Create a Cartoon Car Similar to Cars Movie

This tutorial will show how to create a cartoon character, similar to those in the Cars Movie, by working with real photographs instead of 3D programs. Before we move on, let us recap on how they look like below.

Preview of Final Image

The texts and images are copyrighted to 10Steps.SG and their respective owners. You CANNOT copy the whole tutorial, either in English or translate to another language.

Download the free Red Sports Car stock from

Extract the red car out from its background. You can check out this post for various methods of extraction in Photoshop. Place the car against a white color so it is easier to work with.

Go to Edit > Transform > Distort. Drag the corners like what it is done below.

Go to Filter > Liquify. Pick the Forward Warp tool (first button on the left toolbar). Set the Brush Size to 200, Density to 50, Pressure to 100 and leave the rest as default. Push your cursor on the car inwards on the wheels.

Then you will get a car deformed in a “cartoony” manner.

Enter the Quick Mask Mode. Pick on the Radial Gradient tool and make a radial mask like what is shown below. Exit the Quick Mask Mode and you will get a selection.

Go to Filter > Blur > Lens Blur. Set the Radius to 8 and leave the rest of settings as default.

Create a new layer above the car. Using the Soft-Rounded Brush tool with color #7F080A, paint to cover the original face of the sports car.

Create another layer and do the same with color #CD080B.

Using the Pen tool, make a black shape to form a big smiling mouth.

Draw in the lips as well and apply Gradient layer style to it with the settings shown.

Draw in white shapes to form the top and bottom teeth.

Apply Inner Glow layer style to the teeth layer with the settings shown below.

Create a new layer below the teeth layer and paint in a tongue.

Create a new layer and draw in the shape of the eye lid. Apply Gradient layer style to the eye lid layer with the given settings.

Create a new layer and draw in the shape of highlight. Fade off the edges slightly with Eraser tool.

Create a new layer below the eye lid to cover the windscreen as shown below. Apply the same layer style as the teeth layer to this new layer.

Create a new layer and make an oval shape. Apply Gradient and Outer Glow layer styles with the given settings below.

Make another black and white ovals. Position them in a manner that the eye is looking towards you.

Duplicate the eye layer, reduce its size slightly and shift it to form the left eye. And there you have it, a cartoony car character is done!

If you find the car body is too plain, you can display creativity by designing some patterns on it.

I prefer the plain one so I continue working with it. Extract the same sports car again, reduce its size and place it in the background. Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Set the Radius to 4 pixels and hit OK.

Make a black and grey linear gradient to replace the white background.

Create a new layer above the background and paint in black shadows below the cars.

Duplicate the cars and go to Edit > Transform > Flip Vertical. Shift the duplicates downwards so they are just touching the original ones. Using a large Soft-Rounded Eraser tool, fade off the lower portion of the duplicated layers.

You can further enhance the background with some structures and spotlights. Thanks for reading.

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38 Comments | Write a Comment

  1. You’ve done gr8 job! excellent blog! I always love to read your post..

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. made ary says:

    John, thank you verry much for your help……

  3. H05TYL says:

    Not a bad tutorial, though it would have been good to point out that using someone elses photograph without permission is plagiarism.

    • Laura says:

      If you are refering to the sports car image that is used as the base, it was a free stock photo. The point of free stock photos is that you may use them freely as you wish without permission, though many times the original photographer or artist would like to see what you made with it.

      If you’re talking about the top Cars poster, it would be the same as taking the actual poster and putting it at the head of a classroom teaching this tutorial, just digital instead of paper.

  4. Bach says:

    the best thing in the world

  5. Angel From Adobe says:

    Hello John , very very great job ! I’m 16 years old and I love to work in PS , great program where you can have great results when you visit the right website ! Thumbs Up ! Keep up the good work

    Ps: Thanks for the tutorial !

  6. 3d models says:

    perfect look. Great work thanks

  7. Carlos PERU says:

    Hi jhonson! sorry but, I do not understand the step 5(Enter the Quick Mask Mode… ). you can explain it again? PLEASE HELP ME! I like that design. but I can not continue the tutorial. BYE!

  8. Маша says:

    Class! New Cars heroes))) Best tutorial i’ve ever seen) Really

  9. kooljack says:

    two thumbs ups bro…. this is really awesome kindly send me your psd made.. i find dificulty in making the mouth and the eyes thanks mate…………

  10. Bruce says:

    Very original, great work

  11. ronaldinho says:

    good job!! assomb!!:)

  12. really professional techniques you sharing create this cartoon car….amazing

  13. Lalit says:

    Dear Johnson,

    awesome tutorial! nice and great work.

  14. jeprie says:

    so unique. great works.

  15. DT says:

    this is very good bec my son loves this so lets work now

  16. Sohan says:

    Great design John, you are a great designer. thanks for sharing 🙂

  17. modi says:

    hallo Johnson;
    u r simple GREAT Designer,i like ur works very very much,Go aheadddddddd

  18. Damn so awesome tutorial bro, simply love it 😀 wow!

  19. tony says:

    Hahah!! Fantastic tutorial!! I love this movie, and I’m super impressed by your ability to transform a real car into a 3D. Your tutorial is always so fantastic. Sincerely looking forward to more. Keep it up!! =D


  20. Richie says:

    haha… very unique and quick.. awesome tutorial, Johnson. But, I think if you adjusted the Hue/Saturation and levels of the car body color, you could have achieved the catroon-ish texture like the first picture in this article, sort of a matte finish

    Will probably try that out now. Thanks for the tutorial 🙂

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