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Allan Macdonald, Sketching
One of the things many students of design ask is how to achieve the fast and
speedy but still neat line work of the pros. This quick tip should help!
David Beasley - Interview
In this short interview with David Beasley, an RCA graduate and currently a
Pininfarina designer, we take a look at what motivates him, as well as what he
thinks it takes to become a successful car designer.
Other Articles you may enjoy
Miles Waterhouse, SpeedPainting
An interesting technique that produces some very original results. Miles shows
us one of his methods for inventive and loose ideation sketching.
Juan Pablo Bernal, Presentation
For those planning to put their folios together, Juan Pablo Bernals tutorial on
project presentation should prove useful. Learn his tips for how to show and
present your work.
1. Perspective; the ability to understand
and draw in perspective is vital in car design. Many amateurs start off
drawing three-dimensional objects without perspective. This can sometimes
work for product design but is not acceptable on cars. Cars are large
objects which are viewed close-up, which means perspective is very
important. In fact it is better to exaggerate perspective than have none at
all. To get a feel for it, experiment with wide-angle viewpoints and
distorted perspective. Then move back to something more normal and easy to
Be aware that of your two vanishing points, at least one will usually be a
long way from the car. If you are finding perspective lines difficult to
imagine, try covering your desk with paper and use a point that is way off
the page that you can draw lines to. Eventually you will be able to guess
where your lines should go. Trace real cars as a reference. There is no
substitute for practicing and studying how real cars behave with
2. Symmetry; make sure your car has a definite centre and that the
design is balanced equally either side of it. The combination of this and
perspective takes some practice so be patient. You must respect the form and
plan-shape of the car and understand when features will not be visible. Cars
are not boxes and can't be constructed as easily or as logically.
Flip the page over and check if the design still looks ok. If you are
refining a series of under-lays, try flipping the image over each time you
begin a new one. This will help you see errors and allow you to correct them
before it is too late. If you want to clearly show both headlamps make sure
you choose a viewpoint that includes them both from the start. One of the
more common mistakes by beginners is to try and show too much of the far
headlamp. This creates the impression that the car is distorted and is
something to be avoided. It really helps to roughly sketch your design in
different views so that you can understand the form you want before
progressing to more detailed renderings.
3. Wheels; get your wheels right and you're half-way to producing a
pleasing sketch. An otherwise perfect rendering will be ruined with
incorrect looking wheel ellipses. It's a difficult thing to get the hang of
in the beginning for some people. If this includes you make sure you tackle
the problem early on! Using ellipse templates alone will not produce nice
wheels; they must be positioned correctly and you can practice this
Respect your perspective lines and construct your ellipses logically to
start with. You will build up a feeling for what works over time and be able
to work more freely. Draw the axle lines through the car and then draw lines
perpendicular (90 degrees) to these where you want the centres of the wheels
to be. Your ellipse should touch the perpendicular line at its narrow ends.
Then experiment with how fat or thin the ellipse needs to be to look right.
On front wheels you have freedom to make the wheels turn and can adjust you
ellipses accordingly - don't attempt this until you can draw them in-line,
and be careful not to obstruct your design communication with turned wheels.
Remember to tighten the ellipses for the distant wheels to account for
If you are struggling to work it out just trace over existing cars and
examine how you would construct the wheels. Using a combination of correct
perspective and symmetry you will be able to get all the wheels in the right
position. Almost fill the arches with the wheels when sketching but always
include a slight gap. Large wheels usually improve the appearance of cars
but if you make them too big your work will look like a cartoon or
caricature and won't be taken seriously. Keep the wheel design simple to
begin with until you can get the basics right. The reason why you will often
hear the recommendation to use real cars or other professional sketches as
under-lays is so that you will get a feel for these three vitally important
aspects. Get them right and your work will take a leap forward in
credibility and communication.
Early in my career I used to work on a large drawing board covered with
paper which would subsequently get covered in lines and airbrush ink. I was
not afraid to go over the edges of the page I had taped on top which gave a
lot of freedom and meant I could always draw accurate construction lines. Do
whatever it takes to get the desired result on the page!
Miles is now producing free instructional tutorials and technique
articles which can be found on
www.mileswaterhouse.com where you can also sign up for his free
newsletter and receive a free 20 page high resolution Ferrari sketch
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