Texturing Metal - Part 1: Making the General Surface

What will I try to do: explain the process I use to texture metal on realtime object
Method used: Dodge and burn (it's quicker than painting with brush)

Hello everyone I kept receiving mails and requests regarding the process on how do i paint metal, for realtime models.

So, I decided to make this tutorial, which will ( hopefully ) guide you thru the process , let me note that this tutorial was written in kinda haste and some stuff might not be correct :P , but here is the ending result that i will explain step by step:


We will start by making a 256 x 256 image, and therefore apply any type of base texture for our metal, I've chosen this one (it is not tileable)

Now I will put in the top a somekind of reference from where our lightsource is coming , in this case, in the upper left corner.

The next step is to create a selection of the thing we want to txture, ill make a somkind of metal box with some stuff on it, therefore i pick the rectangle selection tool ( or the polygonal lasso, since you can get this shape ) and draw a selection. Very nice except that the original selection is hard, what i mean is that everything that you paint on iut will be jagged with the exterior of its selection...we want it to be slightly soft, so when we create the selection we right click so that we can "feather" it out , in this case i used an ammount of 0.5 , see screenie for further detail.

With the selection still up i will pick up the dodge tool and paint in with a very big brush (around 300 pixels) with very low itensity around the 10-15%, then I click on drag, etc it at the area where the lightsource is coming from.

If you cant find the dodge tool, heres an image to help you out.

Now comes the harder part, we will get the dodge tool again , but this time we will have a very small brush for the highlights of the edges, this will used to create a specular highlight effect that we see so commonly in metal, so you paint it in the areas where there are edges.

After the previous step we will create a selection, in this case the area above the top edge to give it depthness, and don't forget, always feather your selections in order to avoid hard edges

Following that we will do the same we did with placing the lightsource, but this time it will be inside the selection that we have made, so paint it with the dodge tool again NOTE: THE DODGE TOOL ALWAYS HAS THE "HIGHLIGHT" FUNCTION ON, we do the same with the edge in the left.

Now we select the area inside, which wont sufer much editing, and feather it out and give a slight shadow coming from the top, for this we use the BURN TOOL with the same settings as the dodge tool, (highlight mode).

Taking the next step will be doing the exact thing in step 8, except that we will start shadowing the down areas, with the burn tool again.

This next step will be the one where you have to make it really seem that there is a realistic lightsource, so you select again your starting selection of the rectangle, and apply again a filter modifier, but now you'll right click and click on "select inverse" in this way we will be able to paint the exterior without messing around the interior, WE get the burn tool again and we will start painting in under with more itensity and very low itensity on the top, until we get a hard shadow, and try to make the transition between the elevated metal and the texture in the background seem noticable, by painting it with a small brush (maybe 5 pixels) with color burn in the areas that the texture starts.

We are almost done with Part 1!!, now this is where your original part comes, you will pick the dodge or burn tool and mess around till you think you got the desirable effeect, in my texture I darkened a bit the shadow areas, and made the transition between the base and the elevated metal even more noticable ,as well as some random noodling.

In the previous part I have showed you some basic directions toward making the surface that we are going to texture, this time we will create something very common in metal textures, the rivets, that can be turned into nails, screws, etc...below is an image of some of them I usually create for my textures, as you may notice the process is quite the same, although the environment chages a bit and that you must pay attention , because if a rivet is in plastic wich has sand, it won't be that shiney and its color will have some of the environment color.
Take a look at the image:

As usual to soften down the shadows we will feather the selection a bit again , if you havent understood why i keep using the feather option, take a look at the image below, you will see that the circle is much more soft thou not very exagerated on the right , thats the effect we want for shadows.

This step is the most important in my opinion because thru the burn tool ( set in highlight mode as well with around 30 or 40 opacity - you decide- ) we will make the bottom shadow of the rivet, dont forget, make it all in the circle, but dont forget the lightsource , this means that the area below right will have a more quantity of shadows on it.

The dodge tool also makes wonders, doesnt it ? we select it and set it to highlights too, in order to bring up the higher tones with more realistic look ( around the same opacity as burn, it really doesnt matter ) and we paint some of it in the place of direct contact with the light, therefore it will be wide.

