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Behind the Scenes Again

behind the scenes illustrator

Having gone well off of the beaten path again lately, I thought it would be nice to revisit the original theme of this blog for a bit, and look behind the scenes of some renderings. What do you say?

CADDY-TECH

A peek at the process:
Starting with the tried-and-true box method to nail perspective and proportions, I sketch the essential shapes and components (taking time to design a wheel, too!), and then scan the sketch, and begin the heavy lifting in Illustrator. Around forty-nine layers in total, this one is relatively straightforward, with only minor custom changes, allowing for a little more time to play in the details.

No presets, meshes or brushes, just paths and pen tool. There’s a lot to be said for using the basic tools, and I find it to be a very Zen experience; it becomes the art of massaging your brain while working. It can get tedious, but the key is in finding a rhythm, wherein you can alternate between left and right brain, solving little design and engineering issues as you make everything look “right” or “cool.”

My goal is a smooth, clean piece which retains some of the raw lines, but with a heavy focus on getting the little stuff in all of the right places:

CADDY-NOIR2

Speaking of playing in the details, lets’ take a peek at the hundreds of paths that sometimes need to be squeezed into a fraction of an inch with some custom ‘Cuda tail lamps. In this case, we were looking at creating the concept art to show the customer what ’71 Charger lamps would look like in his ’70 ‘Cuda (see here for more on that!):

vector paths

From paths upon paths to a detailed illustration:

detail of vector illustrtion

A behind-the-scenes look at the rendering for the project, working from a loose box guide to sketch, and then into Illustrator for around forty hours of pen tool work, this time strictly using the mouse as my hands weren’t cooperating:

behind the scenes illustrator

One more piece for this installment, and a rendering that was a big challenge and a ton of fun at the same time, as it required creating something that didn’t yet exist, and finding a way to create a unique spin on the classic belly tank-based land speed car:

conceptual art

Working with just the basic plan, it was a matter of packaging everything neatly and orderly, and then making the aesthetic work. Starting with the tried-and-true box method, I git the perspective working in my favor, and worked to get the parts and pieces that my client wanted showing, and then built upon that foundation once the loos sketch was scanned and in Illustrator. The post work in Photoshop brings the whole thing to life, and it took  lot of restraint to avoid losing the original hand-drawn feel. I think it worked out in the end:

land speed car rendering

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Getting Technique-cal

Pencils to pixels

Over the past few months, I’ve been plotting and planning a video tutorial series, and getting that rolling. Wanting to make it as in-depth and as close to real-time as possible, it’s become a monster indeed.

The plan has been simple: Show the workflow, the art, the technique an all of the warts and whatnots that go into creating a rendering or illustration the “Problem Child Kustoms Way.” Suffice to say, it’s been a ton of work thus far, but very rewarding and eye-opening for me, both from a technical standpoint and as an artist. I’ve realized many key things about my work, as well as just how often I let a few f-bombs fly. Crazy how that can go.

how to render in adobe illustrator

I thought that it might be fun to show a few in-the-moment screen grabs from a couple of pieces here, as they represent a lot of what goes into these works. There’s a ton of hidden stuff and work involved in making vector art look like, well, not vector art. Not that the purpose of my technique or approach begins and ends with that in any respect… I enjoy the fact that I can use a program like Adobe Illustrator to continue creating, even after my hands have given out as they have. It’s a mater of holding on to the style I had developed before going digital, and the incredible tools afforded by the software to push it that next step. A melding of man, will and machine… Funny how those can come together so organically, while often being thought of as being so different.

