Tag Archive | automotive art

Be the next Problem Child

free car art to color

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.

bubbletop line art

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…

car coloring book page

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


What’s in a Name? Interview at Car Art Spot

If you have a few minutes to spare, be sure to head over to CarArtSpot.com, and check out my recent interview with Marcel. It was a fun and laid-back time, and the man certainly can host a fantastic interview.

I always rate an interviewer by their demeanor and ability to converse naturally, and Marcel raced to the top of my list almost instantly. It was like talking with an old friend, and his manner of asking questions was relaxed, and it made that awkwardness that usually accompanies talking about oneself disappear entirely. I found a certain sense of introspective peace at the end of our time talking, and a smile on my face.

We talked cars, art, design, inspiration, and future plans and dreams. Truly a little something for everyone!

While you’re visiting the site, be sure to check out the many other great interviews and artwork from some truly talented artists and designers! It’s educational and inspiring in many ways!

Again, my sincere thanks to Marcel for his time, consideration and graciousness. A big tip of the hat for all that he does to celebrate and promote the working automotive artists!

Fast, Cheap, and Terrible: You Really CAN Have Everything

photchopping hell

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.”

cheap rendering

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.

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.


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.


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:


…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.

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!

Gettin’ Some Action!

…at least some car chase-related action. Of the illustrated variety. But whatever.

I’ve been working and making time to work on a personal project for the past five years or so, which is part graphic novel, part animated short, and a mash-up of things I love and enjoy, like sci-fi, thrillers, action, comics, and, of course, cars. With a ton of thoughts in my mind, it’s been a lot of outlines, quick storyboards and scene mock-ups. Thought I’d share a few of those mock-ups here. For the most part, they’re freeze-frames, trying to set a tone, and playing around a lot with composites of my car art, background photo plates shot on vacations and daily travels (and then mashing those into one huge city that combines many other cities…. it gets confusing) and so-on, to achieve some sort of look and feel for the more action-packed sequences.

All of that said, here’s a few:

rendering action

street machines

classic car chase

chicago L car chase

…and the same main character car at rest, just for comparison:

road runner

I wanted to be sure to create some ‘character card’ art for the main players as I went along.

As things progressed, I played a bit more with the weather. I found it odd to have all of the action sequences take place in perfect conditions, and, as the story involves so many things going from bad to just plain horrifyingly terrible and then worse than that for one character, I decided that rain would certainly throw a wrench into a plan or two. From that came this:

rain and smoke

rain and lights

…and even some retro-looking themes were thrown around (much more on that later on):

old car chase

…and alternate colors and more graphic styles:

smoke show

pony car chase

..dramatic camera angles:

one way chase

mustang drift

…and some epic chase scenes that involved moving buildings, people, and more, just to get the level of drama befitting a city-wide pursuit sequence:

downtown car chase scene

Much more to come… just wanted to share some of the pieces that hit the cutting room floor, and those which inspired bigger and better things (as well as some serious head shaking and questioning of myself as to why I’d even thought something might work, much less warranted spending hours on). Hope you dig ’em. Had a lot of fun creating these overall!

I’ll share more about the story, if interested, and get into the fun of creating the characters and their cars, each of which have many, many connections throughout the twisting, turning plot. If you’d like a custom piece of art featuring your car in a Hollywood action blockbuster-style chase scene for a fraction of hiring Michael Bay and a stunt crew and location and effects, hit me up on my website at www.problemchildkustoms.com, and be sure to keep up with this and other vehicular artistry on my Facebook page at facebook.com/PCKStudio!

Thanks, as always, for looking in!

Dial ‘3’ for, well, 3-D.

moonshine runner 3d

Having always been a fan of classic movies, and even more, an Alfred Hitchcock fanatic, I took a rare couple of hours last week to sit and watch a film. The day’s selection? “Dial M For Murder”, Frederick Knotts’ great play-turned film. If you’ve never seen the movie, do yourself a favor, and scare up a copy. It’s typical Hitchcock visionary cinema, and is so far ahead of its time, presentation-wise, that it boggles the mind. What’s really slick about the film (beyond the incredibly intimate camera angles) is the use of very limited sets. The majority of the film takes place in an apartment, by the the story makes you forget that.

