Create a Rusty Chain in Photoshop


In this tutorial we are going to create a simple semi-realistic chain using some Photoshop effects and a texture. This chain is best used as a part of a bigger project. So if you need some chain in a photo manipulation that you are doing something like this would be perfect.

What You’ll Need:

Adobe Photoshop
This texture from Zen Textures

Step 1

Lets start out by opening up a new document in Photoshop, 500x500px


Step 2

Using the Rounded Rectangle Tool, create a rectangle about the size that I have mine with a radius of 30px. Change the color so you have a brownish-gray color (#574D44).


Step 3

Create another rounded rectangle with the same radius and color, but this one with be about half the width of the first one.


Step 4

Now what we are going to do is setup the wider rectangle so we can add a hole in the middle so the two chains will link together. First we are going to drop down the opacity on the bigger rectangle to about 50% and then put the smaller one in the middle so it looks something like what I have below.


Step 5

We are going to add some guides on either side of the smaller rectangle. First make sure that you have “Snap to” checked in your View dropdown menu.

After you add the guides on the sides, hold down shift and move the smaller rectangle down three spaces and put a guide on the top of it. Move the rectangle up six spaces and put a guide on the bottom of it.


Step 6

Bring you opacity back up to 100% on the larger rectangle and move the smaller one off to the side.. Click on the icon in the toolbar to add a new rounded rectangle, and click on the “Exclude overlapping shape areas” button. Make sure you have the larger rectangle layer selected. Create a new rectangle in the middle of the larger rectangle inside the guides. This should give you a hole in the middle of the larger rectangle.


Step 7

To give the links some depth we are going to add a bevel/emboss to them.

Click on the first icon on the bottom of the layers palette and open up Bevel and Emboss. Change the settings like I have them to get the 3D look. Change your highlight color to #FFEED2 and your shadow color to #443416.


Step 8

Now we are going to give our links some texture. So go to Filter>Distort>Ripple and when it asks you to rasterize your layer just press ok.

In the settings change the size to Medium and the amount to 41%.

Repeat this for the other link as well.

Duplicate both of the links with Ctrl+J, because we are going to have to use the originals later on.


Step 9

We are going add a texture, but before we do that we are going to open it up in Photoshop. So go get our texture from Zen Textures ( and open it in Photoshop.

Now go to File>Save As and make sure you save it as a Photoshop file. We are going to use this for a Displacement map next.


Step 10

Click on one of the links and press Control + J to duplicate the layer. Go into Filter>Distort>Displace and change the settings like I have them below. Press ok, and open up our texture that we saved.


Step 11

The Displacement is going to give us a really rough edge, which we are going to get rid of. Control and click on our original link to select it, then do Control + Shift + I to get the inverse selection and delete. This should get rid of the area we don’t want.

As you can see, it gives our link a little more of a distorted look.


Step 12

Repeat steps 10 and 11 on the other link.


Step 13

Open up or texture file and bring it into our document and using Control + T (Free Transform) shrink it down to 20%. Make sure the texture is the top most layer, and change the blend mode to Overlay.


Step 14

If you are using a white background you’ll notice that the texture is only visible on the chain links. If you put your link on a different color the texture will show up, so we want to get rid of our extra that we don’t need. To do this Control and click on one of the non-displaced links, click on the texture layer and do a Control + J. This will duplicate the selected layer.

Repeat this with the other link. Once you have duplicated the texture for both the links we can drag the original texture layer to the trash.


Step 15

We are going to drop down the saturation of the texture. Go into Hue/Saturation and drop down the saturation to -60. Do this with both of the links.


Step 16

At this point we should have three layers for each link: the original, the displaced and the texture. We want to merge the layers so there is only one layer for each link. To do this we are going to click on one of the layers and then click on the empty box to the right of the eye icon. A link icon should appear in the empty box. This will link the layers together. Link all the small link layers together and press Control + E to merge them together. Do the same thing with the large link.

So now you should be left with the two link layers and a background layer.


Step 17

Now we can start linking them together. You can duplicate the links with Control J. You should end up with something like what I have below.


Step 18

To give it some final touches we are going to add a shadow. Control and click on the large link in the middle and create a new layer (Control + Shift + N) just above the large link layer.

Using a brush with 0% hardness at 70px, paint with black, around the where the two links meet as I have below.

You can do this with the other visible links also.



Here is what I came up with for my final outcome.


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Only comments in English will be approved!


  1. 07/11/2009

    you sharing such a cool techniques about Photoshop where we get ideas for rusty designs even can experiment in website design as well. thanks

  2. 14/11/2009

    excellent it is very cool

  3. 30/11/2009

    Interesting article. I thoughut to let you know that you website wasn’tt getting displayed rpoperly on skyfire mobile web browser on my pda.

    Have a good tmie…ssorry for typo mistakes

  4. Sly

    Having a problem with inverting (Ctrl+Shift+I). Whenever I select the original link with the copy the invert option is not avaliable. What would I be doing wrong?

  5. 13/05/2010

    Try going to Select>Inverse

  6. Sly

    It doesn’t give me the option to click. As in its grey and can’t be selected.

  7. 14/05/2010

    Try selecting the layer, and then going to Select>Load Selection

    If that doesn’t work, let me know what step you are having trouble on and hopefully we can get it squared away.

  8. Sly

    I go to Select> Load Selection. This highlights the area. I can then click on Select> Inverse, this highlights the entire page but does not change the roughness shown in step 11. I then try to (Ctrl+Shift+I) then delete with no results.

    Another try where I select the orginal layer and the distorted one. I cannot select anything when I attempt this step.

    Sorry for the trouble.


  9. 15/05/2010

    In step 8 I should have put that both the chain pieces need to be duplicated with Ctrl+J.

    Then save the texture and add the displacement map as in steps 9 and 10.

    Now click on the left chain layer that we didn’t displace and go to Select>Load Selection. This should select just that piece of the chain. Go to Select>Inverse to select everything except the chain.

    Click on the displaced layer and delete. This should make it so the inside bevel (that we created in step 7) more wavy and old looking. Repeat this with the other chain link.

  10. Sly

    Fantastic thanx so much!!

  11. 20/06/2010

    Thank you for your help!

  12. Owen T

    Awesome tutorial. The rust looks very realistic down to the color and the texture. It actually inspired me and I got my designer from to design me a logo based on some of the elements I liked and it turned out better than expected. Moreover, it was affordable as well. Save me all the time and trouble… Haha. Thanks for posting this by the way.

  13. 30/08/2010

    Nice looking effect!very 3D

  14. This was a really great post by you hope to come back more very soon.

  15. muffie

    How can I download the final chain?

  16. 15/12/2011

    This is the right blog for anyone who wants to find out about this topic. You realize so much its almost hard to argue with you (not that I actually would want…HaHa). You definitely put a new spin on a topic thats been written about for years. Great stuff, just great!