Some pieces like this big rig tend to get very involved. While working on a segment highlighting graphics and paint, this particular illustration spent a ton of time under the microscope, not only for its very involved process, but because I had to make vector paths appear more like candy paint, with all sorts of transparent and translucent qualities, reflecting and refracting light. Fun times…

speedco-csm

…and how it all comes together:

speedco-csm2

I had taken some time as well to show how to create realistic reflections using only the pen tool in Illustrator, which offers a lot of control when altering reality just a bit:

Reflections in Illustrator

And, of course, rendering from paper and pencil all the way through to digital:

tucci-coffemakerL

…covering glass, paint, shading and more using only the pen tool in Illustrator (no gradient meshes, brushes or presets… Just hands-on dirty work).

vector rendering

Look for more soon, and be sure to check out my website at www.problemchildkustoms.com for more tutorials and sneak peeks. Thanks for looking in, and feel free to hit me with any questions, comments, suggestions…

Print of the Month… and Extras!

first print of the month

If idle hands are the devil’s workshop and whatnot, just imagine what bored, angry eyes could be. While there is a certain validity in considering a B-movie about Marty Feldman’s reanimated orbs running rampant and slaying hundreds (give me a shout and we’ll write the script), we’re not talking about some fictitious scenario here… We’re talking about the potential for your eyes to become so bored, so absolutely tired of your walls that they turn on you.

What would stop an angry, vindictive eye from going cross just as your Employee of the Month photo were snapped, or even willing the lid to close, rendering you without depth perception at a crucial moment? Yes, you need to keep your eyes happy.

We can help.

Introducing our nifty new Print of the Month Subscription.

Yes, it’s not simply like getting a new print delivered to your door every month… It’s exactly like getting a fresh new print delivered to your door every month. In fact, there’s no “like it” at all. It’s precisely “GETTING A NEW PRINT DELIVERED TO YOUR DOOR EVERY MONTH.” Brilliant, we know.

Imagine:

Your barren walls, aching for some neat-o, automotive art-based decoration.

Your eyes, plotting to steer you directly toward that rogue pile of what you’ll hope was dog poo.

You, pondering one of the great mysteries of life. “Oh how could I ever score some fresh automotive art each month… namely an 18×24-inch, beautiful print to hang on my wall, which would be delivered to me, and save me some cash at the same time??”

We have you covered.

3 month subscription 6-month subscription 12-month-sub

For less than the retail cost of a print, we’ll send you a new one every 30 days or so. Hell, we’ll even eat the shipping. At that point, you’re well ahead. But like most great things, there’s always a but. In this case, it’s a…

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!

While you’re thinking “I’m such a lucky bastard to even have this offered to me!”, we’re plotting to potentially make you an even luckier bastard.

Each month, we’ll select a few subscribers at random, and send those “Lucky Bastards” (it’s like a club, but without all of the dues and fanfare and meetings, and crappy shiny nylon bowling jackets) a random item from the Studio. Yep… one random item. Could be a worn-down pencil, a book, a video, some odd trinket we snatched-up at a show, or even a napkin doodle. Ponder the excitement you’ll feel as your print arrives, and with it, there’s a sketch, or another print, or some… Jell-O. Ponder away.

So there you go: A print every 30 days, for 3, 6 or even 12 months, and you save some coin. Heck, you may even make off with a future museum piece from the fabled Studio. Don’t want to keep all of them? Stash ’em for gifts, and save time later on! Why not give someone you love the gift of a print every 30 days? They’d be like “It NEVER STOPS! My eyes are so happy! I’ve never had better depth perception!”, and you’ll save more the longer you subscribe. It’s absolutely mind-boggling.

Check it out here:
We have ’em for domestic (should you live in the continental US): http://bit.ly/NrLHC5

And international (should you be some richy-rich movie star and live in an exotic land like Italy or Alberta):
http://bit.ly/1epSSRp

Not sure where you live? Google yourself, maybe. Can you see yourself on the satellite view? Perhaps even street view? Outstanding. What if you can’t see you, but maybe someone you live with? Your car? How about a familiar landmark you might pass each day? Come to think of it, this may not be the correct way to go about things here. Perhaps it’s best that you close this email, and seek some guidance, if you’re having trouble finding where on the planet you live and all that. But if you do know where you live, by golly, hooray for you! Sign up now using the link that best describes the location of your domicile.

And there you have it. We’ve just saved your life. Or your shoes. Or, heaven forbid, some body part you didn’t want placed somewhere due to failed depth perception… AND given you a great idea for a movie. And possibly, even, directed you to discovering just where on Earth you live.

