Editing car images with Photoshop

A couple of weeks ago I bought a Wacom Bamboo Pen graphics tablet, as I wanted to experiment further with the skills I have learnt over the last year or so on this Graphics course as well as combine that with my interest in cars. I didn’t want to get a more expensive tablet as I was not entirely sure how well I would get on with it. I’ll write up my thoughts on it soon, as well as review a book I’ve just received by Adrian Dewey, called ‘How to Illustrate and Design Concept Cars’ that has inspired this blog post.

So for this blog post, I just wanted to share a couple of my first attempts at editing a couple of images I’ve taken over the past couple of years. My aim here was to change the main colour of the body, wheels and various trim elements if needed.

Firstly, I started off with an image of a Lamborghini LP560/4 in white, which you can see below:

Lamborghini Before

From there, I wanted to select a colour that I feel has quite similar properties to white, so I chose yellow, a classic colour for Lamborghini’s to be painted in. At this point, I’m really not too fussed about the particular shade, as I know I can always adjust that through the Hue/Saturation feature in Photoshop when I’ve finished. I also wanted to darken the wheels so they were an extremely dark grey. You can see the end result below:

Lamborghini After

The next car I wanted to look at was a Range Rover Evoque, finished in Orkney Grey, standard silver wheels and trim. I’ve also blurred out the numberplate as well, for privacy reasons.

Range Rover Evoque before

Ever since the 2009 Land Rover G4 Challenge was cancelled, there has been a lack of orange Land Rover’s and Range Rover’s about. They were painted in Tangiers Orange, one of my favourite colours, so I wanted to match that as closely as possible. However, with it being a flat colour, and my starting point being a metallic car, this would not be totally possible. However, that did not concern me, and I think the metallic effect works great with the orange. I also prefer the darker ‘shadow-effect’ finish for the wheels, and I felt the tyres and plastic trim looked a bit pale due to the strong sunlight, so I wanted to darken them. You can see the end result below:

Range Rover Evoque After

So how did I change the images? I may well write a more detailed tutorial up on this depending on whether I get the time or think it is relevant, or I get asked to, but for now here are the basics:

Clone stamp tool: Great for blurring out number-plates. I start by clicking while holding the alt/option key, and from there click and drag across the numberplate (or brush using a graphics tablet) until the desired result is achieved.

Blending modes: This is really important as it allows for the brushing to adhere to the patterns of light on the car. For the main body colour I chose Overlay, although depending on the effect, different blend modes such as Multiply may work. As for the wheels and trim, as I was dealing with black, I chose to use Soft Light and lower the opacities if needed.

Brushes: I personally chose to use a hard brush in Photoshop, rather than a soft brush as it allows for a finish that is more precise. I vary the brush sizes, using a large size to cover large areas of bodywork, and then obviously a smaller brush for the detailed parts, such as brushing around badges that you don’t want to change the colour of. I correct any ‘overspill’ using the Eraser Tool, again with a hard brush selected.

How long did it take? Well, I wasn’t clock watching, but I think it took me, as my first attempt, just over an hour for the Lamborghini, and nearer two hours for the Range Rover Evoque, as there were more complex features to brush around, such as the lettering on the bonnet, and darkening the plastic trim.

Will I be doing more of this? Absolutely, I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve done today, and look forward to employing many more tips, tricks and techniques shown in Adrian Dewey’s book. Also I find it a book that is very helpful in terms of widening my horizons of what I can achieve in car designs, which is great, as it will allow my ideas to develop as well as my skill level.

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