Having gone well off of the beaten path again lately, I thought it would be nice to revisit the original theme of this blog for a bit, and look behind the scenes of some renderings. What do you say?
A peek at the process:
Starting with the tried-and-true box method to nail perspective and proportions, I sketch the essential shapes and components (taking time to design a wheel, too!), and then scan the sketch, and begin the heavy lifting in Illustrator. Around forty-nine layers in total, this one is relatively straightforward, with only minor custom changes, allowing for a little more time to play in the details.
No presets, meshes or brushes, just paths and pen tool. There’s a lot to be said for using the basic tools, and I find it to be a very Zen experience; it becomes the art of massaging your brain while working. It can get tedious, but the key is in finding a rhythm, wherein you can alternate between left and right brain, solving little design and engineering issues as you make everything look “right” or “cool.”
My goal is a smooth, clean piece which retains some of the raw lines, but with a heavy focus on getting the little stuff in all of the right places:
Speaking of playing in the details, lets’ take a peek at the hundreds of paths that sometimes need to be squeezed into a fraction of an inch with some custom ‘Cuda tail lamps. In this case, we were looking at creating the concept art to show the customer what ’71 Charger lamps would look like in his ’70 ‘Cuda (see here for more on that!):
From paths upon paths to a detailed illustration:
A behind-the-scenes look at the rendering for the project, working from a loose box guide to sketch, and then into Illustrator for around forty hours of pen tool work, this time strictly using the mouse as my hands weren’t cooperating:
One more piece for this installment, and a rendering that was a big challenge and a ton of fun at the same time, as it required creating something that didn’t yet exist, and finding a way to create a unique spin on the classic belly tank-based land speed car:
Working with just the basic plan, it was a matter of packaging everything neatly and orderly, and then making the aesthetic work. Starting with the tried-and-true box method, I git the perspective working in my favor, and worked to get the parts and pieces that my client wanted showing, and then built upon that foundation once the loos sketch was scanned and in Illustrator. The post work in Photoshop brings the whole thing to life, and it took lot of restraint to avoid losing the original hand-drawn feel. I think it worked out in the end:
Been having one of those weird times again where I question everything… Kind of caught between wanting to just jump ship and move on to new things, but knowing that the timing isn’t quite right yet. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m lucky to do something that I’m marginally decent at, but I’ve been seeking some sense of fulfillment, some understanding that what I do can matter.
And along comes my pal DW, and things got a little clearer.
I’m a big believer in the philosophy that you meet people or experience things for a reason, and making friends with him some years back has proven that way of thinking correct over and over. Man, you know I can’t thank you enough for the times you’ve set my head straight.
When DW had asked me some years back if we could include a few line drawings in shipments from Welder Series as coloring pages for customer’s kids, I thought “why not! It could be cool.” It offered a chance for the kids to get something they might use, and maybe spend time with Dad. The hot rodding thing all starts someplace, after all… Might be a car show for some, building a scale model at the kitchen table for others. Perhaps some kid will look back on coloring with their father one evening. And then I saw his post regarding just how those sketches were being used.
From his post:
Know here and now that every act can have some effect, whether seen or unseen, and may take place right in front of you or far away. Had I not read DW’s post, or had his customer not shared what his wife had chosen to do, I’d still be happy hoping that some kid was enjoying them. Knowing that a teacher cared enough about the kids in her care to go an extra step and inspire them is far beyond icing on the cake… It’s proof of concept that the plans we have in the works here CAN work. And “work” is certainly the key word in all of this. But it’s that sort of work that I enjoy more than anything.
Thanks to DW and his family at Welder Series, and thanks to his customer for taking that step to show his wife the coloring pages, and then to her for going that extra mile… and man, thanks for shining that light this way. I think I’d have seen it even if things had been a lot brighter all around, but having it come on when it was darker really made me appreciate it even more. And that made a LOT of things very, very clear indeed.
We’ve thrown a few free line art files up on the website for you to grab and spend some quality time with your kids this Inktober (while I neglect mine in favor of finishing a ton of last-minute SEMA Show afterthought nonsense for clients who lack the “planning” and “scheduling” genes).
Nearly two fists full of car art, ranging from street rods to kustom cars and slammed trucks, all ready to be downloaded, printed and attacked with pencils, crayons, markers or airbrush (or even by spitting ink or food coloring at them, should you be so crafty and weird – or brave, depending upon the pigments you select). Granted, these are for your fun and entertainment only, so we hope that you’ll use them to inspire the kids (or even yourself, should you wish) to get creating.
Our hope is that you’ll share these with your kids, and make some memories as Fall settles in… Or should you have forgotten the joy of putting some color down on a car drawing, that you’ll re-discover that buzz, and perhaps even bust out the pencils and get sketching some of your own…
Keep in mind that these are presented in good faith, and not to be used in any other way except as stated. If you’d like a one-off piece of art, give me a shout, and we can arrange for that. After all, this is how I feed my kids, and buy them neat things like shoes and crayons to color line art with.
A big shout to our friends over at Welder Series for getting this ball rolling with us (DW ships a selection of coloring pages with each order!), and for their support of this whole mess over the years. You know we love you guys. And not simply because you live in the land of Hockey, Tim Horton’s and poutine.
