Background car as an image on a plane?

I’m looking for a flexible and extremely low poly method to add background cars parked along the curb in an animation with a camera moving at the drivers perspective.

I use mostly 2d images successfully for background scenery such as trees & bushes, fences, rubbish bins, power poles etc along the roadside but have yet to find a way to do the same with parked cars. I want to avoid fully modeled car meshes for many reasons like limited budget to have a wide variety of cars and to reduce vert count, render times etc., less modeling skills to learn

I have tried images taken from different angles and lighting and placed them in a variation of positions and rotation but can’t get the same good results as with other objects. Not sure if it’s the lighting and reflection in the original photos or the subtle angles the pic is taken from but they never look quite right. And the closer to the camera the worse it gets.

Has anyone successfully used 2d car images in this way or a simple hybrid 3D/2D modeling method that can be implemented easily without becoming a 3D car sculpting specialist?

Here is a frame from my animation with the oddish looking cars well back from the road. I want to have some cars parked ON the road that have some realism without using full scale mesh models

You could get away with it if it was the side of a car parked far away, but no, its gonna look like poop if they’re on the road here. Angles, lighting, reflection and all will tend to give them away. But fret not, you do not have to become an excellent car modeler.

There are free cars on blendswap,

And for some lower poly ones, (which of course would be better in the background) you could use projection mapping, so you have some geometry, but most of the detail is from the texture.

If you don’t know how to utilize projection mapping, there are like, 6000 tutorials on that on youtube.

Thanks Niklas. I use a number of rigged cars from blendswap etc in my animations but there isn’t much variety in real everyday cars that you would expect to see in a suburban residential street like mine. There’s only so many prestige and muscle cars I can use before they look out of place. That’s another reason I was hoping there might be a 2d mockup method as there is an abundance of photos available for the average family car.

I’ll see what I can do with projection mapping but as you suggest they’re probably more suited to further back from the camera

Another option might be to go out and photoscan some real suburban cars. You’d probably have to use a little elbow grease to clean it up, but it’d be easy to get some nice realistic variety.

How do you mean “photoscan”?

Sorry, was preparing for bed, should have specified 3D photoscanning.

There’s a lot of ways to accomplish it nowadays. But basically you go and take pictures (or a video and just extract the frames) of something from every angle you can, and then you give that to a program, I think meshroom is considered the best one around right now, and it figures out all the depth and angles and creates a 3d copy for you with perfect proportions and colors. You’ve undoubtedly seen art, or feature films that use this technique. For example, the troll in LOTR was physically sculpted, and then scanned in. in a lot of films, they’ll scan their actors to make perfect digital doubles for dangerous stunts. Rocks, trees, statues, everyday objects, are often photoscanned today to save time, and get amazing detail and realism. For instance, literally all the quixel megascan assets.

There are a few smartphone apps that can scan things really fast now. I haven’t tried them all, but ive gotten some good results out of Capture, and I know IanHubert was posting on instagram the other day about how incredible Display.Land is.

If you do go this route, the best time to get 3d scans is when its overcast, so there aren’t rough shadows and reflections, and things are evenly lit.

Had been wondering if that might have been an option but wasn’t sure how complicated it was to get started on a large object like a car so I never pursued the idea.

I might do a bit of research and see if I can manage it if it’s not too time consuming to learn. For parked cars I mostly only need 2 sides of the car front/side or rear/side which reduces the workload of each car I guess.

Hopefully it works out so I can only use the full model downloads for rigging the moving cars in my animations and have more realistic variety in cars as background props

Look up Ian Hubert. He has lots of minute-long videos that cover projection mapping. Here’s one to get you started. The modeling part should translate well to a basic car model.

Hey Rhen thanks for the link.

Before attempting to try my hand at basic modeling I used a couple of reasonably good low poly free models that are fully image textured which is a big step up from image on planes but find that the close proximity to the camera I require is still a bit too blocky and lack realism although they look ok further away from the camera.

Seems like I might be stuck using the limited range of higher detail free models. Only other options at this stage seems to be paying if I want more variety or invest lots of time learning to model to a decent standard. Sadly neither are an option at the moment

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This post just showed up on the recent thing, made me think of you. Free Cars


Awesome that might add some variety. Looks like some might need a few mods to look like the average family car though haha. It’s a shame No one likes modeling crappy old everyday cars :rofl: