Whenever I have the time, I like to create tighter renderings with color and a lot more detail compared to my quick car sketches. This section contains some of my best automotive renderings.
I’ve always been a pretty big fan of the Toyota MR2, as it pretty much represents everything I like in a sports car: small size, great handling, two seats, all with great style and design. I will admit that it’s lack of serious horsepower has always been a bit of a downer for me, because I believe these cars could have been something really special with just a bit more straight-line grunt. What good is flashy good looks if there isn’t enough horsepower to back it up?
Despite the lack of power in these cars, I’ve always been an MR2 fan and it kills me that Toyota doesn’t offer one for sale today. I suppose you could consider the 86 as the car filling that gap in the Toyota lineup, and while that’s a fine sports car in it’s own right, it features a front-mounted engine with four seats. This doesn’t quite exactly fit the MR2 mold. There’s nothing quite like the feel of a mid engine sports car, and no front-engine coupe can even come close to replicating it.
The designer in me couldn’t resist creating a quick and loose rendering depicting what I think the next generation MR2 could look like. Since every generation of this car seemed too “thin” and light for my tastes, I decided to give it a bit more of a muscular look. Yes, it’s difficult not to go overboard with conceptual designs such as this (especially when market research and project budgets are non existent) but I think I created a design which could be plausible while remaining true to the heritage of this car.
On a side note, I feel like I’m continuing to refine my rendering style quite nicely. I love “fast and loose” car renderings like this, as they allow for more spontaneity and passion (IMHO) when laying down the lines of the car. I’ve talked before about how fast thick and thin lines bring a lot of power and motion to an automotive sketch, so I’m definitely trying to keep that going.
My automotive sketching and rendering schedule over the past several months has been pretty hit or miss, as I’ve been so busy with other projects that I haven’t had much time to focus on drawing cars. Hmmm – seems like I start every blog post the same, right? Despite my lack of posts, the fact that I’m here (and that I always return) gives me confidence that I really am in this for the long haul.
Shortly after my last post, I was working really hard on refining my rendering technique. I didn’t post any of that work, mostly because I it was all very messy experimentation in an effort to try and figure out how to render cars again. I’ve been doing black and white pencil sketches for so long that I actually forgot how to apply color and reflections to the surface of a car! To say that was frustrating was an understatement – it was only a few short years ago that I felt like I was making strong progress with my automotive rendering technique, and the feeling of having lost ALL of that skill in that short amount of time was incredibly frustrating.
But I was making progress, and after a lot of practice I actually had a pretty significant breakthrough right before life got really busy and I stopped drawing cars again. It felt so good and I was anxious to get back into it as soon as possible…
This lack of sketching and rendering over the past several months has been slowly eating away at me, so I decided to sit down this weekend and do a quick illustration just to keep my hands trained. As a matter of fact, I didn’t even intend to do a full rendering – it just sort of happened as I got more and more excited about the fact that I was drawing again!
Anyway, the design of this car isn’t really the point of this post. I just sketched the first thing that came to mind, which happened to be a small sport coupe with very similar lines to the Nissan 350z and Infinity G35. This may or may not have been influenced by the fact that I’ve been itching to get a 350z again (I owned one for 6 years), so I guess I’m not totally surprised with the result.
I’m still trying to break out of my mold of drawing the same cars over and over again, and I’m not going to lie when I say that it is a really difficult habit to break! Even when I was a child I was drawing pretty much the same car over and over again, and nobody ever really called me out on that until my freshmen year of design school. My professors were really tough on me, and I thank them to this day for challenging me to think outside the box when it comes to automotive design. Now 20 years later with nobody else to guide me, I have to keep myself on track and focused if I want to get any better at this kind of illustration.
In my last post, you saw a handful of quick and loose SUV concept sketches. Big trucks are not my thing at all, but I admit that it was really fun to step out of my comfort zone for a bit and explore some designs for a segment which I admittedly don’t have much interest in. It’s difficult to be creative in those kinds of situations, but I’m a believer that a change in perspective is good if we want to learn and grow our core strengths. My core strengths in automotive art and design are solidly in the “sport coupe” segment. And you could probably tell by looking at those trucks that I drew! Designing trucks that looks like cars would be something that I would excel at I think…
Anyway, here are some sketches of a small car (it’s more of a hot hatch really) that actually started life as a small electric vehicle for urban environments. The proportions grew larger and larger as I refined the sketch – and it was quickly turning into a sport coupe – but I forced myself to stay true to the compact/small car genre as best I could.
