How do you make a realistic looking Gold in Photoshop? I have tried using Layer Styles and using Gradient Overlay > Metallic Styles > Gold but at best that looks just okay and many time not the best. I have not found a tutorial that shows decent looking gold in PS. I know it can be done because I have seen it done yet I cannot replicate. Can someone help give me some guidance on the best way to create realistic looking gold effects in PS.

Note: I do not have a screenshot. I am looking for general instructions that are a little more than gradient overlay.

4 Answers 4


I dont know wether they are decent looking or not but they can be helpful, though they all are text effects you can apply these effects elsewhere.

I am looking for general instructions that are a little more than gradient overlay.

These effects only can be achieved with the help of gradients wherever I know.

Hope this will help a bit.


The general answer as far as gold is concerned is the same as for any metallic look. First, you have to determine whether you want a glossy or lustrous look (polished or matte finish on the metal).

Any reflective surface has its own color (unless it's a real mirror, such as chrome), but reflects ambient light and shadows with greater or lesser degrees of contrast and sharp-edged highlights. A low-luster finish has soft-edged highlights and shadows, while on a polished surface has they are sharply defined. Observation of different metal objects in various lights will teach you the "look" of different types.

You'll almost always have to use various black/white or light/dark gradients in overlay or multiply mode, and satin effects often help. Pick a base color that's close to the kind of gold you want to emulate, then use gradients and satin over them. Don't limit yourself to the Effects panel. You can do things with clipped layers that you can't with effects. Experiment.

There is one technique I learned from Bert Monroy, the absolute master of Photoshop textures, that doesn't involve using a gradient (and, as you've found, Photoshop's default "metallic" gradients are more or less useless). With a slight variation, it works for most any metal. Bert's video on this is here on revision3.com, so I'll not repeat any of his steps. Although this demo involves text, it works for any object.

I prefer to use a live Curves adjustment layer with a Hue/Saturation layer set to "Colorize" above that. This variation lets you play with the highlighting and tweak the color after the fact, should the overall design require it.

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Here's what this setting looks like:

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By playing with the Curves layer, you can move the lights and darks anywhere you need them, and make them soft or hard to taste.

  • I'm trying to do this to an arch-shaped frame. I made a 40px stroke of my image on a new layer and have added your two adjustment layers the curves layer looks like yours; but I can't figure out how to make it look 3D - when I adjust the curves it just changes the flat colour of the frame.
    – bgmCoder
    Nov 29, 2017 at 17:22

If you look at the actual colors of the alloy, pure gold is basically a deep yellow. Colors shift a bit depending upon the impurities of the alloys - lighter for more silver/zinc content and darker for more copper content. A decent, realistic, gold can be achieved by sticking to the actual alloy colors and using a mix of gradients and other overlays. To pull off the "shine" found in most metals, gradients just don't cut it. You need to have light and dark areas. This is where color variations help.

enter image description here

The curves trick is a nifty one and will suffice most of the time. But if you want something more dynamic than just light and dark based on a single color, you need to use a color range within the alloy colors.

This image is a simply shape layer with a multi-stop gradient applied, then other layer styles added to use other "impure" colors on the same object. Of course the effect can be boosted further by manually painting in highlights and shadows.

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Here is a link for the .asl file. Its working better for all type of text

  • 2
    could you please add some information about what we can find at the link, possibly a condensed version? That way, your answer is still valuable in case the link breaks at a later time. Thanks!
    – Vincent
    Mar 12, 2014 at 11:44

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