I have some color swatches from a local car dealer that are about 8.5" by 11" and the paint samples are metallics. Is there a way to scan these metallic color paint samples sheets, then use a large sample brush to get the metallic "texture" and be able to add it to my color swatches? That way if I want to do a metallic blue, red, silver, green, or whatever label background fill... I can use the bucket fill or maybe save it as a brush or texture? Using CS4 Photoshop.


5 Answers 5


No, you can't. The reflective nature of metallic paint is due to little particles suspended in an otherwise flat color. Light bounces off these particles in different directions creating a unique look that can't be reproduced by using a paint brush.

You could simulate metallic paint by adding noise and playing around with different layers and gradients to mimic light shining off a glossy paint surface. Once you develop a process you can refine it and document the steps to reproduce later. You might be able to create a pattern for your noise and a style for your gradients (if you use layer effects) that can help make the process easier to replicate.


Metallic paints don't reproduce all that well on computer screen, since the real life effect is all about the little reflective chips embedded in the paint and how they change the color depending on the ambient light. Since there is no viewing angle or lighting in basic bitmaps, the end result is usually pretty dull.

You can scan the swatch, and use the Eyedropper tool with a larger sample size to get the average color, but in the end it's just one color.

Scanning the swatch as a texture would give you an image that has the base average color, with some luminosity noise, or it would show the metallic chips if there is enough resolution. But it wouldn't be near as attractive as it is in real life. Try googling "metallic paint texture", that's about as good as it can get.

Here's more about creating the texture, if it is sufficient for your graphics needs.

  • Actually... I've been playing with layers in different colors and transparency levels then adding noise and gradients... I'm getting somewhat close to something that is acceptable.
    – user7363
    Oct 26, 2012 at 21:03
  • @user7363 If you find out a fancy method for doing it, do add an answer here, I'm definitely curious. :-)
    – Hrulga
    Oct 28, 2012 at 20:34

You can't really accomplish this per-se, but you can get a very similar sort of look sometimes if you take a large sample with the eyedropper to get an approximate color, then add noise and use a very low radius gaussian blur on the noise to get a semi-reflective looking texture, but it's never going to completely match the original sample. This process is usually more trouble than it's worth and kind of time consuming while you're fiddling with the noise and blur. I wouldn't bother unless you absolutely have to get the closest match you can get for a client or something and they don't have any other resources to give you.


I'd suggest you scan the samples, then extrace a greyscale-version of the metallic differences (i.e. what makes it look not solid), transform that into a seamless pattern, and then, finally, you can create a layer style with color-overlay and patter-overlay (with multiply) and apply that layer style wherever you want the metallic color look.


It is impossible to scan metallic surfaces. This is because its reflective property is converted to luminance. There is no way around this.

You can always simulate the effect in post or get a snapshot of the surface in a natural environment where our brain can accept the light conditions and so forth. But to register reflectiveness by the means of scanner, camera etc. is not possible.

(You can do a better simulation by using a 3D application with a robust material editor).

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