Creating a Brushed Metal Effect in Adobe Illustrator CS5

Normally, most designers would think you’d need to bring your design into Photoshop to create a realistic brushed metal effect. Not anymore! I’ll explain how to create the same effect in Illustrator — which brings with it, of course, the added advantages of vector graphics, such as the ability to scale the design to any size without losing quality. Once you’ve completed the tutorial, you can save the effect and use it again and again with no added time.

Before we continue, take a look at the final result:

Step 1

Let’s create a square, any size you want. This will be our canvas for creating and tweaking the brushed metal effect until we’re happy enough with it to use in our real projects.

Step 2

Fill the square with a gradient. The type should be Linear, and the angle should be set to 90 degrees. We want to create a somewhat 3D effect with the gradient, so the first colour should be 40% black, the middle 0% black and the final colour should again be 40% black. While you’re at it, apply a border to your image that is 40% black. It doesn’t matter what stroke width you use — I used 1 point in this example.

Your box should now look something like this.

Step 3

Go to the Effects menu and select Texture > Grain. In the Grain settings, set the grain type to Horizontal with an intensity of 7 and a contrast of 0.

If your Preview looks something like this, press OK:

Step 4

Presto: we have a brushed metal effect that is completely scalable and can be used in any fill area.

Feel free to download our Illustrator file containing the free brushed metal vector download.

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James Turner is a freelance web and graphic designer from Australia listed in DesignCrowd's Logo Designer Australia directory. You can contact and hire James Turner via his DarthV2000 Portfolio or via DesignCrowd's crowdsourcing site.