Create a Realistic Paper Clip in Photoshop

In this tutorial, I’ll show you how easy it can be to create a realistic paperclip from scratch. Typically, I would approach a project like this with heavy use of Layer Styles. However, I wanted to share a technique in which I rely on a single path to build the paperclip. Enjoy!

Step 1

This is the image we will be creating today:

paper clip 012
 

Create a New Document at 800 px by 300 px. Next, go down to the Background Contents section and click on the color swatch to change the background color of the canvas. I’ve set it to #DCDCDC.

paper clip 01
 

Step 2

With the Pen Tool (set to Shape Mode), draw a curved line in the shape of a paper clip.

paper clip 02
 

Step 3

With the Shape still active, go to the top menu and change the settings. First, set the Fill to None, the Stroke to #A8A8A8, and set the Size to 8 pt. Secondly, click on the Stroke Type options to reveal additional settings for the stroke. Thirdly, change the Alignment to Center and the Caps to Rounded

paper clip 03
 

Step 4

Make a duplicate of the shape layer and nudge it down a few pixels. This stroke will act as alight reflection. In order to do this, we will need to change the stroke settings in the Top Menu. Change Stroke Color to #C4C4C4 and the Size to 2 px.

paper clip 04
 

Step 5

Make another copy of the shape layer. This stroke will emulate a dark reflection. This time, move it back to the center of the paper clip. Change the Stroke Color to #979797 and Size to 1 px.

paper clip 05
 

Step 6

Make one last duplicate of the shape layer and nudge it up a few pixels, towards the tops of the paper clip. This layer will be our highlight. Change Stroke Color to #FFFFFF and keep the Size at 1 px.

paper clip 06
 

Step 7

At this point, out paper clip should look like the image below:

paper clip 07
 

Step 8

To break up the uniformity, add a layer mask to the last shape and hide the areas of the white stroke around the curve of the paper clip.

paper clip 08
 

Step 9

Lastly, to make the paper clip appear as if it’s resting on a surface, add the following Layer Style.

paper clip 09
 

You’re Done!

The finished image should resemble the following:

paper clip 10
 

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