I was looking at some car bodies. Think perfectly shot stock photograph using perfect lighting. You always see some amazing highlighting on the car body.


I wish to create a background for a website based on this highlight effect. What I want is for the background to look like a car body closeup complete with this kind of highlighting.

Is there a way to easily replicate this effect in Photoshop or should I look to 3D rendering for my answer?

  • exactly what you want car effect ? or background effect? – Jack May 18 '11 at 13:02
  • the car lighting effect. I want to use it FOR my background, but I want to know how to create the lighting effect. – Dan Hanly May 18 '11 at 13:09
  • what happened to the lighting effect answer? The answer may have been a little off-topic, but the lighting effect is a complex gradient tool, and I would probably use it were I to do this project... – horatio May 18 '11 at 16:44

I believe that the sample illustration was hand rendered (probably traced and altered) rather than using a 3d application, but the essence of the work is gradient overlays. I mad up a quick sample (see below).

row 1 is a black layer (left) and the same layer with a gradient applied to it (right)

row 2 left is a new layer with white fill, and a layer mask applied to it, along with about a 30% layer opacity.

row 2 right is the word car in black placed between the two layers.

row 3 left is the word with a bevel and emboss applied to the layer, and row3 right is the same layer with the addition of a gradient fill.

The gradient is has 4 points: gray to white to gray to white.

enter image description here


I'd say that the effect found in the image you've linked to is created through 3D rendering, however, this can be done in Photoshop with patience.

Mask off an area you want to highlight, create a new layer, and fill it white/black and muck around with the blending options (white with soft light might be useful for what's found on the front bumper, for example). It'll be quite painstaking to get it looking very realistic and plenty of different blended layers (and maybe some gradient white/black layers of different strengths) would be required but get it right and it'll look great.

  • 1
    That could also be an Illustrator file, using meshes for the color and highlights. I've seen some surprisingly realistic work done with those. – Philip Regan May 18 '11 at 14:01
  • Yeah, that'll work. Just re-read the question though, the question asks '..a way to easily replicate..'. The answer is no - it'll likely require lots of experimentation to get a realistic effect from all the different layers. – Scott Brown May 18 '11 at 14:04

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