That is precisely why a woman reading a well-known magazine one time described us as “Givers”.

You’re welcome.

Pulling out all the stops, and laying out some groovy little extras for the “Print of the Month” shipments. Kinda weird to design a campaign for yourself… I’m my own worst client.

first print of the month

Why not subscribe, and get some great art at a cheap price, and see this crap in person? Your walls will thank you.

And should you be concerned, the forest has assured me that it will continue to grow more trees as we need them. See that? You can help keep the forest AND ink gnomes in a job, and away from the streets. Think traffic is bad now? Imagine the roads clogged with trees and brightly-colored creatures. It’s a circle of giving. Do some good, you selfish bastard.

An Alternate Flight

Being a physics aficionado, the theory of multiple dimensions holds a special place in my brain. Couple that with a love for all things science fiction, and my synapses light up with boundless ideas and tales of the bizarre.

This in mind, I had been imagining for some time a ‘what-if’ scenario, pondering what may have happened if AC Cars had not lost their engine supplier, and if NASCAR wasn’t a primary thought on Ford’s mind in the early 1960’s. Season that with a punch of willingness to make the Thunderbird more of a world-class performer, and you can see where this is headed:  The ultimate, alternate-dimension barn find.

bullet bird gt car

Taking the above into consideration, behold the final iteration of the winningest Thunderbird on the opposite side of the space-time bubble. Wearing the shorter, half-width windscreen, we’re obviously looking at a pre-GT car, and this monster is complete, right down to the dirt and grime from it’s final race. While later cars would be fitted with the mighty big blocks, this 289-powered ‘Bird left many a European car behind, engulfed in the shriek of its high-winding exhaust note and dust.

While these cars lend themselves extremely well to the custom treatment, I’ve always pictured one as a track car, and by drawing inspiration from the race cars of the day, I couldn’t help but plot a course for this T-Bird which involved some down-home innovation (like the widened fenders, flip-nose, headlamp covers and full-length hood scoop), and setting it up as a well-preserved chunk of history brought out into the sunlight following a long roost.  That said, consider this my proposal for a melding of ‘street cruisers’ and ‘pro-touring’ with some heavy vintage racing feel that anyone on the fringe would be proud to pilot…

(you can find this artwork, and the accompanying article in the May 2013 issue of Street Rodder Magazine)

Art of the Hot Rod: Weaving a Tale With Cars

street machine illustration

Since childhood, I’ve been fascinated with cars, photography, and motion pictures. Cars were something I had no control over being into. I was simply born with that gene. On my build sheet, someone checked the RPO for Car Nut, and the deal was sealed. But photography… capturing a moment in time… man, that sparked something in me. And motion pictures? Well, damn. Telling a story with a photo narrative, and having it grab that in an animated sequence? I was sold.

I studied Fine Art, and honed skills like drawing and painting, design… And then went further, studying animation and digital art, and finally working to apply these diverse techniques for creating imagery in one piece.

The majority of my commissioned work happens to be renderings, which, by nature, require strictly static images to supply some direction for a project. As a fan of both animation and painting, as well as someone who has always enjoyed writing and the thrill of crafting a narrative, well, you can imagine the turmoil which surfaces each time I grab a pencil or stylus or brush.

40 merc rear
There’s always the drive to take the subject that extra step… to get something to move in the image, to put it over the top. Some time back, I experimented with backgrounds in my renderings that included scanned and reworked splashes and splatters. They had that ‘frozen in time’ feel I was looking for, and allowed me to play with contrasting colors to get some visual pop and movement… And that laid the groundwork for future pieces, sparking inspiration to play with textures, atmosphere, and finally, crafting a story.

The idea, in and of itself, was straightforward. Simply create the setting for the story, and shove the car in there. Right? No… in my world, things have to be a bit more complex when weaving the tale or painting the image. I began taking notes on cars I’ve drawn, would like to draw, and those I simply find interesting.

I began to imagine where these cars might turn up… who would drive them.

