Create a Shiny Chrome Text Effect

In the following tutorial you will learn how to create a shiny chrome effect for text shapes. This style can be applied to a variety of graphics, including shapes and symbols. Let’s get started!

Tutorial Details

Program : Artboard for Mac OSX 1.0+
Difficulty: Intermediate
Topics Covered: Style Inspector; Gradients
Estimated Completion Time: 15-20 minutes

ATTENTION: As of Artboard 1.7, “shared” styles are no longer part of the default workflow, therefore, references to “New” and “Clone” in this tutorial are no longer current. As of Artboard 1.7, the “New” button in the Format Bar and Style Inspector becomes the “Reset” button. See the Users Guide for more information about shared styles.

Step 1

Add a text box to your drawing canvas using the Text Box [t] tool. With the Select [s] tool, double-click the text box and edit the text.

Step 2

Open the Fonts panel from the Artboard toolbar. Pick a nice bold font that will hold up to the weight of your chrome style. For example, we’re showing the very stylish Velocette font downloaded from Adjust the size of your text accordingly (ours is rather large at 180 pts). Note, adjust the sizing handles of your text box if you’ve made your text very large (if you see the “+” in the lower right on the text box it indicates some text is hidden).

Step 3

This particular font comes with a few nice embellishments. Let’s add an underline to give our graphic some flair (note, this step is unnecessary if you aren’t adding special characters). Double-click the text with the Select [s] tool and position your cursor at the end of the word. Choose Edit > Special Characters… from the main menu to open the Special Characters panel. Navigate to your selected font and click onto the special character of interest. Click the “Insert with Font” button to place the character.

Step 4

Convert your text into a shape object so you can apply the new style. Select the text with the Select [s] tool. Choose Graphic > Convert To… > Shape from the main menu (or right-click and choose Convert To Shape from the contextual menu). You are now working with a shape object, therefore the text can no longer be edited.

Step 5

Now let’s start having some fun creating our chrome effect style. Select the shape and open the Style Inspector from the toolbar. Click onto the Expert pane and c (EDIT: As of Artboard 1.3 the “Simple” and “Expert” buttons have been removed from the Style Inspector (it edits all expert styles by default)) Click the “New” style button. Click the “+” button to add a “Gradient Fill” style component.

Step 6

Click onto the “Fill” style component in the Style Inspector list and add a shadow to the fill.

Click and drag the “Stroke” component name to reorder so the stroke is visually “on top” of the style stack (the stroke will actually be on the bottom in the layer list). Edit the stroke color and stroke width; ours is light gray with .05 cm stroke width (alternatively .02 in or 1.417 pt depending on your document’s drawing units setting).

Step 7

Click onto the “Gradient Fill” style component in the list. You will use a linear gradient with several color stops. Click the “+” button along the gradient slider to add a color stop.

The Colors panel will open automatically each time you click or add a color stop. Slide the color stops along the gradient to position them. The trick to creating a chrome-like effect is to have a light side and dark side, each with their own gradient stops, and position the middle transition from light to dark very close together. To remove a color stop, click and drag it off the slider or click the “-” slider button. Try experimenting with your own combinations. In this example, we’ve added a touch of blue to our darker scheme.

Step 8

Here’s how it looks so far with our background object turned on. Not too shabby :)!

Step 9

This participar font is designed with nice connecting strokes. However, when the style is applied to the shape the breaks between the original individual letters shows. The reason for this is the shape consists of multiple separate paths (from the original letters) within the shape object. The remedy is to break the object apart, then reassemble it as one unified object. Note, this step is unnecessary if you have used a disconnected font. Select the shape and choose Graphic > Combine… > Break Apart from the main menu.

Step 10

For each letter shape that originally had an enclosed circular or curved negative space (white space), that space is now a separate shape that must be subtracted from the primary shape. Select the letter shape and its corresponding counter (the enclosed space) and choose Graphic > Combine… > Difference Boolean operation from the main menu. You might find it convenient to customize your toolbar with buttons for these functions. For example, the “A” letter shape and its counter are selected and subtracted from each other with this command. Repeat as necessary for each affected letter shape. (Note, to keep font shapes true to their original, make sure Graphic > Combine… > Curve Fitting Policy is set to “Never Curve Fit”.)

Step 11

Once the counters have all been combined, select all the letter shapes and choose Graphic > Combine > Union from the main menu. It is now one unified shape object. Here’s how it looks with the background turned on.

Step 12

Once complete, you have the option to save the style in your user “My Library” (alternatively you can continue to use it as an ad hoc style). To add a style to your library make sure your shape is selected then click “Style” at the top of the style component list. Click into the Name text box and type a name for your style, then click the Enter-key on the keyboard. Alternatively, add a description. Click the Add To “Collection” button to add it to your library.

Final Image

Have fun experimenting with different gradient combinations to get your desired look. For example, see how it looks when you apply an angle to your gradient. Here is our finished product with a nice simple gradient used to great effect.

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