COMPLETED + TUTORIAL : 5 Day Car Challenge – Perspective Drawing

5 Day Car Challenge Perspective Construction
5 Day Car Challenge – Perspective Drawing
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Managed to finish this in just 4 days, even though it did take me close to a month to post it… Below is a step by step tutorial of the process. I’ve also recorded a video about how to practice perspective drawing, you can find it here.

I’ve also done a huge tutorial on Shading & Rendering, check it out.

Day 1 – Establish Proportions & Major Forms

5 Day Car Challenge Perspective Construction

Day 1 – Establish proportions and major forms


Before I started drawing and really the only reason why I managed to pull this off, is because I did my research. When I started the challenge I was always trying to draw cars directly from imagination. I would have reference, but I would either ignore critical details or would neglect to prepare before starting. Since I had 4 days for this, I could take my time and not try to rush through it like I normally do. If you’ve been looking at videos of pros on YouTube you already know the predominant method of drawing and painting – start with no idea and no reference + seemingly random scribbling => end up with awesome results 1 hour later. This works only if you’ve put your hours in first. Every single pro has gone through a laborious, painful and slow process of honing their skills first… but I digress. Just take your time and do a good job is all I’m trying to say.

  1. I collected reference of the front, side, top and back view of the car and also a 3/4 view, which provided some details I couldn’t see from the other views.
  2. Using the wheel as a unit of measure, I measured how many times it fit into the side view of the car and in the front – this way I could keep my proportions correct in perspective, I found out the car was 7 wheels long by 2.5 wheels high x 3 wide. Afterwards I made a grid and laid it over the side and front views. This allowed me to see height and length relationships and notice where major landmarks are positioned. For instance you can see that the front wheel is 1 wheel in from the front of the car, the rear wheel is 5 wheels in. The front door cut is 2.5 wheels from the front and the rear is 4.5 wheels in, etc.
  3. Using Maya (you can use any 3d software, google sketchup would be a good choice, it’s free too… or you could do it manually) I blocked in a mass of cubes – 7 x 3, this is to keep my proportions correct. Afterwards I took a screenshot & put it in Photoshop
  4. Paying attention to the information in the different views I started doing the line drawing for the car. Knowing that I get confused by the mess of lines I’ll inevitably created I put numbers down in the top view so I could more easily track what’s where and not get lost all the time. I started with the top view first, it’s the easiest one to get right, just looking at the shadow on the ground in a top lit situation will give you the top view of an object.
  5. Then I did the center curve of the car. Trying my best to see the subtle changes in form I did the body of the car as one shape and the glass area as a separate form. This allows me to split up the problem in smaller parts and deal with them individually, rather than trying to get everything right in 1 go. I also use different colors and multiple layers all the time when doing these, it’s way too easy to get confused with lines going everywhere
  6. I mirrored the center curve over the sides of the car and completed the silhouette by connecting all the lines together. Then I had my first try at the glass area too, which ended up being reworked a few times in the second day as the drawing progressed and it just didn’t seem to sit right with the car body.

Day 2 – Finalizing the line drawing


Day 2 – Finalize Lines

This is really the most critical stage of any drawing and I just don’t seem to want to get it right. I always want to jump into rendering when I have a drawing problem, hoping that I’ll somehow just work it out later, because I feel like doing something different now… It never, ever ends well. The problem doesn’t disappear, it just becomes harder to fix. In essence you’re just pushing it away because you don’t want to deal with it now. I call that screwing the future you. The you from today doesn’t want to do something, so it makes a big mess and leaves it for the you from tomorrow. Well, you can tell what the you from tomorrow thinks about the you from today…

So, knowing that I’ll just compound my problems if I don’t spend time on them now, I tried to get everything right and everything in place before I moved on to rendering. I worked out all the little details – headlights,cuts, air intakes, worked on the glass area again and ended up redrawing it a few times and adding some extra sections to help me see the form better and how it connects to the body. It was actually an eye-opening moment for me, it made me realize I was building the form in a nonsensical way, I wasn’t using front view sections at all and I had a very tough time estimating what the form should look like. In other words – I was trying to guess a lot and not trying to think very much. The more I draw, the more I see how often I don’t think at all or think of something completely irrelevant… maybe it’s just ADD…
So the main point from Day 2 – spend as much time as needed finalizing the line drawing, because it is your map to the final. Revise, correct, rework, compare to the original and only when satisfied move on. Work out all the things you don’t want to think about and solve all the problems you don’t want to deal with. It really is the most critical part of the work.

Day 3 – Shape Block-in & Starting to Render

Day 3 – Shape Block-in and beginning of rendering

Finally now that all the tough problems are solved it’s time for some fun… after some more work. I make shape layers out of every single hard-edged shape that needs to be rendered. That means that the car itself needs to be outlined, the headlights, the fog lights, the air intakes, the glass areas, etc. I make all of these into separate shape layers so I can have masks ready for every single thing. Otherwise you’ll be spending a lot of time on edge control, masks are essential for this type of rendering, they save tons of time, even if they’re pretty laborious to make.

After that, I rely on my 3/4 view reference for the lighting. I don’t try to invent that, I rely on reference for the lighting just as much as I did for the actual shape of the car. Then one by one I start rendering the shapes. Working from big to small as with the drawing. First rendering the car body, making sure it reads, then moving onto smaller details.

Day 4 – Finishing


Day 4 – Final

And the final day. Continuing to define relationships between forms, pushing some contrast and light effects for drama. Also tried to invent some details just to practice drawing and rendering with no reference. You can easily tell where I’ve done that – the tinted glass, the spokes of the wheels… and a few other places. I could have easily spent an extra day polishing the wheels more, the roof top and the tinted glass, I might do that in the future. At the time perspective was what I was after and the goal was to get that right, at least to degree that I haven’t done before, which is all you can want from any study.

Summing Up

Do your research, gather reference, don’t rush into what you’re doing, especially if it’s something precise like architecture, tech, anatomy… really almost anything, unless your Feng Zhu.

Spend the time on the stage you’re at to avoid being in even more trouble at the next stage. Rushing does not get you to the end faster, it makes you quit earlier.

Work from big to small… always and with everything. Not just drawing or painting. Anything.

Analyze, think, act, evaluate, repeat with adjustments – the key to everything.

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