How to Get The Look of a Studio Car Shot

Few of us have direct access to a studio large enough to comfortably accommodate a car, or for that matter a car that we’d want to shoot in a studio! However, attend any car event and there will be a whole host of vehicles that we can dream of owning. While the owner might not be too pleased if you drove off with the car itself, a quick snapshot will at least give you a small memento to take home.

autoshow car reflection in photoshop

A big issue with event photography is always the amount of clutter that distracts from the main subject. At the event, it’s impossible to clear the surrounds for a clean shot from the desired shooting position and angle. but back in the digital darkroom it’s easy to isolate the car and replace the background. However, while the removal of the background will clean up the image, for this shot we want to give the impression that the car was photographed in a professional studio, and not only that, but one with a reflective floor. These are the tricks that the best stock photos utilize, the competition has become so fierce that photographers have had to evolve in creativity and technical prowess.

This may seem easy enough at first, especially if the car has been shot from the side and on the level because then it’s just a case of mirroring the image and masking. However, if the car has been shot from a more common standing position and at an angle. a straight vertical flip just won’t do the job. A few more advanced techniques need to be employed, splitting the reflected image into planes and warping them into the required shapes. So, with your dream machine image ready, here’s how to get the look of a studio car shot.

Step 1 : Select the Car

Select the Car

Click the Quick Selection tool. Make the selection then press Q to enter Quick Mask mode and use black and white brushes to clean up. Double-click the Background layer and then add a Layer Mask by clicking the icon at the foot of the Layers Panel.

Step 2 : Select The Front

Select The Front

Add a new blank layer, then drag it below the car layer and fill it with white using Shift+F5. Click back onto the car layer and duplicate it with Cmd/Ctrl+J. right-click the Layer Mask and choose Apply Layer Mask. Select the Polygonal Lasso tool and in the options set the feather to 2, then select the front of the car.

Step 3 : Reflect The Front

Reflect The Front

Press Cmd/Ctrl+J to duplicate the layer, then right click the bounding box and choose Flip Vertical. Hold down Ctrl and click the right middle point to adjust the perspective. Click and drag inside the box to move it into position then press Enter to confirm the change. At the moment the vent doesn’t look quite right.

 Step 4 : Fine Tune The Reflection

Photoshop car reflection Fine Tune The Reflection

Use the Polygonal Lasso tool to select the front vent and use Cmd/Ctrl+J to copy it to a new layer and then move the layer to the top of the Layers Panel. Drag it into position and transform it to match the angles. Select the Brush tool, hold down Alt and click near the script on the vent.

Step 5 : Create The Shadows

Create The Shadows - photoshop car reflection

Use the Brush to remove the writing and drag the car layer back to the top of the Layer Stack. Hold down Cmd/Ctrl and click the car to remake the selection, then press V and use the cursor keys to move the selection down slig htly. Create a new layer below the car layer, and refine the edge with a feather of 7.

Step 6 : Reveal The Reflection

Reveal The Reflection

Continue working around the car, selecting areas and moving them into position. For tricky areas, use the Warp tool to help manipulate the edges. Select all duplicated layers and press Cmd/Ctrl+G, hold down Alt and Click the Layer Mask icon, select a white brush and paintonto the mask to reveal the reflection.


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  1. Interesting article. Can we see the final image?

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