How To Color Metal Digital Art: Render Metal Texture

Whether you are a professional artist, or just someone who likes to dabble in the arts from time to time, it is important that you know how to color metal digital art. There are many different techniques and methods for coloring metal digital art, but we will go over two of them here. The first technique is called rendering metal texture. This method involves painting onto a layer which has been set as multiply mode in Photoshop. Once this layer of paint has dried thoroughly, your work will look like an old piece of sheet music with all sorts of colors swirling around on it!

Drawing and Painting the Basic Shapes.


Curved surfaces are the easiest to paint. They are also most likely to show metal’s characteristics. Base colors, like steel gray, can be used in layers on top and on the side of curved surfaces. Shadows and highlights can then be painted on with different colors.

Now let’s paint the sides. We will make another layer to use for the first layer of shadows and then we will paint it with a darker color than our base color. We want to keep this new layer clipped to the same layer as our base color, so that it doesn’t go past what we painted in that first layer. The light is coming from above and on the left side of the painting, so make sure you tilt your shadow accordingly.

Next, paint another shadow layer with a darker color. Then, make a highlight layer and paint highlights in white from the direction of the lightsource. Also, paint highlights on the edges of both sides in addition to the highlight from direct light. These represent ambient reflection from the surroundings. After this step you can change your top surface color to match your base color for metal (gray).

The next step is to add a blurred highlight. That way it looks more like metal. In this method, we paint metal on a curved surface. The first step is to use a brush and let the paint flow out in an even fashion over the surface. We should do this by dipping our brush in water and then shaking it until there are no splashes of water coming out anymore. Next, we can mix metallic paints with liquid glue or gel medium which will give a reflective finish to make it look like metal. However, this is not enough because the top part of our cylinder only has one color so let’s mix some more colors together for that part too!

To make things look like they are in a game, we should blur the shadows and highlights. If we do it more where the light is coming from, rather than doing it to everything, then it will look more shiny. If you want an oil painting effect, use a tool similar to the watercolor brush that leaves thick brushstrokes behind.


Next, we will paint a cube. Previously, we looked at painting curved surfaces; now, we will look at how to paint metallic effects on a flat plane. First, just like with the curved surface, paint the base gray. Again to make it easier to paint shadows and highlights on each side of the cube, create an additional layer for the top of your cube. In this figure below (shown in red), you can see that there is now an additional layer for the top of your cube.

Create a shadow layer for each face of the cube. Paint in the shadows like in the image below. Create a layer mask for each face so they are easier to paint. For cubes, painting them with an anime style is difficult, so we will paint them in a video game-like style instead. The light source is on the upper left side like with the cylinder.

Add strong highlights to the edges and corners of the surface. This helps achieve a metallic look.

Lightly paint some soft, blurry highlights in the image. They should reflect what is around you. For example, if you are painting on something metal, these should be reflected from the ground up to give it a more metallic appearance.


Finally, let’s draw a sphere. It is challenging to properly show how it reflects everything. We will just paint a simple version for now. A sphere does not have all the sides of other shapes like cylinders or cubes, which makes drawing it easier.

First, paint the sphere normally with no colors on it yet. Then put a line of color at the bottom so that it looks more like metal and draws attention to that side. For this spherical shape, you can stop here without adding in any other colors or reflections from surrounding shapes since no other colors are involved in this drawing lesson.

To make the sphere look more like metal, hide your first layer of shadows or don’t do it at all. Then there will be a strong contrast between light and dark, which makes the object look even more like metal.

Creating Non Shiny Metal Surface

Add a Texture Image

To select a pattern from the Pattern panel, use Window > Pattern.

To load additional patterns, go to the Pattern panel and select Legacy Patterns and More.

To get started, make a new layer and fill it with white. Select Layer Style > Pattern Overlay > Matte Texture to apply it to the layer. Then, open Layer Style > Pattern Overlay > Pattern and select the “Texture” group from the Legacy Patterns & More category in order to load an existing pattern.

The texture set contains patterns for rocks and trees that were created by the following settings.

Set both the pattern overlay blending mode and the other layer panel blending mode to Soft light.

Clip The Texture To The Cube

Cut the “Material texture” layer to the other layer, which shows the metallic cube. In this case, cut it to a folder that contains all of the layers for that metallic cube. Then reduce the opacity of this texture layer to 10–30% depending on how dull you want your metal to look.

Finishing Touches

At this point, the metal looks dull. But depending on the texture you use, it might not look too shiny or too flat. If that is the case, add a layer mask to the “Material texture” layer and erase any parts that are unnecessary with a brush with a blurred edge. Finally, slightly reduce the opacity of metal highlights. This will make it less shiny and complete our simple method for rendering a metal surface with a dull finish.

Add Rust

First, add a new layer for drawing rust on top of the folder that contains the cube layers. We’ll call it Red rust. Next, you can clip to the cube folder, but we want to create a clipping layer on the Red rust layer itself, so instead, we will add a layer mask in the shape of the cube in the folder. Then, draw some rust on the Red rust layer and set its blending mode to Linear burn to match with shade of shadows on cubes. The right blending mode depends on color of metal and how this one looks good for your image.

Create a new layer above the “Red rust” and clip it to the “Red rust” below. Use paint tools or other creative ways to make darker areas of red rust on the metal surface you selected.

Finally, I put on a texture to make it look like the metal has been eroded. I used the Oil paint texture from Clip Studio Paint. I changed the blending mode of the texture to Soft light and lowered its opacity. If the pattern is too noticeable, add a layer mask and adjust as needed. Now our rusted metal cube is complete!

What Color is Used in Painting Metal?

The primary colors in painting metal are red, yellow and blue.

These three paint colours were used by the artist to create this image of a metallic object painted with green gloss paint on top of it: