Ford Blends Cars Into Scenes Using Paint Instead of Photoshop

Chinese photographer Liu Bolin (AKA “The Invisible Man”) has received quite a bit of attention over the past seven years for his self-portraits showing himself blending into various scenes with a carefully painted body rather than digital manipulation. His photographs have attracted the attention of Ford, which recently commissioned Liu to create a series of advertisements to promote the 2013 Ford Fusion.

Liu and the crew spent a good deal of time carefully painting the cars in each scene to seamlessly blend them into the background when viewed by the camera. The goal was to show the surrounding cars fading away as the Fusion drives past them.

Here’s a behind-the-scenes video showing how the different shots were done:

Liu has making quite a few friends lately with his art. Earlier this year he partnered with the anonymous French artist JR for a large-scale piece that blended the two artists’ styles.

(via John Nack via Photography Bay)

  • Raymond Larose

    Holy pain the ass! But the result is cool.

  • Samuel

    Without a lot of coverage like this article isn’t everyone just gonna assume that it was photoshop, isn’t that a bit of a waste of time ?

  • Will Ablett

    As soon as I saw the first photo I instantly thought of Liu Bolin’s photos. I’m so glad Ford actually commissioned him to do it rather than just nick the idea and knock it off! Good on Ford!

  • Jimmy Daly

    Haha I thought the same thing.

    This is really cool but seems like a lot more expensive and time consuming than just doing it in post.

  • brob

    seems like a lot of extra work for something that could have been done for a lot less money in digital. Just because you did it the old fashioned way doesn’t make it necessarily right, or better, or efficient.

    I respect the skill and the time it took to do it this way… I just question if it was really necessary when it could have been done in two shots and blended in photoshop in much much less time.

  • TSY87

    youre not alone!! haha

  • James

    Liu Bolin’s art is some of the unique, cutting, and provocative social satire work I’ve seen in a while. This just looks like he’s, dare I say, selling out and taking jobs that lower his revolutionary technique to sell cars.

  • KeeFyBeeFy

    A little bit of a waste IMO. Anyone who is not into photography or knows about Liu Bolin would just assume photoshop. I know about Liu Bolin and the first thing i thought was photoshop.

    So after spending hours and hours painting the cars vs a couple of hours in photoshop….

    It’s not worth it.

  • rtfe

    haha, my first thought. odd irony

  • JosephRT

    I’m just really glad that Ford is willing to cough up the extra dough for the real thing, and I deeply respect Liu Bolin as an artist. Way to go Ford, but I still won’t buy one. GM all the way!

  • JosephRT

    I don’t think so, I think if anything it helps to bring attention to his work

  • Viktor Dite

    mee too!

  • Albert Zablit

    A few hours in photoshop you say?

  • Albert Zablit

    You wouldn’t get the same effect. Here you have a physical sense of the car, while tricking the mind that it’s not actually there. There’s volume and space that can’t easily be duplicated in post without major efforts (3D compositing could be one imho).
    The artistic and creative side of it also cannot be matched. Not to say that the digital version couldn’t stand on its own, it just wouldn’t deliver the same impact.

  • Putthabut Nuyung


  • Adrian Staicu

    Yes but you get to hire an army or people (more jobs -> good for economy), and block a street for half a day and act all important.

  • W van de Kletersteeg

    If it was done in Photoshop it would cost way less and yield the same result. So without telling the complete story along with the advertisement the money spent is utterly useless in my opinion.

    Great art nonetheless.

    Btw: I also thought MS Paint was meant in the title, lol

  • KeeFyBeeFy

    Yes. A few hours in photo shop.

    1 photo without the cars, 1 photo with the cars.

    Layer and blend. Talk about all the “3d” looking releasim you want. A few hours in photoshop will net a similar result. Sure it won’t be exactly the same.. but anyone else who does not know the background of the picture will be non-the-wiser… as most people will.

  • Albert Zablit

    With all due respect, I deem it too purely utilitarian and dumbed down a view in my opinion. It strips the fun and awe out of the end product and its creation process, not to mention the conversations that stem from it.

    Photoshop and 3D (car) ads abound already, it’s refreshing to see someone take a different spin on it. I sure enjoyed it, and would have loved to see those images in as large a format as possible. I see no waste here, and if those involved got their kick out of it, which I’m sure they did, then it’s a (creative) win all the way.

    Also, I’ve worked with visual agencies as a retoucher for jobs less seemingly demanding than the one you’re proposing, and I can assure you, it ain’t a “few hours in Photoshop.”

  • KeeFyBeeFy

    Again. It boils back to the argument. Without any background on the image, any person would think photoshop. If it’s a video, CGI. Simple as that. Whilst refreshing to people who know, adverts such as these have a generic target audience, since you mentioned you’ve worked in the industry i’m sure you understand what i’m talking about. So back to the point of General layman:”I see it on a billboard, looks photoshopped/digitally edited”. HE/SHE is not going to find out how the photo was made, or even going to spend the time reading on the Ford website how it was done. If the viewer is at the website, it’s to look at the car(s).

    TADA – What. A. Total. Waste. Of. Time.

    Anyway, I can assure you.. It is a few hours work with the right equipment such as a 24HD coupled with good workflow and knowledge.