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.
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.
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.
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.
I’ve been doodling some car sketches this week in between some other projects, and for some reason or another I seem to be stuck in a “hard edge” phase. All the cars I’ve been drawing recently feature very severe angles and hard corners, and I’m not really sure where that’s stemming from. I have noticed that it’s a style I gravitate towards every now and then (my grayscale SUV rendering is a perfect example of that), so I’m guessing this is going to pass and I’ll be onto other styles in no time.
Also interesting about these two sketches is that one was done in Photoshop, and the other one in Sketchbook Pro. I’ve never been a huge fan of drawing cars in Photoshop, but I’m slowly getting used to it and now I think I’ve come to the point where I can admit that it’s not that bad. The biggest issue for my style of drawing is that making ovals (for the wheels) is a lot more clumsy in Photoshop compared to Sketchbook Pro. With Photoshop, I have to manually create a vector oval shape, reduce the opacity completely, and then apply a stroke layer style around it. With Sketchbook, shape guides are very simple to use – and the best part about them is that I can control the line weight just the way I like. For quick and loose concept car sketching that I like to do, that’s a huge plus.
The other slight advantage that SBP has over PS is that it’s more easy to create pen and pencil brushes that look like the real thing. They are softer, which makes it much easier to vary line weight and control my think and thin lines as I turn corners. I can do this in PS too, of course, but the way SBP renders those strokes is much more natural looking.
Speaking of my hard edge style, I just went back through my archives as I was writing this post and I noticed that many of my earlier renderings and sketches are blocky like that. Remember the Mustang concept drawing I did several years ago? Hard edges all over the place!
Part of the reason why it’s so hard for me to draw cars very often is because I’m a total perfectionist by nature and I want things to be the best they can possibly be. That means that when I start a new sketch, I tend to have visions in my mind about it being the coolest thing I’ve ever done – anything less would be a disappointment and not worth the effort. But perfection takes time, and that’s simply something I don’t have much of these days so I’ve got to let that desire to be perfect go.
This quick sketch of an Audi R8 is an example of “letting go”. It took about 20 minutes to do, and while it’s far from perfect, the fact I was able to call it done after that short amount of time is a pretty big deal to me (and a step in the right direction). Yeah, the perfectionist in me just looks at this drawing and has a hard time not fixating on all the things that are wrong with it, but the artist in me is just happy to keep my hands practicing – no matter what the outcome is.
One thing I’m still struggling with a bit is developing a focal point in my sketches. I know that my transportation design instructors from school (a looong time ago) would beat me over the head for drawing this entire car without letting some of the details fall off at the edges, so that’s something I need to work on going forward. There’s no need to draw every detail of the car – as long as the overall shape is captured, a lot can be left to the imagination.
I can’t believe how much I’ve been slacking in terms of drawing cars this year. Here we are in the last quarter, and the total combined amount of time that I’ve spent with pen to paper (er, Wacom art pen to drawing tablet) is not anywhere near where I had hoped it would be. That’s not to say that my entire life has been a giant slack-fest – as a matter of fact, I’m busier than ever with other projects which is unfortunately cutting into the time I have available to draw cars.
I’ve decided to make an effort to draw a lot more. Art is an important part of life (I believe it’s an awesome creative outlet), so I’m taking charge of the time I have available and making time to draw and sketch cars. If that means drawing while stuck in a business meeting, so be it. Frankly, I’m pretty darn sick and tired of other people preventing me from doing what I want to do. Now that I’ve got that off my chest…
Anyway, here’s a sketch of a Lotus Exige that I’ve been working on for a while now. It’s a rather simple line drawing actually, so I’m a bit ashamed to mention that it has been a long-term project. In all actuality though, what I mean by that is working on it in 5-minute increments (whenever I have the time).
I was planning on doing a really tight rendering of it just as I did with the Fiat 500 illustration, but I’m tired of looking at this thing and I actually sort of like the simplicity of the line drawing style. I think I’ll leave it just like this and move onto the next one…
It’s been a while since my last update, but I’m still drawing cars every now and then – but certainly not as much as I’d like. Most of the time it’s because I’m so busy that I’m not anywhere near a computer, but other times it’s because I’m at my computer but too busy doing other things! There don’t seem to be enough hours in the day to draw all the cars that I’d like, so finding any amount of spare time to sneak in a sketch or two is a challenge.
I posted a while back about how my iPad is a great way to sketch and draw wherever I happen to be, and I still think that is the case. I take that iPad with me to meetings (and during travel), and combined with the Sketchbook Pro app and a Wacom art pen, it’s a pretty good solution for getting my art and design fix whenever it may strike.
The car and truck sketches above are two that I recently created on the iPad. Well, “recently” is a loose term, mostly because I started both of these back in January of this year and just tinkered with them both since then whenever I had a few minutes here in there in meetings (or wherever). I wanted to put some more detail into both, but I’ve just now decided to call them “done” and move on to the next drawing.
Because they were drawn on the iPad, they are pretty basic and crude. It’s difficult to get a lot of detail into these with a fat-nibbed stylus, so I was basically playing with basic shape and form more than anything else. But most importantly, it’s good practice.
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 drawing, 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.