Why they would drive them there in the first place. Inspiration began to strike.

merc story illustration

There was a way to connect all of the images, but have these little sub-plots running, and even include a car in each of these unique stories. I’d build the stories individually, but have some underlying theme carrying throughout an
entire series, or even a few series.

Game on.

The example above, showing that blue Merc was bouncing in my head for some time. I always saw the car as a bit sneaky-looking, even when designing it. I imagined the kind of guy who might drive it, where he’d go… inventing little stories as I sketched ideas and details, keeping those notes handy.

v2-boxster

Right on about this time, I took on the AutoWeek Magazine/Rad Rides by Troy 2012 calendar project. Twelve cars to be illustrated, creating some bad-ass, modern hot rods from new cars. Here it was: the opportunity to play with narrative, and work to tie a dozen cars, all different in their inspiration and beginnings, but having some underlying story, a connection that went just a step beyond simply being some cars I was designing and illustrating for a calendar.

custom miata

The challenge became finding a way to make them all work together, yet retain some unique identity. Then it hit me. A calendar helps to mark the passage of time. I would mark some passage of time with the cars, as well. I would break the year down as if it were simply one day. I’d tweak the colors to represent the cycles of the sun, the passage of seasons, and yet, do it in a way that presented itself as a single twenty four-hour span. I’d move around a fictional region, from urban to dry lakes and everything between, and pass time from dawn through nightfall. Each vehicle needed a place, a setting to complement its purpose, and needed to make sense with that particular time of day.

What a can of worms that was. Light shifting throughout the day, atmospheric changes filtering intensity of light, I had even considered altitude of each setting, plotting how the air molecules might scatter the light. I became almost obsessed with color and light theory. But I managed to pull it off.

But the work that led to that grand project only sparked a deeper need to weave some tales. I experimented relentlessly. I dragged old work out of the archives, and played and tweaked and painted and scanned and printed and brushed and sketched and repeated the process for months. I was on to something.

…of course, there were a few pieces that played to my inner nerd:

zombie hunter van

We all need to hunt a zombie or two now and then… and at this point, I was finding ways to craft an entire tale in one shot.

There’s a LOT going on in this image, from the lighting to the smoke and atmosphere to texture… But the key was in making it look simple.

Note taken:When creating the narrative, find the central theme, and work to craft a setting that slips the drama in almost secondary to the drama created by the car. One should brace the other, and tell the tale, but not completely. Leave a few gaps in the story. Allow the viewer to ask ‘how did the vehicle end up at this particular moment, and what’s around that corner?’ Misdirect on occasion, especially on two-panel works. This could be fun.

My little notebook speaks to me sometimes, and those late-night scribbles tend to be correct more often than not.

Additional note: Sleep-deprived self may be smarter than well-rested self. Definitely finds farts funnier.

Oddly enough, the images didn’t make it into the final calendar in the order I had hoped and presented, but the idea seems to have played off well enough. I was approached by people who caught what was going on, and were excited to have felt a part of the narrative and understood the story. Now we were moving into part two of the plan:

Involving the viewer in the tale.

After all, as a kid, I loved the Choose Your Own Adventure books. Brilliantly written in that you felt a part of the action, and a certain excitement at uncovering some side story or alternate ending that your friends may have skipped over. It was that personal involvement, that ‘look what I just found’, eureka moment that attaches someone to the art, versus simply saying ‘wow… neat wheels’.

cab's coupe

I began to find ways of making the cars live and breathe. Illumination of lamps, the light trace of exhaust… Those little things that allow your mind to fill in the blanks, to become a part of the story. After all, I wanted the work to become an almost captured memory. And memories play off of little sensory grabs: A scent, a picture, a sound, the feel of light mist as rain begins to fall on a cool evening. I wanted to offer art that was something more than simply a car in a picture. It needed to be a conversation piece. It needed to spark someone’s imagination much the same as it did mine.

