Join Von Glitschka for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating hot rod art, part of Drawing Vector Graphics Laboratory.
- [Instructor] Welcome to Drawing Vector Graphics Laboratory. Before we jump into this movie I wanted to let you know that this is our hundredth DVG Lab movie and I think that's pretty cool. So thank you to everyone who enjoys these and please submit your feedback. I'd love to receive them. So one of my favorite subcultures that produces a lot of really, really cool artwork is the hot rod culture. Ever since I was a little kid I've admired these types of custom vehicles.
I grew up with the Munsters, so they had a really cool hot rod car, and they're just downright hard core, and my favorite Hot Wheels, which was a toy I played with as a kid, was this one. It was based off of a red baron hot rod. So I love hot rods. They were just cool. Now when it comes to cars in general, I don't know a whole lot about cars. So in this movie I want to take you through the creation of a hot rod style design. So let's put the pedal to the metal and move forward with the creative process.
Now as I stated, I don't know a lot about automobiles in general. I know in general what an engine is and what it kinda looks like. But as we go through this I'm probably gonna use the wrong terminology. Frankly I probably shoulda done a little research to understand what exactly this part is and this is, so if I use the wrong terminology and you're like a hot rod or a car aficionado, just shoot me an email and say, dude, that's not what it's called.
It's called this. That's fine. I know this is a piston. So I know that's what a piston. Shaft, there again, I don't know if I'm using the right terminology, but these are what hot rod engines look like. And this is kind of the vibe I wanna get into and reflect it in a very graphic way with the top part, which once again I don't know what this is called, the what, air foil or something like that? And then you have the pipes. I know what pipes are. And then you have the front with these gears and the fan belt I'm assuming, is part of that.
And so we're gonna reflect these in a graphic motif. So I look at reference to get an idea and then I want to simplify down into an illustrative kind of graphic form. And this was my refined sketch for this project. And as with all my designs I place it inside Illustrator. I set the opacity about 20% and lock it. And then on top of it I just start building in simple vector shapes.
Now a lot of the times I'm using the pen tool, but at times I'll use the shape tools such as the rectangle tool or mainly the ellipse tool many times to form elements that don't need to be crafted one anchor point at a time. Now when I built the flames these were created just one anchor point at a time to get these Bezier curves to form the the shape of the flame that I had drawn out. But obviously when it came to these vents on the top here, these are just simple circles.
The same with these gears. We're gonna get to those in a little bit. But on the bottom, I'm showing you this because most of this is symmetrical drawing. But on the bottom where I have these cross pistons, kind of like cross bones on a skull and cross bones. I didn't build them at this angle. And that's the point I wanna make now is that I orientate my drawings so that I can build it at 90 degrees because this is gonna be far easier to build at 90 degrees, 'cause essentially all we're looking at here is a rectangle with just a part notched out, a circle, another rectangle with some minor adjustments to make it look kind of like the end of a bone.
Another circle down here and two smaller, thinner rectangles to create kind of where the gaskets go on the piston. So it's okay to orient your sketch to make building easier. Now it would be nice if you could orientate the whole artboard in Illustrator. They still haven't done that yet. It's in Photoshop but not in Illustrator. And I wish that functionality would come because then you wouldn't even have to do it this way. You'd just rotate the artboard and then put it back into its correct orientation.
So I wanted to point that out because that is how I built the pistons and then I just rotated them into place and decided I want them to be a little closer to the skull so I moved them up, and I make little adjustments like that as I go forward. So that's all I did there. But now I wanna focus on one of the elements and that's these gears on the front, because I want to put a belt that goes around them, but how would you do that? Well, if you zoom in on this gear, for example.
I made this gear with just circles and shapes and this shows the size of the gear itself. I just wanted to do that with the circle and then the outer shape is the outer edge of what I want that belt to be as it wraps around this gear. And then it goes down and wraps around this spin wheel. And then it goes down here and wraps around this wheel. And then it comes up this side to this gear again. Well, how would you create that? Well, in Illustrator you might take the line tool and you go here and you'd hover over this shape and you'd go that looks about right.
And then you'd drag this out and snap it to this one, and you go, that looks about right, and you try to figure out those angles. Well, long story short, you'd be eyeballing it. There is no precise way to doing that. So the method I'm gonna show you is a precise way of doing it, and it's by using a plugin, a free plugin, that is anybody watching this can use it if you have CS6 all the way up to latest version you can go to astutegraphics.com and download this plugin and you'll be able to do exactly what I'm gonna show you now.
And that is you get these four plugin tools with this plugin called Subscribe. Actually, there's more than four tools. If you go under these you'll find more tools. But we're gonna start with the line tangent to two paths. Love the name. You can tell an engineer named it that. And we're gonna hover over this circle, click and drag. And then once we're over the other circle, notice how it finds those tangents automatically and then we'll click again. Boom, it's perfect.
