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.
I’m not really a hot rod kind of guy, but I was inspired last week to sketch up a modern open-wheel cruiser. I find that open wheel car sketches are actually pretty hard to do, because getting the perspective of the wheels correct takes a lot of time. They are such a crucial part of the design and stance of the car – so even if the perspective is off just a little but, it’ll make everything look a bit odd. As you can see, I kind of screwed up the rear wheel a little bit – I think it’s turned too far to the back side. Oh well.
For the rendering, I was actually planning to make it bright red. But as I started adding in the color, I found that the shape of this car looked better in a deep bronze. That’s just the way it goes sometimes…I never really know what the rendering is going to look like until it’s finished.
Anyway, I’m not totally happy with this sketch and rendering. I should have developed the design of the body a little more before I rendered it, as I feel that some of the proportions are off. For example, that open cutout in front of the rear wheel is much too large and it protrudes too deep into the body of the car. Ugh.
On to the next one…
I’m not an SUV guy at all, but as a family man, I understand the attraction that some people have for them. That said, I still don’t think that I could ever bring myself to drive one. However – drawing them is ok…and as a matter of fact, I was inspired to sketch my own design several nights ago. This is the result.
I guess you can think of it as a sporty SUV, with a raked roofline and hard angular edges. The surfaces are all generally flat and not very complex, which looks very clean to me. I’m not a big fan of intricate surfaces and textures, so it would be safe to say that hard edges and flat panels are quickly becoming my signature style.
I’m not totally happy with the rendering, as I feel like I rushed through the wheels and front end a bit – both elements lack refinement. However, I felt like I was starting to overwork the rendering anyway so it was best to leave it be and move on to my next design…
To say that this week has been a huge confidence booster for me is an understatement. I finally realized that I still have the talent to draw cars – but only if I slow down and have patience! I think the years of web and mobile UI design have ruined me in terms of taking things slow and spending time to polish my designs to their highest potential. Web design is an insanely fast-paced business, and it seems every client has an emergency that needs to be dealt with “right now”. Yeah – I guess I have become accustomed to working so fast that it eroded my patience down to nothing.
However, I am glad to report that drawing cars again has forced me to spend the time to slow down and develop my sketches and renderings at a relaxed pace. The results speak for themselves!
Anyway, the image above is my latest car rendering and sketch. I guess that you can call it a sports coupe, in the same class as a BMW 3 series or Infinity G37. But the hard angles give off a strong “Pontiac” feeling though – which I didn’t really intend to do. Oh well. The bottom image shows the hand drawn pencil sketch before I added the color, and the top image is the finished rendering. One thing I like about drawing cars is that anything goes – they don’t have to be rendered with complete precision, and a little bit of looseness and stray (spontaneous) pencil strokes give a ton a character to a drawing. As a matter of fact, I think this rendering is actually a bit too tight – I’d like to loosen up a bit on my next one.
Okay – now I feel like I’m getting somewhere! I’m really happy with the way that this rendering turned out, and to say that it has boosted my confidence is an understatement. Basically, I learned something very important with this drawing: patience is critical when doing something artistic like this. I haven’t been very happy with my automotive sketches as of late, but I decided to spend a little extra time with this one and I think it really paid off. This one took about 5 hours total from the initial sketch to the final rendering. Yeah, that’s a little bit too long, but I’m sure I’ll get faster as I gain more experience.
And just like my last sketches I posted, I can’t claim that this is an original design. Yeah, I found a cool looking rendering of a Mercedes Benz on the internet, and re-drew it to my own taste. As you can see, I really like exaggerated forms.
I also (re)discovered the benefits of using warm and cool light in high-gloss car renderings such as this. I think the gradual warm to light gradation really helps to emphasize the surfaces as they flow across the profile. Perhaps it would have been more powerful if I added more details into the rendering (I think the headlights could use a lot of work).
Anyway. Success! BTW, this was created in Sketchbook Pro and Photoshop on an old-school Wacom Graphire 4 drawing tablet. As you saw in my last post, I did play with it a bit on a Cintiq 21UX – but most of it was done on the Graphire.
