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This chapter is from the book

Project 2: Virtual Race Cars

I’m a big race fan. Other than the Grand Prix, though, there isn’t much racing in my neighborhood. I wish there were some NASCAR-type racing around. Most people will never get a chance to drive one of those stock car beasts, but at least they seem more approachable than those airplane-like Formula 1 race cars. I bet that with a little time, effort, and imagination, I could turn my four-door family sedan into a pretty good imitation of a stock car.

  1. Open the file that contains the car you want to modify (the file on the website for this project is called Gray Sedan.tif). I’m using the shot of a four-door, dark gray sedan that you can see in Figure 3.6.

  2. Figure 3.6

    Figure 3.6 A future stock car...feel the power!

    This is exciting. I’m starting to feel a little like Jesse James on Monster Garage. Let’s light those (digital) cutting torches and get down to it.

Building Some New Wheels

To help with the illusion, I used the Selection tool with the Selection mode set to Circle to grab a copy of the wheels from the truck that was featured in the last project (see Figure 3.7).

Figure 3.7

Figure 3.7 I thought the stock car needed beefier wheels.

Actually, it’s not the whole wheel that I want—I really only want the mags. I think they look more like racing wheels than the stock ones that came with the sedan.

You can grab the wheel off any vehicle, really. We’ll be deforming it into place in any event. Here’s how:

  1. With the wheel file (White Truck.tif) open and active, select View, Rulers to turn on the rulers.

  2. Select View, Guides to turn on the guides. Click and drag down from the top ruler to create a horizontal guide. Put the guide as close to the center of the wheel as you can.

  3. Repeat this process, but drag from the ruler at the left to make a vertical guide. Position it near the center, as well (see Figure 3.8).

Figure 3.8

Figure 3.8 Creating a pair of guides to help create a circular selection.

Grabbing a Mag Wheel

Now that the guides have been created, they can help you make a selection.

  1. Choose the Selection tool and set the Selection type to Circle. Using the center of the guides as a starting point, click and drag to make a circular selection. Depending on the image you used and how you placed your guides, it might take several tries to get the right selection. Don’t move the guides, though; just remember where you started your click and drag and then refine your starting point until you get a good selection around the hub of the wheel (see Figure 3.9).

  2. Figure 3.9

    Figure 3.9 A pretty good circular selection made with the help of the guides.

  3. With the selection made, select Edit, Copy to copy the wheel to the Windows clipboard. Then activate the Racing Car image and select Edit, Paste As New Layer to paste the new wheel into the existing image.

  4. Use the Pick tool with the Ctrl key to change the perspective of the pasted wheel by dragging a corner of the bounding box (see Figure 3.10).

  5. Figure 3.10

    Figure 3.10 Deforming the new wheel into place with the Pick tool.

    Use the underlying wheel to help with the placement and shape of the new wheel. They are both really just squished circles, after all.

  6. When you’re satisfied with the shape and placement of the new wheel, duplicate the wheel layer and drag the copy into place over the other visible wheel. You might have to resize the copy, but if the wheels are straight, you’ll probably not have to do any further shaping. You can see both wheels in place in Figure 3.11.

Figure 3.11

Figure 3.11 The beefier wheels in place on the sedan.

It’s Time to Add a Racing Number

Things are moving along nicely, but it’s time to add a racing number. I want the number to stand out a little, so I’ll put it on a circular background. Here’s how to do so:

  1. Select the Ellipse tool and select a fill and a stroke color. I chose a bright yellow.

  2. Use the Pick tool to deform the Ellipse shape you created. It should basically resemble the wheels you added, at least in shape.

  3. Use the Text tool to add a number. I used a somewhat fancy serif font with a 6-pixel stroke in red and a bright blue background. Hey, this is racing, right? I used Caslon 224 Medium at a size of 72 points. Note that if you’re following along with the file from the website and you don’t have the Caslon font, Paint Shop Pro X substitutes the font for Arial.

  4. Use the Pick tool to bend the number into place within the circle (see Figure 3.12).

  5. Figure 3.12

    Figure 3.12 Adding a racing number.

  6. Change the Blending mode of both the number layer and the circle layer to Overlay. This makes the new shapes blend into the existing picture rather than looking like they were simply stuck there (see Figure 3.13).

Figure 3.13

Figure 3.13 A blending mode change helps add to the realism.

All It Needs Is a Racing Stripe

The final touch for this project, at least as far as we’ll go for now, is to add a couple of racing stripes. The stripes will be added as vector shapes that can be poked and prodded until they bend into the desired shape. I like to keep each shape on its own layer because I find it less messy that way when I need to make any changes.

  1. Select the Rectangle tool and then set the fill and stroke colors. I chose the same blue I used for the interior of the racing number. Draw a rectangle near the hood of the car. The shape and size don’t matter too much because we’ll have to bend the shape into, er, shape.

  2. Right-click the shape and select Convert to Paths. This enables you to use the Pen tool to shape the rectangle. (see Figure 3.14).

  3. Figure 3.14

    Figure 3.14 Shaping the racing stripe.

  4. Right-click the lower-left corner of the rectangular shape and select Node Type, Curve After. Drag the newly created handle to curve the left side of the rectangular shape. The object here is to try to keep to the lines of the car.

  5. Repeat this process for the lower-right corner, but select Node Type, Curve Before. You can see the result of dragging the new handle on the right side of the racing stripe shape in Figure 3.15.

    Figure 3.15

    Figure 3.15 Molding the racing stripe to the car’s shape.

  6. Set the blending mode of the layer that has the racing stripe to Overlay. This enables the luminance (in other words the lighting, or highlights and shadows, if you will) from the layer with the car to show through.

  7. Duplicate the shape layer and, using the Pick tool, drag the new shape into place so you now have two racing stripes on the hood of the car (see Figure 3.16).

  8. Figure 3.16

    Figure 3.16 Two racing stripes added to the car’s hood.

  9. Using the same process you used to create the stripes on the hood, create two more on the roof of the car. At this point—after saving the file so you don’t lose all your hard work—you might want to rename the layers. I have a comfort point in the number of layers I see in the Layers palette, and this project is falling out of that zone. If you ever come back to a project like this, you’ll appreciate the fact that you renamed the layers. I named the layers Left Hood Stripe, Right Hood Stripe, Left Wheel, Right Wheel, and so on. The time you spend doing this now will be instantly paid back if you ever revisit this project.

  10. My final racing family sedan is shown in Figure 3.17. Honey, can I go to the store for something? Come on, we must need bread, milk, something...anything?

Figure 3.17

Figure 3.17 The average family stock car.

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