In a modern design studio the ability to use Photoshop, or indeed any PC or Macintosh based image-editing and rendering package, can lead to faster and more consistent work on a great variety of levels. Tie this with Alias 3D and PowerPoint skills and you become a more employable designer.
This tutorial will guide you through a method you can use to design/render alloy wheels using Adobe Photoshop, and is intended for those with a reasonable understanding of working in Photoshop. This 2D technique can be used to quickly illustrate and explore a range of design proposals, in conjunction with 3D modelling. Along the way you will hopefully learn new tools and techniques that you can apply to your own Photoshop work.
Tools used: Adobe Photoshop
This stage shows how the basic template of a wheel rendering is created. In this stage you will use the Vector Shape tool and the Layer Style tool.
Start by creating a new page at around 1600 by 1600 pixels. Onto this, snap some guides to the middle of the page in both the horizontal and vertical, thus giving you the exact centre of the image. Guides are created by pressing on the rulers at the side of the page and dragging onto the image. Now using the VECTOR SHAPE tool, which you must set to produce a circle from centre, drag a circle, which is almost the size of your paper (1.1). As you will no longer need to alter the size of this shape, you can change it from a vector shape into a bitmap image by Rasterizing the layer. Do this by selecting LAYER, RASTERIZE, SHAPE. Now you can add some layer effects. By double clicking on this layer, the layer style palette will appear. Onto this layer you want to add a GRADIENT OVERLAY and STROKE (1.2). You can do this by selecting the checkbox next to the effect you desire. By touching the text next to the check box you will see many variables you can adjust, related to that particular style. The layer you have now created is the basis for the rim.
Next you need to give the rim some depth. Again using the VECTOR SHAPE tool, drag out another circle, this time a little smaller than the first (1.3). Onto this you again want to apply a LAYER STYLE. This time you only want to add a GRADIENT OVERLAY, and you also want to invert its effect (making the top dark and the bottom light as opposed to vice versa). You can do this by checking the REVERSE checkbox in the GRADIENT OVERLAY options window (1.4).
Now you can quickly create the black circle that will form the hole in your alloy. Do this once again using the VECTOR SHAPE tool (1.5). Now you can create a brake disc.
Start by creating another circle, this time in a dark grey colour (1.6). Then carefully using the erasure tool dot some holes in the layer. Finally go again to the LAYER STYLE window by double clicking on the layer and this time add a BEVEL AND
EMBOSS (1.7). In the BEVEL AND EMBOSS window you may want to turn the depth up to maximum and the size to around "4" in order to get the best effect.
You should now have four layers forming the basic template for a wheel. Since by the end of this tutorial you will no doubt have many layers it is probably wise to put these four into a LAYER SET. It may also be an idea to save the image as a template, meaning whenever you want to design a wheel you just open this and go.
In this stage you will see how to use the ACTIONS menu in order to rotate any details you design (in this case the wheel nuts) in a mathematical manner. Begin by creating a hexagon using the vector shape tool and rasterize this into a bitmap layer (2.1). You now need to rotate this around the centre of your wheel five times.
To do this first create inside the ACTIONS palette a new folder, which you can call ALLOY ROTATIONS. Inside this folder you then need to begin recording a new action. The action tool works by recording any actions you perform on layer, and replicates them whenever you require. As soon as you create a new action the system begins recording what you do. You therefore want to copy the layer containing your stud and then rotate it around the centre point. Do this by pressing CONTROL and T and then move point of rotation until its snaps to the guides you created earlier showing the centre point.
move point of rotation until its snaps to the guides you created earlier showing the centre point.
Type the value 72 into the rotation box and hit return. Now remember to press stop in order that what you do is no longer recorded. You should now have two studs. Making sure that you have selected the layer with the second stud, press Play on your newly created Action, and another new stud should appear. Press play twice more and you should now have your full compliment of five wheel studs (2.2). To give these some depth first merge and link all five then use the BEVEL AND EMBOSS tool to give them some depth (2.3).
To now give the studs a hole to rest in you must create a small black circle on a new layer behind the first stud (2.4). Then using the same action you created the studs with, rotate this four times therefore giving you five holes (2.5). You can now give these some depth by again using the BEVEL AND EMBOSS tool, although this time using a DOWN BEVEL AND EMBOSS (2.6).
Finally you may want to add a small centre badge which is a simple task of creating a central circle (2.7), and then adding a GRADIENT OVERLAY, a BEVEL AND EMBOSS and a STROKE. (2.8)
The next stage is to decide how many spokes you want in your design. Once you have this figure you can work out what angles you need to work within.
