Tag Archive | drawing

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

It’s Nothing Without the Paper

An interesting thought I’ve been pondering in the background for quite some time:
 
I’m sick and tired of hearing people bash digital artwork and conceptual work as being something less than a sketch on paper. Absolutely done with it. And I’m talking about the work involving creating that which doesn’t exist, not hacking two photos you found on Google together to put another pony car on a set of off-the-shelf rims. I’m talking pure conceptual work here.
 
Let’s consider a pencil and marker sketch versus one created on a tablet using pixels, or even a photograph: It’s not as though a photograph is providing you with a small, actual landscape or an 8×10-inch person to tote around; nor does the marker rendering, or even the digital sketch/painting. All are artistic REPRESENTATIONS of something, and require a certain set of skills to create with any success. Don’t get me wrong, there is a HUGE gap between the good and the terrible, and that comes down to knowing the tools (doubly-so for a digital artist seeking to emulate a traditional tool or media, as that artist needs to have experience in physical AND digital media) and using them as a craftsman should. There is good art in any medium, be it sculpture or painting or drawing or photography or motion pictures and more. Ability and drive and vision aren’t limited to one tool, and if you think that they are, then you are severely limiting your outlook.
 
The digital stuff suffers because it’s created using a bunch of ones and zeros and can be wiped from existence with a key stroke, but it has the ability to exist everywhere. You can scan an analog piece and share in that instant, global sharing, much as you can with a digital photograph… And you can lose the original by spilling coffee on it as well.
 
Oddly enough, each is nothing without the paper it’s presented upon. So do tell me again where digital art is some lesser form because doesn’t exist until it’s on paper. And good luck sharing that original analog piece on social media without scanning it into bytes of data. Tell me how digital “ruins” the art. Go right on ahead.

Editor’s Notes. Again.

Excerpt from the editor’s email, Sunday Morning Mood Killer/Everyone is a Critic/This Really Goes Against the Whole ‘First Day of Spring’ Deal edition:
“I have taken the liberty of once again removing the line: ‘Having only been recently exposed to the English language makes his appointment to United States Poet Laureate (Southwestern Limerick Division) all the more impressive’ from your ‘biography,’ as documentation of the alleged appointment appears to be little more than you responding that the ‘burden of proof is on your ass for questioning such an accomplishment in the first place,’ and that if I would like to ‘continue enjoying the lavish lifestyle that the retainer fee provides, along with the gift subscription to Cat Fancy Magazine‘ that I would ‘recognize my place in the universe’ as being ‘little more than some chubby girl whose poetry is so bad that she has to eek a living by proofreading the work of others’ would probably not stand under close scrutiny.

Also note that the twenty-seven page footnote regarding an ‘asparagus-like pee with no recollection of having eaten the vegetable in the previous day or two’ and it’s apparently ‘having something to do with the old lady that sneezed near me’ and your subsequent reference to yet ANOTHER footnote describing some psychological disorder which ‘the olfactory-borne memories of mothballs, boiled cabbage and Lemon-Scented Pledge, along with the visual of doilies’ has left you with (and that you are “currently self-medicating as a remedy for” using the “remainder of the Enzyte free samples crushed into a fine powder and mixed with flat Coca-Cola to form a paste” which you then explain – in excruciating detail over the course of sixty pages – the process of “spreading the paste over your mid-section, paying close attention to the belly button region” because, and I quote, “that’s where the little bastards put the probes to avoid detection, and the resulting wound provides a faster path to the bloodstream,” which I can only assume is a reference to Chapter 7.4086.3.6.1 – which many may point out appears PRIOR TO CHAPTER TWO – ‘Abs of the Space Gods,’ in which you have drawn a diagram of your penis with the notation ‘Belly button actually appears slightly higher, but was too difficult to draw in detail considering the pushy nature of the Editor and her alleged ‘schedules’ and ‘other such bullshit’ so you drew it ‘hidden ever-so artistically just behind the head, which almost makes it look as though it has an afro’) has absolutely NO basis in scientific fact nor merit. We have been over this numerous times, and the publisher will not accept your “Belch That Tasted Like Bologna Even Though You Haven’t Eaten Any” conspiracy theory — used in a prior revision to support the previously noted ‘asparagus pee footnote,’ and now again here, even after our assumed agreement that it be stricken from the final copy as mere conjecture — as proof of it being a “natural phenomena that some hack like Bill Nye could explore in his down-time between flights to hippie conventions with that other sack of shit,” as it will surely lead to some legal action from his people (although I do agree that they may be, as you so eloquently pointed out in the elevator in which we stood but inches behind them, “moderately-functioning brain donors, and if not that then some inbreeding experiment gone both wrong AND right in some respects”). You are a difficult man to dislike, and for that reason I will continue to read and attempt to edit your work here. Please renew the subscription to Cat Fancy. And also, why not consider a nice gift box of chocolates for this chubby girl to enjoy while she crafts more bad poetry?”