It's mathematically perfect, and I usually bring this to front, which I have assigned to the F5 key. If not you'd go under object, arrange, bring to front, notice F5, so I never have to do that. I'd bring that to front. Then I switch to the pen tool, p, and then I'm just gonna build the shape here. And all I'm doing is I'm making an enclosed shape based off of that predetermined angle. And I'm just gonna repeat this same process on each side.
So I'm gonna go up to this big circle here, bring it down, and it's gonna find the tangent there. I'll bring it to front, change to the pen tool, and I'm gonna create another enclosed shape based off of that angle, and then I'm gonna do this last one here, go back to the Subscribe tool, find the outer edge of the big circle, drag it down until it snaps and finds the tangents. Bring that to front, change to the pen tool, and I'm gonna close in the shape.
Now the reason why I'm closing in these shapes is because I'm gonna merge all of them. I don't need these inset circles. I just wanted to show you where the edge of the gears themselves were. So I'm gonna select the shapes we just built. I'm gonna select the circles that we based them off of, like this. So we now have three circles and three of the shapes we have built all selected, and now I'm gonna simply go unite, ope, we forgot one. Let's select that and unite it.
So now we've created the outside perimeter of our belt shape. All we have to do now is inset this shape. Now one thing, I have this shape here, and this has determined the thickness. I've determined how thick I want that to match the aesthetic of the artwork I'm creating. If you go to transform you can see it's 13 points. So that's how much we're gonna use to offset. So I'm gonna select this, go to object, path, offset. And we're gonna go minus 13 'cause we're gonna wanna shrink inward, not outward, and we'll go OK and that looks good.
So I'll bring this to front, F5, remember, bring to front. Select this background shape and I'm going to go ahead and minus front and path finder on that. And check appearance panel. It's compound, that's what we want. Grab the eyedropper, sample the black, and that looks great. Now I'm gonna just take all of this, and I'm gonna fuse them together, unite them with pathfinder, and you notice it reverts to a group. We want to change that to a compound.
And then I'm gonna select these areas, these little shapes, with the direct selection tool and just delete them because I think it looks cleaner that way. We don't need this anymore. And that's how I created this part of the motif, and that's gonna work great on the front of the engine in our design. So it doesn't have to be hard and plugins are gonna help you. Especially if they're a free plugin there is absolutely no reason not to go grab it. So make sure to go download it. So we're gonna go ahead and move on to the base black and white.
I tend to get my designs so they aesthetically look the way I want even though they're not built clean. Built clean meaning all of these on the pipes are just separate pieces and these are just overlapping and they have an outline and a fill, but when put together it's visually representing what I want, but this file isn't clean. I have a shape here just to fill in that black area. Not only that, on the pipe itself I also have these thicker outlines behind it to match the continuity I have going around the pistons and the top of the engine.
Now as I was creating the flames I decided, you know what, I think my outline needs to be a little thicker. So we're gonna lock this layer and I have another shape underneath, and this shape is just a combination of all the perimeter shapes of the motif with the exception of the flames. And just so you can see it initially, we'll color it this magenta color, and I'm gonna change this stroke, and we're gonna do a really thick one here, which is gonna be 20.
And I think that looks pretty good. It now fills in the gap where the edge of the flames come to so now we can change this color to a black color. But you can see on the corners of the piston it's like square and on the bone it kind of comes to a point. I don't want that. So I wanna set round on this outline, and that's gonna look really, really good moving forward. So we're establishing the aesthetic. But once again, this is using various shapes, fills, outlines, strokes, and I want it to be clean art, meaning it's just simple fills of either black or white to form the artwork.
So if I go to clean black and white you can see how I've cleaned everything up. These are actually shapes. So this is a white shape just sitting over a black shape. I have this black shape here sitting in the background like this. And I still have an outline around part of this, but that's just because later I'm gonna do some things with it. So I tend to clean it up. Not only that, I improve the clarity, improve the detailing, so I went in and rounded off some of these so it looks like the pipes are sliding under the skull and coming out.
And I made a more compelling shadow. So if we compare it with the previous, you can see how this gave me a rough approximation of what I wanted, but I went in and dialed in all of those shading areas, and also the detailing on the skull. Notice where these come to a point on the skull here and here, and so on the cleaned up one I went in and rounded off all that just to improve the overall aesthetics. So it's those kind of details I pay attention to. Now it's at this point I'll print it out and I'll physically draw on it and work out how I want to accomplish the shading.
What should the shading look like? Then I'll reference this. Sometimes I'll scan it in and place it, but in this case I just referenced it and just built out my shading on this. I'm trying to keep it very simplistic in color to reflect kind of that chrome look and reflection that you'd see on an engine with all of it's various parts. And it's at this point now I want to start working on a motif. So I've created an outline here and I'm gonna use this to start building, in this case, a banner for the overall design that I plan on doing.
And we'll go to object, we'll go to path, we'll go to offset path, and I'm gonna offset this 72 points. And all we're gonna do now is, all I'm doing is I'm taking, taking this shape, we can actually turn off this layer. I'm taking this shape on top and making sure it's on top and then selecting this. We're gonna create a giant lopsided donut, if you will. And so I'll minus front using pathfinder just so you can se what I'm doing I'm gonna fill this with blue.
