You can see the final render below in Fig.05, which was completed in 2010.
Recently, after I'd done some more learning, I got some time to reproduce the scene that I was aiming for and I came up with some angles which I thought were more dynamic.
As mentioned above, the car was a purchased model, so I will not focus on the modeling stuff.
Composition of the Image
I collect references as much as possible whenever I start a project and believe me, it is very good way to get started. For this image I collected references for the car, environment, lighting, textures and image composition. This really helped me in building my aesthetics in a rapid pace. This is the way I like to do it, and I have learnt a lot by following this method.
When I wanted to start the scene, and after a lot of searching, I finally decided to replicate an original photo shoot in 3D. It was a bit tough at that time because I wasn't much aware about composition and other stuff, and therefore I looked to one of my references for the camera angle (Fig.06).
Texturing and Shading
For the textures, we wanted a clean feel, not grungy (although I like grunge more) and I worked very closely with the texture artist until the textures were good to go. The texture can be seen in Fig.07.
I used mia materials from mental ray, which I found to be very good. It is very easy to use, and has some very good presets to start off with which you can then tweak the attributes of. You can find some wireframes of the scene in Fig.08.
For the lighting, I wanted to create a rig that could distribute the light uniformly so that we could switch to any angle and just render the image and get a decent result. So I started with mental ray's area lights, but that was too costly in terms of render time. Then I tried some other tricks and finally came up with the type of rig that didn't need the samples to soften the shadows. The light rig consisted of spotlights and simple area lights in conjunction with point lights, with depth map shadows turned on. Three directional lights were also used as sun lights and for getting some bounce. The environment and the car were lit by all the lights, but the car needed some more hits in areas that I wanted to be highlighted. That job was done by some more spotlights. You can view some snaps of the light rig in Fig.09.