Automation Photo Editing Tutorial

Hey everyone! I’ve been getting tons of questions about how I photoshop cars to look more realistic. Well, in this tutorial, I’ll give you a very basic breakdown of how I get it done. Remember - this is my method to photo editing. Your method might be different, and that’s okay! If it works, it works - do what you want to do!

This tutorial will be broken down into 3 major steps.

Step 1.) Alignment. This will show how you can align the car to the photograph the best you can, along with removing any strange perspective issues that may make the photo look unnatural.

Step 2.) Major changes. This includes rudimentary changes to match your car to its new environment.

Step 3.) Basic detailing. For now, this includes pretty big detail changes such as changing the wheels and adjusting the license plate or grille. However, in the future, more detail work may be showcased.


Step 1 - Alignment

The first step in aligning your car properly is choosing a base photo that generally matches the size and shape of your car; it doesn’t need to be even close to perfect, but the closer your car matches in the beginning the less work you’ll have to do in the future. To work on a kei-sports car, I’ve chosen a photo of the Honda S660 as a base to superimpose the Kimura K-INETIK onto.

Next up, you’re going to want to put your car onto a photo scene that gets close to the lighting found in your photo. I find that for outdoor photos, the Isle of Skye location works pretty well (be wary - when adjusting the lighting in-game, currently only the beta version has changable lighting for the Isle of Skye.)

Now, you should roughly estimate what the angle of your car should be. After finding a somewhat similar angle, I like to have my reference image open in one tab and automation open in the other. Using the Alt+Tab hotkey combination, you can easily jump between your open windows, which makes comparing the two photo angles super easy.

Now this angle looks pretty good, but it doesn’t totally match the lighting of the reference. I’ll adjust accordingly, and…

Alright! That doesn’t look too bad! I’ve zoomed into the photo as much as I can along with raising the aperture to it’s maximum setting so that when I take the photo, I can get the maximum amount of detail when I resize the car for the new image.

Now, time to start fresh on Photoshop. Create a new document with your reference photo - make sure to save constantly! It suuuucks to lose all of your effort when you’re working with technology.

As you can see, I’ve copy-and-pasted the new car onto the new image. It’s pretty much just chilling out here, so obviously there’s a little bit of work to do. You’re going to want to select the Path Tool using the hotkey P or selecting the highlighted symbol on the left. This tool allows you to make a “path” of which has many uses: here, we’re going to use it as a way to select the car with high precision. You’ll definitely want to zoom in on your photo, too. This can be done with the Zoom Tool using the hotkey Z or using the symbol highlighted in red.

Now that you’ve made your path tracing the car ~very meticulously,~ you can go ahead and select the car. This can be done with the Ctrl+Enter hotkey; however, in order for it to work, you must have your path selected. This can be insured by either selecting it on the “paths” window on the right side of the workspace on the top of your “layers” workspace or by using the path tool ( P), holding down CTRL and left clicking your path. You can now cut using Ctrl+X or copy using Ctrl+C your selection.

Now that you have a new separate layer for the new car, you can use the Move Tool with the hotkey V or by selecting the symbol highlighted on the left. With this, you can drag the body around and scale, skew, perspective-ise, and/or warp it to your car. For me personally, I choose only the move and scale the body. There are many ways to fit the car your base; some people choose to allow it to fill up the space taken by the previous car, and others choose to fit it to the wheels. I’m in the latter group; in the next photo, I’ve fit the car to the wheelbase of the S660.

Alright, cool! The K-INETIK is in the picture now. That being said, it’s pretty obvious that it’s still on the background of the S660… I mean, just look at how the body of the S660 peeks out the back and front of the car. That wheel alignment, too, isn’t looking too hot - and that’s ok! We can zoom into the place we want to focus, again using the hotkey Z and make some changes. I’ll zoom into the rear of the car.

Now that we’re zoomed in, we can select a color from the photo to use to cover up the rear of the car using the Eyedropper Tool with the hotkey I or highlighted in green; this is really useful in situations like this where the background is a mostly flat shade. Then, select the Brush Tool using B or by clicking the tool highlighted in red; right-click on this tool to select a brush that’s appropriately sized to cover up the rear of your car.

Suddenly, it’s like the car was never there!

Now, let’s scroll down to the rear fender of the car - there’s a bit of work to be done here too, but we can’t simply brush over it this time. Instead, I’m going to use the Rectangular Marque Tool with M or by choosing the tool highlighted in green to select the space behind the tire.

I’m going to copy and paste this part of the car and then resize it to stretch over the rear tire. Then, by right-clicking the Marque Tool on the left (highlighted in green), I’m going to select the Circular Marque Tool (which will become the default M hotkey).

Delete the area with the backspace key and keep on working on that until… Boom! We’re all clear!

Looking at the whole car now, it still seems pretty wonky. We’re going to have to fix both of the front wheels and the wheel wells.

Since it’s a little more obvious, I’m going to fix the wheel wells first. Here’s a little refresher: use the Brush Tool with either B or by selecting the icon on the left; then, use the Eyedropper Tool with the hotkey I or by selecting the icon and then choose the darkest part of the wheel wells. Create a new layer and brush over the wheel wells with your preferred brush size and hardness; here, I chose a round brush size of 60 px with a hardness of 50. Just a few strokes later, and voila! Much better than before.

I still want to change the size of the front tire and also bring it in front of the now shadow-y looking wheel well, so I’m going to use the Path Tool again. It’s going to be copy-and-pasted to a new layer in front of the wheel wells, and then I’m going to scale it up until it’s at the desired size.

Next up on our fix list is the front right tire. Our old pal, the Path Tool, is coming into play again.

I copied and pasted it, moved it to about where I think it should be, and we’re set! Just go over it with the Eraser Tool with the hotkey E (or choose the tool on the left), select a brush using the right-click with a low hardness setting to blend it, and we’re good to go!

Don’t forget that anything can use tweaking when it’s done! I felt like the car was a little bit low-set so I moved the car up to fit the way I wanted it to. And that’s all I can teach for alignment! These techniques are versatile for pretty much any sort of photoshop work, so after this you can pretty much do anything that you need to make your car look really natural! Don’t forget to save your work with CTRL+S.

Step 2 and 3 coming soon™!