How to Make Type Look Silver & Shiny in Illustrator

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Many graphic artists, when they need to make a metallic-looking logo with type on it, immediately turn to Photoshop and make a raster image. What they don't know is that many of these same results can be done in Illustrator, as quickly -- and with more precision -- than they can be done in Photoshop. Even better, the end result remains a vector graphic with all of the scalability advantages that a vector format gives. This technique works in Illustrator CS3 and later.

  • Start Illustrator with a blank document.

  • Create a new layer, and select the Text tool. Enter the text you want to use, and select the font, setting the size to whatever you want to use. Entering "Ctrl-T" will bring up the type palette, and you can do many adjustments on type size, kerning and the spread of each letter. Make sure the text looks exactly the way you want it to, with no typographical errors, because the following step will make it un-editable.

  • Right-click on the text, and select "Create Outlines." This will convert the editable text into a series of objects and outlines, which can accept a gradient fill pattern.

  • Select the text objects that were just created, and then select the Gradient panel from the right hand side of the screen, popping it out. Select a linear gradient, and make the angle 90 degrees. You'll have a simple gradient that goes from white on the bottom of the text to black on the top, and the gradient panel will have a slider on the bottom with a white "notch" at the left and a black notch at the right. Slide the white notch about halfway across the gradient.

  • Click on the Color panel; it's just above the Gradient panel. Then click on the black slider of the gradient panel. The color swatch on the color panel will change from a gradient color fill to a black color fill. Click on the black color fill and drag until your mouse cursor is over the left edge of the gradient slider and let go. You'll now have a second black slider on the gradient tool, which should go from dark to light to dark. You can click on each of the sliders and adjust the colors in turn; for a silver look, you'll want to set the gray to about 50 percent, and use the handles on the top of the slider to spread out the white part of the gradient.

  • Click on text to make sure it's selected, and then click on the "Effects" menu. Under the Photoshop Effects section of the menu, select "Stylize." In the submenu that comes out, select "Chrome." This will make all of your text look metallic and glossy.

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