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Learn a quick and easy way to create reflective plastic text in Photoshop from scratch. Three layer styles will be combined to achieve this effect. We will also explore blending modes and their effective use to achieve this type effect with layer styles. Same effect can be use on shapes also because of its simple and highly customizable nature.
Preview of Final Results
Glossy Plastic Text Photoshop Tutorial
Open a new file in Adobe Photoshop with the following settings.
Select Type Tool (T) and in the Option Bar select Arial Black, 325 pt, smooth. Then type the word "psd" in lower case.
Change the tool into Move Tool (V). Then in the Layer palette left click on background layer to target that layer. Now press shift from the keyboard and left click on the Type layer. Alignment buttons will be active in the Option bar when more than one layer is selected. Then click on the Vertical Centers and Horizontal Centers buttons to center align the type layer.
Create a new layer by clicking on the Create a new layer button below the Layer palette and fill it with white color. Target both the new layer and the type layer by using the shift click method. Then use Menu > Layer > Merge Layers to merge them into a single layer.
For creating a reflective glossy plastic text effect we need a bold or chunky round corner type face. Because round edges catch more light than the corner edge. But edges of Arial Black are corner not round. So let's explore a quick and easy technique to change any edge from corner to round. First on "psd" layer apply Filters > Blur > Gaussian Blur (Radius: 8 px).
Then on the same layer Image > Adjustments > Levels. In the Input Levels area drag the Left (Shadow) Input Slider to the right and the Right (Highlight) Input Slider to the right. This will remove or rather convert the resulting grey blurry area produced by the application of Gaussian Blur and change that area into solid black. Due to that the corner edges are now rounded.
Select the Magic Wand Tool (W) and click on the black area of the "psd" layer to select the black text. Selection active, create a new blank layer on top of the "psd" layer by clicking on the Create a New Layer button below the Layer Palette. Then fill the selection with 50% gray and also rename the layer as "base style". Deselect by Select > Deselect or press Ctrl + D.
You can delete the "psd" layer as we don't need it anymore. Double click on the Background layer to convert it to a normal layer (Layer 0). Now double click on the text "Layer 0" and rename it to "gradient bg". Then double click on the "gradient bg" layer to open the Layer Style dialogue box. First create a Radial gradient in the Gradient Overlay with the following settings.
Then create an Inner Glow with the following settings. This will create a texture variation of the Gradient Overlay.
Target the "base style" layer. Double click on it to open the Layer Style dialogue box. Let's start building the main Plastic Layer Style. First in the Blending Option section, reduce the Fill Opacity to 0%. This will make the Plastic Style transparent.
Then for the Bevel and Emboss section use settings from the below screenshot. In the Shading section, for Highlight Mode select Linear Dodge for a much stronger highlight than Screen blending mode. Also for the Shadow Mode use Color Dodge to simulate at the edge of the text light is passing through a translucent object bright look. Below the Bevel and Emboss is the Contour of Bevel and Emboss, which will basically define the edge or shoulder of the Bevel. Click on the Contour type and select Gaussian type.
Inner Glow settings. Notice that Darken as the Blend Mode to produce a darker color blend.
Outer Glow settings. Blend Mode is Darker Color to produce a partial darker color blend.
Inner Shadow settings. Here Blend Mode is Multiply to produce a very dark outer edge.
Drop Shadow settings. Drop Shadow is not creating shadow here. But to create the bright light is passing from the edges of a translucent object.
Satin settings for creating bright surface reflections. Color Dodge as a Blend Mode is helping to do that. In the contour use Ring – Double for lots of light reflections but for subtlety reduce the Opacity below the Blend Mode to 15%.
After finishing the basic Plastic style.
Right click on the "base style" layer and choose Duplicate Layer. Rename the duplicate layer as "secondary highlights". Double click on the layer to open Layer Style dialogue box and uncheck everything besides Bevel and Emboss and Satin. Match below settings.
Now click on the Satin Style and use settings from below. Contour is Ring – Double, but this time with much higher opacity.
This is after finishing "secondary highlights" layer.
Duplicate the "secondary highlights" layer and rename into "primary highlights". Double click on the layer to open the Layer Style dialogue box. In The Bevel and Emboss match the settings from below.
Drop Shadow settings. This is to boost the light passing from the edge look more.
This is after finishing the "primary highlights" layer.
The Plastic style is complete now. But let's tweak it little more. Target the "primary highlights" layer and press Ctrl + Shift + Alt + E to create a copy merged layer on top of it. Rename it to "upper reflections". Duplicate the layer and rename it to "surface reflections". Drag or reposition the "surface reflections" layer below the "base layer". Reduce the opacity of the "surface reflections" layer to 20%. Now target the "upper reflections" layer to 10% and change the blend mode to Multiply. Below is the result.
Create a new layer with the name "glow" on top of "upper reflections" layer and with a soft brush and white color spots (glow) on top of the highlight areas. Reduce the opacity to 50%. While working with the Brush tool if you press Alt button, the Brush tool will temporary change into Eyedropper tool. With that temporary Eyedropper toll mode select bright blue colors from the highlight areas directly and paint some bright blue spots also. Reduce the "glow" layer opacity to 50%. Here's the image with the layers after finishing the glow painting.
Create a Curve Adjustment Layer by clicking on the fourth button from left below the Layers Palette. In the Curve window create s-curve or contrast curve to adjust the overall contrast.
Now target the "glow" layer and reduce the opacity to 20%. Duplicate the "glow" layer and rename "glow 2". Move the layer to top and change the opacity to 40%. Congratulation, Transparent Plastic Effect is now complete.