Many people aren’t familiar with Duane Kuchar’s work (www.duanekuchar.com), but he was probably the most influential automotive artist to me back in the mid 1980’s.
I saw his work each month in the pages of Motor Trend magazine (usually in the “Trends” section), and I remember spending hours pouring over his sketches and renderings and trying to absorb his style like a sponge.
I was just an early teen at that time, and by then I already knew that I had wanted to become a car designer. Trouble was, this was waaay back before the internet had become mainstream, so it was rather difficult for me to find quality car sketches and renderings to study and learn from. But Duane Kuchar’s art was there each and every month for me in the pages of Motor Trend and it really made an impact on me. It was just so cool to me at the time – his use of color, crisp details, and very controlled technique really blew me away. I can’t count the number of hours I spent trying to mimic his drawings on my own – to say I was obsessed with drawing cars is an understatement.
I think I actually became pretty good at learning to draw cars just like him – as a matter of fact, I’ve still got all my automotive sketches and renderings from that time buried away in a box somewhere deep in my closet. I’ll have to dig them out and post them up here just for old time’s sake – I’m actually pretty curious to see that stuff now.
Anyway, his style became mine as I was approaching the end of my high school career, which was sort of a bad thing. You see, Duane is more of an artist than a designer (though he does some automotive design). All of his work in Motor Trend magazine was mildly conceptual – basically showing clean illustrations derived from spy shots from automotive photographers such as Jim Dunne. As a budding car designer, I needed to be thinking farther out into the future with my designs, and I didn’t realize that until I had an opportunity to speak with a real car designer from GM at the Warren Tech Center. But no matter – I credit Duane Kuchar for giving me the foundation from which to build my car sketching and rendering skills at such an early age.
Duane, if you’re reading this, cheers to you for inspiring me during my early years and giving me the energy to pursue my dreams of becoming a car designer. I was accepted into the Transportation Design program at the College for Creative Studies years later, thanks in large part to your work in the pages of Motor Trend in the mid 1980’s.
Well, I think I’m making some progress with my automotive sketches. This one is a bit more refined than my first attempt, and I feel like I’m getting more comfortable with my work flow. My biggest issue with drawing cars right now is still the wheels – for some reason, I just can’t seem to create halfway decent looking rims! I usually have a pretty good idea in my head of what I want them to look like before I begin but I just can’t seem to get them drawn correctly. Now that I think about it, part of the problem may be the fact that I’m still feeling a bit awkward drawing with my Wacom tablet – there is definitely a bit of a learning curve there, and I’m still trying to get through that. It’s much different than drawing directly on paper.
Also, I think I did a rather crappy job laying down the color – it’s not as silky smooth as I’d like. But on the other hand, I have to remind myself that these renderings I’m doing are not supposed to be photo-realistic – the roughness adds a sense of spontaneity and style that is very important in design explorations such as this.
Oh well. I’m not totally happy with it, but I’m definitely seeing progress. On to the next one…
This is it. This is the first car rendering that I’ve done in 17 years. Jeez – has it really been that long? The good news is that all the things I’ve learned about drawing cars early on in life has not been eradicated from my brain. Everything I’ve learned about perspective, reflections, color application – it’s still there! However, I have a long road ahead of me if I truly want to become great at drawing cars. This rendering, while encouraging, is actually pretty weak IMHO.
First of all, it’s a bit too cartoonish for my tastes, and I wasn’t able to get the proportions down exactly like I had planned. I’ve also discovered that I have a lot of difficulty with wheels – it’s really hard to make good looking wheel designs! I’ll definitely need to work on that a bit.
One interesting thing to note is that this sketch is very different from the renderings I was doing 17 years ago. Back then I was using real paper with real markers and pens. This sketch required none of that – I’ve launched into the digital age, and created it with my beloved iMac and six year old Wacom tablet. I sketched it using Sketchbook Pro, added color in Corel Painter, and put in all the details with Adobe Photoshop.