Anyway, why bring up this film? The movie was filmed and subsequently released in 3D back in 1954, coincidentally, the year that the fictional scene depicted in the image with this post takes place (…it always ties together, doesn’t it?). What’s great about this film in particular is that it wasn’t the typically hokey 3D spectacle… It used the effect brilliantly and subtly. Granted, in ‘54, there were a ton of 3D movies, and most of them bad, thus, “Dial M for Murder”, shown in 3D, didn’t fare so well, which is a shame, because, as we’ve touched on before, it was done superbly and subtly.

If you’ve got a pair of the old red and blue 3D glasses laying around, dig on the first few pictures that accompany this post:
anaglyph car
I’m a fan of subtlety, always opting to take the “less is more” route, and playing with a design to harness some serious visual impact from a well-placed modification. Perhaps that’s why Hitchcock’s films appeal to me: They are well-crafted, and sort of sneak up on you, making you re-examine a scene, study the details a bit more carefully, and pay closer attention. In a past issue of Rod and Custom, I was fortunate to have had another piece featured as their “Dream Car of the Month”, that being the ‘53 Ford moonshine runner, which illustrates this subtle approach perfectly. There’s a lot going on with this car, but it’s presented in a very subtle way (on the car itself, anyway. Racing through the woods in a custom car isn’t precisely “subtle” by any means…). It’s got many layers to dig through, and the narrative behind the image is pure fun, but it’s what was on my mind when creating it that makes this so damned cool.

When I began drawing the car, the scene was already set in my mind: there would be a dark, moonlit night in 1954 (ahhh…. it’s all tying together!), a bed of red clay, a police car in pursuit, and some moody lighting. But what made this piece unique in my portfolio was that I kept seeing this thing in 3D… stereoscopically. I set out to create multiple versions of the piece, and there had to be one that used 3D glasses. No two ways about it, that’s what my mind kept going back to, and I was determined to reach into my bag of tricks, pull out a clever technique, and apply it to this piece.

It was fun to make the trees “pop” out and recede, to make the lights gain some depth and “flicker”, and to work to make the features of the car visually sit in their rightful places in space. It’s a lot of work to get things “right” (working a drawing into 3D isn’t as easy as working from a couple of photographs, and requires a TON of planning and work… but the results are well worth it), and when they fall into place, the results are stunning. I’ve been experimenting with a number of my older pieces using this technique, and I even have prints available (with killer plastic-rimmed anaglyph glasses– comfy and stylish!) on my site at www.problemchildkustoms.com .

I have continued along this same path, creating a few more pieces in the 3D way, trying each time to concentrate a bit more on individual elements within the artwork, setting details on their own planes, and breaking-down the visual experience. Most times, it ends in frustration, with things becoming too visually jumbled, yet, every now and then, those little parts and pieces fall just right:

3d pinup art

I’ve found that mixing organic shapes and mechanical (as well as architectural) can be extremely tricky indeed. The challenge is more in breaking-down the established planes, and then making many, many layers from those shapes and pieces, and putting them back together just as the human eye would do when discerning volume or depth. In any event, what this all boils down to is that I’m happy to be having fun with it all again, and after applying some inspiration from a great cinematic experience, I’ve embarked on a new path with my work… It’s getting to the point where I can invite you to reach into my work, and see it in a whole new way… and how cool is THAT?!

hot rod anaglyph

Naturally, the cinematographer in me keeps looking towards ‘what’s next?’, and, well, here’s a little peek (minus the 3D… you’ll have to wait on that just a bit, as it’s one of the most complex scenes I’ve illustrated yet) at where I’m looking to take it all over the next few months:

epic chase

This being one of the many, many test panels I’ve rendered to storyboard my personal graphic novel-meets-animated-epic short. With well over 400 layers just in the 2D version, you can imagine that I’ve got some work cut out for myself!

Demo Reel

A peek at what I do… Demo Reel-style!

Just a sampling of hot rod design renderings, illustrations, stills from the animatics testing on my long-term,. personal side project. Check it out, and let me know what you think! As always, sincere thanks for looking in!

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