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Up until this point the sketch is a bit two-dimensional so the background is obscured and blurred out slightly to make the area of greatest interest also that of the greatest contrast and sharpness. In order to begin sharpening, some white highlights are added to the grille and headlamps to strengthen this area as the focal point. The lines of the design naturally lead your eye here anyway so it doesn't need much help.
To add some punch, hard dark reflections are added to the bodywork on the shadow side of the car. In doing this the dark value are shared giving much more cohesive, strong image.
A bit more headlamp detail is applied and some highlights of varying strength go where the more important features are. Extra darkening of the bonnet feature to the right confirms the direction of the main light source which is suggested by the shadow direction. From now on you know which areas to show in light and shade so that the form can basically be read without the need for too many explanatory section lines which may distract from the aesthetic.
Using the quick mask tool put some reflections in areas where you know there is a crown to the surface over which a reflection is likely to form. As you can see it is very inexact at this stage and intended merely as a way of helping the eye see a more complete form. A shadow wrapping round from the ground shows that there is a rounded form underneath the car.
A few quick lines are all you need to use as a base for working on; enough to place your main features and no more. The next thing to do is apply a broad sweep of airbrush over the area of the car that is nearest the eye. This shows a beginning of a volume formed by light and shade.

In this tutorial it is assumed that you already have a design theme worked out and know roughly what your car will look like. Ideally you would be working over a photo of a clay or screenshot of an alias model. I have chosen a supercar to show the methods used here because the forms are exaggerated and it is easier to see how they are being rendered. It is a very fast method and one I use when working with a modeller if we have decided a modification is required because something isn't working in 3D. Thirty minutes later we can have a new sketch to work from. In this theoretical case I fantasised that we were having difficulty getting a traditional Alfa grille to work on a low-nosed design and decided to try turning it the other way up to see if it still had brand identity.
page last updated; 2014-06-15
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