Posts Tagged: sketch

Loose sketch of a modded Datsun 280z

It’s funny how my tastes in cars evolve over the years. Never at one moment in my life prior to this year had I ever been interested in the old Datsun / Nissan 280z’s. It was a car that really didn’t do anything for me, no matter how highly regarded it was by other automotive enthusiasts from all over the world. I just saw it as a cheap and weak Japanese economy car that was trying to be something that it wasn’t, and I much preferred American cars from that generation. That says a lot considering how bad American cars were at the time…

But over the past year or so I’ve seen some beautifully modded Z’s from the late 70’s and early 80’s that are to die for. These cars look fantastic with aggressive wheel and suspension mods, and it’s amazing to think that a simple change like that would make me have a change of heart about a car I disliked so much. Sometimes it’s all about the little details, and I guess I never realized how close I was to liking this car. Proper wheels and tires on these things (with the right stance) is all that’s needed to make me drool!

Anyway, here’s a quick sketch of a modded 280z that I found on the internet. Just fast and loose, with no real care taken in trying to get all the little details right. I’m actually finding this style of sketching to be be right up my alley, mainly because I hate getting too focused on trying to make things perfect when I don’t have a lot of time to be drawing cars in the first place.

You’ll also notice that I corrected the “thin lines” problem of my previous sketch – and I’m happily back to my thick outlines to define the outer shape of the car.

Quick digital sketch of a 1987 Camaro IROC-Z

Ahh, the third generation Camaro. The IROC-Z was the dream car of my childhood, and to this day I consider it to be one of the first cars I’ll add to my collection if I ever find myself with the space (and funds) to store lots of cars. My uncle had one of these things, and he let me drive it – which thinking back on it was probably a pretty stupid thing to do. Throwing the keys from a high-performance car to a teenager with only a learners permit makes me shiver now that I’m a 40-something responsible old fart, but I’m not going to lie when I say that it was an experience I’ll never forget!

Following right along behind the quick sketch of the 1970 Nova I just posted is another quick digital sketch – this time of a 1987 IROC. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out quite as well as I hoped it would – but I know exactly why that happened and I’ll be sure to not make that same mistake with my next sketch.

The problem was that I decided to make this a very high-resolution illustration (5000x3000px), and the pencil brushes in SketchBook Pro are too thin at that resolution to get the nice heavy outline strokes that I like. The unfortunate result of that is a sketch that looks very thin with very little variance in line weight – a big no-no in my book (line weight is so important!) and I walked away from this one feeling quite unsatisfied. Oh well. Lesson learned.

1970 Chevy Nova drawing

I feel like a total broken record when it comes to drawing cars. It was almost two years ago when I proclaimed that I was getting serious about drawing cars and it was something that I was going to spend a lot more time doing. Well, a lot has happened since then and I haven’t been drawing any more than I hoped I would. That’s life, I suppose, but at least I still have the drive within me to keep this up and to never let go of this passion. Drawing cars has been part of my life since I was 10 years old, and I hope that it never goes away. So what if I take some time off? As long as I keep coming back to it I’m happy.

Anyway, I’ve been feeling the desire to draw again recently but the drive to actually sit down and create my own designs isn’t there right now. Drawing cars is one thing. Coming up with fresh new designs is another, and with everything else I’ve got going on in my life right now there’s no “designer” feeling left inside of me.

So that means just having fun and drawing existing cars! The Fox Body Mustang GT I drew several years ago was really fun, and the special thing about that sketch was how fast and loose it was. I didn’t have to think much about it while I was drawing it, and that’s the kind of automotive art I feel like doing right now.

First up? This 1970 Nova, inspired by the one our neighbors had when I was a kid. That thing scared the hell out of me (loud cars were frightening!), but nearly 40 years later my memories of that thing are of the fond variety.

This digital sketch took approximately 30 minutes to complete, and I did it all in SketchBook Pro and Photoshop.

My design concept for a retro-style Chevy Monte Carlo

Is there anything cooler than the long sweeping hood line of a 1970’s Chevrolet Monte Carlo? I will admit that it’s not my dream car or anything, but the huge bulging fenders and overall large shape of that car pretty much defines what I think of when it comes to 1970’s style from GM. It’s kind of a shame that I don’t see too many of them around today – as each year passes, I get more and more nostalgic for those old 1970’s land barges from the big three here in the US.

Ever since Ford unveiled the all-new retro-styled Mustang in 2005, I’ve always hoped that General Motors would do something similar with the Monte Carlo. The 90’s version they came up with was downright ugly IMHO, with odd proportions and looks borrowing too much from other GM cars of that time period. What they needed to do was do a ground-up redesign, going way back to the roots of this iconic sport / luxury cruiser.

Unfortunately, I don’t think they have any plans of doing that. Therefore, I thought it would be fun to give it a try for myself. Just like the Pontiac Trans Am resurrection I posted a while back, I tried to keep as many design details of the original Monte Carlo as I could for this new design. It ended up being more like the 80’s version (at least in regards to size and proportion), but I tried to maintain those glorious 1970’s fender flairs and bulges as best I could for a car of this size.

