Virtual Tuning Mania

One of the many trends that came along with the Fast & Furious movies and the Need For Speed Underground series of games is the “art” of tuning and modifying your car to look as stupid and ridiculous as possible!!!

By that I mean the addition of ‘shark fin’ like spoilers, ‘dragon’ like body-kits full of air vents and grille and the necessary addition of hundreds of stickers of performance (therefore expensive) part brands that your car will never have. A must ‘mod’ is the neon lights under the car! Look dad, my little Seat has been captured by UFOs! Look how it glows!

So it’s bloody typical: you can have a Honda Civic that values up to 3,000€ at the most and still have another 6,000€ worth of tuner stupidity mounted on it!! The car looks like it can rocket up to 60mph in less than 3 seconds whereas reality brings that figure up to something more than 8 seconds. And you tweak it, tune it, buy this spark plug and that exhaust pipe, tweak it some more and tune it some more till one day the poor bastard falls apart.

So the next time you see a wide body-dragon shaped hatch passing you by, just steer clear out of it cause you never know when all this plastic mass will start falling apart, bits and pieces on the road. As for their performance, well fear not, cause most of the times it’s a factory hearted car under this fat plastic, not to mention that their huge exhaust pipes make them loose even more power in favor of aggressive looks.

Now that -as a designer– had these rants off my chest, lets talk about virtual tuning as an art.

Photoshop Garage” is one of the many sites that specialize in artists displaying their virtual tuning imagery. But what the heck is virtual tuning? Do you plug your car to a USB on your pc and tune it?! Nada mates. Virtual tuning is the art of importing a car picture to your favorite paint software and “morphing”  it into a fully fine tuned gob of carbon fiber and plastic, complete with neon lights under the car! The morphing process can be done using the softwares native deformation tools, the classic ways of cut and paste (collage), or if you’re skillful enough by painting the new panels and features on to the photo – kinda like a matte painting. And yes, it is art, since most of the various vents, body-kits, bumpers and spoilers are being painted from scratch on the photo. You then have to match the color and lighting of the original to create a believable composition.

Some of these images are quite cool to look at when you think of the amount and the quality of work. After all, an artistic eye won’t admire the dragon shape more than it will value the ways the artist has worked on the features and how realistic the shading looks. So do I like these cars? No. However I do admire and appreciate the fact that a lot of hard artistic work is involved into the creation of a believable tuned vehicle illusion! And I’ve seen unbelievable things happening to photos of  ‘base’ market models, as most artists include the original photo that they worked on. Some of the after outcomes, based on the given before cases are simply unbelievable!

For more on virtual mania, check out this link and Photoshop Garage


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