For the base rubber layer of the tire texture, I used several textures from CGTextures and mixed them all together. The Michelin logo was found via Google; then I added some scratches and chipped some parts off. The chalk signs were cut out from a photo reference. After this was done I put a dirt layer over them with some procedural and non-procedural noise. Also I used some procedural noise in the specular channel of the material to make some nice highlights/reflections (Fig.07).
Lighting and Rendering
I chose V-Ray for rendering the scene, which is my favorite render engine. When it comes to rendering, I want my raw renders to look as good as possible, so I spent a lot of time tweaking the materials. In this case, I illuminated the scene with a V-Ray physical sun and sky, and a physical camera was also involved. The car was placed in the shadow of a parking lot building (Fig.08).
I used Nuke for the final post-production. My goal was to make the renders look as real as possible, so that people would believe it was a photograph. I did some color correction then added some effects such as lens flares, extra noise, vignetting and a stronger depth of field. After this was done, I still wasn't quite happy with it, so I decided to do a little experiment. I wanted it to look like the picture was taken shortly after the rain, so as well as the water droplets on the surface of the car, I made the ground look wet and that did it – I was finally happy with the result (Fig.09).
So that's pretty much it. I think this is as close as I could get to creating photorealistic render of a car. The most difficult part for me was to stay focused on it for almost three months. This was a personal project done in the evenings and weekends, and it is dedicated to my girlfriend Martina for her patience with the free-time-consuming projects I have.