That said, we hope you enjoy the art and the memories made, and check back often as we’ll add more variety as time allows! Oh, you can grab these things here, BTW: http://bit.ly/color-these
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?
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:
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!
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:
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):
Speaking of tees and posters, here’s a little one from 2012:
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:
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:
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:
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…
…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!
Yesterday, I had a conversation (OK, a conversation in the digital sense, but words and ideas were conveyed, making it a conversation in the modern sense) with a friend, and, though we were discussing drawing and designing cars for fun and no profit, we hit upon the business side. As we dove deeper into the differences between illustrating and designing, the elephant in the room reared its head, and brought up the classic issue of dealing with monotony and having to educate a client or two along the way. And then he (my pal, not the elephant… I’m sure that the elephant is a she, as it never laughs at farts) did the unthinkable:
He asked a question. If you know me, then, well… you know better than to set the synapses a-firing. He posed the question that has gotten so many into trouble over the years; “What small business doesn’t have to deal with a customer base that doesn’t understand the craft, and always beats you up on price?”
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what inspired me to create a whole new niche.
For your consideration: The hot dog cart.
When you approach, you know the price. You may not know what goes into said food product, but you know that you like it. Much like art: Can you make a hot dog? Further: Can you make an EDIBLE, visually pleasing hot dog? …much less in the time frame that you want it? Chances are that you can’t. So you pay the price listed, no haggling, no bartering, no getting five other quotes from other vendors, and then going back to the cart where you found the hot dog you wanted, and telling the proprietor that a cart over on 52nd has them $1 cheaper. You purchase the dog, perhaps you throw a suggestion or two in there (“Mmmm sauerkraut sounds good!”), you eat it. End of transaction.
The porn industry, I’d imagine, is very similar, but lacking the customization in many cases (I’m talking broadcast/pre-recorded… I understand that there are outlets online where they’ll tailor a performance, but for our purposes, that’s like seeking a Picasso that matches your couch, not having your Gremlin drawn — which is a funny innuendo all it’s own, but I digress). You see the video, you delight in the creative title (“Sorority Sisters 85”, “Boobnado” or “The Fucked and the Furious 69”), and think “Yeah, she looks pretty hot”, and BAM! You clean up… I mean “purchase said video”. You don’t quarrel that the lady on the cover should be a brunette or redhead, or haggle for a cheaper price, simply because the prop used wasn’t big enough or this or that color… No, you pay the price, and head back to your parent’s basement and get your creep on. No hassle… you enjoy the movie for the, uh, “art” that it is.
That said, I’m going to hit Shark Tank with my revolutionary idea:
I’m taking my craft on the road. Working from a re-purposed hot dog cart, I’ll sell my art on pre-packaged DVD’s, featuring titles like “Sixty-Nine Camaro 25”, “Brothel Belvedere”, “Salt Flats Slut”, and so-on. Pre-made designs, renderings and illustrations with no hassle. The price is the price. You have a thing for another gray pro-touring Camaro on Forgelines? We’ll have you covered. You like it weird? We’ll have a slammed, patina school bus that’s part Donk, part resto-mod, and all triple-turbocharged with lowrider paint. A little something for everyone.
Should you want a more “customized”, “intimate” experience, well, that’s what the website is for (“Private Drawing Sessions With Brian and His Big Pencil”). And, should this be a hit, the part that I’m most excited about is hearing on the news how the “Adult custom automotive art industry is seeing record numbers, but there’s a dark side: Many are addicted to buying renderings and prints.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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’.
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.
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.
Case in point, that Merc from earlier:
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:
…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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
A kustom cruiser night scene:
A mild kustom in the first snow in the city:
And a one-time offering of The Big Chase, an action-packed scene:
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.
Our pal Dino throws an all-Chevy bash leading into the Goodguys Southwest Nationals, and I’m stoked that he calls me to create some art for the tees and posters each time.
Being a great friend like he is, I always take it to a new level, and to to theme the artwork in some way (and, as tradition dictates, include his face with a quote from the months prior; this latest being from a great road trip last March with Dino, Sam, Broey and myself heading to Burbank with Sam’s ’69 Camaro project in tow).
That said… here’s what I developed for this go-round! From the first color stabs to finished art, it was, as always, an incredibly fun project, to say the least!
First round, full-color, feeling a few ideas out:
The tee, back-side:
…and the front:
…and the final poster. We went with a more spartan color scheme, and I love the ‘pop’ it has:
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:
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:
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:
Dino has a great sense of humor, and lets me really go nuts on his annual party posters and tees:
This Old West piece was fun, and the colors just worked-out well indeed.
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.
Limited-color work is always a challenge and a blast. Throw some exotics into that mix, and it gets even more fun.
Piece for a friend… a little Roth style and some sewing machine power. What’s not to like?
I really enjoy drawing detailed but fun stuff. DW asked for a shop scene, and away I went.
…and speaking of details, this hot set piece was a load of fun indeed:
…walking the line between infographic and rendering, but landing squarely on ‘t-shirt’. Good times:
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!