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Create a Photo Realistic Motorcycle Helmet in Photoshop

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In my last tutorial, we created a Photo Realistic Energy Drink from a photograph. This time we will be creating a product from the ground up, starting with a sketch. I love motorcycles and I love riding my R6, so I thought this would be a fun project; as I have always wanted to create my own helmet artwork.

This is an extremely advanced Photoshop tutorial, so be warned. I know professional designers that have been in the industry for 10+ years that would have a hard time with this one.

If you are a beginner and are unable to follow along, I would recommend opening the Photoshop file to poke around, check out the extras, and look at all the masks, paths, and evidence of how things were created. Sometimes you can learn so much just from poking around an advanced PSD file. A good amount of this tutorial is just based on "look." Depending on how well you paint/illustrate/brush will require you to have slightly different settings than the ones I use (layer mode %'s). If anything, you will see the process and method I used to attack this project.

Please feel free to ask any questions in the comments section, and I will try to answer them as soon as possible. Hope you enjoy!


Step 1

Inspiration. First thing I did was hop on Google to find some inspiration for my helmet. And what can I say? I love Vader's helmet.



Step 2

The Sketch. I printed out my inspiration and started sketching. I use a lot of transparency paper and keep playing around till I get what I am going after and combine it all into a final. I am by no means a "product designer" and I knew since I was going to be taking this concept directly into Photoshop, I didn't need to clean it up and present to anyone. I basically focused on shapes. I can add the detail in Photoshop. I didn't have a scanner available, so I took a photo, adjusted levels. At this point I created a new Photoshop document (1200px by 1100px) and copied the sketch into the file. I renamed this layer to "Sketch," set the layer mode to Multiply, set the opacity to 50%, and placed in the direction I wanted the helmet based on the inspiration. Mimicking the same angles allows you to have great examples of product lighting. I also created a base layer called "White BG" and filled with White. From this point on, the bottom layer will be White BG and the top layer will be Sketch.



Step 3

Once you have the basic layout, we need to start pathing out all of the pieces. The process of creating paths for all of the pieces is the most time consuming by far. It is worth it in the end, but I am not going to lie, it takes FOREVER. First up the Base. Go ahead and use the pen tool and path out the base. As you can see I started deviating from the sketch here a little, but it is really close to the sketch. Under the paths Palette, rename "Work Path" to "Base." After you rename, make sure this path is no longer highlighted in the Paths Palette but clicking in an empty spot in the Palette.



Step 4

The Visor. I pen tooled this, then I adjust it a bit because I didn't not like this part of the sketch. Under the paths Palette, rename "Work Path" to "Visor." After you rename, make sure this path is no longer highlighted in the Paths Palette but clicking in an empty spot in the palette. In reality, I finished pathing out all the parts at this point, but we can also do this later. For now we will move on, and come back and path out the rest later.



Step 5

At this point I created a new folder called "BASE" and created a new layer called "Base Color". Fill Base color with 50% Gray. With the "Base Color" layer selected, under the Paths Palette select the path called "Base". Control - Click on the path in the artboard and select "Create vector mask." We now have the basic helmet shape filled with 50% Gray.



Step 6

Next, select all (Cmd/Ctrl + A) and Cmd/Ctrl + Opt + click the path called "Visor" and create a layer mask (The circle in a square icon at the bottom of the layers Palette. We have now subtracted the Visor from our overall helmet shape. At this point, your layer structure should look like the following.



Step 7

At this point I created 3 new paths that I am going to be using as reference points for major curves in the helmet as well as the centerline. I created a new layer called "Base Lines" and I stroked each path (Control + Click, then select stroke path) with a 3 px Pencil. On the Base Lines layer, I added a layer style of color overlay and selected a blue. These lines are just for reference.



Step 8

Now I pathed out the mouthpiece (*make sure you have no path selected before you start). After you are done, under the paths Palette, rename "Work Path" to "Mouthpiece." Under the BASE folder, create a new folder called MOUTHPIECE. Create a new layer called "base color," fill with a dark gray. Select the Mouthpiece path and create a vector mask on the "base color" layer. We are using vector masks so that we can go in and tweak the vector mask path easily. As you can see, since I started with a rough sketch, I am deviating from the sketch a bit for design purposes. Think of the vector masks more as shapes.



Step 9

Now I pathed out the side vent (*make sure you have no path selected before you start). Under the paths Palette, rename "Work Path" to "Side Vent." Under the BASE folder, create a new folder called SIDE VENT. Create a new layer called "base color," fill with a dark gray. Select the Side Vent path and create a vector mask on the "base color" layer.