So I'm just creating a shape like that. That's all I'm doing. Then I'm gonna take my pen tool. All I'm gonna do now is I'm gonna go ahead and I'm just creating an editable shape here so I can go ahead. We'll try something like this. And this is just gonna serve as a throwaway shape. I'll clone it, command c, command f. Use the reflect tool. Find a central anchor point. By the way, you want to have smart guides turned on, command u, and you wanna toggle those on and off as you work.
'Cause sometimes, let's do that again, I think I missed that. We're gonna hit the middle anchor point. And then I'm gonna flip it. So now that I have these two shapes, I'll unite those two shapes. You wanna make sure appearance is on, compounds, select the giant donut, and punch it through like that using pathfinder. Double click into this. You can get rid of the top. And this is just gonna act as the basis for the banner that I'm gonna create that's gonna kinda cascade on the bottom edge of this design.
Now that was kind of a quick and dirty, but that's how I go about creating a banner like this. In its final form it's gonna look like this. I'm gonna drop in some nice text. One of the phraseologies in the hot rod culture is Kustom Kulture, and they use the letter k so I didn't spell that wrong for any of you who were curious. I'm gonna add a nice outline to this overall art, but I wanna use this nice coloring. Now if I select this and drag it over, you can see I have all the perimeter shapes once again, so it's just a matter of adding color to this.
And on this one I want it to be pretty thick. So I'm gonna go 24. And notice the mitering, especially when it comes to a point on these flames. This looks really bad. This is why I'll go in and make sure the cornering, instead of square is round, and that's how you resolve that. And I think that looks a lot better. So we're getting closer to our final design here. This is looking really good. We just need to work out typography, and I know exactly what I want. I want to arch the typography.
And I want the arch to kind of go like this with this motif, and so I've used this curve because I want the bottom edge of the type to curve, and I want the definitive top edge and side edge to be this big, so I'm gonna take this circle. I'm gonna minus front using pathfinder. I'm gonna take the typography I selected and I'm gonna bring it down and just snap it to the top of that shape. This path is sitting on top of our type. So I'll select both. I'll go to object, I'll go down to envelope distort, and we're gonna go make with top object.
Now when you do this this is one method of trying, attempting to do this I should say. And yes, it distorts it to that shape, but it skews the letters. And this doesn't look good and I don't like this and I was getting frustrated. And I go, okay, that's not gonna work. Let's try warp distort. Maybe that's gonna work. And so I'll select this and I'll go to object and I'll go to envelope, make with warp. And I go well that's not what I want.
So let's try, I don't know, maybe this, and then I can adjust this. And I go, well that's kinda giving me what I want, but it's not tall enough. So let me try distorting this all the way to the same size as what I want it to be, and then I'll go back and I'll try it again. I'll go make with warp, and wope, that's not it. Let's go back to what we had, and you can se when I did that, yes it gives me the curve, but once again, the letters are skewed.
So that's not working either. And I don't want to use this and I was getting frustrated, so I posted a tweet on Twitter and asked, hey does anybody know how to work around and I want to personally thank Patrick Cummings and Andrew Harrington, two creative people that work together that sent me a workaround to using this feature. And I wanna show you it because it works really, really good. So we're gonna start with the same type. We're gonna distort its size to the full length here and snap it to that.
We're gonna clone this type, command c, command f, and we're gonna bring it up and we're gonna snap it to the very top. So it's like reflecting, not really reflecting, because it's not flipping it. It's just snapped to the exact top. So we're gonna select both of these. We're gonna go back to object, back to envelope distort, back to make with warp, and instead of using lower arch we're gonna use bulge like this, and with bulge set at minus 49 look at the letters.
They don't distort, they don't flare out. They're nice and straight, but it gives you that nice arch, so we're gonna go OK. Then we're gonna go to object, we're gonna go to expand, OK, double click, select the top. We don't need it, get rid of it. And now we have our final design distorted the way we want, and that was a great workaround. So thanks guys for showing me that. Now everybody else who watches this knows and you can use it moving forward. Now our final type on this design looked like this.
I put a little inset highlight on it. I think it works great. The final art in context I also created an isolation of the graphic motif for the engine because that's gonna work great for stickers. Explored some other colors like cool colors, explored other colors like warm browns and tans, but I really prefer just the stark black and orange. Even though that's so closely associated with Halloween, I think it works great in context with this. So this is gonna work great whether it's on a light background, but I also wanna show you that this kind of design when you take the time to work out a motif like this you can simplify it relatively easily.
So on a dark background it could be simply white and gray on a black shirt, for example. So very flexible in its use. The genre of art that allows me to take a subculture theme like hot rods and combine it with an equally fun topic like skulls is about as fun as it gets with creative projects for me, so why do I like skulls so much. Well, we all have one, so there's that, and for this genre of high octane design it's a perfect fit, so I hope these methods will give you insight into how you can use them in your own projects and I wanna thank you again for watching DVG Lab.
And until next time never stop drawing.
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Skill Level Intermediate
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