Drawing a Car Lineart in Photoshop

by Dr Diablo | Adobe Photoshop | Intermediate

The very first step of drawing a vector style car is to create its lineart. Creating lineart is basically the process of drawing guidelines for your piece to help you identify the various areas of its colors. This process is very important to give your flow of work a comic look. In this tutorial we are going to draw the lineart of this Mclaren F1 using paths. You are required to have some experience in using Photoshop's Pen tool to be able to draw this car in detail.

Orginal Picture Used for Tracing
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Adding The Shadow (Optional)
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Setting Up Your Workspace

To make your tracing process easier and more accurate. Open the Mclaren F1's image in Photoshop, and put it on a layer other than the background layer. Fill the background layer white, by selecting it and going to Edit> Fill. Select Use Color and select white #FFFFFF.

Now go to the Mclaren's layer and change the layer's opacity to 35%. This way the image is more suitable for tracing the details of the car, as you can see in this sample.

the Path Window

Start off by accessing the Path Window by going through Window>Layers.

Explaning Path Commands

  1. This button is used for filling our path with the foreground color. We are going to use this to fill our shadows with color.
  2. This button is for stroking a path with a brush. You are going to mostly use this tool all throughout this tutorial.
  3. This one allows you to create a new path.
  4. Finally, this button deletes the selected path.

Our tutorial will be divided into four stages, we will start off by drawing the outer body of the car, we will then add the windows and headlights, then deal with the inner details of the car and finally draw the tires.

Outer Body

Use the Pen Tool (P) to create a new path in the paths window and trace the whole outer body of the car. Once done, create a new layer and select the Brush Tool (B), right-click anywhere on the canvas and select a plain brush with a diameter of 3px. While the Brush Tool is still selected, access the Path Window and apply the stroke to your path. You should end up with something similar to the image below.

Brush PanelDarwing The Body
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Inner Details (Windows and Headlights)

We are going to add the details required to show features such as the windows and headlights of the car. Repeat the exact same process above by creating a new path and then tracing the windows and headlights. This is not an easy job that will take you a lot of time and practice to be able to master it. However, the results are worth the time and effort.

Once you complete the tracing process, create another new layer again and select a brush with a diameter of 2px. Apply the stroke this path to get a result similar to the one below. You can view the full size screenshot to notice the difference between the thicknesses of the two paths.

Drawing Indepth Details
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Inner Details

We will now add the minor inner details to our Mclaren's lineart. Start off by tracing the details, but then apply a Brushstroke with a diameter of 1px.

Drawing More Indepth Details
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To add another level of detail to our lineart we will incorporate shadows into our piece. We are going to use the Fill Path with Foreground Color tool to apply shading colors in accordance with the original picture and then fill up the windows. To do this you will have to draw a path using a Pen Tool around the areas to be filled, and then use the Fill Path with Foreground Color tool to fill the path. This process is similar to what we have done previously, except for the usage of a path associated button explained in the first step.

Adding More Shading
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The final element to add to our piece here is the tires. This might sound like a hassle, but trust me, they are far easier to do than what you have already done. Select the Elliptic Marquee Tool and create simple circles that represent parts of the tire. When your done with the circles, you will probably have some parts of the tire that are left out, like the one that goes on the bottom of the tire. You could draw that missing part the same way you drew the inner details of the car, using the pen tool and the brush. The brush's diameter should be the same that was used to stroke the circles of the tire. Check out the screenshot below for further reference.

Finishing the Tires
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There you have it! Your lineart of the Mclaren F1 is complete. You can optionally add the shadow of the car as shown in the original picture if you want to.

Adding The Shadow (Optional)
(Click to Enlarge)

This concludes our tutorial, I hope that you learnt something new from this tutorial, feel free to email me on diablo@republicofcode.com for any comments or questions. If you are interested in coloring your drawing I suggest you check out Conceptoo's tutorial on Painting in Photoshop, you might like it. Feel free to in the Oman3D Forum if you need any help.

- End of Tutorial