There are a number of good tutorials on creating hot chrome lettering but I’d like to introduce you to a different technique that allows you to contour the chrome mirror effect to follow letters set on a curved path. Instead of using the gradient tool I’ll be showing you how to achieve the colour spectrum by using the blend tool to create the graphic above. It’s a cool method and one I discovered by experimenting when I had to chrome a logo for a client that had a real flowing shape to it.
Open a new document in RGB or download the tutorial file at the bottom of the page.
Firstly lay out some words to chrome. Here I’ve drawn a curved path that slopes upwards. You can experiment with your chosen font until you find and curve and angle that works for you. The typeface I’ve used here is Mr Stalwart from the Sudtipos foundry. I’ve used the type on a Path tool to place ‘Hot Metal’ on the path. I’ve then outlined the type and using the Pathfinder ‘Unite’ function grouped the letters together. You’re gonna need these words a few more times so it would be a good idea to create another layer below and drag and duplicate them down then lock the layer so they can’t be selected accidentally. You can then drag/duplicate the words up again when you need them.
With the text still selected I’ve turned it into a compound path. You can do this via the Object dropdown menu or by tapping cmd/cntl 8. If you want to use this text it can be found in the tutorial elements download at the bottom of the page.
The next step is to create the shapes to use for blending into a gradient. I have drawn a path in the centre of the letters that follows the curve of the words.
Drag and duplicate this line below the original to about the same distance shown. Then unite the ends of both paths together.
This shape forms the basis of the gradient. The next step is to drag and duplicate this shape down twice. Then you can select the three shapes you’ve just made and drag and duplicate these up above the first three. Once you’ve done this arrange them behind the first three. Then using the colour palette in the download file to set the colours you should then have some thing that looks like the next image.
Make sure the curved shapes cover the words completely. What you see here is very simple terms is sky ~ the top three colours and earth ~ the bottom three colours. The reflected horizon line is the dark shade in the middle and the top of this needs to be uneven like in the image below. The horizon is not often straight nor are surfaces entirely flat. This wobbly line creates the effect of both these aspects on a shiny surface and also add some dynamic to the overall effect.
The next step is where it starts to get interesting. Select the Blend tool and click insde the dark horizon strip, then click inside the strip below and again the one below that and behold you should have a curved gradient like the image below. Deselect and repeat the process for the top three colour bands.
Next, bring the words back on top of the gradient strip.
Now you can create a mask with the ‘Hot Metal’. The reason for converting the outlined and united letters into a compound path at the beginning of this tutorial is that you can only create masks with items like this that have a number of elements if they are combined as a compound path…essentially they become one item. If you select everything and then hold down cmd/ctrl and then tap number 7… voila! Next select everything and drag and duplicate the words below the first ones like the image below. The great thing about creating the gradient with the blend tool is that you can still select with the direct selection tool the original shapes that make up the new gradient and re colour them…you can also move them about. In the download file you’ll find some colour swatches to use for building this design. Select each shape and re-colour so the gradient matches the image below.
Once you’ve created the second version of the gradiated words, arrange the new version behind the first version and offset them slightly down and to the left. In the visual below I’ve put a dark background behind to show better that I mean. This second layer of the words gives some depth and contrast to the bottom left.
Next, make another layer below the chrome letters you’ve made so far and drag and duplicate another original ‘Hot Metal’ from the bottom layer into the new layer you have just created. Select the new words and the OBJECT (top menu) > PATH > OFFSET PATH. Enter 1.1mm if you are using the supplied tutorial vectors or if you have created your own text vector with a different font enter a value that gives an offset like the one in the visual below.
Nudge the offset letters across to the left and fill with the supplied pink colour swatch. The in the top menu go to EFFECTS > STYLIZE > INNERGLOW and enter the info in the pop-up window below.Now a background colour is needed. It’s entirely up to you what colour you want to got with but for the purpose of this tutorial I’m recommending you open up the ‘brights’ gradient palette which can be¬†accessed via the swatch window options menu…
Once you have chosen a background (you can tweak this later), select the offset letters you applied the inner glow and give them an outer glow but selecting it from the same ‘stylize’ menu you used before. The values for the Outer Glow are Mode: Screen, Opacity: 75% and Blur: 1.76mm.
Next you are going to add some highlights to the chrome at the top of the letters. Drag up the ‘Hot Metal’ type vector from the bottom layer up to a new layer above the artwork you’ve created so far and with all of it selected go top menu OBJECT > UNGROUP. You should then be able to select the letters that make up ‘Hot Metal’ individually I.E. ‘Ho T M etal’. The with the gradient window create a gradient that goes from white to white and reduce the opacity of the second white so the gradient fades from white to nothing. Then using the gradient tool drag the cursor at an angle so just the top of the letters are highlighted with the white.
This should leave you with the letters looking something like those below…
On the bottom layer below the artwork place the ‘streaks’ from the supplied tutorial file behind everything you have done so far and colour them with the pink colour swatch. The idea here is to create an effect of liquid metal streaking from the chrome. Experiment with the positioning until you have something that looks like the visual below.
At this point I’m not too happy with the lower chrome gradient section from the horizon down. With the direct selection tool I’ve selected the bottom lightest band of purple by clicking the middle of the curved shape that makes up this band of the gradient and nudged it down to give more room to the middle warmer purple. Then using the default RGB colour palette which can be accessed the same way as the brights gradient palette earlier in the tutorial, I’ve coloured this curve section with the strong RGB pink for an extra hit of 80’s. I’ve nudged this and the middle curve section down to bulk up the darker horizon line.
I’ve also moved the second chrome layer of the text a little further over to the left to give a bit more depth so as to lift the top chrome lettering a bit more off the page.
The last of the adjustments I have made using the adjustment panel/window and I have double clicked the inner glow and changed the white to the RGB pink. These adjustments will show you how flexible the blended gradient method is and also if you’ve never used the adjustments panel/window you’ll now know how to amend any effects you use in future projects.
The final touch to this hot text are some extra pinpoint highlights. Select the star shape tool by clicking and holding the rectangle tool in the toolbox until you see a number of different shape options. With the star tool selected hold down the shift key and drag the cursor to make a small star. Colour this star white and go to EFFECT > DISTORT & TRANSFORM > PUCKER & BLOAT. Click the preview box and then move the slider towards PUCKER until your star turns into a star burst.
Click ok and give the new shape a rotation of about 45 degrees. Then copy and paste it a few times and give the bursts some resizing and apply till the chrome looks RAD!
You’ll find useful elements from this tutorial at the other end of this download button. Enjoy!