If you have a beloved car and a beloved camera, it’s practically your civic duty to use one on the other. So, to do this I waited till dusk, drove (roared) to a decent location, and whipped out my Canon 40D. Then came the Photoshop Car Retouching!

Then I opened up Photoshop and played with it a bit. I tried to keep it natural instead of going too overboard with the retouching.

First thing I want to mention – if you’re shooting car photography, most of the time it looks better if you shoot it on your elbows and knees. Shooting below the car, or some other creative non-everyday angle, will produce a much better photo than just shooting it at standing height. So wear something that you wouldn’t mind getting dirt on, and watch out for ants.

So, I got home and opened up the image in Photoshop in all its low-contrast goodness. The very first thing I did was notice the unsightly blotches that adorned my otherwise beautiful baby – the little nicks, scratches, and grime clumps that show up in many car images. Usually to get rid of these I would use the healing brush, which makes it hard to work around edges and other detail.

However, in this case I had another tool – Topaz Simplify. I actually just duplicated the layer, Simplified it, and masked in the Simplified parts where I would have regularly used the Healing Brush. The advantages to this are that edges and color are preserved while the minor blemishes get removed, unlike when using the Healing Brush.

My next step was to apply this oh so brilliant creative exposure, detail, and color software that I somehow had access to. I’m not going to tell you exactly what settings I used because I always like encouraging people to try using the sliders for themselves.

For this pass of Adjust, I ignored the sky and only focused on what made the car look good.

I tried accentuated the reflections while still keeping the car looking natural. Then I ran Topaz Adjust again, this time focusing on the sky. Afterwards, I masked out everything but the sky by utilizing clever masking techniques brushing on a layer mask.

The only thing left after this is to brighten the chrome horse and headlights, and darken the grill a little bit. Slap a small gradient vignette around the photo, and we get the final result.

And that’s it!

Simple steps:
1. Remove blemishes with Simplify and layer masking
2. Apply a layer of Topaz Adjust on car
3. Apply a layer of Adjust on sky
4. Dodge and burn select parts, add small vignette effect

Oh, and for a finishing touch, I added some Photoshop prowess, millionaire magic, and a dash of delightful dreams.

Just kidding. Hope you enjoyed the tutorial.

Please let me know if you have any specific questions about any of this, because I know I skimmed over how exactly to do a lot of what I described. Just drop me a comment for the full scoop on any questions or comments you may have.

This post was originally posted on July 27, 2009