Create a Scrap Metal Text Effect in Photoshop

Many of you may use 3D applications to help you generate or extrude text for your designs. While 3D applications are always an acceptable solution, many times, Photoshop can accomplish the same effect without the help of third-party apps.

In this Psd tutorial, author Wojciech Pijecki will create 3D lettering using Photoshop CS5 and some stock photography. If you are looking to take your typography skills to the next level then view now

Tutorial Details
  • Applications Used: Adobe Photoshop CS5
  • Difficulty: Advanced
  • Estimated Completion Time: 3h +
  • Updated: December 8,2013

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Final Product What You’ll Be Creating

Step 1

Let’s start by opening a new Photoshop document of 2400px x 1600px; 300px/inch resolution. Pick Type Tool (T), use whatever font you like (I used Century Gothic / Bold – 1st image below). Create each letter (L, O, S, T) on new layers, and name them "L face", "O face", "S face", "T face". Then select "L face" layer, rightclick on it and pick Convert To Shape. Now you’re able to use Command/Ctrl + T (Free Transform). Choose Distort and try to give a lil’ bit of perspective to the selected letter (2nd image below). Apply the same process to each letter, try to make them different from each other (different angles, sizes, perspectives).

Step 2

As you can see in the 1st image below, I made the "O" letter pop out more to make it more of a focal point. This way I also pushed "S" to the background to make a visual difference between those two middle letters. Now, depending on the depth you need to place each letter in a separated group (2nd image below). Let’s take a closer look – "O" is the closest one to the viewer so we will put the "O" group on the top of all letter groups. Next is "L", so "L" group will be after "O" and so on.

Step 3

In this step will take care of the 3D look. In the 1st image below I’ve put an example. Those two letters we’re taken from Step 1, it’s when we were making the perspective. So, to build a proper 3D shape you have to remember how you set the perspective. I’ve drew a straight red line (1st image below) to help you understand which parts of 3D shape will be revealed (visible to the viewer). OK, so in the 2nd image below you can notice as simple drawing of how I set my perspective and sketched the 3D shapes.

Now that you know this – let’s take action. Take a look at 3rd image below, duplicate "L face" layer (we’re working in "L" group), change its color to grey, and throw it below white "L face" layer. Create new layer between grey "L" and white "L face" layers, grab Pen Tool (P), set it as shown in 4th image below (remember to check the Shape Layer option) then create a connected path to simulate 3D effect. Finally merge the shape layer you just created with grey "L" layer and name it "L side".

Step 4

Remembering about the right perspective that we have set, refer to Step 3 and continue creating 3D shapes to all of those letters. Each letter should be in separated group and they all should have 2 layers in each group – for instance ("L face" and "L side"; "O face" and "O side"; and so on) – 1st image below.

Now open image of the rust/scrap, and bring it to our main document. Paste it to the "L" group above all layers in that group. Hit Command/Ctrl + Alt + G (Clipping Mask) and you should achieve a very similar look to the 3rd image below. OK, great, now before we move any further, rightclick on the shape layer "L face" (4th image below) and select Rasterize Layer.

By the time you can do it to all "face" layers, rasterize all shape layers in other groups using the same process.

Step 5

Now, take a look at 1st image below – select the "scrap" layer, duplicate it and lower this copy’s Opacity to 25% (that you can see a little bit of what’s around the letter). In the same image, I’ve indicated (with red brush) a part of the scrap that we will focus on, in the first place. So select a hard white brush (every option set to 100%), make sure you are working now on the "L face" rasterized layer. And now bring back the part of scrap that is indicated in 1st image below. To do that just paint over the "L face" letter with hard brush. Now this part should immediately pop out as you can see in the 2nd image below.

Next, again pay attention on the 2nd image below. There are another spots to pop out indicated. So, basing on what you just did, again brush on the "L face" with hard brush and reveal more of the scrap. Remember to work creatively and inteligent – this means, you dont need to pop out everything that’s around the letter. Use you imagination and reveal as much scrap as you feel it’s enough.

In the 3rd image below is the result I’ve reached by revealing the scrap over the letter, when you’re done remember to turn off the "scrap copy" layer.

If you got confused by the whole process, in the 4th image below, there is a view of how should your "L face" letter look like uncovered.

…and that’s the end of the preview!

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