Step 10

Now I pathed out the top vent (*make sure you have no path selected before you start, do this anytime you create a path from here on). Under the paths palette, rename "Work Path" to "Top Vent." Under the BASE folder, create a new folder called TOP VENT. Create a new layer called "base color," fill with a dark gray. Select the Top Vent path and create a vector mask on the "base color" layer.



Step 11

Now I pathed out the back vent (*make sure you have no path selected before you start). Under the paths Palette, rename "Work Path" to "Back Vent." Under the BASE folder, create a new folder called Back VENT. Create a new layer called "base color," fill with a dark gray. Select the Back Vent path and create a vector mask on the "base color" layer.



Step 12

A quick update on the layer structure



Step 13

Now it is time to start on the inside of the helmet. First, I created a folder called Inside and placed under (could be on top too if it is easier for you that way) the BASE folder. Next, I pathed out the inside BASE. Repeat the method used on the Base folder. I used the Visor Path. Fill with black.



Step 14

Now I pathed out the RIGHT JAWPAD. Repeat the method used on the Base folder. Fill with a lighter gray. It will help to hide the base (black background layer) while drawing the shapes during the next few steps...



Step 15

Now I pathed out the LEFT JAWPAD. Repeat the method used on the Base folder.



Step 16

Same process on the HARD LINER.



Step 17

And again on the INSIDE RUBBER LINER.



Step 18

I repeated this process for the rest of the inner parts of the helmet. Please see the image attached for the folder structure and reference the included PSD for part names. TOP FOAM PAD & TOP HARD LINER.



Step 19

Let's start with the inside of the helmet. The first thing I picked to start adding highlights and shadows to was the INSIDE RUBBER LINER. First thing I did was move (by dragging) the vector mask from the base layer to the INSIDE RUBBER LINER. Next I created a new layer called "highlights" within the INSIDER RUBBER LINER folder. Set the Layer Mode to Screen, and the opacity at 100%.

I tend to work in both an additive and subtractive process. That means sometimes I build up the highlights, and sometimes I add too much, and erase away the highlights (or use layer masks). I can not stress enough how great a Wacom tablet work for these situations. In this case I added more highlights than necessary and then erased away until I had what I thought felt right. With highlights, I used white as the paint color.



Step 20

I kept brushing in the highlights and erasing to get the effect. Note, when using a tablet I tend to keep the opacity on 100%, and flow ranges between 1% and 5%. Below you will see the completed highlights.



Step 21

Now I created a shadows layer, and set the Layer Mode to Multiply. Since from looking at our references there is a rubber liner that creates a seal, I decided to make this shape more tubular. With shadows, I use black as the paint color. Mostly painting on the edges to give it depth. We could have used layer styles to achieve the effect, but I wanted more of an irregular look.



Step 22

Now on to the HARD LINER folder. Again, apply the mask to the folder, and create the highlights layer and shadows layer, and set appropriate layer modes. The hard liner is a bit more flat and soft, so I didn't "punch" the highlights and shadows as much on this.



Step 23

Next I moved onto the LEFT JAWPAD. Apply layer vector mask to group, and start painting in some shadows on new shadow layers for both pads. I really only focused on the shadows at this point. I wish there was a magic way to do this, but it really is just using basic painting skills. If you are following along try your best to match the look I have below.



Step 24

Adding the texture is the fun part. Please skip ahead to Step 37 if you would prefer to use the texture provided. Here is the texture we will be creating.



Step 25

Jump over to Adobe Illustrator, and create a new document (letter size is fine). First Create a base shape, just to have a background to work on.



Step 26

Create a long skinny rectangle.



Step 27

Rotate that rectangle 45 degrees (hold Shift when rotating to "snap" to the correct angle.



Step 28

Opt + Shift + Click and Drag that rectangle to create a duplicate.



Step 29

Select both rectangles and create a blend (Cmd/Ctrl + Opt + B).



Step 30

Adjust the blend options (Object > Blend > Blend Options) to distance and space them out. I used distance, then 12 in this example, but use an option that works for the mesh you are creating.

Note: you can always go back in and adjust this if needed using the blend options mentioned above.



Step 31

Select your blended shape, copy (Cmd/Ctrl + C) and paste in place (Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + F). Now reflect the pasted object (Object > Transform > Reflect) vertically.



Step 32

Once you have the desired look, select both objects and expand them (Object > Expand).



Step 33

Under the Pathfinder Palette, with both objects selected click the Unite icon to combine shapes. Yes, I am aware that Illustrator has a Shape Builder tool, but what can I say? I am old school!



