Tag Archive | design

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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This is the Answer You’ve Been Looking For. Or Perhaps Not.

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.

Fan Fiction Friday

Fan Fiction Friday, Amazon Reviews Edition:
 
Probably not what they were looking for, but then again, they seemed awfully eager to know what I had thought of the book I had just received, and not yet had the time to read… So I did what I could:
 
“PRO: I have spent many an hour pleasuring myself to the photograph of the author on the sleeve.
 
CONS: While this has been (for the most part) enjoyable, I would suggest renaming the outer cover from ‘sleeve’ to something more descriptive, like ‘crinkly, sharp-edged, glans-destroying, hard-to-clean fantasy accessory.’ Don’t get me wrong, it was much better than the cheese grater-like effect of, say, a V.C. Andrews die-cut job… And while I can certainly attribute SOME of the discomfort to technique, perhaps a warning regarding the dangers of a laceration (or MULTIPLE, perhaps) during periods of furious enjoyment would be helpful to some readers in the future.
 
Also, please suggest to the author that the photo on her next dust jacket not include her extended family, as it required some very crafty folding on my part to eliminate the effect of what can only be described as a very condescending facial expression on whom I perceive to be her pet cat, or perhaps a strangely small dog or misshapen troll creature.”

Straw Warts Detartrated

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.

Builder VS Accessory Installer

patina squarebody
I was recently asked an interesting, if not loaded question:
 
“Why do you hate patina builds?”
 
And that had the effect of pissing me off, because it proves that very few of these motherfuckers read anything beyond a word or two. I don’t “hate” patina. That would be a logical impossibility, or at the very last a psychotic reaction to something meaningless on any scale of importance, no matter how pathetic or sheltered your life may be. It simply wouldn’t make its way onto my list of things I truly give a shit about if I had to carry that list deep into the ten thousandth power.
 
“A better way to phrase this,” I responded, “would be to ask why I hold little respect for calling them ‘builds’ in the first place. And I say ‘little’ because with anything, there may always be an exception. I like to leave room for that, just in case.”
 
There is no design. There is no requirement of planning, beyond shopping in a catalog for what parts to replace with new bolt-in’s. It is an act of pure accessorizing, with apologies to that word for lessening its meaning in this respect. Unless you are creating an entirely new chassis, engineering fresh parts and whatnot to make this particular “barn find” (and for fuck’s sake, enough applying that word to every damned vehicle that has oxidized paint – if you literally discover a barn lost to the ages, and there is a mystery vehicle inside of that building, then yes, you have a barn FIND. We have been over this ad nauseam.) into something far outside of anything seen before in functionality, then you’re simply cloning the last 600 features from that magazine, you half-wit. To say that you “designed” a patina “build” is tantamount to saying that you “invented” a new dish for dinner, because you accidentally spilled canned chili on the spaghetti. Your reference to yourself as a “builder” or “designer” are what I’d refer to as “a real head-scratcher”, or maybe something closer to “obscenely over-optimistic”. What you do is truly something that anyone with some hand tools and general knowledge could pull off. It’s the color-by-number of the hot rod world. If it weren’t, there would be some variety. Think about it.
 
I view this “barn find, patina truck” scene as the dope-addled cousin of the “rat rod” movement: It’s a cliched caricature of anything it set out to be. These guys thought that a crusty exterior, set on a stance that looks broken at best was a way to be unique… a rebellion against a “sea of red ’32 Fords.” Now we have a sea of rusty C-10’s on smoothie wheels that look like the suspension just gave up. Sweet turn radius, pal. Almost as cool as that flat-brimmed hat holding your ears in. Can never be too safe.

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.

 
In fact, when you consider it, calling yourself a “builder” if all you do is slap a few parts, smoothie wheels and some airbags from a catalog under a rusty vehicle, that’s like playing the video game Rock Band, and calling yourself a “musician”. I certainly wouldn’t sign you on. Besides, I’ve heard that song played correctly a million times before. Even your best note-for-note rendition brings on a yawn no matter how ironic that retro script is across the face of your late-model amp.

