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?
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:
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!):
From paths upon paths to a detailed illustration:
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:
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:
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:
Been having one of those weird times again where I question everything… Kind of caught between wanting to just jump ship and move on to new things, but knowing that the timing isn’t quite right yet. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m lucky to do something that I’m marginally decent at, but I’ve been seeking some sense of fulfillment, some understanding that what I do can matter.
And along comes my pal DW, and things got a little clearer.
I’m a big believer in the philosophy that you meet people or experience things for a reason, and making friends with him some years back has proven that way of thinking correct over and over. Man, you know I can’t thank you enough for the times you’ve set my head straight.
When DW had asked me some years back if we could include a few line drawings in shipments from Welder Series as coloring pages for customer’s kids, I thought “why not! It could be cool.” It offered a chance for the kids to get something they might use, and maybe spend time with Dad. The hot rodding thing all starts someplace, after all… Might be a car show for some, building a scale model at the kitchen table for others. Perhaps some kid will look back on coloring with their father one evening. And then I saw his post regarding just how those sketches were being used.
From his post:
Know here and now that every act can have some effect, whether seen or unseen, and may take place right in front of you or far away. Had I not read DW’s post, or had his customer not shared what his wife had chosen to do, I’d still be happy hoping that some kid was enjoying them. Knowing that a teacher cared enough about the kids in her care to go an extra step and inspire them is far beyond icing on the cake… It’s proof of concept that the plans we have in the works here CAN work. And “work” is certainly the key word in all of this. But it’s that sort of work that I enjoy more than anything.
Thanks to DW and his family at Welder Series, and thanks to his customer for taking that step to show his wife the coloring pages, and then to her for going that extra mile… and man, thanks for shining that light this way. I think I’d have seen it even if things had been a lot brighter all around, but having it come on when it was darker really made me appreciate it even more. And that made a LOT of things very, very clear indeed.
A note to the Broad Museum:
They prefer to be called “chicks” or “girls” these days. One would think that being so “contemporary” and all that you’d know this. However, I am looking forward to your coming exhibition, “Knockers, Wazoos, Gazongas and the Mona Lisa: Stuff You Can’t Just Touch All Willy-Nilly.”
We’ve thrown a few free line art files up on the website for you to grab and spend some quality time with your kids this Inktober (while I neglect mine in favor of finishing a ton of last-minute SEMA Show afterthought nonsense for clients who lack the “planning” and “scheduling” genes).
Nearly two fists full of car art, ranging from street rods to kustom cars and slammed trucks, all ready to be downloaded, printed and attacked with pencils, crayons, markers or airbrush (or even by spitting ink or food coloring at them, should you be so crafty and weird – or brave, depending upon the pigments you select). Granted, these are for your fun and entertainment only, so we hope that you’ll use them to inspire the kids (or even yourself, should you wish) to get creating.
Our hope is that you’ll share these with your kids, and make some memories as Fall settles in… Or should you have forgotten the joy of putting some color down on a car drawing, that you’ll re-discover that buzz, and perhaps even bust out the pencils and get sketching some of your own…
Keep in mind that these are presented in good faith, and not to be used in any other way except as stated. If you’d like a one-off piece of art, give me a shout, and we can arrange for that. After all, this is how I feed my kids, and buy them neat things like shoes and crayons to color line art with.
A big shout to our friends over at Welder Series for getting this ball rolling with us (DW ships a selection of coloring pages with each order!), and for their support of this whole mess over the years. You know we love you guys. And not simply because you live in the land of Hockey, Tim Horton’s and poutine.
That said, we hope you enjoy the art and the memories made, and check back often as we’ll add more variety as time allows! Oh, you can grab these things here, BTW: http://bit.ly/color-these
I’m implementing a technique that seems common when people phone the Studio. When grocery shopping, I’m going to inform the first person I come in contact with that another store has this or that at a lower price. This may prove awkward in restaurants, Dentist offices, etc, but it would appear to be a fairly common practice, and may work in my favor (it fails regularly in the Studio, FYI).
I’m also going to start dropping names of the shopping cart attendants, meat department managers and so-on that I know around town, and sprinkling in a celebrity now and then for added punch.
