Car Design Color Up
A “primer” for rendering a car in color
By Tyrone Delmonico
(This is a five-page tutorial. Please follow the navigation at the end of each page to view the next.)
If you like to draw cars, and have done it with any significant zeal, you will undoubtedly reach a point where the graytone qualities of a yellow No. 2 pencil no longer satisfies your creative requirements. To fully express yourself, you’ll want to put some color in your designs. Though seemingly a natural progression in the creative process, some will find color rendering to be more or less an obstacle… a somewhat daunting task presenting quite a “roadblock” to their further conceptual endeavors.
So if you find yourself spinning your wheels at this barricade in the road, let’s see if we can’t get you back up to speed again. With the following; I offer up one way I’ve learned to deal with the task. Keep in mind that this series of “step by steps” is not meant as a definitive instructional… it’s merely an example of one color rendering procedure, aiming only to serve as visual reference, inspiration and encouragement. Good luck and I hope you enjoy the rest of your trip. Don’t forget to honk when you pass me by.
There are many ways to do what follows. I’m going to describe a process done in a traditional fashion although the same results can be accomplished with a computer. A similar look and feel can be rendered with programs like Adobe Photoshop or Corel Painter while using a digital drawing tablet as an input device. Those computer programs can provide the look of the conventional tools we’ll be using, such as pencil, marker, chalk and airbrush, while offering added flexibility to the rendering process. Miscues can be corrected without much sweat and your virtual tools will certainly be easier to keep clean. However, don’t think you have to have a computer to get started. That yellow No. 2 pencil I spoke about earlier and good drawing skills are what’s really essential to expressing your design ideas. All the other art materials (a computer included) are just extensions of that basic sketching tool. Don’t put the computer before using your imagination and learning the basics of customary drawing methods, you’ll be sorely disappointed. Above all… don’t think that computers are going to provide a “Trick” that does the designing for you – they won’t! With that in mind let’s proceed from square one with an idea, a pencil & a few other basic tools. Ready now… let’s round up some materials and color one up.
(originally published on our first Motorburg site back in ’05 — incredible how well this has held up over time, with all techniques and skills remaining relevent)
Materials and Tools:
The following is a basic list of the materials used in this demonstration. As we progress through each stage I’ll discuss these items in a bit more detail.
• Pencils and Pens – Yellow No. 2, Verithin 747, PrismaColor Pencils, Sharpie ultra fine.
• Drawing and Rendering Surfaces – Tracing paper, Cold press art board.
• Templates and Sweeps – for keeping the lines & color smooth and concise.
• Markers – for filling in large areas of color.
• Marker Airbrush Kit – for applying gradients of color.
• Frisket – for isolating and protecting certain areas as you work.
• Pastel chalk & oil sticks – for applying detail and background effects.
• Ink and Gouache – for applying detail, backgrounds and highlights.
• Bestine Solvent – to help smear the pastel & oil sticks around.
• Workable Fixative – to protect the finished lines & color as you progress.
• X-acto Knife, electric sharpener, erasers and a small brush – as further described.
The Rendering Sequence:
As we begin, please remember that this is simply “one way” to do automotive rendering. Everyone has or will develop their own style and technique. Have fun and take some chances, there’s no way you can make a mistake if you simply try.
Everything has to start somewhere. This was a “quickie” sketch that started life on a legal pad during a telephone conversation. With a yellow No. 2 pencil always at the ready, it’s fun to just “doodle” this way without much conscious effort. This little 3/4 view was about 7 inches wide and will do just fine as a basis for our demonstration.
Our next step is to “tighten” our sketch in preparation for rendering in color. Since the final design will be considerably larger, we’ll need to transfer and enlarge the original sketch. I used an opaque projector to enlarge the rough design and it was then redrawn on Beinfang Parchment 100 tracing paper at about 13” in width (photo copy machines can also be used to make enlargements as well as mechanical scaling). There were two additional tracings made from the initial enlargement, each one becoming progressively more refined using Templates and Sweeps (drawing aids such as straight edges, ellipse guides and Ship Curves).
In this last of the preliminary drawings you can see I’m preparing to transfer the design to the final surface for color rendering – Towards the rear of the car you’ll notice I’ve begun to add graphite over the line work so I can make a tracing at actual size. This is done with a well sharpened No. 2 pencil laid on it’s side and then by “scrubbing” over the line work. Since I’m going to “flip-flop” the design, the extra graphite was applied to the front side of the drawing. Apply to the back if your drawing’s orientation remains as is. Finally, placing the vellum drawing on top of your finish surface and tracing over the line work precisely will transfer the graphite and line art for the final rendering layout.