Step 34

Select your new shape, and apply rounded corners (Effect > Stylize > Round Corners). Turn on preview so you can see the results live. Adjust the settings until you have the desired look, I used 3 pts in this example. Now we are going to create a pattern. There are a few tutorials out there on this if you need further explanation, but the basics are that we need to find where it repeats, and use that as the bounding box. I have highlighted with rulers where I intend on creating the pattern below.



Step 35

After you have created your guides. Select the mesh object and expand the object (This will commit the rounded corners to a path). Now create a rectangle on the edges of the repeating pattern.



Step 36

Select both the rectangle and the mesh object, and under the Pathfinder Palette, click the Intersect icon. Now we need to define the pattern. Select the mesh object and go to Edit > Define Pattern. And voila, we now have a repeating pattern that we can use as the Jawbone Pad Texture.



Step 37

Create a larger rectangle and fill with the pattern we just created from the Swatches Palette. Copy and Paste into Photoshop as pixels, name this layer "mesh." Size to about the size that you want the mesh to be, and apply a Bevel and Emboss layer style. To apply that layer style, create a new layer below the mesh and select the mesh layer and merge down (Cmd/Ctrl + E).



Step 38

Now transform the layer so that it wraps around the Jawpad. You will have to eye this one, and you can use the image below as a reference.



Step 39

Move the mesh layer below the shadows layer. At this point, I decided to make this pad multi-material, so I pathed a break in the pad. I created a new sub-folder called Cloth, and applied that path as a Layer Mask to the Cloth folder.



Step 40

I then created a new layer in the Cloth folder and filled with 50% Gray. Then I added noise (see image below). Next I applied a Gaussian Blur of 1.5 px.



Step 41

On that same layer, I added a Pattern Overlay Layer Style, and selected the Weave 4 Pattern.



Step 42

Now scale that pattern so that it has the desired effect. See below for my settings.



Step 43

To push the effect back even further, I then added a color overlay and selected a midtone. I set that layer style to multiply and set it to 74%.



Step 44

Create a new layer and use the path to create a selection (Cmd/Ctrl + Click on the path in the Paths Palette). Fill this selection with black.



Step 45

Now move the selection over a few pixels and up a few pixels, and hit delete.



Step 46

Apply a Gaussian Blur on the layer and set the layer to Multiply and tweak till you get a "separated" look. I called this layer Gap Shadow.



Step 47

Next, we need to add a front piece to the inside of the helmet. Create a new folder called FRONT PIECE and create a new layer called "base." Fill this layer with a 50% Gray.



Step 48

Just like before, we have to paint in some highlights and shadows. Below is the final look.



Step 49

For the TOP FOAM PAD, copy in the mesh from Illustrator again. This time leave it a little larger, as we want it to have a slightly different appearance. Transform into position. Use the reference below to see the transform amount.



Step 50

Just like we have been doing the during the whole process, it is now time for some shadow; go ahead and brush them in. REMEMBER - keep shadows and highlights on separate layers. This way you can adjust them on an individual basis.



Step 51

Now we move on to the TOP HARD LINER. Apply the Layer mask to the folder, and fill with a warmer metal color. Just like everything else, use the reference and paint the highlights and shadows layers. Take a look below for my color settings.



Step 52

Paint the highlights and shadows.



Step 53

Visor Time! Use the path we have already created to create a base. Create a new layer and fill with 50% gray. Set opacity at 4%. Duplicate the layer, and create a layer mask, and create a gradient on the mask so that we are only showing the left edge. Call this layer Shadow.



Step 54

Create a new Layer (Called "Highlights") and use the Visor path to create another selection. Nudge the selection over a bit so the highlight isn't right on the edge, and fill with white. Now move your selection over even more to the right (as seen below) and delete the selection. Set the layer to Screen, and set the opacity to 73%.



Step 55

This is what you should now have.



Step 56

Create a new layer called HL Line 1, and path out a shape as seen below. Fill this shape with White and set the layer style to screen. Opacity should be at 4%.



Step 57

Create a new layer called HL Line 2, and path out a shape as seen below. Fill this shape with White and set the layer style to screen. Opacity should be at 4%.



Step 58

Now it is time to start working on the vents and exterior helmet pieces. First the SIDE VENT.

Note, I changed the base color of the helmet to red to make this part more interesting.



Step 59

Apply the Vector Mask to the folder, and fill the background color with black. Copy and paste a mesh pattern (use the blend we made earlier in Illustrator, without the rounded corners). Now create a selection using the vector mask on the SIDE VENT folder, and move the selection up a little bit and to the left a little bit. Apply a layer mask and rename this to "Mesh."