This example uses seven spokes, meaning that there is 51.4 degrees between each spoke. Since you only need to design half a spoke however you will need to know half this figure, 25.7. In order to create some lines that you can design within, snap a guide to the top and bottom of the entire wheel. Then using the PATH tool, stroke a line
This example uses seven spokes, meaning that there is 51.4 degrees between each spoke. Since you only need to design half a spoke however you will need to know half this figure, 25.7. In order to create some lines that you can design within, snap a guide to the top and bottom of the entire wheel. Then using the PATH tool, stroke a line exactly from the top to the bottom of the wheel (3.1) then copy and rotate this twice through 25.7 degrees (3.2) (3.3).
Now using the PATHS tool draw in the design for one half of your spoke, remembering to go right to the centre and to accurately mate the design to the guides you have drawn (3.4). At this point what you are drawing is only the top face of your design. Drawing the depth of the spoke comes later. Now create a copy of the layer with your spoke and mirror it over the horizontal, remembering to move the point of rotation over. Merge and link the two layers and you now have one spoke (3.5).
Using the ACTIONS tool you can now rotate this spoke until you have all seven. To do this follow the instructions as for the studs, except this time rotate through 51.4 degrees. Remember to move the point of rotation to the centre of the wheel (3.6 - 3.11). Once you have done this merge and link each spoke.
Before you start to design the depth part of your spokes you can add a GRADIENT OVERLAY to the top faces of your spokes to give them a bit of shape. Now copy the path you used to create the top faces and modify it to your design for the depth element of your spokes. As before remember to accurately mate your design to the guides you have created (4.1). Now you can mirror this over (4.2) and then using the same ACTION you used for the top faces rotate this layer around until you have completed the circle (4.3). Once you have merged each of these to form a layer containing the depth parts of your spokes you can now add a BEVEL AND EMBOSS. The important trick here is to turn the DEPTH variable up full and then adjust the SIZE variable until the BEVEL AND EMBOSS disappears behind the top faces (4.4). This now gives the impression of being a full three dimensional design. For final effect you can also add a STROKE layer effect just to make your spokes stand out (4.5).
You now have a basic full alloy design to work on. You may want to again save your
You now have a basic full alloy design to work on. You may want to again save your design separately at this stage to allow you to produce designs with different finishing details (5.1).
To add some shape to the centre of the wheel you may want to add a centre cap with some depth. You can do this by creating a white circle using the VECTOR SHAPE tool (5.2). Next turn the layer settings of your circle to MULTIPLY. You will find this option at the top of the LAYERS PALLETE window. This will initially make the circle disappear. Do not worry about this, you must now apply a BEVEL AND EMBOSS to the layer and the effect will appear (5.3).
Another way to add more shape to your design is to add another bend in your spokes. A good way to do this is to copy the layer containing the top faces of your spokes, and then invert its GRADIENT OVERLAY (5.4). Next drag a circular selection from the centre of your wheel using a feather of around 40 - 50. Invert this selection and then delete the outer part of this new layer (5.5). To alter the radius of this bend all you need to do is try different feather values on your selected area.
Having done this you may decide that you want to change the sharpness of the dish in the centre of the wheel. Since every part of your design is on a separate layer this is a simple task. The example shows that by adding a GAUSSIAN BLUR filter to the layer created in 5.2 you can soften off this detail 5.6).
It is also possible to use the methods described in stage 5 to create details on the spokes. Here a triangular detail has been drawn on the top spoke using the VECTOR SHAPE tool. This has then been rotated onto each spoke using the ACTIONS tool (6.2). Once these have been merged and linked you can then change the layer to a MULTIPLY layer. Then, as before, you need only add a BEVEL AND EMBOSS adjusted to your preference to complete the detail (6.3).
You may also want to add a shut line around your centre cap. A good method to acheive this is to create a white circle (6.4) which you then turn into a MULTIPLY layer. Now add a thin STROKE in black along with a very fine BEVEL AND EMBOSS thus creating the edge of the centre cap (6.5). To create the edge where the alloy meets the cap, copy the layer you have created and set the BEVEL and EMBOSS to an OUTER BEVEL (6.6).
The very final stage you may wish to complete for a more realistic three-dimensional feel is a shadow from the spokes onto the brake disc. This is simple to achieve. First copy the layer containing the depth element of your spokes, then using the BRIGHTNESS/CONTRAST control turn the layer right down to black. You can then nudge this into position, remembering to try to stay faithful to the light source you have applied to the wheel (6.7). It is then a simple task of erasing where your shadow incorrectly overlaps the rim of your design and then adding a GAUSSIAN BLUR (6.8)
You should now be able to create a very basic alloy wheel design using Photoshop. The techniques you have learned here are simple yet can be combined to produce some astonishing results. The important thing to remember is that when working on the computer, so long as you save regularly and have an UNDO function, you cannot make a mistake. Use this to experiment and explore and you will soon have a whole new set of skills to take to prospective employers.
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