Touche’, Editor Lady. Touche’.

A Light Comes On

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:

color-them

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.

Marker Time!

sci-fi pinup marker sketch

It has been a while since I posted anything here to really do with the actual drawing of cars… I mean, shit, that is the name of this whole mess, after all. I suppose that I could throw a few doodles into the mix now and then, right?

Of course.

Going through some of the older sketchbooks and whatnot, I’ve compiled a little peek behind the scenes; the stuff that goes on before the vector and digital voodoo-type sorcery. Let’s start with this piece:

cartoon car sketch

I had wanted to do a cartoon-y piece for a while, and the opportunity presented itself back in ’08-ish, so I went at it with some gusto, and created the ultimate swap meet find moment, with this happy gent scraping his way home with a brutal ’55 Chevy in tow. From markers to the scanned and re-drawn, vector art, you can see the importance of staying as true as possible to the original work. All pen tool… no brushes, auto-trace, meshes or other preset nonsense. It’s all about retaining the original line quality, and saving that hand-drawn looseness, but gaining all of the good things that a vector piece can supply!

digital cartoon drawing

I do a lot of t-shirt work, and to be honest, I enjoy it a lot more than the hot rod work, especially as things progress with my neuromuscular condition (more on that soon), and it really gives me a chance to play around in my imagination. There are so many things you can get away with, stretching reality on a graphic, versus having to make things work on the street!

This piece was a fun one in so many ways:

sci-fi pinup marker sketch

My pal Jon had wanted a cool tee for his shop. He knew he wanted a pinup girl with a retro feel, but wanted to include two of the more well-known cars they’ve painted… However, those cars are decidedly modern Pro-Touring style rides, so the challenge was on to make these elements work. I decided that I’d use the opportunity to include elements from some of my favorite science fiction spacecraft, lending a little bit of a retro/space feel. And what space-age pinup would be complete without a glass dome helmet and a ray gun-turned-paint gun? Naturally. Sketch to color-blocking in marker took what seemed like forever as my hands weren’t cooperating too well at the time, but I had managed to bust this out over a couple of days (from sketch to final vector work):

vectior tshirt pinup

Speaking of tees and posters, here’s a little one from 2012:

poster sketch

This is a peek at that weird moment where the sketch meets the digital work. For me, this is a bittersweet moment at times, knowing that some elements in the original design will probably change, be it to make things more print-friendly, of due to a client’s request… And some of the really neat little bleeds and whatnot in the marker stage will be lost forever to the super-smoothness of a vector curve. I pay a TON of attention at this stage to keep as much of that hand-hewn character and personality in there!

The completed vector art:

poster design

Let’s peek at the rendering side of things with a little ’50 Chevy pickup piece. Starting with a pencil sketch (you can find the whole process on this particular illustration as part of a quick tutorial, if you’d like), I refine it to a point where I feel confident that I have enough information to move into the digital side. This one got a bit carried away, as I was putting that how-to together, and thought I’d have an expanded version for the upcoming book:

truck rendering sketch

Mostly pencils with just a touch of gray marker making its way in, just to nail down the shading.

