I have a line drawing of a brass instrument:

and I'd like to give it a glossy brass-like texture.

What tools could I use on Photoshop CS5? I tried filling it with gradients, and then adding a bevel, but it didn't look right... Any suggestions?

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    If you find something automated that does this very well, please notify me so that I can resign as an illustrator.
    – Alexei
    Dec 22, 2011 at 5:14
  • Curious how so many people try to (ab)use bevel to simulate all forms of non-flat 3D shapes: a sphere, a box, complex shapes of real-life objects--many of which have already been drawn with proper perspective and shading. It's especially baffling with things like isometric cubes, as the bevel actually has the opposite effect of flattening the object. Dec 24, 2011 at 21:25
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    @Lese: You're right, although perhaps you could have phrased it a little more tactfully. :-) Beginners and non-designers use what they can discover that seems to be what they need. If they've never been to a drawing class, they don't see the complexity of shading because they've never been taught what to look for. If nobody points them in the right direction, they're left unsatisfied with the result but don't know why it's wrong. That's where we come in, eh? Dec 25, 2011 at 0:15
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    I have sat in on painting classes to fill a seat at a local art center, and if you tell someone that in order to paint the clear plastic teddy-bear shaped animal cracker container, you must paint what is behind it, you BLOW THEIR MINDS
    – horatio
    Dec 27, 2011 at 15:37

2 Answers 2


I would suggest that with this line drawing you shouldn't try to give it any kind of realistic metallic look. Line drawing and realistic textures -- especially a 3D-ish embossing effect -- just don't belong together. Aim instead for an illustration look: flat colors roughly in the yellow/yellow-orange range.

Brush in shadows with a soft-edge brush (make a selection of the area you want to affect first, so there's no "spill" to clean up afterwards) to suggest shape. Google "tuba" images and look at some of the colored illustrations.

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    Also, if you google "tuba" images, you will note that the majority of them are photos taken in a light box. The black line down the center of the tuba is the opening in the box through which they pointed the camera. Shiny objects distort and reflect their surroundings. This is generally why plain gradients look wrong.
    – horatio
    Dec 23, 2011 at 16:18
  • @horatio: Yea, all gradients need to be based on the geometry of the reflecting object. And if you go for the photorealistic end of the spectrum, you also need to take lighting and the surrounding environment into account. The problem with non-flat/tubular geometry can probably be solved using a gradient mesh, but it's still a tough job. Dec 24, 2011 at 21:29

Once you have the image as a vector -- check out this tutorial. I found it helpful.


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