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.
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…
The Ferrari F40 just might be my favorite car – ever. I remember being completely awestruck when it was first unveiled, and I collected everything that I could that was F40 related: magazines, books, videos, posters, etc. I even built a few 1:24 plastic models over the years that turned out like crap, but I loved them nonetheless. Seeing one in person for the first time was quite an experience as well. It was on the streets in southeast lower Michigan (near Detroit) of all places, and it completely blew my mind. Fast forward to today, and I don’t think there is another car in existence today that I’d choose over an F40.
I also drew a lot of these things when I was younger. Looking back on my sketch archives, I’ve got a lot of Ferrari drawings in there – and most of them are of this car (all red, by the way). Thinking that it would be fun to try drawing it again after all these years, I grabbed a few reference photos and got to work.
Now, I wasn’t planning on doing a super-tight rendering oozing with details. The goal from the beginning was to create a semi-tight sketch with just enough detail to give it some identity as an F40. I do admit that I skimped on the reflections and shading though. The reference photo I was drawing from was actually poorly lit, and I didn’t feel like figuring out the reflections on my own, so I left it as a simple line drawing with simple gray fill color for the air intakes and windows.
I’m still trying to get used to drawing with the Wacom tablet, so forgive me for the lack of precision.
One of the things I want to try and do from this point forward is to try and include basic reflections and shadows into all of my sketches – no matter how quick and spontaneous they are. I’m pretty sure that it will help me understand surfaces and forms better, which is pretty much my biggest weakness right now. I don’t know what it is, but my brain gets really confused whenever I start drawing a car with complex surfaces…and I quickly lose track of what the forms and curves are actually doing. That just irritates me, and prevents me from drawing more. I need to fix that…
Another advantage to adding reflections to my car sketches is that it will help me to refine my technique a bit. I usually saved this type of detail only for full-color renderings, but if I do it every time, it will (hopefully) become second nature to me. Right now I feel like I’ve got the basics covered, but there is just so much more I need to learn about light and how it affects shadows and reflections on automotive surfaces.
In other news, I’m really staring to like SketchBook Pro 5. It’s not a whole lot different than v4, but it seems a bit more polished. There is one thing that I desperately want to see fixed in v6 though: the layers menu! Is it just me, or is there no way to resize the layers palette in SketchBook Pro? That’s frustrating enough, but to make matters worse, it’s a pretty painful process to scroll through that window – at least compared to Photoshop.
Ok, yeah, I know – seems like it took forever to finish that sketch I mentioned in my last post. Real life has been hectic lately, and there just hasn’t been any time to draw cars. The good news is that things have been calming down over the last few days so I was able to get out the Wacom tablet and start drawing again. It’s kind of funny because I tend to freak out if I go too long without drawing – rendering cars takes a LOT of practice, and the only way to become really good is to do it every day. The mind (and hand) can actually forget things about drawing if you leave them idle for too long.
Anyway, I decided not to change the design from the original sketch. The shape of this car definitely grew on me, and the large rear hatch area actually became one of my favorite parts – I think it flows nicely into the rear fascia and tail light area. I do think, however, that I could have done a better job with the “fins” coming out of the lower part of the back end – I had intended to make them into some sort of aerodynamic stabilizers, but they look more like shark fins to me than anything else.
Oh – and I should also mention that I really like the way the color turned out. I had planned to make this a red car, but as I was doing the rendering, it naturally evolved into a bronze/orange color. I think that had something to do with my sloppy marketing technique in which I inadvertently made the shadow areas too muddy.
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.
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.