First off, I am new to this. I just got into making it because it was something new and because I plan on making a flash site soon and I would like to use these cars as part of those future animations.
Don't expect to read this and make it look amazing in 10 minutes. I can do that, I have experience that helped me out a little. You will need to get used to the way pictures react to the program you are using.
To use this tutorial you will need either Photoshop, Aperture, Fireworks, or one of the later versions of Paint. To make sure whatever program you are using is suitable, make sure you can do the following things;
Eye Dropper tool- Imaging tool that lets you "pick up" or select all the pixels/areas in a picture with that color surface.
Non contiguous eraser- It's just the paintbucket set to erase all the areas of the color you choose without having to have the areas touch.
Define custom colors- You will need to be able to replace/create gradients of colors to simulate the shading. Older versions of MS Paint may not have this. You will know if you have it because you opened this thread.
Okay so if you are still reading you have all of the above. Now we need a subject. You can start with a picture or with a blueprint. We will start with a blueprint because it is harder. I have choosen an Escalade for this tutorial. It's a big picture, it's a boxy truck, and it has alot of straight lines. Perfect to start off with. Feel free to choose another car but remember that we are learning how to do this the hard way to make the easy way even better. You will appreciate getting comfortable with what you're doing this way.
So now we have our blue print here;
Open the document. Go to IMAGE then go to MODE then go to RGB COLOR whenever you start off with a file other than a JPEG. This will let us duplicate the layer in photoshop. You people on MSpaint can skip this step.
Simplify the lines, remove anything that makes the truck look too rough when you zoom out. We are not going to need every single detail from the blueprint. This blueprint however is pretty good, nothing has to be removed. If you would like to remove things like emblems and doorhandles do it now. I will remove both. Start to erase what you don't want. Make it a convertible, pickup, or whatever else.
Now here is where having MSPaint complicates things. I feel this blueprint has shallow lines, and they aren't thick enough to see with good detail when we zoom out. As a result you will have to trace the blueprint and make the lines darker. Feel free to skip this step and let me know how it goes.
Trace the blueprint with the pen tool, or line tool if you think you would like to. In this case I just turned up the contrast to make it simple.
Now I will begin to fill in the easy areas. Color things like the headlights, tailights, or windows.
What happened? The blueprint is not smooth, you will have to fill in those areas LAST. Usually such small imperfections cannot be seen at the size the final image will be.
Okay, now it's starting to look like a real Escalade.
Now we move on to coloring the body. Start with the median color. What? It means you start with the color the majority of the car should be, leave some room for it to have some lighter highlights and darker shadows in the same hue.
Choose your color and use that paint bucket to color the areas.
I will not paint the lower end of the truck because I don't need that to be a light color. I will also leave the fenders white to add highlights later.
Now let's move on to adding shadows and darker color where we want it.
More color. (I decided I hated the blue I chose before and changed it.)
Now we need to start shading. Add a new layer FOR EVERY COLOR YOU ADD. I did not do that because I didn't think I would need it, I was wrong. Use the eye dropper to select an area. Now go in with a hard paintbrush, pencil or line tool and shade the area around where you want it with a lighter or darker color.
Repeat that last step everywhere you want shaded. Choose an area and lift it's color with the eye dropper tool. Then enter the color selection list and choose the next lightest or darkest color to the one you picked up with the eye dropper. Then apply the light/shadow where you need it. Try to make smooth gradients.
Zoom out and decide how many additional layers of color you want to add. People who have been doing this much longer ask why theirs cannot achieve the layer of detail I get. It is because I add more gradients. Whether you use MSpaint or photoshop, keep adding lines of lighter/darker color where a real car would have them. Play around with LEVELS, HUE/SATURATION, and the amount of colors/layers you add.
Now just zoom in and add little details with the pencil or paintbrush to fill in those little areas that were there from the beginning.
When you're done is entirely up to you.
I will go over the picture method where the pixel car is made from a jpeg of the actual car sometime after the weekend.