Create a 3D Metal Bucket in Pixelmator

Create a Simple 3D Metal Bucket in Pixelmator



Difficulty: Intermediate


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For those just getting the hang of how Pixelmator works, this is a great tutorial to follow. It will sharpen your skills without being overly complicated and lengthy. You'll notice I use a lot of keyboard shortcuts in these tutorials. You can still go up to the menu to do many of these tasks but learning these shortcuts will vastly improve your experience and ease of workflow in Pixelmator, I recommend it!

Step 1 - Prepare Shapes

First start with a new canvas about 800px by 600px. Add some new layers so you have three transparent layers and name them as shown below. We are going to begin to build the foundation shapes so select the Layer named "Bottom" and using the oval selection tool, pull an oval 270px wide by 164px high.

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Fill this selection with black by hitting "D" to return to the default colors, (which will give you black as your foreground color) and then Option > CMD > F to fill. Keep the selection active for now.

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Next pull out two guidelines by clicking on the left side ruler and dragging onto the canvas, one on each end of the oval.

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Next select the "Top Circle" layer. Choose the oval marquee tool again ("M" toggles between rectangle and oval) and make sure you have the "add mode" selected in the tool options panel as shown. Pull a new larger oval above the last one, making it 318px wide by 164px high. NOTE: When you get to the correct size don't let go of the mouse yet, use the spacebar to lock in the size and allow you to move it in place as shown, finally let go when you are lined up.

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Now change your foreground color to white (X) and fill the selection again hitting Option > CMD > F. This will fill both circles but that's ok we will delete the bottom one later.

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You should still have the selection of both ovals active as we are going to add more to it. Pull two more guidelines to the edges of the larger oval. Next, click "L" to choose the Polygonal lasso tool (looks like a rectangle). Zoom in to see better by clicking CMD > + and once again make sure you are in the "add mode" in the tool options panel.

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Start on the left side of the larger top oval and go to the left side of the lower oval, click to set an anchor point. Move straight across to the right side of the bottom oval (hold SHIFT to keep a straight line) and set another anchor point and then go up to the right of the larger oval, set a 4th anchor point, and finally back over to where you started until you see the pointer say "close", click one last time to complete the selection.

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You will now see that we have made one shape of the entire bucket. Select the "Body" layer.

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Fill this new selection with white.

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We don't need the guides for now so right click on one of the rulers and choose "Hide Guides".

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Next turn off the Body and Bottom layers to reveal the Top Circle layer, select it and using a rectangular marquee tool (M) pull a box around the bottom oval and hit delete to remove it.

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Perfect now we have a top circle shape, body shape and bottom circle shape.

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Step 2 - Main Bucket

We will start to build the main body of the bucket. Turn off all three shape layers and add a new layer naming it "Body gradient". Next CMD click on the thumbnail of the Body layer to get it's selection shape.

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Select the new "Body gradient" layer and fill with the blue gradient provided in the resources. Use SHIFT to keep the gradient steady as you pull from left to right.

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Right click on the Body gradient layer and choose "Duplicate". We will use this new layer for a brushed metal effect.

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Go to Filter > Stylize > Noise and set to 30 with Monochrome checked.

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Now go to Filter > Blur > Motion Blur and use the settings shown below.

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We need to trim this effect by CMD clicking on the thumbnail of the Body layer to get it's shape.

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Then hit SHIFT > CMD > "I" to "invert" this selection and hit delete to trim out the blur. Finally turn down the opacity to 50%. Hit CMD > D to turn off the selection.

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Step 3 - Inside Shadow

Let's move on to create the dark inside to our Metal Bucket. First duplicate our bottom circle layer and move it up to the top of the layer panel. Turn this layer on and use the Move tool (V) to position it as shown below.

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Go to Filter > Blur > Zoom Blur and put the targeting rope under it center, and blur to 11.

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We need to trim the excess like we did before. CMD click the Top Circle thumbnail to get it's shape.

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Hit SHIFT > CMD > "I" to "invert" the selection and click delete to trim.

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Step 4 - Rim & Edges

Hit SHIFT > CMD > "I" again to revert the selection back to a regular oval. Add a new layer named White rim. Using the same selection, click SHIFT > CMD > O and add a 2px white inside stroke.

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Now create a new layer above the Brushed Metal layer and name it Inner Stroke. CMD select the Body layer to gets it's selection shape.

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Hitting SHIFT > CMD > O , make a black 8px inside stroke.

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With the selection still active, go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur to about 30px.

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Using the same selection we can add some Highlight to the front of the bucket to make it stand out from the back part. Add a new layer above the brushed metal layer and name it "Front Highlight". Next use a white to transparent radial gradient from the middle downward.

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Since we only want this new highlight on the front, CMD click on the Top Circle layer to gets it's shape and while still on the Front Highlight layer, hit delete.

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  • kimti leung says:

    hi man ,you are a good man, i like.

  • Mark Milligan says:

    It really is amazing what you can do with pixelmator. Good job.

    • Gamrcobe says:

      Looks great man! We’d love to see your Pixelmator work over in our Flickr group, called Pixelmator Design, post up if you can and your stuff will show up in the side bar of our site!

  • Joe says:

    How do you pull an exact size oval… Just watch the ruler? Or is there a way to warch the numbers move as you drag an oval?

    • Ashley Rich says:

      Joe, You need to enable the Info Bar, it can be found in View > Show Info Bar. Once enabled you will see the dimensions at the top of the canvas.

      • Joe says:


        That is how I was managing to do it. I was just confused since the screen shots never show the info bar. Thanks again. You guys got something awesome going on here. 

  • Guest says:

    Thank you, great tutorial, learned a lot.

  • Stephanie says:

    I just got my first Mac Book Pro the other day, and after some research purchased Pixelmator in hopes of it being a good replacement for the Corel Paintshop Photo Pro that I’m so used to. I’m so happy I cam across this website – it’s going to really help me learn the ropes with this!

    Thanks so much!

  • I Just started playing with Pixelmator and I have to say its pretty sweet. I’ve been using Photoshop for years but the price of the software and their demands have become prohibitive. it’ll take me a little while to find my way around in your app but so far I like what I see. Oh! And did I mention the price was right. With the help of Youtube tuts I should be able to get the hang
    of this software in no time. Thanks for creating software that’s not priced beyond the reach of most people. Good luck and keep up the good work.

  • charles says:

    Very good tutorial

    only one question, when you say “using the oval selection tool, pull an oval 270px wide by 164px high”

    how is it possible to make a perfect size selection with exactly 270px by 164px (or any other required size) ?

    I do that using guides but I hope there is a much better approach to achieve that.
    Looking all over the web I do not find anything.

    Any ideas?


    • Jacob Bordieri says:

      As you pull the oval selection you should see the dimensions, live in the info bar. If you don’t see an info bar go to View > Show Info Bar. Then you can double click on the info bar and make sure Dimensions is on. Hope that helps.