Once it’s all vector drawn (again, I’m a strictly pen tool kinda guy on these personal pieces, as it’s more about getting m,y own hand and style into the art, versus banging out a piece to feed the kids. After a bunch of hours and hundreds of layers and detailing, we get this:

chevy tuck rendering

One last piece for this installment, if you’ll indulge me:
truck pencil sketch

Sketching on-site is always fun, and this piece was the highlight of a fun weekend, hanging in Burbank. While the plan was to go full digital with this one, I decided that it just had too much going on to lose the feel, and decided that markers just fit the bill, and, well…

truck marker rendering

…it worked out pretty well! Experimenting sometimes with a technique or style that’s outside of your everyday working methods can often bring exciting results! In this case, I had really intended to keep it looser, and get that cool plein air feel… but in the end, I forced a bit of my tighter rendering style in there. Maybe next time!

Drawing FURY-ously

Hey guys. It’s been a while, and I apologize for that. Today, I’d like to roll out another tutorial, this time, drawing a slick, slammed Fury. This will be an analog (or “traditional”, whichever you prefer) piece, so bust out the pencils, paper, and markers of your choice (I’ll be using Copics, but virtually any marker will do here), and get drawing!

Laying out the guidelines… At this stage, some loose lines to place the key parts of the composition are all that’s needed. Perspective lines give us an idea of where things will be placed, and give a general feel for scale and proportion as well.

car drawing tutorial

I start to tidy-up the car at this point, bringing in a little marker to darken-up the shadow areas, and make permanent those lines I wish to keep:

vehicle rendering tutorial

Blocking-in some gray tones. Just some loose grays to start giving the piece some depth. Key here is deciding which forms will recede in space, and which will be left up front. I also spend a little time defining the car’s shadow:

marker rendering tutorial

Cleaning-up some of the stray sketch lines, and adding some color to block in some lighting for later. I like the work to appear translucent, versus having just color planted atop more color (which can get awfully muddy-looking), so a little color washing at this point pays off HUGE later on:

how to draw a car

I bring in some color to the car at this stage, tightening-up the shading and lines… While the whole image is loose, I like to have certain areas (like the wheels) show a bunch of detail, to draw the eye in and around the work:

car drawing tutorial

A ton of time spent blocking-in color, and implying some brick on the storefronts. Blending is the key at this stage, and using it in a restrained manner can help to give not only a nice, loose feel, but make the lighting and shadow appear more natural, versus blocked-in and forced. I tend to work from the lightest to darkest areas in stages, moving back over and into those areas that need richer or darker tones:

final rendering

This is another ‘static’ tutorial, meaning no video. I thought it best to present a few basic tutorials in this way to give you a reference, without any distractions, or need to search for a particular step. This just seems a better way to get you up to speed on the essentials, before we move full-steam into the more advanced tools and techniques. It’s a quick overview, but take your time, and work on controlling every stroke you lay on the page. It’ll pay off in the end.

Gonzo Hot Rod Art

Some years ago, I was introduced to the work of a journalist named Hunter S. Thompson. Bear in mind that this “introduction” came at a pivotal point in my creative career, and I was completely drawn to his style of not only writing, but his almost renegade technique of forming a story. Here was a journalist who not only covered the news at hand, but worked in a personal angle, often thrusting himself so deeply into the event he was covering so as to alter its outcome! “Absolute brilliance”, I thought! Not mere “coverage” or “reporting”, but LIVING it! This was just too much… This guy GOT it! To a student of Fine art, this was the epitome of creating anything: the EXPERIENCE… being a PART of what you’re creating!

car chase

Thompson’s style of news came to be known as “Gonzo Journalism”, and the name packs the energy rightfully reserved for this all-out, sensory attack, in which the writer himself becomes an integral part of the story. Somewhere between the facts, self-interjection and commentary, the truth lay in wait. This was the sort of writing I had done since I could first form sentences… I had found someone who had paved the way before me, and man, I was digging this. Taking something that has always been deemed as objective, and beating it into something much cooler and entertainingly subjective… showing that a subject or event could have an effect on the writer, and then, at times becoming a part of that story was just simple logic to me… After all, how interesting is just blowing some facts all over a sheet of paper or computer monitor?! Stirring in (or up!) some emotion is key to creating compelling content. Anyone can say “gee, Stan… there was this one guy, and he said this, and the other guy said that. Then they shook hands.” Wow. Not sure about you, but I’M drained from that story. What a cathartic experience… or NOT. Thompson would become the center of his work, very often blurring the line between “reporting” facts and “influencing” a story. He interjected opinion, an energy, and most of all, an experience.