Richard Feynman Helped Me Find My Way

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.

Fucking awesome.

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.

Erasing the Sexiness of the Design Process

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.

Surprise!

– 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

Fuck You, History Channel

abomination
You know why the Bangladeshi space program never really took off (I mean notwithstanding their technological breakthroughs in… uh… well, gee… screwing up their environment, or more dirt bikes per capita than any other country also named Bangladesh it’s hard to just name one, really)? I’d imagine due in part to having a country full of “designers” like this Leepu guy. Far be it for me to shit all over someone’s parade route, but I have to be as frank as possible when I shout a hearty “FUCK YOU, HISTORY CHANNEL!!” from the rooftop. What in the serious fuck were you thinking with this show??!
I have two theories:
One: The people behind this show are absolute trolling geniuses. From the creators and writers on through the actors, this could be the funniest thing on TV. And not in the “Ha-ha!” way, but the “Fill a viewer with absolute rage and send his mental state plummeting through concentric circle after concentric circle of blind hatred and sorrow and mistrust and fear and then something like understanding and then back to unrivaled anger and then a depressed state and then hopelessness and finally numbness and resolute passiveness” funny. Like a Woody Allen film wherein all of the jokes were written for his friends, so the hope of understanding it all is lost on you, unless you were married to the adopted daughter of your girlfriend, which is not unlike one of those jokes I just mentioned. It wants to be funny, but it leaves you feeling like you just showered with that odd little bar of soap in the hotel, and you can’t rinse something off of yourself.
Two: This show is serious, and the central characters and all members of History Network’s creative department are brain damaged.
Should it be numero two, then by golly, anyone watching this and thinking “hey, this guys IS brilliant” is in even worse shape than the stars of the show. I’m talking Dominoes pizza-ordering-and-setting-aside-time-to-gather-friends-for-the-show-level moron. The sort of guy you’ve worked with who is content to be in his entry-level job for eleven years, but bitches because he knows more than the suits, while showing up late every day and failing to complete even the simplest of tasks, yet can tell you every “fact” about some race bike he’ll never own and just how it’s all Bush’s fault as he brushes his ever-whitening mullety mane back from his forehead.
And far be it for me to bring “science” to the table, but for fuck’s sake… Watching a full episode the other night had me teaching my TV (and neighbors, I’m told) all about Bernoulli’s principle and other such engineering trivialities at very high decibels. Let me bring you up to speed.
Loophole and Fartwad were apparently setting out to build some drag car from an Olds Cutlass… but let’s not hold that against them. The slow kids all start someplace, and for many, it involves thinking that a GM-powered car can be a “race car”. The REALLY dim ones stick with that idea later in life (some even slap a fiberglass body around a Chrysler HEMI-powered tube chassis and think it’s a Camaro or some shit. That, my friends, is called NHRA Funny Car and Pro-Stock, but I digress). Having (thankfully – occasionally the universe throws even ME a bone) missed part ONE of this travesty (yes, a TWO-PARTER! In the first season. WTF.), I quickly gathered that a boat race led to some challenge to build a car, using a preposterous betting scenario – which may have been contrived by someone slightly LESS intelligent than our pizza-eating friend from earlier – which was somehow going to generate EIGHT HUNDRED HORSEPOWER from some wrecking yard LS engine with some poorly-designed turbo plumbing. Don’t even get me started on the PCV/catch can fix or the apparently left-alone stock rear end, mystery transmission and other nonsense. But hey, it has big-ass, shiny calipered brakes.
Aside from the technical faux pas all over this mess, it was the “aerodynamic research” that had me laughing and then thrown into a rage.
