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Virtual Vehicles

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This chapter is from the book

Project 4: Toy Cars?

I think I’ll end this chapter with something a little lighter. Read on to see what I have in mind.

I had originally intended for this project to demonstrate how to take a toy car and make it barely fit into the driveway. A photo of a toy Hummer RC or Bigfoot-type of toy pickup truck would have done nicely. However, I was sitting in traffic recently when I spotted one of those new Smart cars. It was then that the idea struck me. I realized I could take a photo of a small, super-economical car and make it appear even smaller—say, the size of a child’s toy. As it happens, a neighbor has one of those new cars, so I grabbed a couple snaps of it while walking the pup (you really have to appreciate digital photography for that aspect of immediacy alone). The following project demonstrates what I did with that photo and one other. It just goes to show that simple can be good—simple being a relative term, of course. A bizarre sense of humor probably doesn’t hurt either.

Figure 3.26

Figure 3.26 The car sans background.

I agonized for a while thinking about how best to portray the car. Finally, I decided that the contents of the image would be most helpful in making the decision.

Take a look at Figure 3.26 to see what I mean. Figure 3.26 shows the photo of the car post background-ectomy, meaning I’ve already removed the stuff from around the car.

Notice the raggedness of the bottoms of the wheels. That’s where the grass was when the car was parked.

Given the raggedness around the bottoms of the wheels and the fact that the car was originally parked on (or near) grass, I decided that I could place the car in the grass next to my boxer puppy.

The lighting is often one of the hardest things to match up—along with the color, which is, after all dependent on the light. The fact that the shot of the dog was from about the same angle, taken at around the same time of day, and with about the same weather should mean that the two images will work well together. Also, both image were shot from about their relative centers. That will help with the illusion.

Figure 3.27 is the shot of the boxer puppy.

Figure 3.27

Figure 3.27 Sugrrr the boxer.

  1. Open a couple of images, the first being the shot of the auto you want to use and the second being the image you want to place it against. I’ve already removed the background from the image of the car. For several examples of how this can be accomplished, check out Appendix B.

  2. With the background of the car removed and the car image made active by clicking its title bar, choose Selections, Select All. Then select Edit, Copy. If you like, you can close the image of the car to free up some memory for Paint Shop Pro.

  3. Activate the second image—in this case it’s the photo of the boxer—and select Edit, Paste As New Layer. This places the image of the car into the image of the puppy (see Figure 3.28).

  4. Figure 3.28

    Figure 3.28 Putting the car and the puppy together.

  5. Select the Pick tool and use it to resize the car by clicking and dragging one of the corners of the bounding box. Move the resized car into position (see Figure 3.29).

Figure 3.29

Figure 3.29 Resize and position the car in the grass.

Doing a Little Yardwork

There is one more small detail that helps with the illusion, though. If you look closely at the photo of the dog, you’ll see that there’s a pretty small field of depth. Notice that I’ve placed the car, which is in focus, within that narrow band of grass that’s in focus in the photo of the dog.

If necessary, resize the car so that it fits within that bit of the grass.

The lighting and the color look good, but the car still looks like it was pasted into the photo of the dog, which of course it was. To help with that final problem, the Clone Brush can be used to clone some of the grass in front of car along the car’s bottom.

  1. With the car layer active, create a new raster layer to clone the grass to it by clicking the New Raster Layer Icon in the Layers palette.

  2. Select the Clone Brush and use it to copy some of the grass from the layer with the image of the puppy. Make sure the Use All Layers option is on so you can clone the grass to the new layer from the underlying layer.

Finishing Up

After finishing up the grass implants, I thought the car still looked a little too real. I figured that a little softening might be just what the doctor ordered.

  1. Make the car layer active by clicking its layer in the Layers palette. Then select Adjust, Blur, Gaussian Blur. I set the Radius to 2.00 because that setting seemed to give me the best result. That’s it. You can see my final toy car in Figure 3.30.

Figure 3.30

Figure 3.30 Great, my front lawn is starting to look like a circus tent.

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