I just deselected the image to be easier for people to see the general effect , but after your done with the previous step , you will add another highlight on top of the previous ones, preferably with a smaller brush and maybe the same, a bit lower itensity

At the right side of the highlight we will make another highlight using the same process, although note that this one is smaller althou more curved to follow the sphere shape

Now it's the time to darken even more the shadow at the bottom, but very subtly, to make the sphere gain height

This step should be added at the end of making this, but since the surface is simple wwe can make it now, you will get the dodge tool again, and will set it's option to Midtone instead of the highlight, and with a small brush too, you will paint a stripe following the spheres direction too, but at the bottom, NOTE THAT ACCORDING TO
THE ENVIRONMENT THIS RIVET MUST HAVE THIS DETAIL COLORED THE SAME TONE (example, in s red metal, this detail will get redish, and so on)

Like we did with the part 1, we will get the feathered selection again and invert it, in order to paint a shadow below the rivet (do not use layer effects, painted by had is better because you have more control and can deform the shadow if you want the way you want), and make that shadow with the burn tool in the metal, again, follow the lightsource and paint it below.

And here it is, quite simple isnt it? Remember that my rivet seems a bit blurry because the lightsource isnt very sharp , in order to fix this add more shadows to the bottom and make highlights more bright, do it as you like it wont mess what you created so far.

In the third part, where we will learn how to make a realistic hole in the metal, wich is EVEN EASIER than this wich we have came so far ;)


Now that we accomplished the other two other parts [LINK] we shall move to the hardest part of this tutorial: Making the hole (well, this one is quite simple), then a bit forward in the tutorial we will make a some kind of tube orifice, where tubes tend to connect, usually very seen on space type textures or characters with alot of machinery, and I thought people would like to know better how to achieve this kind of effect.

Let's begin with making a circle selection (again, don't forget to hold shift while you are making the selection, to make a perfect circumference), and, as usual, Feather the selection with 0.5 (depends on the dimension of the document)

Now with the burn tool, (large brush, the opacity is at your choice) paint it inside the selection starting from the top, be reminded that since it is a supression.
The shadow follows the lightsource, so this means that it is painted in the direction of the lightsource, like in the image below:

Accentuate the shadows now, but very slightly, in order to give depth.

This step will have a great importance, it's gonoing to be the step that will make it look like a hole, which means, that with the dodge tool we will make with a very small brush (maybe 5 or 4 pixels) with some itensity (around 30) and paint it in the opposite side of the lightsource, like in the image.

Add a bit more itensity in the highlight using a brush with maybe the half dimension of the previous (2 pixels) DON'T FORGET THAT WE ARE STILL USING BURN AND DODGE TOOL

Now to finalize add some highlight with midtone (2 pixels as well) but with very low opacity on the area that hasnt got shadow in the hole, near the zone with more shadow, and follow its shape, and there you go! A hole in metal that is somekind of realistic, there are various ways onto achive this kind of effect, and it is very easy to do so!

Round Thingy

This little part will give you a lot of trouble, I don't know the name for it so it will have to stay "round...thingie", be remembered that my first language isnt English, but Portuguese, so go easy on me... anyways we shall start from the cilindrical surface where the "plug" is inside the supression. For this step it is crucial that we make the right selection, for this step I wont explain it by images, but with test:
- Make a sphere selection in a new layer and fill it with a color.
- Select the selection again (DO NOT FEATHER ANYTHING YET) and contract it , maybe 10 or 15 pixels will do, it really depends, and delete that selection from the color you've previously filled.
- Hide this layer and select it's selection by clicking CTRL+click on the layer , here's an image below:



Feather the selection and paint the highlights following the light source like I've painted on the image (you can variate, dont forget!) and don't forget to add subtle highlights (2 pixels wide in the end of the piece!).



For the shadows at this step they are a bit primary, do it like if you were doing a rivet, except that it gets cut in the middle, so paint the shadows opposing the light source again, also add some but very slight near the side highlights, to give depth.

We will leave the primary shadowing and highlights for now... now we shall select the inner circle (you can do it by unhiding the layer with the selection that we made at start, and with the magic wand tool click on the middle - the place where the supression will be), and feather it by 0.5 again.

Shadow the inner a bit, like you see in the image, the process is the same as the hole, but I will follow it though.

Shadow it again, but this time with a bit more strength in the direction of light source, to give depth.

This time put a white highlight around the ring that forms the shape, with again a very small brush with some opacity, and darken the interior even more.

One of the most importants, is to add the highlight oposing to lightsource, as you can verify here.

Now let's edit the light we have previously made, but make a small patch of shadow below the highlight, this will give a more sensation of depth and add a bit more shadow below the shape.

Add a more stronger shadow, and a small highlight with midtone selected, but make it subtle!

Now the hard part, add a very subtle highlight to the borders of the shape, and select the hole shape and select inverse (don't forget to feather the selection!), the start painting some shadows with the burn tool, just to get the general effect.

The basics are done, now all you have to do is to modify some lighting by mixing some dodges and burns in the right place, to give the effect of something spherical but at the same time conic

Now for the tricky part, we pick up the dodge tool again, and set its brush size to 1 pixel, put some low opacity, and flow Clockwise following the sphere shape, to make a some kind of brushed metal effect, do the same with some burns, but not so intense

Are you still there? Amazing! We are almost finished. For the final detailing on this part we will make a shape, any shape, could be anything inside the supression, I made a "j" and I selected it's transparency and used color burn again on the metal (don't forget...feather)

And to finalize, add this final highlight, a somewhat exagerated one, and finish some small details that you might want to change on the lighting.


Now, we shall make a tube, and add finishing details such as scratches and some color

Now lets work on the tube, for a start we shall make a selection for the place on where it will be allocated, a rectangle one should do the trick (don't forget to feather it)

The process will be almost the same as the making a hole in the texture, except that the shape is a rectangle, we are going to do this in order to make an effect where the tube seems to be inside the texture, and we shall shadow it with the burn tool set in color burn in highlights mode as well.

After this we shall start to shape up the tube, by using the Dodge tool, to make the highlight in order to provide shape, make it a large brush, but very soft, to make it a bit subtle, something around the itensity on the image below.

With a little smaller brush add another highlight, this time make it fade in the top because light wont get till that point much...

To give it even more shape, with the dodge tool again, set in midtones with a very small size, around half the opacity when it was set to highlights, and paint in it like in the image

Strengthen up the bigger highlight again.

Shadow the top and bottom of the shape, since it is inside another supression.

The tube is almost finished, not onto the supression where it is inserted, make the correct highlights with a small brush with the dodge tool again and there you go! BUT REMEMBER: There are loads of ways of approaching tubes, here's an image with some examples, and remember that the process is exactly the same as this one, except that I put some burns in the middle of the highlights. Here's an image of what I mean.


Now comes the tricky part, the part that will decide if your texture looks good or... not so good. We will go through the process of making scratches and adding color and dirt effects. The image I completed doesn't look very nice, because the scratches are very exaggerated, and the colour is simple, but as I say this will help to understand the basics of this process.

We will start by adding the scratches. In this step use once again the highlight tool, but with a brush that resembles scratches (you can search for grunge brushes on the net) and spread it out till you like it. BUT REMEMBER : A surface doesn't have to have many scratches to be realistic. Be moderate, not the way I did here!

Make some scratches with the burn tool, also not as exaggerated as this one, but with smaller intensity.

Now with the dodge tool, with a 1 pixel brush size, with some intensity paint in a subtle highlight below the biggest dark spots that you created. This way you will make a feeling of smaller supressions, and that this metal is kind of getting beaten.

This step is very important. You will have to pick a texture that you want and place it in the selection of the thing we have been doing so far, like you can see in the image.

Now set the blending mode to overlay. The blending modes are set in the place marked in the screenshot, there are several of them. Only Overlay/Multiply/Soft light/Hard light/Color have the desired effects, although the color one is something else.

To avoid exaggeration, we will erase some of the imag, but very subtly, with a mid opacity eraser brush.

Now also comes a tricky part, we will paint (yes paint, dodge and burn wont do this, since they shade according to the base texture only, so you will pick up a brush (could be any, but here's mine)



Anyhow, after you select your brush pick a dark brown color, and start painting in the direction of the gravity. In this case, below, so this will make that dirt is falling from the pieces, as well paint in some parts of the pieces, try variating colors, like adding blue in the highlights. REMEMBER: the opacity in this process for the brush is VERY LOW (around 5% or less), so it will resemble image below:

Now to finish it, just change the layer blending mode to multiply or overlay. I chose overlay, since these are dark tones, and here you go...you have finished! I hope that this tutorial was good to help someone out.

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