In the end, I guess I’m somewhat satisfied with this first attempt. I think there are a lot of things about this concept that I’d like to go back and refine, but I consider it to be a successful “teaser” style sketch which might inspire something more fun and interesting if I ever get around to it. The problem is that there are so many other cars I’d like to draw as well, so it’s just a matter of fitting it into the schedule…

350z / G35 hybrid concept rendering

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…

350z concept sketch

Here’s the line drawing, just so you can see what it looked like before I started adding color and reflections.

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.

Tough-looking Cadillac SUV concept sketch

I really hate to admit this, but I am completely and totally stuck in a rut right now when it comes to drawing cars. Sure, I’ve been drawing a lot lately, but man – every car I draw seems to be the same thing over and over again – and quite frankly I’m getting a little tired of it! You may have seen my recent post about the truck and SUV concepts I’ve been sketching lately, and the whole reason for drawing trucks like that was to break out of my comfort zone and draw the kinds of vehicles I don’t normally draw.

In an effort to force myself away from the typical sport-compact coupes that I normally draw (over and over again), I’ve been continuing on with the truck theme really hard. Yes, I’d much rather be drawing low-slung sports cars – but I’m not going to progress as a designer until I can feel comfortable drawing anything without worry of it slowly morphing back into a sports car the more I refine it.

I don’t normally start with a firm idea when sitting down to start a new concept sketch, but this time I clearly decided that I wanted to draw a small sport utility vehicle as I put pen to paper. Long story short (and as you can see), this ended up turning into a large Cadillac SUV complete with 24” wheels and an aggressive sports-car stance. Crikey – even my big trucks end up looking like sports cars!

But as I’ve said a million times before: practice, practice, practice. That was my whole motivation for starting this blog in the first place. I needed a place to put my sketches and renderings in a format where I could easily track progress and growth. I’m getting there…slowly but surely.

Next generation Pontiac Trans Am concept sketch

It seems just like yesterday when I was cutting pictures of Trans Am’s out of the pages of Motor Trend magazine and hanging them on the wall in my room. I spend much of the 80’s lusting over that pointy-shaped pony car from Pontiac, and I clearly recall it being my “dream car” at the time. Of course I was really into Lamborghinis and Ferrari’s as well, but the Trans Am was my realistic dream – the car I knew I could afford when I grew up. Sure, a Lambo or Ferrari is a nice goal to have, but I’ve always been realistic and I pretty much knew that it would be unlikely that I would ever find myself behind the wheel of one of those cars. But the Trans Am, on the other hand…

25 years later, I still don’t have a Trans Am. Not that I can’t afford it, but somehow I turned into a Ford Mustang guy and ended up owning several of those along the way. I even have a Mustang in my stable today – but sometimes I do wonder if I’d be driving a Trans Am if Pontiac were still around today. The Camaro is still alive and kicking, and I do admit that it’s a sharp looking car that I’d be very happy to own.

Every now and then, the nostalgia vibe grabs hold of me hard and I find myself drawing concepts for what a current generation Pontiac Trans Am might look like. The last generation of this car ended up being too large and fat for my tastes, so for this sketch I focused on keeping the overall size very small and the shapes pointy and sharp just as they have always been. I realize that I probably went overboard with the overall shape, but after all – this is a quick concept sketch so I wasn’t too concerned with the details.

Like all my recent sketches, this one was drawn entirely in Photoshop with my Wacom Intuos 5 drawing tablet.

Hot hatchback concept sketches

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!

Some of my car sketches from the last few months

Long periods of absence are becoming an issue – I know! But once again I’ve returned from the darkness with this quick little update on my sketch progress. Long story short, I started drawing cars with a vengeance this past summer and I was actually starting to feel like that I was making some real progress before I hit a creative wall in late September and called it quits for a bit. I knew that I wasn’t going to stop drawing cars for good, but sometimes I feel like I can’t draw anything no matter how hard I try and the frustration grows to be too much.

But I’m back! I’m feeling the itch to draw again and I’ve been doodling a bit over the past few days trying to get back into the swing of things.

Since my last post, I’ve grown to like Photoshop for these kinds of sketches quite a bit. I feel like I can lay down thicker and more solid lines than I can with Sketchbook Pro, and since it’s the program I’m most familiar with than anything else, it’s easy for me to move quickly and do what I want to do without struggling trying to find the proper tools. The only thing that I don’t like (that I’ve talked about before) is the awkwardness of drawing circles and ovals for things like wheels and headlights. Sketchbook Pro is much (much) better for that kind of thing.

I’ve also given up slightly on Manga Studio. It is a really good sketching and rendering program – but to be honest I don’t think it offers anything more than Photoshop or Sketchbook Pro for the money. If someone gave it to me for free I’d certainly use it, but at this time I don’t think there’s enough of an advantage for my drawing style to make it worth it.

Anyway, the sketches at the top of this post are some of the cars I drew over the summer. I’ll be posting more recent stuff in the coming weeks as I get back into a rhythm and start drawing again. Even though I feel like I’ve taken a slight step back by taking a break for a few months, I can see definite progress from where I was at a year ago. That’s encouraging!

Manga Studio for drawing cars?

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 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.