So you want to learn you to make a cowel hood.

First off, this tutorial requires a fairly good understanding of Photoshop because there are some advanced techniques used here.

The image that I am using is a rather low resolution image so the quality is not the best but it will give you a good idea of what is involved.

Lets get started!

The first thing you need to do is to learn how to use the Pen Tool in Photoshop.
I can't stress enough how valuable this tool is, it was one of the hardest for me to learn but once learned it is really not that complicated.

1. Using the Pen Tool and the options in the 2 images below you need to draw the basic shape of your hood. When doing this always make sure that you end up where you started so that the path is closed. When you reach the end of your path if you hold your mouse over the original point in your path you will see a small circle at the cursor, click on the original point to close the path.

Right click in the middle of the path you created with the Pen Tool and select "Make Selection"

That will leave you with the selection for making your hood.

Now create a new layer above your original and using a color (I usually start with a neutral color you will add the true color later) fill the selection.

Now using the Pen Tool again, draw a path that follows the line for the center of the hood. You only need to be precise on the hood line itself (see next image).

Right click in the path and select "Make Selection" and it should automatically have the "Subtract from Selection" radio button checked, if not select it.

This will now leave you with half of your hood selected like the image below. Copy that to the clipboard and paste it into a new layer above the first layer you made.

Now you have the hood layer and a layer on top of it that is half of the hood.
Control click on the thumbnail in your layers pallet and you will select that layer only, like in the image below.

Now for the creative part...
Working with each layer I take the gradient tool and fill each layer from dark to light. This is the part where you need to use your own creativity. The image below is an example of how I alternate the gradient on each layer. I went from the bottom up at a slight angle on the bottom hood layer and from top to bottom on the top hood half layer

Once this is done create a new layer (above the others) and now (You guessed it) using the Pen Tool create a path for the high-lite on the hood.

Make your primary color white and then right click in the path and select "Fill Path"

Next Using the Gaussian Blur filter, blur the layer a little bit like in the next image.

Now if you Control Click on the main hood layer thumbnail in the layers pallet (the first one you created) it will select the hood. Invert the selection (2 ways to do this - 1. hold down the Shift and the Control keys and press the "I" key. or 2. go to Menu, Select, Inverse), then you can delete the area of the white blur that went outside of the hood area.
Now play with the opacity of that layer until you get it to look fairly realistic. Should look something like the next image.

Now you can make a selection to add shadows for a more realistic look. Again, go outside of the edges like the image below.

Make another new layer and fill the selected area with black. Apply the Gaussian Blur filter and then right Click on the hood layer thumbnail to select the hood, invert your selection and delete the excess.
You can play with the opacity of the layer above until you are satisfied with the look.

Next you need to add color. This is kind of a hit and miss process because it works different on one color than it does on another.
Add a new layer on top of all other layers and Control click on you main hood layer thumbnail in the layers palette to select it. Then use a color from the original vehicle (usually a slightly darker color works best) and fill the selection of your new layer.

Set the blending mode of that layer to "Color". You may have to experiment here, like I said before this works different with different colors.

On this project I duplicated the color layer and changed the blending mode to "Soft Light" and turned the opacity down to 50% to get the color more realistic.

There you have it, now you can add lines, hi-lites, and reflections if needed to complete your cowel hood.

There are many different ways to accomplish each of the steps in the tutorial above, use whatever works the best for you.

Any comments or suggestions will be considered for addition to this tutorial if needed.

There is a lot of work to creating these tutorials, this is really the first one I have done so it may not be the best but it should help most.

Last edited:
Sep 26, 2005
Lafayette, LA
Re: So you want to learn how to make a cowel hood.

Re: So you want to learn how to make a cowel hood.

thanks alot. i was wondering what the difference was between the pen tool and the lasso tool if u end up just using the pen to make a selection anyway?
May 22, 2002
North Carolina
Re: So you want to learn you to make a cowel hood.

Thanks dude, that was really helpful, and I was wondering how the heck some of you guys did that in the past... I tried it out, check the end results in my signature :)

*bows again to lowdown*
Jul 28, 2008
Norman, Oklahoma
Re: So you want to learn you to make a cowel hood.

Thanks for the tutorial Lowdown, it helped with the basic's of it. I still need to toy with it to get it to look right but that was my first attempt.