Limeaid was going to do the usual “groundbreaking design” and slap a Daytona/Superbird-style nose cone and rear wing on the car, but oh, my friend, ’twas the “logic” and “science” of it all that leads me to believe that the minds behind this are either again severely damaged, or of an utter demigod-level trolling brilliance that simply cannot be captured by mere mortals. You see, they were going to wind tunnel test this. Yes, test the aerodynamic properties of a slope-nose design wherein, mind you, THE FUCKING TOP WAS LEFT OPEN, CREATING A CLEAR PATH TO THE VERTICAL WALL THAT IS THE RADIATOR. So this “genius” has, in effect, created a shape that creates and probably AMPLIFIES the eddies as air tries to flow over this sad iteration of an automobile. I can’t begin to imagine what the Cd of this monstrosity is now, compared with its former brick-shaped self. But THAT isn’t even the funniest part. No… that comes when you see the “wind tunnel”. Now, when you think “wind tunnel”, you think “a tunnel with some wind-generating machinery”, correct? Apparently not in Bada-Fucking-Bing Noo Yawk or Bangladesh. No… they can make do with a shop fan in an open area. And a DAMNED SMOKE SIGNAL FLARE. While I could choose to go on about THAT, let’s concentrate on the science behind their “wind tunnel”, shall we? A shop fan. Benefit of the doubt given, let’s say we have a fan displacing sixty inches of blade length, each blade being three or so inches in width. Such a fan, if it’s a good one, can push between 17,000 and 19,000 CFM. That known, we can estimate air flow, when operating at peak efficiency to be around oh, say EIGHT, maybe EIGHT AND A HALF MILES PER HOUR. Add to that using a signal flare that is designed to disperse over large distances, and you can see where this is headed. Yet, the “genius designer” was out to prove that the three-foot wing “worked”… if the smoke were to flow to it. Let’s examine that just a bit. ANYTHING blown over a car will reach the back. Water. Poo. The kerosene film emanating from the landscaper’s truck ahead of me because he filled the tank in Enchilada before crossing the border this morning. A drunken bum (if you have enough lead-in speed). Apparently smoke from a signal flare blown at 8 MPH in a dispersed breeze. None of this proves any worth of design or function. Even in the remotest sense. The only scientific data to be gleaned regarding said wing would be that of visual proof that it exists somewhere on the physical plane, and that could be accomplished without the aid of Linguini’s thick-ass glasses. Yup… there it is, tacked onto the deck lid, providing absolutely no function whatsoever, unless that function is to waste materials, which you’d think that coming from a place like the sneaker-sewing capital of the universe that this ass hat would be far more frugal when it comes to things like steel or aluminum.
That all said, dear History Channel, please fuck yourself one more time. You’re undermining the things that I and others in the custom car design community have worked for, by presenting this hack as some “designer” (for fuck’s sake,he was “put off studying” automotive design “by the volume of technical work”. Jesus H. Christ… IT’S ALL FUCKING TECHNICAL WORK IF YOU UNDERSTAND THE JOB), and showing some wrench sketching something that passes for a “rendering” on the skill level of a seven year old, and then cobbling-together unsafe heaps in the name of “cars”??! Stick to “HISTORY” like your contrived bullshit shows like “Life After People” and other nonsense. It’s one thing to present garbage in the names of “entertainment” (i.e. Lifetime, Oprah’s network and MTV, for example), but to bold-faced lie to viewers (i.e. made-up timelines and budgets and other dramatic bullshit, but a quick stop on Wikipedia of all places (I know… it’s like going to CNN, MSNBC or Brian Williams for the truth most times, but till, let’s try to keep things on the level here), but in the intro, Loadsofbull claims that he brought Leapfrog to the US to build cars. Hmmm. Seems that Discovery Networks has a long history with this guy, starting as far back as 2006. This latest show is just another iteration of the prior two failed attempts. He’s lived in Idaho since at least 2013. Again, this could be one of two things going on:
One: The people behind this are mad geniuses, furthering the agenda to push the “immigrant comes to America and makes it big” pablum via a contrived TV show or
Two: The creative development at your network is in the spiral grip of the flushing toilet you float in, and you feel that this is the best you can do to feed the viewing public with insipid programming that further insults their steadily declining intelligence.
I’m really looking forward to Life After the History Channel.

V8 Radio Podcast!

pck studio card

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

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