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Photoshop: Speeding Car Motion Effects
Martin Perhiniak on Thu, October 31st 0 comments
Cars can go fast, right... so why would you stick a vehicle on a road in your Photoshop artwork which looks stationary? Martin Perhiniak shows how to add speed to images in this tutorial.

This time we are going to turn a static photo into a dynamic composition using a couple of interesting effects in Photoshop. These are the photos we are going to use for this tutorial:


Feel free to download them and use them to follow the tutorial, but don't use them for anything else, especially not for commercial use or on other websites.

This is the effect that we are going to achieve:

Final effect

Step 1 - Opening up the files

We can start the whole process by opening up both files in Photoshop. We are going to start working on the photo with the car and first of all we will have to separate it from its original background to make the whole composition believable. To separate, we will have to make a mask and for these types of selections it is best to do it with the a Vector Mask using the Pen tool. If you have never used the Pen tool and paths before, here is a quick summary of the most important definitions:

Pen tool and paths

Step 2 - Create a Vector Mask

What you need to do is to create a Vector Mask for the car image. The easiest way is to Command/Control-click on the Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers panel. With this you will create a Vector Mask instead of creating a Pixel Mask. The advantage of a Vector Mask is that it is resolution independent (lossless) and easier to edit its edges using anchor points and handles. Another big advantage is that it can be used to follow curved edges very closely and easily. This is great for selecting cars or other vehicles for example.

Pic 1

Step 3 - Draw a path along the edges of the car with the Pen tool

This is probably the most time-consuming part of this tutorial and the most difficult as well if you haven't used the pen tool before. Make sure you have your Vector Mask selected and that the Pen tool is set to Path mode (option on the top left in the Options bar).

Once everything is set up properly you can start drawing your path along the edges of the car. What will happen when you click and create your first anchor point is that the car will disappear. The best way to see the edges but at the same time have some feedback of your masking is to reduce the Density of the mask in the Properties panel until you see the original image but also see a bit of transparent background, which will indicate the result of your masking. This is how your masking should look like (I added a white background layer to see the edges more clearly):

Pic 2

On this image you can see my paths I used for my Vector Mask:

Pic 3

There is one major rule about drawing paths and that is to try to minimize the number of anchor points. Only use them when necessary. If you have loads of anchor points on the edges of a selection you will find it difficult to adjust the mask later on.

Step 4 - Adding the cast shadow

To make the effect realistic we will have create a cast shadow before we add a new background. The easiest and most non-destructive way to create a shadow is to use the Pen tool again but this time in Shape mode and draw a Shape layer underneath the car's layer with black color. Once you have the shape you can again go to the Properties panel (CS6) or Masks panel (CS5 and CS4) and increase the Feather option to blur the edges of the shadow out a bit.

Pic 4

Step 5 - Blur the wheels

To make the car look it is moving we will use two tricks. First trick is to blur the wheels and second is to blur the background. What you need to do is to make an elliptical selection over one of the wheels and press Control-J to duplicate it onto a new layer (Layer via Copy). Once you have this new layer, you need to make a selection based on the contents of this layer (Command/Control-click on the thumbnail of the layer). With the selection active now, you can apply the effect by choosing Filter > Blur > Radial Blur and set the amount around 10 and the method to Spin. If you convert your layer in advance to a Smart Object and then apply this filter than it will become a Smart Filter, which means you can make adjustments to the values of the filter anytime in the future. That makes the effect non-destructive.

Pic 5

You will have to repeat this whole step on the other wheel too before you can go further. This will be a good practice to get used to this technique.

Step 6 - Make the shadows more realistic

You might have noticed that the cast shadow created with the Shape layer is not perfect. To make it more realistic I added another shape layer to draw additional shadow values below the wheels and then reduced the opacity of this layer to blend it in.

Pic 6

Sometimes these minor adjustment can make a big difference at the end.

Step 7 - Add new background

It is time to add the new background below the Shadow layers and position it to make the perspective believable.

Pic 7

Step 8 - Add motion blur

We can again turn the background layer to a Smart object before we use the following filter if we want to keep it non-destructive. To do this, just simply right-click on the layer and choose Convert to Smart Object. After this we can choose Filter > Blur > Motion blur with the following values:

Pic 8

This is how the composition looks like now:

Pic 9

Step 9 - Final adjustments

Last but not least, we have to also adjust the colors and exposure of the car and background. Select the background layer, add a Curves and a Vibrance adjustment layer using the following settings:

Pic 10
Pic 11

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and well done for your hard work :)

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