rainy night

That said, I began to look at this field of automotive art that I work in, and feel a bit depressed. It’s gone from the fun, energetic industry to a machine full of photo-real, computer-generated imagery lately. The landscape is littered with photochops, rehashed 3-D models, and tracings of the same-old, same-old. My work was similar… the same tired, old recipes for stance, wheels and tires and paint jobs that lacked inspiration. I had fallen into a void of using a ‘recipe’, rather than being inspired.

My work was starting to suffer and suck. I was relying, like many others, on the tools, not the skill or vision I had originally worked o hard to develop. I was neglecting my training and the very thing that got me into it all to begin with. I hated what I was doing… but not with a passion. That part was gone.

Why am I not simply DRAWING anymore?!

The creative projects… the REALLY wild customs and out-of-the-box hot rods are the ones that inspire and push the hobby to that next level… they’ve become fewer and further between. It’s become… well, “safe”. We’re flooded with near stock-looking blah-mobiles drawn with a lack of personality, often with the actual car being just the same bland cookie-cutter crap over and over again. Wow… a photo-real rendering of a pro-touring car on aftermarket wheels… Where’s the excitement? You could take a photo of one of hundreds of similar cars on custom wheels at any car show, and have the same effect. When I look at a rendering or illustration, I want to see the artist’s style, the technique, the energy! What the hell happened?! It was as though someone started the rumor that renderings needed to be sterile, lackluster depictions of some uniform style, and by golly, the whole group jumped the bandwagon, eating up the words and carrying it right into the common belief system they’d developed. Worse yet, I saw it start to occur in my own work as well from time to time, and it made me take a step back, and in doing that, I had a moment of absolute clarity.

I took the past couple of months and began heading back to what made this whole automotive illustration gig so appealing to me at the start: The ENERGY!! I pondered just what makes a rendering so valuable to a project, and beyond the financial (sponsor opportunities, press, etc) and communication (illustrating the modifications) value, it all boils down to CREATING EXCITEMENT! Simply looking at a photograph of a car can be cool, sure, but you’re seeing something COMPLETE, FINISHED… and it removes the emotional response, the natural impulse to IMAGINE… To look at the idea SUBJECTIVELY!! By leaving just enough to the imagination, just enough room to interpret something, some part as YOUR OWN, you don’t just LOOK at the work, you EXPERIENCE it!!

Even when drawing from life… find something in the subject that excites you… that gets you going, and capitalize on it. Make that the inspiration for your work. In the piece below, I was standing in the Old Crow Speed Shop, which is like a living museum. It’s packed to the gills with artifacts, parts and history from hot rodding’s roots. There’s a certain roughness about the place… It’s old and weathered, and has just that right amount of patina to be loaded with character. I wanted my line work and coloring to portray and carry that.

plein air sketching

This is why I leave some loose lines among the tightened concepts, some free-form areas to chance… I’m not nailing down parts, bit by bit from some “rule book” (“18’s and 19’s? Check. Suspension lowered exactly like every other car on that forum? Check. Billet parts here, here and here? Check. Correct valve covers so as to avoid the wrath of the “Traditional Police”? Check, check!”), I’m inventing a concept to be shared, interpreted… EXPERIENCED by not only the owner or builder of the car, but anyone who happens upon it. I want the viewer to feel some of what I felt in the moment… that connection of having been there. Anyone (and I repeat ANYONE… you, your kids, your neighbor’s Grandmother) with access to a stock model, or some tracing paper and a few pencils and markers, or worse yet, Photoshop, Google and some time can bash out a car illustration (or ‘rendering’ as the common term has come to describe any altered image of a car today). But the ones who can hammer down a concept, and show some life in the lines, some ENERGY… man… those are the pieces that stand up to time, and drop their pants at the lesser crap. Compare a Dali sketch to some photochop or traced (‘vectorized’, ugh) image. Name your three favorite Harry Bradley renderings, or Steve Stanford concepts, or Larry Wood designs. Easy, right? Now try to do the same for three photochops, or vector tracings. That’s a pretty tough one, huh?I’m betting the latter list is shorter.  I’m betting that you recall work because it brought out a response in you. Art is like that… it breeds a response, some sort of an emotional reply to the art and artist that says ‘Hell YES!!” It’s that unconscious, natural response that makes art so enjoyable… not some sales pitch or a popularity contest or post count.

