How to Create a Brushed Metal Texture in Three Steps

By Melissa Scroggins, Shutterstock Submitter

In this tutorial, we’ll examine how to create a unique look that can be used in icons, backgrounds, and detailed vector illustrations using Adobe Illustrator. This is a great way to give the appearance of a metallic texture to a surface.Step 1: Create a Rectangle with a Metallic Gradient

Open a new AI file.

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), click and drag while holding down SHIFT to create a square. Make sure the square does not contain a fill or stroke. Select the gradient box at the bottom of the Tools panel, and then select the Gradient Tool (G).

Make sure the square shape is selected in the Layers panel and open the Gradient panel to select the Linear gradient type. Drag the Gradient Tool (G) from the top to bottom of the square for a vertical gradient.

In the Gradient panel, there are likely only two color boxes (the start and end boxes) – to create a third color box, click on the slider and drag it to the middle. Then, click on the left color box and change the color to R=159 G=159 B=159 in the color panel. Apply the same color settings to the right color box and make sure the middle color box is set to R=255G=255 B=255 for white.

Step 2: Add Lines

Select the Line Segment Tool () and drag it horizontally from left to right. In the Appearance panel, give the line segment a fill of solid black and no stroke.

In the Tools panel, select the Direct Selection Tool (A) and click on the line segment while also pressing the ALT button on the keyboard. This makes a copy of the line segment. Drag the line segment down.

Keep doing this until the entire square is filled with horizontal lines. In the example, the line is copied 28 times for a total of 29 lines, but feel free to experiment with your own line values.

Select all of the line segments in the Layers panel and Group them together. Duplicate this set of lines. Then, drag the duplicate group of lines above the original lines.

Repeat this about five times until all of the lines are very close together. Then Group all of these line sets together, creating one large collection of lines. Spaces between the lines do not have to be equal, since variation creates a natural texture.

Select the Free Transform Tool (E) and move the line segments so they are inside the square created earlier. This will stretch the lines so there will be no blank spaces at the top and bottom.

Step 3: Roughen

With the group of lines in the Layers panel selected, choose Effect > Distort & Transform > Roughen with these settings: Size=1 px, Absolute, Detail= 1/in, and Points= Corner.

Then choose Object > Expand Appearance. Change the color of the lines to R=158 G=158B=158 for a gray color.

That’s it! Once you’ve mastered this technique, you’ll find a wide variety of uses for it; you can apply these steps to an icon, for example, to give it a polished, metallic feel.

You can view Melissa Scroggins’s (PeachPoPs) gallery here.