VW Bug project


I´m taking a course in 3d modeling and our final assignment is “One theme - three variations”. We are to choose a theme and make three different scenes / photos based on the said theme.

As I´ve wanted for quite some time to learn how to model cars, I chose to model 3 kinds of VW buggys. No 1 is an original model from 1948, no 2 is a California Look bug and no 3 is a Baja Bug.

I think I´m done with the modeling but now I find it hard to choose camera view and lighting for each scene, such as you can see they belong together but still are individual images that are not boring to look at.

My thought is that the cars are situated in a Volkswagen car exchibit. I have used some fog glow and some distortion compositing but I haven´t done any other post processing yet. I am going to lighten the focus car for each scene and maybe add some blur to the background in photoshop later.

The only lighting I´ve used is an indoor HDRI.

I would appreciate a little help with the following questions:
What do you think of the camera views I have chosen? Are they individual enough or do they look boring?
Should I add anything to the surroundings?
Do the images need more lighting, like maybe spotlights on the cars?
Any suggestions for post processing to do in photoshop?
Any other comments?

And please keep in mind, I´m still a beginner.

The 1948 original model:

California Look:

Baja Bug:

Best regards


Very good. I like how unique they are. Giving a bit of thought on how to present them, frame and shoot is also good.

Photorealism and cars are quite difficult on their own, wouldn’t say beginner level stuff, and these combine both. Placing them in an exhibition kind of makes combining those extra hard because even a photographer would have difficulties in such setting. Car photography is a thing and what tutorials/tips/tricks for that have in common is having absolute control over the environment, lights and camera angle - Something that the photographer wouldn’t have in an exhibition.

Doesn’t mean that one can’t browse the web and steal stuff from those too. Tips like reflections being very important http://digital-photography-school.com/7-tips-taking-better-photographs-cars/ apply here. Could also consider tips like long exposure http://jalopnik.com/the-ten-best-tips-for-taking-a-perfect-car-photo-1466653688 which could be a way to make a busy shot. Maybe the photographer got fed up people walking in the shot and tried that. Could also check for tutorials on how photographers post-process their photos, even ones taken in a showroom (less controlled environment being the reason again).

Reference photos help too. Could do few google image searches, such as
“volkswagen|beetle exhibition”
“car exhibition|showroom”
without the quotes, then look at the details and steal everything that looks valuable =)

Things like:

  • Cars on pedestals often have spotlights/individual lighting. Lights create contrast between the car and the environment but more controlled setting could have that from the color
  • Official VW exhibition or showroom doesn’t actually have Volkswagen written all over the place, VW logo doesn’t repeat that much either. Beetle being an iconic car, can’t imagine the need for it
  • Cars often have some side material next to them so that the visitors can learn a bit more. Could look for other exhibition environment details. Don’t forget that the exhibition is about the cars and the people coming to see them.

Of course, people is the most obvious thing exhibitions have but adding them could be an issue, unless you can pull that off with some cutout people. I don’t think you can make these too boring even if you tried though, they’re unique cars after all. Some details could need attention though

  1. Odd reflections. Modeling for clean/uniform reflections can be a OCD level thing to do but even without that, problems in geometry/shading can cause noticeable artifacts. There’s also discontinuity in reflections on areas next to each other, it’s like going from shiny to matte surface which is possible, but looks strange. Even dull surfaces like tires give a bit of a highlight
  2. There’s a tangency issue with the background lines and the rack on the roof, another with the back tire and the fender. Having the Volkswagen text also makes a bit of a mess of that area
  3. And even if the text doesn’t collide with the car parts like that, they compositionally take the focus away from the car. Text is like an eye magnet, big text is a big magnet. If you want to test that, go to http://www.apple.com/ and see how long it takes you to figure out what is the latest thing they want you to focus on
  4. Tires should touch the ground clearly. The cars have weight and the red one looks like it has but the other two have too high pressure in their tires, or the cars aren’t real.

That’s all I could think of. Hopefully those help somehow. Welcome to the forum.

Thank you very much JA12, for taking the time and giving me such an extensive answer! You have given me a lot to consider, but fortunatelly the assignment isn´t due until June 2.

