Creating the Illusion of Motion on a Static Car: Photoshop Tutorial

Creating the Illusion of Motion on a Static Car: Photoshop Tutorial

Today’s Photoshop tutorial will show you how to take a photo of a static object ( a car ) and by using the motion blur tools, create the illusion that it is moving at high speed. This simulates the well-known effect when a photographer pans his camera as a car drives past so the car is in focus but the background and road become blurred – Im sure you have seen it a million times in car adverts etc.

Our source photo is Florida 108 by VOD Cars

Separate the car from Background

Our first job is to separate the car from the background so we can apply effects to the background only. Grab the polygonal lasso tool, set the feather to 0 and make sure the anti-alias box is ticked.

Using the tool, click around the edges of the car as carefully as you can following the contours, when you get back to where you started and click on the start point a selection will be made around the car.

Now copy ( ctrl + c ) and paste (ctrl + v ) the car shape onto a new layer, you can then hide this layer for now as we will work on the background layer.

Blurring the Background

Using the polyagonal tool again, draw a selection around the background along the line of the road, like so :

Now¬† go to “Filter” > “Blur” > “Motion Blur” and enter these settings, match up the angle of the blue with the background :

Now do the same but for the road portion of the image, the angle will change slightly but keep the amount of blur the same :

Now if you unhide the cut-out car layer over the background, you can see we are getting somewhere :

Blurring the Wheels

To add to the illusion of movement we also need to blur the wheels, we will use the radial blur for this. Grab the elliptical marquee tool :

And use it to draw around the wheel, it make take a couple of practices to get the shape right :

Once you are happy with your selection, go to “Filter” > “Blur” >”Radial Blur” and use these settings :

Removing the “Ghosting”

Around the edges of the car you will see some ghosting of the car on the background layer from when it was blurred. This is simple to correct, choose the clone stamp tool and just use it to remove the ghosting by holding the “Alt” key and clicking just outside it, then releasing “Alt” and clicking over it. Do this all around the car where needed.

Blurring back of Car

The final part of creating the illusion of speed is to add some blurring to the back of the car. Firstly merge the car and background layer so the blur affects both of them, then grab the rectangular marquee tool and set the feather to 20 and draw a shape like so:

Add a motion blur to this selection by going to “Filter” > “Blur” > “Motion Blur” – adjust it untill it looks correct and apply it to finish the image off.


Here is what the final image looks like in comparison to our original photo:


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