I’ll leave out the names, and slightly change the subject to protect the moronic, but here’s an example:
“I totally know the Crest Brothers. I was friends with them when they invented toothpaste.”
“Um… I think you’ll find that toothpaste dates back to at least the 4th century AD in Egypt.”
“I meant the stripey kind.”
“Yeah, that was Leonard Marrafino in like 1955.”
“Uh… that’s what I meant. We called him ‘Crest’ ‘Big Crest’ was the MAN.”
“You called him two people before you were born? Was he a conjoined twin toothpaste inventor? That’s really neat, and pretty bizarre. You’d think they’d have featured his toothbrush on Mysteries at the Museum or something. ‘This double-ended tooth cleaning implement was the personal grooming tool of history’s most celebrated two-in-one inventor. What secrets could it hold, and why is one side worn slightly more than the other?’ I’d watch the shit out of that.”
Yeah, it’s a fucking adventure here every day.
Design is sexy. Really, it is. It’s the foreplay of a build. There’s still some courtship happening, and everybody is excited to be on board. You go into it thinking that it’s going to be everything you’ve heard it can be (the good parts, anyway), and can’t wait to show your stuff.
The process of design, however, is very UN-sexy to say the least. And the necessary evil of selling design – that creeping reality of design – can prove downright repulsive. Hot rod design is like a strange or taboo sexual fetish. This weird fringe interest that you see sometimes in public when it sells a magazine, or promotes a project just enough to score the builder sponsorship for parts, but never really can wrap your head around just what it does behind closed doors.
That being said, working as a a hot rod designer is like having to force your creative soul out on stage to perform that strange, ritualistic fetish fantasy act for some self-absorbed, ego-maniacal, overgrown man-child seeking to show just how big his dick is to the other deviants he keeps close (and locked in perpetual competition with); and finding out midway through that it’s a snuff film.
– excerpt from my forthcoming book I Left My Name Off of the Cover Just to Keep Things Consistent With The Other Projects I’ve Worked On – Drawing Cars for Disappointment and No Profit: Introduction to a Career
I see far too much of this bullshit on the interwebz:
“I’ll do your rendering for $100!”
With “rendering” meaning “a loosely cobbled-together bunch of photos I Googled and then made attempts to stitch together with the two tools I can sort of use in Photoshop.”
One last time, kids: NOT a rendering. Not on the best day of your life. And if you’re paying for, and supporting this crap, well, you’re not “on a budget”, you’re “A BIG FUCKING PART OF THE PROBLEM”. While it’s great that some cars have a huge-by-enormous budget for exotic and one-off parts, you simply need to realize that care and planning can make even a home-built ride a stand-out. If you’re willing to cheap-out on the very design of your project, well, it’s a given that you’ll do likewise in the build. And please don’t come to me in the eleventh hour of your SEMA proposal deadline with some fucking sob story about how you need a rendering, but you already threw money away on the photo-hack you just received from the kid on the forum. You knew going into it that some $100 rendering wasn’t going to make a manufacturer all hot and bothered, and squeeze out a new car for you. Too many things wrong with that mindset to even approach it here.
There are professionals out there who do great things in Photoshop, should that be the look you’re after… and plenty of other artists working in all media (should one of those be the look you’re after) who can craft something to actually be proud of, versus bragging that it only cost a few bucks. A rendering is a work of artistry and design, and a good one brings years of experience and knowledge to the table… Not simply some shit that your seven year old could pull off in 30 minutes. Keep in mind that the photo-hack of the Hirohata Merc will always be just a photo-hack of the Hirohata Merc and not YOUR Merc, no matter how many layers of flames or how big a set of smoothie wheels with poor camber and perspective some douche pastes on there. And for the record, you’re not “helping some new artist get a start”. You’re simply enabling yet another talentless hack with either a trial or pirated software to further soil a part of the industry that works its ass off to be continually undervalued. You deserve a series of ingrown toenails and festering boils on your heels, you dirtbag.
A rendering should represent YOUR vehicle, and showcase the pride and planning of your project. You know, thinking about it, maybe some projects are best left at this level anyway.
/drops knowledge AND the microphone; heads off stage.