Design a Classic Muscle Car Concept Depicting Horse Power


Step 1

An image speaks more than a thousand words. For this tutorial, I designed a strong graphic concept to show the power, energy, and nobility of the classic car. I needed to focus especially on the engine to show the raw strength of the car.
To create the composite, I needed another object as powerful and noble as the car. After thinking a while, I decided on a horse. There’s a reason to measure the engine energy in Horse power, so I’ll have the horse jumps out of the engine.
To create this particular design you’ll need a images of a car and a horse. They both should be shot from the same perspective. Once you find your images, create a new document 1600px by 1200px. Then fill the background with a dark green (#1D310C).

Step 2

Paste the car into a new layer named “Car.” Then delete all the white background using the Lasso Tool or Magic Eraser tool. As you can see, the picture had two metallic wires in the front. Delete them using a small Clone Tool and a lot of patience. Alt + Click to select the cloning source, and then paint carefully over the wire.

Step 3

Paste the “Horse” into a new layer. As my image is a little bit noisy I’ll fix the horse using Filter > Noise > Dust and Scratches with a Radius of 1px. Then you can extract the horse shape. Use the Lasso tool, but leave the horsehair and tail, as we’ll work on those in the next step.

Step 4

Now we’ll extract the horsehair. Duplicate the “Horse” layer and change the Input Levels to get only a silhouette. Also change the Hue / Saturation setting for Saturation to -100 and set the lightness below -50.
Select all the gray area on the “Horse copy” layer (you can include the gray behind the horsehair and the tail). Then go to Select > Modify > Expand and use 2px. Then select the “Horse” layer and delete the selection. Delete the “Horse copy” layer if you want as well.
A nice tip from Nik Ainley tells us to add a temporary Stroke effect to our “Horese” layer; this way we’ll see if we miss some areas during the extraction process.

Step 5

Resize both layers “Car” and “Horse”, and place them as in the picture below. Then select the “Horse” layer, and using the Warp tools, distort it’s back side just a little.

Step 6

Hide the “Horse” layer for awhile. Then using the Lasso Tool, make a selection as in the image below. Try to follow the chassis’ shape. Then select the “Horse” layer, and make it visible again. Then delete the selection from the “Horse” layer.

Step 7

Burn the right side of both layers “Car” and “Horse”. Then try to follow the guides below. Also, Burn the car’s wheels. This is not a definitive step, you can Burn or Dodge some areas of both layers depending on your judgement.

Step 8

Now we’ll apply a useful effect to improve especially pixelated images. We’ll apply it to the “Horse” layer first. Go ahead and duplicate it. Then click Filters > Convert for Smart Filters. This way you can redo the layer effects as many times as needed.
Add a Gaussian Blur Radius of 5px to the “Horse copy.” Then change the Blending Mode to Color Dodge and the Opacity to 80%.

Step 9

Repeat the previous step: Duplicate, Smart Filter, and Gaussian Blur, but this time with a copy of the “Car” layer. Change the Blending Mode to Lighten and the Opacity to 50%.

Step 10

Using the Ellipse Tool, draw a circle below the car (#35B115). Then convert it for Smart Filters, and apply a Gaussian Blur with a Radius 150px. Finally set the layer’s Opacity to 50%.

Step 11

Now we’ll add some sun burst shapes to our design. I downloaded these Custom Shapes from Deviantart to use for this.
Draw one huge shape. Make sure the shape’s center is on the middle of the document’s left side, as in the picture below. Then fill the shape with this color (#040C01).

Step 12

As you can see, the horse’s hooves are too white. You can combine the Burn Tool and a soft Brush to make them darker.

Step 13

Put all the “Horse” and “Car” layers including the copies into a new folder named “Car.” Duplicate the folder and press Command + E to merge the group. Add a light green Outer Glow to the “Car copy” layer. Use the values as shown in the image below.

Step 14

Using the Rounded Rectangle Tool, draw a rounded corner shape behind the car. Then Free Transform the shape to match the perspective. Convert it for Smart Filters and apply a Gaussian Blur of 10px. Then apply a Radial Blur with an Amount 100, Method Zoom, and Quality Best. Set the center of the Zoom at the middle left to the square, (see the bottom of the following image).

Step 15

Now Rasterize the “Car copy” layer including the effects; Do this by creating a new blank layer above the “Car copy” layer. Then select both, and press Command + E to merge them. Rename the resulting layer to “glow.”
Change the Blending Mode to Linear Dodge and Opacity to 75%. Apply a Radial Blur using the same values of previous step to “glow” layer, just press Command + F to re-apply the last filter; do this twice. Then put the “glow” layer below the “Car” group in the layer’s palette.

Step 16

Select the Eraser tool, and using a big soft brush delete some areas of the “glow” layer. Then delete the car’s shadow area and try to create a straight line on top.

Step 17

Duplicate “Horse” layer and put the copy below the original. Apply a Motion Blur by going to Filters > Blur > Motion Blur. Set the Distance to 70px. Then using a soft Eraser, delete the right zones of the motion blur.

Step 18

Using the Rectangle tool, draw a rectangle dividing the background by half. Then name it “Ground”. Set this color (#090F01) as the foreground. Select the “BG” layer and change the foreground color to this (#162A05). Finally change the “Sun stripes” foreground to this color (#040C01).

Step 19

Use a soft Eraser to delete the horse’s back leg. Also, use the Blur Tool to blur the horse’s back.

Step 20

Now we’ll add a little bit of smoke to our engine. First draw some random lines using a 50px Brush with the Hardness set to 0% into a new layer called “Smoke.” Select a 50-52px Smudge Tool, and distort the lines randomly. Finally add a Gradient Overlay using the values shown at the bottom of the images below.

Step 21

Next we’ll add some text to our design. For this I’m using a font called Raceway. Also, to create a shiny metal look apply a Gradient Stroke, Gradient Overlay, Bevel and Emboss, and a Drop Shadow. Use the values shown in the images below to apply the effects.


These techniques are useful for creating graphic concepts. Your result could be as simple as this one, or made more interesting by adding more images, textures, vector graphics, and whatnot. Your imagination is the limit!


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