fury sketch

That all out there, I’m adopting the “Gonzo” style, and going at it with the passion that brought me here to begin with. It’s just me, my art, and the drive to push it higher and higher until the son of a bitch breaks from the altitude. I’m not about to fall victim to trends… or to fall back into ‘lazy mode’ again. I enjoy the whole work part of creating artwork.

Our pal Hunter (from the start of this whole mess) stated that “he that is taught only by himself has a fool for a master”. Grand advice… and a central theme here in the Studio. Draw inspiration from as many sources as possible! I’m often looking to objects or art forms so removed from cars that even I begin to wonder how they’ll apply… and it’s a blast! I’ll look at a painting and consider the brush strokes, and experiment, seeing how they might work in a current or future piece. Perhaps there’s a rhythm in a song that just makes sense when laying down the lines on some graphics… It can come from almost anywhere. The key here, though, is KNOWING YOUR SUBJECT.

INTIMATELY.

Simply hacking a few photos together, or painting some digital model or tracing a picture doesn’t grant you any more knowledge of designing a hot rod or custom car than does accidentally bumping a car in the parking lot with your shopping cart. When you take time to know the car, to understand the parts and pieces that make the whole… to look into the designer’s mind and grasp where he was going and WHY, well, you’re starting to grasp the idea. You’re in no position to modify that car until you understand it. Going back to Dr. Thompson for a second (after all, he’s the reason we got rolling on this anyway), he once wrote that “Fiction is based on reality unless you’re a fairy-tale artist, you have to get your knowledge of life from somewhere. You have to know the material you’re writing about before you alter it. ” Incredibly wise indeed, and the big “why” that so many of these sterile, cold “renderings” lack that “punch”… the thrill, the excitement of a GREAT piece… the ones that make you take a step backward and yell “BITCHIN’, MAN“!!

I began applying that energy to my work, both traditional as well as the digital stuff… Even airbrushing and sketching back over pieces after print. I was aiming to bring things full-circle. After all, digital art is only a collection of electrons to represent that creative thought which created the image to begin with. It only exists after print. If I could sketch a car, make it digital, enhance and change it all in the virtual world… Then bring it back into reality, and put my hand-drawn work back into it, well… Then we’d be talking! And away I went.

epic chase

The goal was to create with the tools… not just because of them.

I wanted to stir excitement with the subject matter… to be one of those artists who get you going on what they’ve created, and then have you step back and wonder just how in the fuck they did it.

I kept yelling at myself that I want MY work to be like that!

I realized in attempting to reach that level that it all went back to the basics, the fundamentals. Know the subject, know the tools, get comfortable in a technique, and then break free of the comfort zone and create something NEW. Pushing the boundaries, and doing things that others haven’t, or better, have said that you can’t do. Analog to digital and back to analog art? Heck yeah. Got that ball rolling in the Studio, and am discovering a whole new set of challenges and inspiration. Next step? Who knows. I’ll discover it when I get wherever it is.

What I’ve learned so far: Push yourself. Forget what makes you comfortable, and lose the fear of the unknown. Above all, study, study STUDY. Look at the masters in your craft. See what they do. Pick apart the technique, see what makes it all tick and come together. You need a pep talk? Here you go:

After all… ‘How are you gonna learn to be great if you don’t study greatness?!’ Brilliant.

With all of that strewn on the table, I’m going to go back into the Studio and tear the next project a new one. I challenge you to go and do the same in the shop, and wow the snot out of everyone who experiences your Gonzo build.

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.

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

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!

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