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.
Despite my lack of posts here, I’ve actually been drawing quite a bit lately. I’ve mentioned before how difficult it is for me to find the time to draw, and I’m here to tell you that finding additional time to keep this website up and running is even more problematic. My free time is sparse, and lately I’ve decided that I’d rather keep my sketching and rendering practice going rather than trying to focus on this website. Someday, when I win the lottery or something, I’ll have more time to dedicate to this place and fill it with lots of cool car sketches and renderings.
But that doesn’t mean that I’m going to shut this place down! I created scottdesigner.com to be my digital automotive sketchbook – a tool that I could use to track my drawing and sketching progress over the years, and I fully intend to keep it going like that.
Anyway, one of the things I’ve been experimenting with over the past few weeks is different software to help me develop my line work. Sketchbook Pro is pretty good, but I can never seem to get the sharp black lines that I like so much. Photoshop is a bit better in that regard, but it lacks the softness and pressure-sensitivity details I can get with SBP. That desire for clean inking lead me to try Manga Studio – a software package I’ve heard a lot about but never tired, and I think I like it. I think. To be honest, I haven’t spent too much time with it yet, but it’s a pretty good inking tool for my style of sketching. I just wish that it had more rulers and guides (specifically ellipse guides) that make drawing mechanical objects such as cars much easier.
If I decide to stick with Manga Studio, I’ll post some sample drawings here – and maybe even some tutorials as well.
Drawing white cars isn’t easy. It usually helps to use a dark background so that the white really pops off the page, because otherwise, it would just look like a plain pencil sketch without color! Anyway, this was just a really quick design study without much attention given to the little details. I’ve got to admit that it’s more fun that way – I like to work fast and never spend too long on one drawing.
There’s not always enough time in the day to draw cars as much as I’d like, so I need to use the time that I have. Even a spare 10 minutes between meetings or on a conference call is a perfect time to load up SketchBook Pro and draw something really quick. It’s messy, but better than nothing!
I recently had the chance to try out the new Wacom Intuos 5 drawing tablet, and let me tell you this: it blows my old Graphire 4 tablet out of the water! Well, that’s not really such a shocking revelation, but I was really surprised about how much better it was – especially for drawing cars.
First of all, the drawing surface is slightly tacky and rough which gives it the feel of real paper. That alone is worth the upgrade over my old tablet which has a drawing surface as smooth as glass. Combined with a soft felt nib on the drawing pen, it’s just like drawing in a real sketchbook. I also like the fact that the buttons along the left edge are completely customizable, so you can set up your drawing environment any way you want – you can even make the settings different among different software packages. For example, you can have a custom set of buttons and controls for SketchBook Pro, and then have them switch automatically when you move over to Photoshop. All of this is automatic – you don’t have to manually tell the tablet which software package you are using.
This is especially important for drawing cars. I usually sketch my cars in SketchBook Pro, then finish up all the little details in Photoshop. Sometimes (if I feel like it), I’ll do a little bit of color work in Corel Painter so it’s really nice to be drawing with a smart tablet that is aware of what you are doing.
But for now, I still can’t get over the fact that the drawing surface feels so real. Perhaps I’ve been using my old drawing tablet for far too long, but it’s truly a pleasure to draw cars on the new Intuos 5 from Wacom.
Things have been really busy recently, but I’m still making every effort to sketch at least 10 minutes every day. “Making an effort” doesn’t necessarily mean that I actually do a sketch or two…it just means that I try to find the time every day to do it. Sometimes I do, and sometimes I don’t. Whatever.
Anyway, here are two of my most recent car drawings. Both are just really fast and loose design studies in two different perspectives – different cars though. I actually prefer drawing side profiles (maybe because it’s easier!), but I do force myself to pick a different perspective for each drawing that I do. My line quality is getting better – though still not where I want it to be. But that’s not my biggest concern right now. Design is where I feel I’m the weakest! Yeah, I tend to draw the same shapes and forms over and over again, and from this point forward I’m going to try and stop doing that. It’s hard. I really envy really creative people that can pull great design out of their head over and over again.
I’d also like to spend more time working on the little details. Things like engine parts, wheels, part lines, and headlights – you know…the stuff that makes a car a car! But my limited time (combined with my short attention span) makes that stuff difficult to do.
I’m not really sure what the issue was with this car drawing, but I had to sketch it three times before I could get the perspective correct. I had no intention of spending so long on it, but it took me about a week to get it looking right…and that’s just too darn long to spend on one illustration! I liked the design though, so that’s really the only reason I stuck with it until I got the perspective halfway decent. It’s still not perfect, but it is what it is.
Anyway, I really (really) like dark wheels on cars so I wanted to try doing that in this rendering. I think they turned out all right, though the design of those rims are a little bit overly simplistic. That’s one thing I need to work on as I continue drawing cars – my designs are a bit too safe and rigid and I believe it would be in my best interest to loosen up a bit.