In this article, we will see how we can create a realistic-looking metal effect on text, without the use of those fancy plugins that do it all for us.

We will start off with a pretty big document (640×480), and a font size of 150pt, with a relatively thick font. We chose bold Impact for this demonstration. It is important to create a large version of this, and then we can scale it down as needed.

Once we have our text, we will Ctrl-click the layer it is on to select the contents:

Next, we will create a new layer and fill it with a gray color. We used #747474 for this demonstration. Next we choose a darker gray (we used #434343) and we goto Edit > Stroke (with text still selected). Width 5px, Inside.

Still with the text selected, we will create a new layer (name it White) and then goto Select > Modify > Contract by 15px – depending on your text size, this number may be higher or lower. It should look something like this:

Now we can deselect (Ctrl + D), and then goto Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and choose 5px. Then we change the layer blend mode to Overlay (top of the Layers Window.

Next, duplicate the layer below what we have just been working on (the layer we added a stroke to). You can do this by right-clicking and choosing Duplicate Layer. Name this layer Shine.
Now Ctrl+click the Shine layer to select it, and goto the Channels tab (usually attached to the Layers Window). Now click on the Circle button at the bottom of this tab to Save selection as Channel. And then duplicate that channel (Alpha 1). Now select Alpha 1 copy and add a Guassian Blur of 9px. Then add another Gaussian Blur of 6px, then another of 3px, and finally a last Guassian Blur of 1px and we should have this:

Next, we will Ctrl+click the Shine layer and goto Filter > Render > Lighting Effects. We will change Intesity to 43, Gloss to 47, Material to -82, Exposure to 7 and Ambience to 3. Also, make sure that the Texture Channel is set to Alpha 1 copy.

The text may have jaggy edges at the moment, so what we will do with the text still selected is goto Select > Inverse, then Select > Modify > Expand by 1px. Then we can hit the Delete key.
Next, goto Layer > New > Adjustment Layer -or- Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Curves and we want something like this (yours may be slightly different fepending on the font size, etc. so just play around until you get what you want):

The final image should look something like this:

Using this as a guide, you can tweak the settings to provide different results. Experimenting with PhotoShop is very much advised, as many many results are possible.