An in-depth guide to how to create artistic metallic effects using Photoshop's blending modes. Part three - Brushed Aluminum.

Brushed Aluminum

The main ingredients for this brushed aluminum effect are the Hue and Vivid Light blending modes, with generous helpings of Noise, Motion, and Gaussian Blur filters, and, for variation, a dash of Unsharp Mask to roughen up the final result.

It’s another fun, quick technique, and you can work in your own variations by desaturating and inverting one or more layers – you can experiment by changing the order of the layers.

1. In the Layers palette, duplicate the original image by dragging the background layer onto the “Create a new layer” icon. Alternatively, just use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl/Cmd-J. Name this layer “Hue.”

2. With the Hue layer active, select Hue from the blending mode pull-down menu.

3. Invert the Hue layer by selecting Image > Adjustments > Invert (Ctrl/Cmd-I).

4. Make another copy of the original image (Ctrl/Cmd-J), rename it “Vivid Light,” and drag it to the top of the layer stack.

5. With the Vivid Light layer active, select Vivid Light from the blending mode pull-down menu.

6. Add some noise with Filter > Noise > Add Noise. I used a value of around 100 and checked the Gaussian and Monochromatic check boxes.

7. With the Vivid Light layer still active, go to Filter > Blur > Motion Blur. Use the wheel to determine the direction of the blur and the Distance setting to adjust the length of the brushing effect.

8. Consider desaturating the Vivid Light layer (Ctrl/Cmd-U) and adjusting its opacity. Try inverting the image – use Ctrl/Cmd-I to toggle between positive and negative versions.

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You may want to crop the edges where the Motion Blur filter tails off. 
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