Create a Chameleon Car Photo Manipulation

In this tutorial I will show you how to manipulate a photo of a car to blend in with its surroundings similar to how a chameleon lizard blends in with its surroundings in nature.

Before I start I want to say that the basis of this tutorial will be the beginning stages of a car blending in with its surroundings if it could actually be possible. In my head if a car could do that it would gradually blend in with its surroundings until you couldn’t see it anymore. I could easily remove the car from the image entirely and say, “here is the chameleon car” but that wouldn’t be fun would it? It’s more fun to be in the middle rather than totally invisible just showing the wall. So this car will look like its just starting to blend in with the background.

So now on to the tutorial!

Here are the materials I used:

Open up the large car image and double click on the layer and when the popup window comes up just hit enter.

The car picture already has a background but when I worked on this project before making it a tutorial I liked the bricks with the chameleon effect more than the current background already in the image. So I decided to change it to the brick wall.

So open up the brick wall picture and copy it into your canvas in a new layer.

It is a quite large image so you need to size it down to fit and make the bricks actually look like the right size. So use ctrl+t to transform and size down the bricks.

I think that looks like about the right size to me but you can adjust yours how you want.

So we need to make enough bricks to cover the entire area so duplicate that layer and drag it to the right of the other bricks.

Do you see how the bricks do not look seamless after you duplicated the layer and moved it to the right?

The best way I found to make this look seamless from experimenting before creating this tutorial is to take the layer you moved to the right and move it to the left a bit over top of the other brick layer, just enough to cover up the half bricks that are showing.

Once you move that layer over a bit grab a soft eraser brush around 13px and start erasing where you see the seems. Zoom in about 300% and erase gradually until it blends.

Once finished you can hardly tell where the bricks go together

Duplicate the layer you just used the eraser brush tool on and move it to the right to complete the wall.

As you can see there is still some space above the wall that needs to be filled.

So click on your top brick layer in your layer palette, hold down shift and then click on your bottom brick layer to highlight them.

Next use the keyboard shortcut ctrl+e to merge those 3 layers together into 1.

To fill up the rest of the wall duplicate your main brick layer and move it all the way to the top.

Flip the layer vertical. To do this use the key combination ctrl+t on the brick layer in the canvas to transform it. Then right click it and choose “flip vertical”.

That almost makes it seamless at the top but you can see where the brick layers come together since they are the same bricks.

So use the same method as we did before to blend in the bricks in the previous steps. If it looks good enough for you there then just move on.

Move it down over the other layer a bit and erase the seems. Once you are done with that merge the rest of the brick layers together until you have 1 brick layer.

Now that we have the wall done we can go ahead and add the picture of the guy standing against the wall. So open the image of the guy and select him out of the image.

I made a selection around him using the pen tool.

After cutting out the person drag them into the current document.

He will be really big compared to everything in the image so use ctrl+t to size him down.

To gauge how tall to make him hide your brick layer so you can see him in front of the car.

I sized him down to wear his waist is right where the bottom of the windows are.

After that you can un hide the brick layer so it is behind him.

Make sure when you have him positioned his foot is flush with the bottom of the brick wall.

For added realism we need to add a shadow behind him. To do this I will create a new layer behind him then while holding down ctrl on my keyboard I will click on the little preview icon beside his layer:

If you do this correctly it will create a dotted line around him

In the new layer you created behind him fill it with the color black using the paint bucket tool.

After that we need to add some gaussian blur to it to make it look like a shadow.

So go to filter>>blur>>gaussian blur and use these settings:

I will use a soft eraser brush to erase the shadow from above his head and below his foot.

Its time to make a cutout of the car. This will probably be the most time consuming part of the whole tutorial. Use whatever method you like the best but I used the pen tool yet again.

After you make a selection around your car copy and paste it back in the document. Make sure the new cutout is above all the other layers and un hide the rest. Now it should look like the brick wall is behind the car and the guy standing against it.

Are you wondering if it will ever be time to add the chameleon look to the car? Well wait no longer the next step I will show you how!

Use the ctrl+click method we used to create the shadow behind the guy except on the car cut-out layer. Make the selection around the car again except copy the selection from the brick layer and paste it back in the canvas and drag it to the very top of your layers.

Move it to where it fits exactly over the car and set the layer to overlay.

Now that should look similar to this

So now on to the person standing against the wall. You should be able to see the part of his body behind the car since it is starting to go into chameleon mode.

First highlight the 2 layers you have of the person and shadow. I am not sure what your layer numbers will be but you can rename them to keep up with which layer is which. I renamed mine as you can see in this next screencap. To rename them just double click on the text and you can rename it.

Next duplicate the layers you highlighted and hide the other 2 for backup. I am going to merge the layers together so the shadow layer and Person Cut Out layer are one by using the keyboard shortcut ctrl+e.

With the selection made around the car click on the person cut out layer in your palette window and cut and paste the part of the body back in the document and drag the new layer above the chameleon layer.

As you can see when I pasted the part I cut back in its not in the right spot so just move it to where it makes him look whole.

Set that layer to overlay to blend it in.

In the last screencap you can see how you can see the brick layer over the car also on him which wouldn’t be true since he is standing in front of the wall.

So I will duplicate my Chameleon Car layer and hide one for backup. Zoom in about 300% and erase the part of the bricks over his body with about a 17px soft eraser brush.

Now I want to distort his body a bit since I think it would look a little distorted if you were looking through an invisible car.

For this I will use a few filters. First I will create a new layer above the body cut out and make a selection over the body with a rectangle marquee tool

Now fill that with the color black

Then go to filer>>render>>fibers and use the default settings

Rotate the layer 90 degrees counter clockwise or clockwise it doesn’t matter I just want the fibers to be horizontal instead of vertical.

Add some noise to the layer by going to filter>>noise>>add noise

The last filter I will use is the wind filter. Go to filter>>stylize>>wind and use
these settings:

Then hit ctrl+f 1 or 2 more times to use the filter multiple times.

Use the ctrl+click technique to cutout the distortion layer we are making in the shape of the body.

Now set the distorted layer to “linear burn”.

For the final touch I will erase some spots of the distortion and erase the parts showing on his shirt since that is showing through the car windows.

And here is the final result from this tutorial:

I hope you learned some good tips in this tutorial and thanks for reading!

By John Overbee

John Overbee is a graphic designer for the iEntry Network.

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