Now, you can add a Gradient Overlay by clicking on the option in the left-hand panel.

This effect is slightly more complicated as you need to set a custom gradient in the effect settings. First, set the Blend Mode to Color Burn, the Opacity to 65%, and leave Dither unchecked.

To adjust the gradient, click on the gradient bar, which opens the Gradient Editor.

In the Gradient Editor, open the Basic tab and select the Black-to-White gradient.

Next, you can use the technique of changing the gradient color to create a custom gradient. To do this, click on a color stop (the block) beneath the gradient bar to select it, then click on the color block at the bottom to open the Color Picker and choose the color. Click OK to accept the color.

Set the color stop on the far left and the far right to black.

Then, add a new color stop in the middle of the bar by clicking on a spot below the gradient bar. Then, use the location bar at the bottom to place it at 50%.

Change the center color stop to white and click OK to accept the new gradient.

Back in the Layer Styles window, keep the Style set to Linear, the angle at 90 degrees, and change the scale to 100%. Lastly, leave the Method at Perceptual.

Ensure your object looks similar to my logo at this point.

Step 10: Add A Drop Shadow

The last Layer Style effect you need to add is a Drop Shadow. To do this, click on the option in the effects panel.

Then, adjust the settings to match mine as follows:

  • Set the Blend Mode to Multiply and color to black
  • Opacity at 60%.
  • Leave Global Light unchecked
  • Angle at 130 degrees
  • Distance set to 15 pixels 
  • Spread at 0
  • Size set to 15 pixels
  • Leave the Quality settings as they are

The object should have a good outline and bevel effects but still not look precisely like chrome at this stage.

Step 11: Add A Clipped Curves Adjustment Layer

Now, to start adding the final touches for the chrome effect, you need to add a Curves Adjustment Layer that only affects the object. To do this, click on the Curves icon in the Adjustments panel.

Next, open the Properties panel to adjust the Curves graph. You will notice a graph in the center that affects shadows on the left, midtones in the center, and highlights on the right. Before adjusting the curve, you need to clip it to the object layer. 

Ensure the Curves layer is directly above the object layer, then click on the clipping icon at the bottom of the Properties panel.

How you adjust the curve will depend entirely on your object and the settings you used when modifying the Layer Styles. However, it should take some form of an up, down, up, down pattern. 

Click on the line, drag it to create new points, and curve the line until you have something similar to my graph.

Your object in the document should look something like this.

Step: 12: Copy The Curves Adjustment Layer

Duplicate the curves adjustment layer you added previously by selecting the layer and pressing Control + J (Win) or Command + J (Mac).

Then, click on the clipping icon to clip the layer as you did previously. Now, you can adjust the graph again while watching your object in the document. Move the curves around to change the tone of your object until it looks like chrome. This is how my second curves graph looked.

Your object should now look like chrome. While it may be slightly different from my example, it should be close. You can go back to the first curves graph and adjust it as needed until you find the right balance.

(Optional) Step 13: Add A Lens Flare

You can add a lens flare to the object as an additional step to complete the effect. To do this, merge all your layers into a duplicated copy by pressing Alt + Control + Shift + E (Win) or Option + Command + Shift + E (Mac).

Then, go to Filter > Render > Lens Flare.

In the Lens Flare window, you can click and drag the flare around to place it somewhere on the object. Then, adjust the Brightness slider to tone it down, and choose the Lens Type that works best for your image. Click OK when you are happy with the settings. 

You have now completed the chrome effect and added a unique touch with the lens flare.

How To Save The Chrome Effect As A Layer Style Preset

After completing the chrome effect and looking at what you’ve just created, you may think of other projects where you can use this effect. However, going through all these steps each time you want to use this effect will take too long.

Luckily, you can save the chrome effect as your own layer style preset in just a few steps.

Step 1: Open The Smart Object And The First Layer Style Effects

Since the process used two separate layer style processes, you need to go back to the initial effects you added to the object. To do this, open the smart object by double-clicking on the object layer’s thumbnail.

The object will open in a new tab. Then, double-click on the layer to open the Layer Styles window.

Note: To edit the object, whether it’s a shape, text, or logo, double-click again on the layer’s thumbnail as it is another smart object. Then, you can edit the object as needed.

Step 2: Create A Preset Of The First Half Of The Process

You can create a new preset in the Layer Style window by clicking on New Style.

Then, add a name for the style, make sure the Include Layer Effects and Add to my Current library are checked and click OK.

Step 3: Close The Smart Object And Open The Second Layer Styles Panel

Close the smart object tab and go back to the original document. You can repeat the process above by double clicking on the layer to open the Layer Styles panel.

Step 4: Create A Preset Of The Second Half Of The Process 

Create a second preset using the same method you used for the first. Click on New Style, add a name, check the relevant boxes, then click OK.

Step 5: Apply The Layer Style Presets

You can now apply the layer style presets to any object with a few clicks. First, add your object to a different background.

Convert the object layer to a smart object by right-clicking or Control + clicking and choosing Convert to Smart object as you did in the previous section. 

Then open the Layer Styles window by double-clicking on the layer. In the window, open the Styles panel at the top left to find your saved presets.

Select the First Half preset and click OK to add it to the object.

Create a new smart object using the same process as before. Then, open the Layer Styles window, select the Second Half preset, and click OK.

You will have now added the layer style effects necessary for the chrome effect.

You will need to manually add the curves adjustments and the lens flare. You can also simply copy these layers from your previous document. However, sometimes your new object will need different settings for the curves adjustment and the lens flare.

Article By

Brendan Williams

Hey, I'm Brendan! I'm a professional photographer and photo retoucher who has spent the majority of his career shooting or retouching outdoor lifestyle and social media campaigns for brands like G-Adventures, xoxo Bella, P&G, Fitbit, Chevy, Tourism California, and more. You can view my photography portfolio here.

These days I primarily focus my efforts on this site, creating guides and tutorials that I wish I had earlier in my career. Each week I publish new tutorials on Photography, Photoshop, Lightroom, and Canva to help you unlock new skills and bring your creativity to new levels! Everything you learn here is backed by real experience, so you can finally skip the fluff and focus only on what matters.

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