Step 60

Remove the link between the Layer and the Layer Mask in the Layers Palette. Now make sure you select the layer (and not the mask) and transform the mesh as seen below.



Step 61

Apply the following layer style to the Mesh layer.



Step 62

Now create a new layer on top of the mesh called shadow. Similar to what we have been doing in the past, brush in some shadows. Now adjust the Mesh layer levels as seen below (to bump up the contrast).



Step 63

Now create a new layer on top of the shadows layer called "Top Rim." Fill with Black. Use the Vector Mask on the SIDE VENT folder to create a selection. Contract that selection by 3 pixels (Select > Modify > Contract).



Step 64

Now transform the selection as seen below. When done hit delete, and you should now have a black strip overtop of the vent.



Step 65

Apply the Layer Style as seen below.



Step 66

Now create one last layer on top, called "HL" and paint in some highlights. Here is the final look of the Side Vent



Step 67

Next, lets move on to the mouth piece. Again, apply the Vector Mask to the Folder. Fill the base layer with black. Now path in the shape as seen below. Create a selection from that path, and create a new layer called "Top" and fill the selection with White. Duplicate the later and call the new layer "Line work." Hide the Top layer, and select the Line Work layer. Move the selection up a few pixels and hit delete. You should end up with the image below.



Step 68

With the Pen tool, draw 2 triangles as seen below. Create a new layer called "inner tri" and fill the left triangle with white. Select the Line Work layer and fill the right triangle with white. Move the selection over to the right and hit delete. See image below.



Step 69

Set the "inner tri" layer to screen and set the opacity to 20%. Set the "Top" layer to screen and set the opacity to 40%. Create a mask on the "Line work" layer, and paint (with black on the mask) away some of the hard edges as seen below.



Step 70

Create a new layer called "Over" and paint white in the areas as indicated below.



Step 71

Create a mask on the layer Over, and paint black on the mask to "soften" some of the edges.



Step 72

Create a new layer just below the MOUTHPIECE folder, call the new layer "Vent shadow" and use the vector mask on the MOUTHPIECE folder to create a selection. Expand the selection by 3 pixels.



Step 73

Erase the left most edges of the "Vent shadow" layer so the shadows doesn't extend past the edge of the helmet. Area is circles in red below.



Step 74

Now unto the TOP VENT. Apply the vector mask to the folder. Copy the path using the direct select tool. Fill the "base" layer with black. Create a new Folder called "Center" and paste the path (make sure you have no path currently selected when you paste, you have to create a new one). We will call this path 1. Delete the "wings" of the path and draw the path as seen below.



Step 75

Create a new path as seen below, we will call this path 2.



Step 76

Cmd/Ctrl + Click on path 1, then Cmd/Ctrl + Option + click on path 2. This will subtract path 2 from path 1 as seen below.



Step 77

With the selection still active, create a new layer called "Edges" and fill with black. Apply the following layer style.



Step 78

Duplicate "Edges" and rename the new layer to "HL1". Adjust the Fill (in the Layers Palette) to 0% and apply the following Layer Style.



Step 79

Duplicate "HL1" and rename the new layer to "HL2". Adjust the Fill (in the Layers Palette) to 0% and apply the following Layer Style.



Step 80

Duplicate "HL2" and rename the new layer to "HL3". Adjust the Fill (in the Layers Palette) to 0% and apply the following Layer Style.



Step 81

Create a new folder on top of "Center" called "Right." Copy the path from "TOP VENT" and create a new path. Paste the path and adjust as seen below. Don't forget to close the path. Apply the path as a Vector Mask to the folder called "Right."



Step 82

Copy the path from "Right" and create a new path. Adjust the path so that it is slightly smaller than the overall "Right" shape. Please see the image below.



Step 83

Create a new layer called "Base" and Cmd/Ctrl + Click the path to create a selection. Fill this selection with black.



Step 84

Apply the following Layer Style on the "Base" layer.



Step 85

Duplicate "Base" and rename the new layer to "HL1". Adjust the Fill (in the Layers Palette) to 0% and apply the following Layer Style.



Step 86

Duplicate "HL1" and rename the new layer to "HL2". Adjust the Fill (in the Layers Palette) to 0% and apply the following Layer Style.



Step 87

Create a new folder called "Left." Repeat the same path copy and creation process.



Step 88

Layer Style for "Base."



Step 89

Layer Style for "HL1."



