Photoshop: Tank Crusher!

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  • Updated 7 years ago
I work for a Model Railroad Company and I use your Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop a lot. Just to let you know I have been using Photoshop since 1.0 since college and I am a veteran of this product. Here is my problem, I scan 2D pictures of railroad tank cars and covered hopper cars that have curved surfaces. My job is to take the scan and recreate art on old and current tank cars. I first have to distort the car that might be angled and has a certain perspective to make it flat which is not hard doing. My issue is the curved surface of the car I need to flatten out. I have to use common sense and creativity to do this. It is like taking a photo of a Pepsi can and trying to flatten out the art to trace the Pepsi logo. This can be the same case for other railroad cars that bulge out like plastic hopper cars. I have been waiting for a filter that will just do just that, flatten curved surfaces on a picture by using the select tool marque, hit this new filter and it will make a new file with the flat image for using. There are filters you have that just do the opposite in Illustrator that you can apply flat art to cylinders to make it 3D. I hope this helps. I think this idea will be big for artists since I needed something like this for many years at all the places I have worked at. Be free to email me so we can talk about this further and if you like to meet me if you need help.

Sincerely,

Donald McGowan
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Donald McGowan

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Posted 7 years ago

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iMatt

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Not totally sure this would work, but have you looked into using the lens correction feature in Camera RAW?
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Donald McGowan

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No, I haven't. I tried lens correction in Photoshop for the sides but it does a awful job. On any typical tank car, that filter does nothing helpful with the graphics because the graphics are stretched top to bottom meanwhile the sides have opposite arches on each end. You would think the lens filter would for the sides but because of perspective, the object is naturally like that and not because of a lens. If someone can create a filter that works just like lens correction but for flattening art on cylinder and round, egg shaped, or oval objects that would be great.
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Donald McGowan

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This picture was from a book I scanned in. I fixed the perspective horizontally but because of the curvature of the surface it makes it tough with the next step.
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Donald McGowan

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Here is a example what I have to do but it is the best anyone can do in this situation. Now just imagine having art almost curving to near the top and bottom.
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Donald McGowan

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Here is another example of what I deal with.
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Donald McGowan

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Here is a example of a not so curved surface but this filter, if created can flatten out this too.
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Jeffrey Tranberry, Sr. Product Manager, Digital Imaging

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I messed around a bit with some of the distort filters - and some ideas of using the 3D tools, but failed at figuring out a straightforward way to do this.

It's a tough problem to solve - trying to extract 3D data from a 2D image (camera position, FOV, object depths, sizes, shapes, color, lighting, etc.)

If you could really control all the photos yourself, you may be able to take multiple pictures and use a tool like this: http://www.strata.com/products/strata...

That said, I think if I were to tackle this problem, I'd try and recreate everything using raw materials (type, shapes, pixels/textures and layer effects) and eye-balling it.
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Donald McGowan

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Yeah it is a challenge, isn't it? I messed with Strata Studio 10+ years ago. Wow they really have come a long way. My result with the shamrock one was good, but I wish I could have seen the real car in person to compare the graphics. I would think some genius would look at this problem this way. How would you create the graphic as a 3-D image and then go backwards to recreate the steps from A to B and then go from B to A. When I did the logo on the Shamrock Tank Car. I divided the tank car cylinder in half horizontal. From Mid point to the top I would work in sections with long horizontal rectangles at different heights (taller ones near the center and shorter higher ones getting close to the top) and try to straighten the image similar to the Fidelity Oil close up picture which was warped to get that result, but my way would be more accurate with welded seams to match vertically with the sides of the tank on the tank car.
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Jeffrey Tranberry, Sr. Product Manager, Digital Imaging

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That does look pretty good. It does need a bit of texture - that's where I'd probably build up a library of textures and seams you could use to fake up paint and rust.
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Donald McGowan

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That is going a little too far for what I need. ha ha. I am happy I can get away with paint patches. I need this flat art, so the workers in China can take my graphics and make masks for the painters who apply graphics to our models. That is why I need to make flat artwork from the photos like the examples I posted. What a headache. See if you can talk to some of the engineers to maybe work something out that might work for people like me who do this daily. This will work for a lot of graphic designers who have to recreate art from photos of race cars, blimps, ships, trains, beer cans, etc, etc...