kustom desoto

I had always made a habit of photographing odd things while on trips or vacations. I’d see things that interested me: Cobblestone streets, a tree, a lamp post, an alley, a door… I had a large archive of reference photos to draw from, and began to arrange and categorize them, and make notes, find uses for them. I’ve always hidden little things from my past in my work, from license plates to buildings, and so-on. I have even gone as far as sketching a city map, designing the layout of the main streets, side alleys, parks and neighborhoods where my tales would play out. A series was born.

buick

Like any tale, the players (both main and secondary) would cross paths. There might be drama, there may be harmony, but there would be interaction. I began to work with environments where I could present multiple angles and viewing points. I found that I could move this fictional camera around, and find another car hiding in the shadows, or show it from the reverse, and complete one small tale in two images.

drawing cars

Case in point, that Merc from earlier:

kustom merc

First frame: the car in an urban, industrial environment. A simple photo-perfect opportunity? Sure. But when we see the rear view, we learn that the car’s owner is on a late-night visit to a lady friend. Each piece can stand alone… but together, we have a tale!

Taking this idea a big step forward, it only made sense to completely narrate the scene, and add as much drama as possible:

tense2

…and the polar opposite:

western effie

…a quiet moment before that storm we see brewing in the background. A little foreshadowing of drama can have just as much impact as an all-out gunfight. All of those years spent studying Hitchcock are paying off: The trick isn’t always in heaping the big stuff into someone’s lap… occasionally, all you need to do is hint at it.

That all said, I hope you enjoyed a little back-story to the, uh, stories I’m trying to tell in the art. Look for more in this series soon, as well as prints… and a behind-the-scenes look and tutorial on making one of these. Thanks, as always for your time, and I look forward to your questions, comments and more!

Print Blow-Out!

automotive art print sale

We’re having a sale on 18×24-inch prints now through Friday, February 22nd.

These are serious, high-quality, ready-to-frame prints, and we’re offering four select pieces:

CAB’s Coupe:

hot rod model a print

A kustom cruiser night scene:

custom desoto art print

A mild kustom in the first snow in the city:

customized tri five art print

And a one-time offering of The Big Chase, an action-packed scene:

car chase scene print

These are superior-quality, 18×24-inch prints, ready to frame, or hang as-is. Perfect for the office, man cave or garage. 80lb, coated cover stock with incredibly rich inks and detail. Signed by the artist upon request.

The sale ends on Friday, February 22, 2013, and the prints are $14.99/ea plus shipping. This is the perfect time to grab a gift for the car lover in your life, or to start a collection for yourself!

See all of this and more on my site at www.problemchildkustoms.com.

Reprise

reprise rendering

Had the opportunity to play a little this year with some good friends on a ’51 Merc project, offering little detail and color options and opinions.

reprise wheels

Suffice to say, by that time, Max had the build in some firm control, and Jerry’s Reprise was nearing the end goal of a debut at SEMA, and finally seeing the streets again after some long years of re-design, re-build, re-imagine. One of the projects I took on, then, was to create some artwork to celebrate the completion of the project… and here it is:

reprise rendering

I had also whipped-up a t-shirt for the gang:

reprise tee front reprise tee back

reprise tee back

Git Down!

git down poster final

Our pal Dino throws an all-Chevy bash leading into the Goodguys Southwest Nationals, and I’m stoked that he calls me to create some art for the tees and posters each time.

Being a great friend like he is, I always take it to a new level, and to to theme the artwork in some way (and, as tradition dictates, include his face with a quote from the months prior; this latest being from a great road trip last March with Dino, Sam, Broey and myself heading to Burbank with Sam’s ’69 Camaro project in tow).

That said… here’s what I developed for this go-round! From the first color stabs to finished art, it was, as always, an incredibly fun project, to say the least!

First round, full-color, feeling a few ideas out:

full-color art

The tee, back-side:

git down tee

…and the front:

dino tee front

…and the final poster. We went with a more spartan color scheme, and I love the ‘pop’ it has:

git down poster final

Posters and Tees

one lap camaro

With the recent art dump featuring renderings and hot rod designs, I figured it might be interesting to continue the theme… That said, here’s some samples of my poster and t-shirt work, from simple spot-color pieces to fun and detailed goodies from the past. Hope you dig it.