Step 90

Just to make sure we are all on the same page, here is the current layer structure for TOP VENT.



Step 91

With the back piece I separated it into 2 parts, Base and Top. First I copied the path and remade the Base. You should know the drill, create a folder and apply the layer mask.



Step 92

Apply the following Layer style for the "Base" layer.



Step 93

Apply the following Layer style for the "Hots" layer.



Step 94

Now create the path for the "Top" folder vector mask.



Step 95

Apply the following Layer style for the "Hots" layer.



Step 96

Here is our current folder structure for the BACK VENT piece.



Step 97

At this point, let us take a look at what we have so far. Not too bad! If you have made it this far, pat yourself on the back; we have reached the home stretch.



Step 98

Lets go into the VISOR > COVER folder. First thing I did was create a path that we will turn into a high light. Don't forget to use your references for the type of highlights you want to create.



Step 99

Create a new layer called "HL" and fill the path we just created with white. Create a layer mask and brush away some of the white to soften the highlights. I also created a "Shadow" layer and painted in a bit of black just to help give the Visor Cover a little bit of shape. On the "Base" layer I applied the following layer style.



Step 100

Also, check the Contour option and create the following settings.



Step 101

Now we move on to the overall shell of the helmet. First thing I did was create a selection using the "visor" path. Expand that selection by pixels. Create a new folder called "HIGHLIGHTS" and then create a new layer within that folder called "BASE." Inverse the selection (Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + I) and fill with white. Set the layer to screen at 41%. You should have results similar to what we have below.



Step 102

I created a mask on the "Base" layer and started painting black on the mask. I left a little bit of white towards the top of the shell and left a harder edge around the visor.



Step 103

Create a new layer called "HOTTER" and paint white in the areas as seen below. This layer should also be set to screen, and the opacity should be set to 50%.



Step 104

Now create a mask on HOTTER, and soften it up a bit.



Step 105

Now lets path in some really hot highlights. Below you will see the places I chose to put in the hard highlights.



Step 106

Create a new layer called "HOTS" and fill with white; set to screen and 40%.



Step 107

Create a mask on HOTS and just like we have been doing the whole time, paint some black on the mask layer to soften them up just a tiny bit. Next, create some paths for the larger hot areas.



Step 108

Create a new layer called "BIG HOTS" and fill with white. Set to screen and 50%.



Step 109

Create a mask on the BIG HOTS layer and soften on the highlights, as seen below.



Step 110

Here is the highlights folder structure.



Step 111

Now we have to move on to the shadows. Create a new folder called Shadows, and create a new layer (called "Base") and paint in some black in some select areas to give the helmet some overall shape. Set the layer to multiply.



Step 112

Now I pathed in some darker shadows on the edges. Create a new layer called "Back" and fill with black. Set to multiply and pick a mid percent range.



Step 113

Create a mask and soften up a bit.



Step 114

Now, if you have seen a good amount of product photography, you know that the background color "bleeds" in from the edges a bit. To replicate this, create a new layer called "light bounce" and paint in some soft white on the bottom and back of the helmet.



Step 115

Create a mask and soften up a bit.



Step 116

Here is the current layer structure I am working with at this point. If you notice under the shadows I also added a few layers where I painted in some really dark areas around the visor.



Step 117

Now I pathed in some shapes around the vents.



Step 118

Create a new layer called "Object Shadows" and fill with black and set to multiply and adjusted the percentage until I was happy with the results.



Step 119

At this point I noticed that we missed the bottom of the helmet. I used the sketch as a reference and create a new path.



Step 120

In the "BASE" folder, create a new folder called "Rubber Base" and create a vector mask. Create a new layer within "Rubber Base" called "base" and fill with a dark gray.



Step 121

Create a shadow layer and paint in some shadows...



Step 122

Create a highlights layer and paint in some lighter areas.



Step 123

Create a new layer, fill with black, and apply some noise.



Step 124

Rename the layer to texture, set the layer mode to Hard Light and the percentage to 60%.



Final Image

Thanks for following along. I hope you have enjoyed this process, and have learned a trick or two. Please let me know in the comments section if you have any ideas or requests for any future tutorials.



Extras

For your pleasure, I have included an extra shell and some extra visors. Make sure you check them out in the PSD file. I have highlighted the folders red and blue.


I also created some artwork, and transformed them into place. The GREAT thing about the way we created this helmet is that since we have kept all the highlights and shadows as separate elements, we can quickly adjust them for any helmet color or artwork base. Play around and apply Color Overlays to the base layers. Adjust the highlighs and shadows layers as needed.


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