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Automation Photo Editing Guide V2

AUTOMATION PHOTO EDITING TUTORIAL V2

I’ll start this off by saying that, yes I am aware of Titleguy’s photoshop guide, however I find that guide slightly outdated and incomplete, hence why I’ve made a more up-to-date and complete version. I suggest reading through this guide first prior to doing the photo edit and then following along with it.

I’ll be using Photoshop for this guide. It’s what I consider to be the most intuitive software, as well as the most powerful. You might be using GIMP or Paint.Net and that’s fine, you’ll still be able to follow along.

I’ve laid out the entire guide into 4 sections so that it’s easier to navigate. Thank you to all the people who’ve helped me and supplied me with their cars for this project. With that said, it is quite a long read so buckle up!


Part 1: Ambience, lighting and preparation

As you can see here I’ve got the brilliant 2022 Seikatsu Starcruiser and I want to edit it into a real life scene.

The first thing you want to do is head on over to a website that has high-quality car promo shots.

I use Wheelsage for nearly all of my edits since their images are watermark-free and very high resolution. Since we have a Japanese Land Cruiser-esque car I’ll look up recent Land Cruiser photos. Since both the J200 and J300 are nearly identical in dimensions and both match the shape of the Automation car, I’ll go with the J300.

Now that I’ve found my base image, I’m going to change the colour of the Automation car to match the J300 as best I can.

Now that I have set the Starcruiser up, I’ll head to the photomode. Since the Land Cruiser is in what looks to be an urban setting in neutral lighting I’ll try to replicate that using the Overpass photoscene and one of the Time of Day settings.

I’ve set the Aperture to max and the FOV to a relatively high value.

Now, since this is the trickiest part of the entire edit, don’t fret if you can’t get it lined up on the first try. Minor discrepancies can be altered within Photoshop but if you’ve severely messed up either the framing or lighting it’s best to take another photo.

Remember to always take your photos in 4K. It reduces blur and helps make the edit look more authentic.

Alright, now that we’ve taken the image let’s head on over to good ol’ Photoshop!

Lower the opacity of your Automation image and overlay it over the promo shot. Look for key areas like the wheel arches and even the roof and see if they’re both aligned.

It looks like I got quite lucky here and the Starcruiser matches the J300 almost perfectly. Further tweaks using the Transform tool will be done after cutting out the car.


Part 2: Photo editing

Alright, now the fun part. I’ll be using the Arco Civetta BeBop for this demonstration.

The hotkeys to the tools I’ll be using are as follows:

(S) - Clone stamp tool

(J) - Spot healing brush

(CTRL+T) Transform tool

(P) - Pen/path tool

Alright, having mostly lined up the Civetta with the 2 Series Gran Coupe from my base image, I can start cutting the Civetta out.

I’m going to be outlining the shape of the Civetta with the Pen/Path tool.

Only outline the body of the car, not the running gear or wheels.

Once you’re finished outlining the car with the pen tool it should look something like this.

Hit CTRL+ENTER to confirm the selection and then copy and paste the car back into the scene. After this you can hide or delete the full Automation image.

Right, now as you can see I didn’t line the car up exactly with the base image. I’ll use the transform tool to get the wheel arches to match up and the warp tool for further tinkering.

For the small gaps and traces of the base car left, I’ll use the Spot Healing brush and Clone stamp tool to hide it. If you intend to copy the windows of the base car, copy them before getting rid of the body of the base car.

To use the Clone stamp tool, hold the ALT button and click on a part of the car you want to clone. After letting go and using the brush it’ll transfer the same texture over to the brush. Sure, you could also use a solid colour but doesn’t this look more realistic?

For fixing minor blemishes like this, switch to the Spot heal tool and highlight the line you want to blend and smooth.

Continue this process for wherever you want to erase the base car.

For background areas like this all you need to do is erase them with the clone stamp tool

After a coarse erase, you’re going to want to use the Spot healing brush to smooth everything out.

After a minor touchup with the brush tool as well, we’re pretty much done with the hard part.

Alright! Now that I’ve gotten rid of that ghastly BMW entirely, it’s starting to look convincing!

One more thing I would suggest doing though is changing the colour balance and brightness of the Automation car so that it better matches its new environment.

Select the layer that contains the Automation car and head on over to Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast or Colour Balance

After setting the colour balance and brightness the edit will look even more convincing.

Another thing I’d like to mention is covering blemishes and tearing on the body of the car using the spot healing brush. It’s as simple as it sounds, really. Don’t overdo it though, or you’ll end up with a car that looks flat and boring.

And there we have it. A completed photo edit. If you’d like to add even more detail to it though, stick around for parts 3 and 4, both of which are going to be relatively short.


Part 3: Windows

Alright, so I’ve set up a side photo edit of the Norstrom N50.

As you can see I’ve already edited it onto the base image of an Audi A4, but I’m also in the process of cutting out the windows.

Using the pen tool, outline the Automation car’s windows and hit the delete key.

Now that all the windows have been cut out, hide the Automation car and outline the windows on the base car.

Once you’ve finished outlining, copy and paste the shape. Repeat the process for all the windows on the car.

Now that you have all the windows on separate layers it’s going to be a lot easier to maneuver them into place. Use the transform tool to do so.

And there we have it! Realistic windows on our edit.


Part 4: Wheels

For the final chapter, another quick improvement to an otherwise complete photo edit.

The 2022 [topsecret] Nagakaze. It’s pretty much done in terms of photo editing, but it still doesn’t look like the Automation version.

To fix this I’ll head on over to Automation, screenshot the rims and ask very politely in a public chat room what real life car they’re from.

Now that I know they’re from a Lexus LS500, I can search up images of that car in similar lighting/framing scenarios.

Looks like this could work.

Having imported and cut out the rims in Photoshop using the Pen tool, I’m left with something that looks like this.

Using the transform tool I line it up with the Mercedes rims and they fit snugly into place.

That’s it! You’ve made your first photo edit!

Now obviously you may develop a style or workflow that’s different, and if it works, it works.

Another big thanky to all the people that have lent me their cars for editing, here are the final edits.

Finalized photo edits

2022 Seikatsu Starcruiser - @Tzuyu_main

2018 Arco Civetta BeBop - @Portalkat42

2010 Norstrom N50 - @Reizei


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Thanks a lot for this guide.

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Even for those who don’t have the latest version of Photoshop (like me), this is still a useful expansion to the existing guide - now we can understand where all those high-quality photo edits came from, and how they were made.

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