From time to time I'll try to illustrate a new work in progress to show how the process evolves. The following piece is going to be produced as a Christmas card for a Porsche dealership. The client wanted it based on a pencil drawing I had done a number of years ago (see below)

I needed some colour shots of Rothenburg and the web provides a wealth of reference in that regard in addition to finding a suitable photo of a Porsche 914 to place in position. After some searching a suitable reference was found for both, although I will have to change the colour of the car from blue to red,
a better fit for the theme in my opinion.

Step one is to place the original design into Photoshop as a template to create the background. The background will be built using layers of colour, referring to the above image as guidance. The following few steps illustrate the process utilizing layers in order to keep the file fairly organized. The original 911 is erased out to make room for the new image to come later.

The above step shows all layers hidden except for the the framework of the main structures. It gives you an idea of how I went about creating all the subsequent layers, editing along the way until I acheive the desired colour balance.

I have added in some more details and a sky. The background image begins to come to life as I refine and add detail. With the addition of the roadway, the background is pretty much complete after no more than a couple of hours work. Now it's time to paint the car itself.


My process for creating the car itself is illustrated in the following steps. Because of time restraints I had to create this project fairly quickly. The digital medium allows you to save time, in addition to the artwork being "camera-ready", hence easier and quicker to produce the final job from conception to printing. As for the car itself I wanted to retain a painterly look to the whole piece, so that ruled out simply placing the image of the car from the image that I found on my web search. I used a free Saturday morning to render up the 914. My medium of choice is gouache, which allows for large flat areas to be painted in quickly, and coverage is key to producing work quickly.

The above pic shows how quickly you can cover an area with colour using a good size flat brush. The key is masking out the car using frisket film and peeling away the areas to be painted. When an area is dry, simply replace the frisk film so the painting can begin on the adjoining areas. It's always prudent to keep the frisk clean so the work isn't spoiled by surrounding colour pulled off the frisket as you paint across the surface of the art board. The below image shows the frisk film with the overpaint. At this stage I will take a clean paper towel and clean off the frisket film.

Once the basic areas of colour have been laid in the process of detailing and shading can begin. A good selection of various size and shape brushes is important in order to complete various portions of the painting. A range of size from 00 to 12, in both round and flat brushes is recommended to give you a good range of tools. Below is a flat brush along with a couple of round brushes for detailing. Flat brushes allow for shading in areas using watered down pigment built up slowly as it absorbs into the pigment already laid down on the board. Gouache is good for this technique. The bottom pic below shows some detail being added.

The pic below shows the beginning of the highlighted areas being added with a round brush. Once the area is laid in the edges can be softened using a medium round brush loaded with watered down pigment and painting in the area while letting the lighter areas absorb into the already dry area. Afterwards a small 00 brush can be used to literally cross-hatch the area until it is blended smoothly.

Further detailing is now added until the entire composition takes shape. The rest of the car is now rendered using the same methods as described above. Adding highlights and shadow, plus accents will bring the car to life. The area on the hood was added using a darker crimson to add some form to the car. Often just stepping back and having a closer look can reveal areas where improvements such as this can be made. The pic below shows the final piece before scanning and placing it into the photoshop file.

Below are the final phases of the project. Here we need to make sure the file is saved at 300dpi, cmyk format and that the composition is aesthetically correct. I decided to add a canvas texture to the piece to enhance the painterly quality I was looking for. The light yellow and double-border serve to complete the project nicely. The file can be easliy sent to a printer via ftp and delivered to the client once they're printed.

Ultimately the client wanted the car to appear in the most popular colours that the Porsche 914 was known for, namely green and orange. It's nice what you can do with the magic of digital.