Sports Car Photography | Post-Production

Following on from our previous live show, Karl demonstrates his complete workflow for retouching a car image in Photoshop.

Working through the different stages of the retouch, you’ll learn exactly what it takes to polish off such an image as Karl explains how to align multiple images, work with layers and masks, enhance contrast and sharpening, control highlights and shadows, and also clean up the background, floor and body of the car.

This session gives an overview of the process of retouching cars to give you an idea of the process and requirements that are commonly needed. If you’re unfamiliar with or want to learn more about any of the tools used throughout this class, please visit our Post-Production section.

Topics covered in this show include:

  • How to retouch car images using Photoshop
  • Aligning multiple images
  • Retouching workflow
  • Retouching the floor, background & car body
  • Removing reflections
  • Controlling highlights and shadows
  • Adjusting contrast and sharpness

If you missed the previous live show, you can watch the full Porsche photoshoot here.

To learn more about retouching automotive images, take a look at our ‘Studio Motorcycle Photography Post-Production’ class, where Karl demonstrates other useful techniques.

If you have any questions about this show, please post in the comment section below.


  1. Hi! I have finished building my ceiling panel out of an aluminium frame and white fabric for car photography. I have noticed that the fabric in combination with the studio flash creates a blue colour cast that is visible in the entire image. Not a huge problem with cars that are coloured in a shade of grey but it could get a problem with other paint colours. What would be the easiest way of correcting for that issue?

    Greetings Viktor

    1. Hi Viktor, do you have to use fabric? Can you not use solid lightweight plastic panels such as plastic foam core, then you can paint it pure white? If your fabric has a slight blue to it then there isn’t anything you can do other than use something else.

      1. Hi Karl, thanks for your quick reply. We stapled the fabric onto the frame which is why we can‘t change it that easily. I will keep the plastic panels in mind when I decide to rebuild it.
        I was thinking of an efficient post production solution to get it fixed but nothing has come to my mind. Do you have an idea?

        Greetings Viktor

        1. No not really i’m afraid, if the fabric has a colour in it then there isn’t anything easy to remove other than light the panel with a correction gel that cancels out the colour impurity.

  2. About size of PSB files. What I discovered is that you can remove areas of the layer that you don’t need, with an eraser. And that actually shrinks the file down massively. Also uses far less RAM. Especially – like you said – once you start using cameras with large sensors, like FujiFilm GFX – in my case.

    So in your case, I’d select the area of the bonnet and surrounding car bits that you know you might want – and just delete the rest of it on that particular layer. That will save you hundreds of megabytes per layer easy!

    Also, that saves the space in backup and when sending to “the cloud”, etc.

    I got more tricks like that, but I apply them as an IT/software consultant, so there would be a fee 😉

  3. Just a tip/thing I like: at 11:32 you change the opacity of the toplayer to align the layers. What I like to do is change the blendmode of the toplayer to difference. Where the images do not align, a clear light edge is shown. When they align, the whole image is dark/black.

  4. Hi Karl, great retouch.
    Long shot, but any chance you might release the raw files so we can practice this retouch ourselves?

  5. Great tips!

    I think at about 25:30 that dark black area you painted back in to the left of the Inspection Sticker (?) was a reflection of the pico-light Georgie was holding… was it not? It looks more like a placard laying on the surface of the windshield rather than a sticker (I could be wrong of course?).

    May I suggest adding a top hat and cane to the set when converting to .PSB… something for entertainment besides watching my ear-hair grow!

    1. Hi John, yes absolutely right it was the picolite – I’ve finished the whole retouch now and added a couple of extra things. 1. added a gloss line on the front right wing. 2. completed and levelled the gloss line on the front of the car. 3. I smoothed out the odd reflections of bits of studio equipment. You can see my final retouch on my website – With regards the time taken to save PSB files I’ve bought some tap dancing shoes and thought I’d try some sort of Fred Astaire rendition 🙂

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