A detail-fest for a wheel company project:

bubble top tee

BMX race tee… Each year I get to play on these, and I try to theme each one to a different build style. This 1970’s van theme was one of my all-time favorites to work on:

bmx tee

This piece remains one of my all-time favorites, simply because of the detail I was allowed to play with, and the hidden nods and references to friends:

old crow poster

Dino has a great sense of humor, and lets me really go nuts on his annual party posters and tees:

truck poster

This Old West piece was fun, and the colors just worked-out well indeed.

western truck poster

Another BMX Challenge tee. I mixed and matched some styles, with a little lowrider flavor on the woodie, and my friend’s restored Haro for good measure.

woodie tee

Limited-color work is always a challenge and a blast. Throw some exotics into that mix, and it gets even more fun.

exotic car shirt

Piece for a friend… a little Roth style and some sewing machine power. What’s not to like?

power tee

I really enjoy drawing detailed but fun stuff. DW asked for a shop scene, and away I went.

shop tee

…and speaking of details, this hot set piece was a load of fun indeed:

motion picture vehicle

…walking the line between infographic and rendering, but landing squarely on ‘t-shirt’. Good times:

one lap t-shirt

More soon, and thanks, as always, for looking in! If you’d like, find me on Facebook, and join the fun. Hope to see you there!

Custom Car Renderings

Some of my recent concept renderings, designs, and pieces of hot rod art:

Playing with some color and texture and technique the past few days with this Buick. I was using it as a warm-up exercise, and it kind of snowballed into an experiment-fest. Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop and a touch of Painter X, working from a drawing of mine and a plate shot on the Universal Studios back-lot, and a few one-off brushes I’ve been making:

custom 1956 buick

A custom 1954 F-100. I began with a pencil sketch, then scanned it to Illustrator, and re-drew and color-blocked using the pen tool. From there, I exported to Photoshop, and re-worked a plate I shot on the Universal Studios back-lot, and began rendering lighting and effects, completing the work in Painter:

1954 f100 rendering

Concept rendering for a SEMA Show project vehicle currently under construction by a friend of mine. The goal was to create an active lifestyle vehicle concept that would see just as much track time as it does hauling bikes and boards on the weekend.

A lot more time spent on getting the paint dialed-in than resorting to typical bolt-on gee-gaws that you’d normally see on the SEMA Show floor… it’s surprisingly mild, body-wise. Had a ton of fun rendering a car in snow for a change:

fr-s rendering

A concept design rendering for a one-off, custom 1962 Ford Falcon project. Creating some new surfaces, as well as updating the existing panel work with new materials to update the overall look. A cross between pro-touring and custom car. Eliminated the rear seat, added a pair of roll bars/frame stiffeners, floor-mount pedals, center console, and fresh seating created using custom-made frames and sculpted foam. Seating will feature leather surfaces, with that material used on door panel inserts and wheel tub covering, with hard surfaces being painted using a ‘soft touch’ satin finish. Polished accents throughout, and minimal switches. Instrumentation is located according to the vehicle owner’s sight line:

custom interior design

Rendering for a client’s project 1969 Camaro, currently under construction in my friend’s shop, and scheduled to appear at this year’s SEMA Show in Las Vegas. A subtle car with lots of trick and one-off parts, it’s actually a brand-new car from the ground up, starting with a reproduction steel body. The background plates were shot by my wife, and the composite crafted in Photoshop, then worked in Painter and Illustrator to achieve the look I wanted. The car began as a pencil sketch, scanned, and completed in Illustrator.

1969 Camaro rendering

Playing with a more behind-the-scenes moment. A slick ’56 sits on a Western movie stage, clashing some styles, yet looking perfectly natural… Fun piece, hope you dig it:

1956 chevy artwork

Thanks for looking in… much more to come!

Keep up with the latest from my desk on Facebook: /PCKStudio, and on my site at www.problemchildkustoms.com

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