With today's large-size printers, no one should have to go through the pain of producing a full-size, tape rendering, with all the masking and paint spraying. A scanned line drawing of your design is all you need to render your car in Photoshop, and make it look like the real thing. Print it large, hang it up on the wall, and blow away the competition...
Full-size side view rendering in Photoshop
Full-size side view rendering in Photoshop
Since the whole image is digital, the resolution can be bumped up later. Your file doesn't have to be much bigger than 100 MB. This will allow you to work at a decent speed on your computer. Put the line drawing onto its own layer and change the layer Blending mode to 'Multiply'. With that you can place the line drawing on top in your layer selection and all your color will go below it on seperate layers and not interfere with the line work, while still allowing you to see the original line drawing.
The way layers work, you can paint with broad strokes on elements in the lower layers because the layer above will hide the paint below. That's how I structure my work. Here, I start with the shadow and the tires in black. The shadow is blurred and only the outside of the tires are nice and clean. You can see that I also added some blue to the glass and hinted at some grey paint for the interior and tail section of the car.
blue to the glass and hinted at some grey paint for the interior and tail section of the car.
Using the path tool (something you just have to learn because you want the control), I basically cut out the whole body of my design. Silver is always a good color to render because it is neutral and reduces hard reflections that could take away from the design. I picked a medium grey with just a blue hue in it. This layer is on top of the one with the tire and glass color. It is very important to organize your layers. It will make your life easier, especially if you need to do some changes later on.
Now you are ready to sculpt your design. Study pictures or photographs to see how different colors with or without metallic paint reflect the environment. Have a plan of how you want to portray the body and the changes of surfaces on your design. Photoshop is a wonderful tool to allow you to add shadow and highlights to your design. Click on the dodge tool to highlight and use the burn tool to darken your image. You are working with the existing pixels and don't have to worry about masking etc. You can see how I have highlighted the shoulder of the car and put a dark core at the center of the car picking up some light from the ground again. You want to use large, soft brushes and take the time to get it right.
Time to build in some reflections and details. I started with the side glass and pillars, and added a light reflection. You can also see how I played with warm and cool tones. A cool blue hint on top reflects the sky, and a warm beige picks up some ground color. Taillight and signal lights, mirror, tire highlights are all features that will have to be done right in order to add realism to the design.
right in order to add realism to the design.
If you have the time to design your own wheels, render them separately and import them into your side view. Here, I just borrowed the design from an existing car and tweaked them a bit. Naturally they are a little bit bigger than a production version, but we have seen how big tires are emulating what designers have been doing for many years. You can buy 26 inch wheels these days, wow.
Anyway, showing very little rubber just always looks good. At last it is time to add some highlights. Don't go overboard with it, it can look like pigeon shit very quickly. That's actually an official term. Little white brush strokes should give the car a bit of sparkle. That's all and you are done. Carefully erase some of the line work in areas where it was used to help outline. These don't really exist on a car. Door cuts and grooves should stay.
If you want to put the car in front of a background as I have shown here, you can play with the side glass and make it see-through which gives the car more depth. Place your signature somewhere visible but don't let it interfere with the work.
I hope these steps have helped, and if you are interested in learning more about rendering cars, follow the links listed here and see if there is something that will help you develop your skills as an automotive designer. Good luck.
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