How to turn your model cars into the real deal

All you need is a camera, some basic editing software and a healthy dose of patience

So I decided to finally make work of an idea I've had for a long time. Instead of taking nice pictures of my reasonably limited collection of scale model cars, which I don't have the fancy camera or skills for, I tried to place them in real world environments.

What this essentially boils down to is getting the perspective of a picture just right followed by some virtual cut and paste work. All you need is a steady hand and some imagination. If you have those, the possibilities are truly endless.

Replacing a real car with a replica

1/87 scale model from Herpa

1/87 scale model from Herpa

For my first attempt at this i went with something basic. I suggest you do this too instead of starting of with a car that has a complex shape and/or a plethora of aerodynamic bits on it like spoilers, canards, diffusers, etc... These can be significantly harder to cut out properly. The simpler the shape of the car, the easier the process of cutting out will be.

I went with the basic boxy shape of the Fiat Cinquecento Trofeo. After you've taken the picture of your car you want to layer it on top of your "real life" picture. Then simply cut out or erase anything that isn't the car itself. It starts to get tricky when there are items in front of the car. You'll have to cut out holes or dents the shape of said item into your model car picture to maintain the illusion. A Sparco seat and some springs for example like in the picture above.

Filling up empty space

This picture comes from my visit to the Goodwood Festival of Speed last year. The supercar and first glance pack were heading back down the hill resulting in the world's most expensive traffic jam. There was a significant amount of space left between a Porsche 935 and a Singer DLS so I decided to put another Porsche in between.

The Interscope 935 by Norev seemed like a nice choice. Most work here was done at the spoiler gap and the fake shadow underneath the car. I suggest trying to get your lighting set up properly as having a bright car in a shadowy place is bound to look weird.

Changing history

So we've had a real car being replaced by its scale model equivalent and a model being put into a real life empty spot. Now for something that is the most fun, replacing one car with a different car. The easiest way of doing this is by picking a car with a different livery. Replacing a Rolls Royce with a Mini Cooper for example is almost impossible due to the size difference.

Replacing a Porsche 956 with a 962 though should be possible. This Rothmans sponsored 956 has been replaced with Norev's model of the 962 that won the 1986 ADAC Eifellrennen at the Nurburging. This was the hardest picture to create as getting the perspective right was easier said than done. Especially when you want the people in the picture to hold on to your model.

These three pictures are far from perfect but they do illustrate what kind of stuff you can create with your own scale models. I definitely suggest having a go at this and seeing if you can trick people into believing your final creation is an original, untouched picture.

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For more small cars, check out these posts

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