I never thought of searching for photo tips, but the two you linked gave me a whole lot of other ideas. My first idea for the assignment was to present each car in an environtment specifik for the car. Like presenting the original model out in nature on a stony road, with fields on each side, the California Look in a city environment and the Baja Bug on the sand dunes. But I started with the first one and the fields took so much power from my computer it made it almost impossible to work with the scene. Maybe I should go back to that using some of those photo tips. I have to give that some thought.

I did look at reference pictures of exhibitions and you are right, this scene looks nothing like it. They often have very sharp light on the cars with spotlights and neon lights and I´ve tried some setups but didn´t think they looked good because of all the lights reflecting in the car. Another reason maybe for me to look at other setups, like the ones in the links you provided.

  1. I will look closly on the areas you have pointed out and try to work on them some more.
  2. I see what you mean, we have talked about tangency issues in class but I forgot to consider them. I still haven´t got a trained eye for these things myself.
  3. And I also see what you mean with the text and logo, it takes way to much attention from the cars themselves.
  4. The tires, thanks for pointing that out! I forgot that little detail for the original and the Baja Bug, I will fix that!

All in all, you have given me a whole lot to consider and I am very thankful!

Best regards


I understand. If it doesn’t look good to your eyes, it probably won’t do great when others look at them so that’s good thinking. But maybe you don’t have to abandon the exhibition idea altogether. Perhaps it’s hard to make it work because the exhibition setting you have there is too modern, which then would have those kind of light setups etc.

There are all kinds of exhibitions and you could tone the exhibition environment down. Could maybe think them being one section in a exhibition that have their custom setting, or maybe it’s a nostalgic exhibition with posters and other items that tell a bit of history of VW Beetle, VW cars in general, or a bit of a story specific to each car.

I don’t mean to suggest that you should make a exhibition with a lot of junk and few cars in them but rather give some backstory ideas that might help to change the exhibition environment if you still consider that. The actual things put in it would still have to be moderate, stylish even, because exhibitions are about the cars and the people coming to see them. If the environment starts to be more interesting than the cars, that’s not good.

Yea, actually making a whole environment in 3D is a lot of work, even if you would use a renderfarm to get those rendered.

There’s always cheating. CGI artists cheat, movies do that, photographers, and even digital and traditional artists cheat. You could have most of the surrounding detail come from photographs where either the car is made to match the photo(s), or the photos are made to match the car, or both.

That could help to get much more majestic environments than what your computer could actually handle but it’s still tricky. Have to make the perspective, lighting, shadows and reflections match between the 2D and 3D elements. Another thing is that ironically 2D work can take more resources on your system than 3D - high resolution and high bit depth images need quite a lot of memory and processing power to work on them.

Matte painting is the term that should cover a lot of topics on that. We’re talking about still images, matching the 3D modeled (foreground) elements with the photo background but matte painting is often done for animated shots

Few very random examples that have a car in them


The most used application for matte painting in movies is probably set extension. Pretty much what the Beetle scene would have, without the moving camera.

Of course Blender can be used to make such fake environments for animated shots too, if you’re interested at some point https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nawbpZOKpD8 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c8y1uiuP3UQ

Hi JA12,

I have tried to work on all of the areas you pointed out to me, I´m not at all sure I was able to fix them all but I did my best.

I looked at the odd reflections and made subtle changes to the mesh, I hope I fixed most of it. This was the hardest part I think, because I can´t yet see every little nuance like you can. Doing my best to learn thought!

I reworked the wall and made it less cluttery and removed some of the Volkswagen texts. I kept the logos and some of the texts because it looked so empty when I removed all of them.

I reworked the tires for the orignal bug and for the baja bug I made a whole new set because I didn´t like what I had made earlier. I also worked on the tire material and gave it a very slight glossines.

Here´s the result so far:

I´m now going to do some more research and work on some displays for information and equipment surrounding the cars. Working on this project is my weekend pleasure :slight_smile:

Best regards


I added some people to the exhibition (rendered in 3DS Max, using the populate feature, exported as .fbx and then imported into Blender).

But I´m also trying some other scenes out. Here´s one example:

I´m not sure if this is enough to make it believable. There should be some sand spurting from the tires but I haven´t learned how to use particle systems to do that yet.