Icon Design

Create a Glossy Sports Car Seat Icon in Photoshop


First of all, I would like to thank a good friend of mine Negreu Andreas for collaborating with me and creating this wonderful tutorial. This tutorial is about creating a sports car seat icon using the Brush Tool and a few easy techniques to create more gloss and carbon fiber.

We will start the tutorial from a simple sketch and then, step by step, improve the image until we get the result we are looking for. I hope you enjoy this tutorial and the future projects Negreu Andreas and I will work on together.

Step 1

So before you start painting the seat, you must first have an idea of what you want to create. The best way to do this is to take a piece of paper and a pen and make a quick sketch of what you want to create. When you finish, scan or photograph the sketch, and then import it to Photoshop.

Step 2

You need to create a new layer and name it "ColorPicker." In this layer add three colors that you will use for creating the seat. Colors I used are: #fe0000, #780001, and #d68584.

Step 3

Create a new layer and name it "Seat." Draw over the seat using the Brush Tool (B) and the middle color from Step 2.

Step 4

Again create a new layer and name it "Stroke." Using the Pen Tool (P) set to Paths, create a path along and follow the shape of the seat you have made in the sketch. Set your Brush to black with a 4px Diameter and 0% Hardness. Then go back to the Pen Tool (P) and Right-Click anywhere on the document, then choose Stroke Path. In the menu that pops-up chose Brush and make sure Simulate Pressure is not checked.

Step 5

Now that you have the lines that define the shape of the seat and the color applied, you need to remove the excess color. Do this using the Pen Tool (P), as shown below.

Step 6

When you finish removing the excess color you need to make the "sketch" layer invisible and create a new layer and name it "Background." Fill the layer with #666666.

Step 7

It is time to create a new layer above all the layers. In this layer, you will create the shapes and colors for the seat skin and seatbelt holes.

Step 8

From this point on you will start adding shapes to the seat. You will add lights, shadows and carbon fibers. Using the Pen Tool (P), you need to make a selection of the lower part of the seat. Create a new layer and fill it with this color #202020.

Step 9

Now select the "Seat" layer. Next, using the Burn Tool (O) with 20% Exposure, start adding some shadow to the seat. Before you start making the shadow, you need to make a selection first.

  1. You need to create the light that passes through the seatbelt hole. Make a selection using the Pen Tool (P) or using the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L), as in the image below.
  2. Create a new layer. Then make the light fade away from left to right using the Gradient Tool (G).
  3. Press Command + D to deselect.
  4. Using the Eraser Tool (E), remove the excess white light that is outside the seat.
  5. Change the Opacity of the layer to 20%.

Step 10

Let's start adding some light and gloss on the seat next. Take a look at the image below for reference. For the moment, add the gloss and light on the right side of the seat.

  1. Create a new layer on top of all the other layers. Using the Pen Tool (P) to create a path all along the right side of the seat.
  2. Set your brush to white with a Master Diameter of 23 px and Hardness 0%. Stroke the path with this brush.
  3. Next go to Blur > Gaussian Blur and blur this line a little using 4.0 px. Then set the layer to Soft Light. Duplicate the layer and move it right a little and decrease the Opacity so that it will look different from the first one.
  4. Now that you added the glossy effect, it is time to add some light. Create a new layer, then draw a white line using the Brush Tool (B), as in the image below.
  5. Use the Eraser Tool (E) with Hardness set to 0% to erase some parts of the line you created in image 4 below. Work this way until you have a similar result as shown below. By erasing some parts of that line you will create some skinny lines that will give a shiny effect to the seat.
  6. Erase the black line from that area.

Step 11

Now we'll add the shadow for the right side of the seat. Do this using the Burn Tool (O). First you need to make a selection of the portion you want to add the shadow to. Make the selection using Pen Tool (P).

  1. As you did in Step 10, make another path using the Pen Tool.
  2. Now create a 22px white stroke and blur it, then set it to Soft Light. Also, don't forget to erase the sides of the line to give it that pointy look.<

Step 12

Now let's make the shadows on the left side of the chair and in the middle. Use the same technique used for the left side, same Burn Tool (O), and this time also use the Dodge Tool (O).

  1. Make a selection of the portion you want to burn.
  2. Burn the layer until it looks like image 2 shown below.
  3. Deselect the selection and erase the black line from that portion. This is the line created in Step 4.
  4. Add some light and shadow on the seat using the Burn Tool and Dodge Tool. Imagine you're creating clouds.
  5. Make the lower part the same as before using the Burn and Dodge Tools.
  6. Again as before using the Burn and Dodge Tools, create this last piece of the seat. As you can see here you will also have to make some selections before burning the seat. Also, create another layer and add some gloss to the seat using the same techniques as in Step 10.

Step 13

Here it's up to you to follow Steps 10, 11, 12 and add more shadows and lights to the seat.

Note: I have changed the strokes in Step 10 to Lighten Color. Sometimes, you will discover that changing the settings of a few layers will work better then before, so do not be afraid to experiment. Also, if you look close you'll see that the shape lines are gone. Slowly you need to remove them.

Step 14

Same as you worked on the right side of the seat, add some white lines on the black parts of the seat. Use the Pen Tool combined with white brush strokes and layer effects. Apply this technique to all four black skin areas. This is a simple technique that is easy to accomplish.

Step 15

Now add some adjustments to the sky. Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Color Balance, check the Use Previous Layer to Create Clipping Mask option and use the settings from the next image.

Step 16

For this step, you need to create some more strokes. These strokes must be created on the margins of the seat. Create these strokes using the Pen Tool and then add white strokes. These will need to be erased in some chases, set to Overlay and the Opacity decrease as you wish. Look at the images below for reference.

Step 17

Now it is time to create the seams. These will give our seat a very interesting look. The details are really amazing.

  1. Grab the Line Tool set to #a34545 and 1px, then draw some lines, as shown in image 1 below. Make sure you hold down the Shift key so that you create only one layer with all these lines.
  2. Right-click on the image with the Line Tool still selected and chose Make Selection. Set the selection to 0px and press Enter. Now with the brush click once, it will ask you to rAsterize the layer, then start brushing over the layers.
  3. After you finish brushing over the lines they will look like this.
  4. Using the Pen Tool (P) make a path like in the image below, then transform the path into a selection by clicking Command + Enter and delete the excess lines.
  5. Repeat the above step but this time for the other side.
  6. Duplicate the layer and fill it with black. Move it down 2 pixels then set it to Multiply and Opacity to 35%.
  7. Command-click on the layer thumbnail to make a selection around the lines.
  8. Create a new layer over the "lines" layer and using a black brush you need to draw over the right sides of the lines.
  9. Lower the Opacity to 89%.
  10. Create a black line along the seams, as in the image below. This will give the effect that there is a hole there and the seams are inserted in it.
  11. Duplicate the line and make it white. Move it right a little, then go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and chose a setting you find good and hit enter. Lower the Opacity and the result should look like the one below.
  12. Finally, repeat all these steps and add seams insertions to all four black pieces.

Step 18

You have reached the final step. Now you must add the texture for the seat and for the carbon fiber piece. Here are some links for the textures: carbon fiber 1, carbon fiber 2, seat textures 1, and seat textures 2.

  1. Open up a texture of your choosing. You need to place it over the seat and cover only the red parts of the seat with this texture. Then set the texture to Lighten Color and Opacity to 10%.
  2. Next you need to place the carbon fiber texture over the plastic piece of the seat. You will also have to make this piece larger to cover all the area.
  3. Do not resize it because you will ruin the effect. Duplicate the texture, overlap the duplicates and using the Clone Stamp Tool (S) you need to blend them together.
  4. When you are done with the texture enlargement, Command-click on the plastic layer thumbnail and erase the carbon texture that you do not need.
  5. In the end, set the carbon layer to Overlay and Opacity to 75%.
  6. You need to add some shadows and gloss over this layer to make it look more real. Use the same techniques as you used before for the other seat pieces. Again use the Burn Tool for the shadow and Dodge Tool for some light. Also, you will make some shapes using the Pen Tool, fill them with white, erase them a little, and then lower the Opacity down.

Step 19

Now that the seat is finished, let's learn how to create an icon out of this image. First, you need to have your seat without background (just the seat with a transparent background). Make sure the seat is centered and placed into a 512 pixel by 512 pixel transparent document. Save the new document as a Tiff file with transparency saved and Discard Layers and Save As A Copy. Also, Compression must be set to None.

Now that you have your Tiff file saved, open up Icon Composer (this app is on the mac operating system DVD). Once it is opened drag the Tiff file over the 512 case. This will ask you if you want to duplicate the image to the other sizes, you should chose it. Then simply save the image and there you have it, a really glossy icon that you have just created. Use Candy Bar or OSX info window and change the icon to any app you like. You can of course carefully construct the lower-res icons if needed as well. You can find the final "icon" file in the "source" folder downloaded with this tutorial.


Hope you learned some new techniques and had fun while doing so. You can view the final image below or view a larger version here.

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