Did I succeed? Well, I am happy with the sketch. But I’m not totally happy with the way it evolved into something entirely different than what I had originally intended to draw. That’s a very difficult part of art and design that many artists won’t talk about, but I’m not afraid to put everything out on the table for this blog!
Looking back on my archives, I recently realized that most of the car drawings that I do are late-model sport coupes. That discovery wasn’t even all that shocking to me – after all, that’s probably my favorite kind of car of all time. Even when I was 10 years old (way back in the mid 80’s), I was drawing sport coupes!
Well, I decided to shake things up a bit and go old school with this Mercedes Benz 300sl rendering. I don’t think I’ve ever done a true classic like this (other than the ’72 Chevelle drawing I did a couple years ago), so it was interesting to say the least. I had no idea that drawing old cars would be so difficult – there are a lot of compound curves, and there isn’t a straight body panel anywhere to be found on this particular car.
I aslo wasn’t planning on doing a full-blown rendering. My intention was to limit myself to a 1 hour pencil sketch (similar to the Audi R8 sketch I did last week), but I found myself fidgeting with all the little details the further I got into it. I’m glad I decided to go all the way though – I really need to practice my rendering technique anyway, so this added a bit more experience under my belt.
If you’re curious, here is an in-progress sketch of this Mercedes that I captured along the way:
After the line art was complete, I exported everything into Photoshop to add the color and reflections. I must say that Photoshop is difficult to work with in this regard. I think for the next drawing I do, I’ll do as much of the color and shading as I can in SketchBook Pro before exporting to Photoshop.
They say that the more you draw, the better you will get. I’ve always been a believer in this, and it’s been frustrating to admit that my skills as an automotive artist have actually decreased over the past year due to the fact that I’ve hardly been drawing. I mean, take a look at the quick truck sketch I uploaded in my last post. Blech – I don’t even know why I posted that! Well…I’m very happy to report that I believe I’ve finally busted through my slump and found an awesome new rendering style that I actually like.
Before starting this C7 Z06 rendering, I took a good look at the work of many other automotive artists and illustrators – and it dawned on me that I was drawn (no pun intended) more towards the illustrator types who did the tight vector-style renderings. The guy who runs problemchildkustoms.com is a good example of that. BUT – I’ve never had the patience to create illustrations with that amount of detail so I knew that a style such as that wasn’t the best fit for me. I then realized that I don’t have to replicate anyone, and I’m better off finding and developing my own style. And that’s exactly what I’ve done with this Corvette.
This style is semi-tight, but not over the top. I like looseness and spontaneity in my car drawings, so that’s why I purposefully left the pencil lines from the original sketch show through, and I wasn’t overly concerned about making all the details perfect. My goal is to capture the essence of the car, and then move on to the next one. Like I said above – I don’t have the patience and attention span to create photo-qualtiy renderings and illustrations.
So this will be my style going forward, and I’m anxious to try it with some other cars.
Ack. It’s been a week or so since I’ve last drawn a car, so today I decided to sit down and sketch out another one. As you can see from the image above, it didn’t go very well. I just don’t like the way that this rendering turned out at all – mostly because I think the design is too bulky and partly because the rendering style is completely overdone. But it is what it is, and I’m satisfied for at least doing it and keeping my hands in practice.
Learning how to draw cars takes time and dedication. Just as I outlined in my last post about practicing to draw circles and ovals every day, the only way to become a better car designer and illustrator is to do it over and over (and over) again. Consistent practice is 100% effective – I remember some classmates in my freshmen year of design school who couldn’t draw a good looking cube let alone a halfway-decent car, but through an obscene amount of practice and dedication, they all received full-time job offers from the major auto manufactures four years later upon graduation.
The illustration above just goes to show you that not every car you draw will be a success. Even though I’m not totally happy with it, I consider it valuable because of the energy and vigor it gives me to roll up my sleeves and try again tomorrow. I’m not necessarily feeling the pressure to create an award winning piece of automotive art, but the satisfaction I get from keeping up with my sketch-a-day mentality makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something.
Now that the seventh generation of the Corvette has been unveiled, I thought I would pay tribute to one of my favorite current cars by doing a side profile rendering of it. The C6 Corvette Z06 has been at the top of my “I gotta have” list for a long time now, and it doesn’t help that my neighbor drives an awesome looking black on black one that teases me (and my lowly Mustang GT) every time it drives by. There’s just something about the C6 Z06 that pushes all the right buttons for me.
I’m somewhat satisfied with this rendering, though I think I screwed up the proportions just a little bit by accidentally making it shorter than the real car – either that or the wheels are a touch too big. Unfortunately, I was too far into this rendering before I noticed it and I didn’t feel much like going back and reworking the sketch to make it right. Yes, I have a very short attention span.
