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:
Indecisiveness kills creativity.
…or maybe it’s procrastination. Or lack of concentration. Or constantly changing the goals. Or not knowing what you want, but knowing that when you see it that you might want it. It could be indecisiveness, after all. Or perhaps poor communication. Or even weak technical proficiency disguised as managerial prodding. Or some design-by-committee thing. Or not having a predefined idea of just where any of it is going in the first place. Or some time-management thing, maybe?
It’s a lot to think about, really. What if it’s just too damned many choices, or comfort in doing things the same fucking way they’ve always been done, and then knowing that no matter how much of a let-down it will be when the results are always the same, that the feel of that safety net always gives some reassurance in an odd way? Like being cuddled sweetly with a noose.
It brings us full-circle: Indecisiveness kills creativity. …or perhaps over-thinking the indecisiveness kills it. I’ll ask my team and get back with you.
Having a nice conversation last evening with a friend of mine, and the topic naturally turned to creative endeavors. I shared with him with my plans to write a book of palindromes, tentatively titled Never Odd or Even which would have the increased difficulty of not only starting/ending each line using a word featuring an umlaut (and, as we’re using diaereses in place of the tittles, the subject will be “surgically-enhanced titties”) but structuring the rhyme scheme around a parametric form (something based loosely on an exponential Diophantine equation), and thus arriving at a sort of hierarchy within the prose (by employing Roth’s theorem to find the consecutive pairs of smooth numbers – in this case, lines that go together – and thus arriving at some use for Størmer’s procedure and Pokemon-ing the fuck out of it by finding them all), and giving the work an entirely different meaning if you read it straight through OR solved said equation. I’ll keep you abreast of my progress, should you be interested. Or happen to have some really strong cough syrup to, you know, kick things off.
Anyway, the topic turned to making furniture, and following a lengthy discussion on the merits of using poplar or oak for the framing, we had both noted that this can become expensive over time, and add a lot of weight if one weren’t too careful in he design phase. Following much discussion, I had suggested a cheaper alternative that would allow for mass production AND neat-o instructions featuring stick figures. “After all,” I postulated, “press board has worked out well for the Swedes.”
Now, several hours following his hanging-up on me, I have yet to find out if the press board tree can even grow stateside. I believe that the fruit of the tree, a small meatball-like orb, can cause a reaction in some woodland fauna, unless of course the soil has been detartrated.
The SEMA Show retains the same schedule from year to year. It’s not as though the dates are randomly selected as a part of some ritual dependent upon just how the chicken bones land on the calendar in some tent at the county fair or what the average diameter of giant spinning wheels is at the DUB Show when divided by the wattage of the stereo in your cousin’s friend’s bitchin’ Eclipse; it’s an annual event, subject to some form or another of tradition.
That understood, explain to me just why in the fuck year after year am I subjected to an almost endless stream of possibly brain-damaged douchebags calling and emailing looking for conceptual art, logos, cards and other work within the FINAL weeks leading to the show? I mean barely enough time to conceptualize anything, much less produce anything. Even worse is the utter disrespect and anger that these pricks show when I explain that “no, I’m currently double-booked as it is, and that means 18-20 hour days already, and no time for your last-minute afterthought.”
Quote of the week: “What’s a few more all-nighters to help a bro?”
First, I don’t have a brother. And if I did just discover long-lost sibling who has waited forty-plus years to contact me, much less just weeks before THE major trade show of the year and needing a logo and shirts and cards for his “shop” as they display a vehicle (side note: If you’re “having a car at SEMA”, and as yet have NO logo for your “shop”, you are either full of shit, buying your way in or just one heck of a loser in the grand scheme, and destined to fail), I’d invite his sorry ass to wait another forty-plus to call again, fuck him very much. His poor planning is most definitely not my problem. I truly couldn’t care less. I’ll probably devote more time to wondering just how the life of that mosquito that flew into my ear last Summer is going than whether or not you found someone else to dupe into creating artwork for you based on promises you can never hope to make good on.
Furthermore, as I state each year around this time (gosh! It’s almost SEMA Show time!), if you’re posting hundreds of photos to Instagram and Facebook about your “SEMA thrash” and how gosh-darned tired you are and how it sucks, you are a fucking idiot. You chose it, you procrastinated, and you have chosen to spend time away from said project to play on social media, delaying any progress. You should re-think your life, asshole. You got time to play on a social site? Then you have time to finish the fucking thing and get some rest.
In summary: Three weeks to design, produce and ship all of your graphics needs utilizing the twenty minutes per day that I may or may not be able to squeeze in while neglecting my family even more than usual is not enough time. Your poor planning is but one symptom of the terminal condition you make others suffer along with you: Self-imposed suffering in the hope of some glory via a tiny photo in some magazine’s annual “SEMA SHOW COVERAGE!!” Good luck with that. Hugs and kisses as always,
P.S. Oh yeah: #semathrash
I work my days away trying to help clients get the most of their vision into a build. I enjoy the guys who have PASSION and drive. That willingness to dive in and create something unique… an expression of an emotion in a mechanical object. These are the clients and the sort of car guys I want to be around, and enjoy the company of. On the other hand, I see the “patina” guys as looking for the quickest buy-in, and can’t jump that hurdle.
Richard Feynman, when asked in an interview about his ability to talk easily with scientists in other fields (versus, say a playwright) if perhaps this natural comfort was because he read the “scientific magazines”, Feynman responded by saying “we don’t have to have magazines or gossip; we think originally. We think of a new idea.”
For about 30 seconds after hearing that, I felt that I shared a place… a brief moment of kinship and understanding with one of the greatest minds to ever inhabit the Earth. He summed up in less than twenty words EXACTLY what I feel about designers wasting time discussing what car was featured in what magazine, and trying to draw any inspiration from what was happening in the three months since it was printed… Not to mention the years of build time preceding that, or even the years of refinement into the idea that sparked a cool build or just a part of one.
It may not mean anything to you, but to me it was like having a light go on, and now I can see right where it all needs to go with regard to my career.
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
Spent some time with Kevin over at V8TV (and V8 Speed & Resto!), and we recorded a podcast for your enjoyment.
We talk design, cars, the future of the custom car industry/hobby and more… before devolving into custom vans, and a plan for the ultimate SEMA show display vehicle and and interactive pavilion to house the thing. It’s genius.
I had a blast talking with a good friend, and can’t wait to do it again! HUGE thanks again for having me on!
Give it a listen here: http://www.v8radio.com