This entire drawing took about 3 hours. I spent about 1 hour sketching it out, trying to get it as correct as I could, then I spent the next two hours laying down the color and the details. The one thing I really like about drawing on the computer (with SketchBook Pro and my Wacom tablet) is that I can make very significant tweaks on the fly without risk of ruining the rendering. For example, I originally began sketching this out over a white background, but then I thought it might be interesting to throw a red background under it and render it that way. You can’t make a switch like that so easily drawing cars the old school way (with vellum and pens).
I feel like I’m getting back into the rhythm drawing cars again. I’m excited to move onto my next one, but I’m not sure what that’s going to be yet…
Ugh. For some reason or another I had a craving to draw a real production car. I’m not sure where that itch came from, but all I know is that it needed to be scratched. Trouble is that I didn’t really have any particular car in mind – I think it was just more of a curiosity to see if I could draw something that exists today. So with that in mind, I grabbed the nearest Car and Driver magazine and started thumbing through it until I found a picture that I felt I could replicate myself.
That first picture (it was an advertisement actually) happened to be a bright red 2012 Fiat 500. No, not the Abarth Edition – just the standard model. I’ve been curious about these cars ever since they were released, so it didn’t take but a second to make the descision to choose this one as the car I would be drawing and rendering.
The sketch actually turned out surprisingly well. I had some strong worries about not being able to replicate the shape of this little Fiat accurately, but I was able to have a nice working pencil underlay in about 20 minutes. Well, it wasn’t really pencil, because I do all my car renderings on a Wacom tablet with SketchBook Pro – but you get the idea.
It took about another hour or two to tighten up the sketch and get some nice line work laid down, and by that time I was pretty much burned out on it. Two weeks went by before I actually started applying the color and reflections, and I just finished it up tonight.
Am I happy with the way this Fiat 500 rendering turned out? Meh. I am happy with the the underlying line art and the base color application. But wow…I learned very quickly that I have very little patience for all the little details! Upon completion of this drawing, I have newfound respect for anybody who can pull of a really high detailed hand-drawn car rendering. My attention span is way to short to do something like this – so I guess that means that I much more enjoy loose sketches and renderings over the tight photo-realistic stuff.
This could have been so much better if my attention span wasn’t so short. There’s a lot I could do to tighten this up and make it look better, but to be honest with you…I’d rather be done with it and move on to the next one.
I admit it – I’m a huge Mustang fan. Funny thing is that I never really cared about Ford or the Mustang until about 10 years ago and I’m not really sure what has brought me around to be a fan of this Pony car. If I were throwing out guesses, it might be the fact that the Mustang offers a lot of bang for the buck here in the US – lots of power and speed can be had for not so much money (at least compared to other cars). Now that I’m a family man on a tight budget, that’s really attractive to me. As a matter of fact, I’m shopping for a Mustang project car right now. Very exciting times for this car guy! LOL.
So now that I’m in the market for a Mustang, I thought it would only be fitting to draw one. I approached this sketch from a modern point of view, thinking about how I’d like to see the current generation evolve. I probably got too crazy with some of the forms and surfaces, but it’s just a concept anyhow – I wasn’t trying to create a photo-realistic rendering.
One of the things that I like about the current generation Mustang is the front grill. I tried to maintain the overall size, but I massively exaggerated the angle and relocated the headlights above . The driving lights have been repositioned as well, as I thought a better and more functional place for them would be in the lower bumper area.
Rendering wise, I’m becoming very comfortable with my line art and working on thick and thin pen strokes. Rendering (adding color, reflections, etc) is obviously my weakest point. Still working on that.
Now excuse me while I go browse the Craigslist Mustang classifieds…
It’s funny how things work out – when I sat down to create this illustration, I wanted to create something like an off-road mini truck with fat tires and a lifted stance. But as you can see, it didn’t really turn out that way. As I was sketching this out and trying to work through the forms and surfaces, it evolved into something more sporty and street-specific (rather than a true off-road beast).
I’m not really complaining though. I like the way this turned out! The overall style of the truck is hard and angular – almost stealth-like. I probably could have spent some more time working out the details of the lower portion of the body, as I don’t really feel as if it’s very realistic. I’m not sure what else I could do with it, other than adding some type of rugged frame bars or something that would make it seem more like a truck.
I had also intended to render this in color, but I just really like the look of a grayscale sketch. For whatever reason, I have an easier time understanding forms and surfaces without color. The gray tones help to define the shape – sort of what makes black and white photography so interesting.