Skip to content

Directory Of Illustration / A trip to the factory

I have finally broken down and decided to try a new form of marketing ( new for me ). In the past I have always relied on word of mouth to get work but I figure it never hurts to try and I would like to see what will come of the attempt. I have decided to buy a page in the Next issue of Directory of Illustration, its a printed book displaying the work of professional illustrators and designers which goes out to Art Directors, Agencies, and other decision makers in the Creative World Industry. When you sign up you are allowed access to their online portfolio site where you can post examples of work for 2 years. I have to complete my page design and upload it by the deadline of May 8th, I have decided to design it specifically for this purpose rather then display something done for a client.

While thinking of this project, I have been asked to accompany Fanny to the factory where MegaU‘s products are assembled. I figure I can get a start on it while she works… The factory is about an hour and half away by car, on the way there we must pass through a few checkpoints. The checkpoints now are used to collect the toll but I believe in the past they were more of a security function.


Driving on the freeway in China is different to say the least, I am digressing here a bit but I find this interesting. On the freeway you will find all classes of vehicle even pedestrians. I have seen this a number of times now , the cleaning people not only sweep the sidewalks but walk down the sides of the highways either pushing a cart or riding bikes.

Crazy Clean

This is a guy driving especially well by chinese standards. It’s a late model Bentley, I would guess his speed to have been at around 60 mph before he cut us off and had to slam on his brakes. As you can see the traffic was quite heavy…

Jackass 1

Here you can see he was held back for a while but it wasn’t long before he found the next opportunity to swerve and cut off more people, last I saw he was almost smashed by a large truck ( you can see it there up ahead ) the truck of course won’t bother to do anything but blow his horn, luckily the Bentley was able to power its way to safety.

held back

This factory area is for assembly of computer equipment, I will do some sketches to develop my idea while Fanny deals with the issues.

Assembly Area

While driving here I have decided to do something futuristic and influenced by my stay here in China. I know I want to have a vehicle so I will do some sketches and rough out an idea while fanny works with the factory people. Its been a long time since I put a pen to paper, but since I don’t have the cintiq here I will make do and sketch in my little used sketch book.

Well I was able to come up with something I think will serve my purpose. My sketch work has definitely suffered from disuse, I must make an effort towards that but I know the old skills comes back much faster than they took to develop. I am using a side view to get the general idea across for now. Eventually I will be building the car in Sketchup as I want to see what I can do with that. I use Sketchup all the time for sets and environments in my work, but I am working to improve my modeling skills for less architectural subjects. I will post more on that as I progress…


Okay here is the more developed design of my car, we are back at the apartment and I have use of  my Cintiq. Design wise I want it to feel like it could be real but that at same time it relies on some technologies that we don’t have yet. Definitely powered by some non fossil fuel source, probably a hydrogen fuel cell or electric hybrid. I am seeing it as a large luxury vehicle not driven so much as programed, I don’t think speed will be the issue so much as comfort and access to communication systems. Its not the most aerodynamic thing because it doesn’t need to be.

Developed Sketch

Living here in China has made me wish to see the development of smart cars. I cannot see how the current mode of transportation here is sustainable. Leaving aside the environmental concerns, there are simply too many people and not enough space. I love to drive my car  in the states but here I have  no desire.

Now that I have my basic design for the vehicle I will develop it in Sketchup. Since I know its going to be a pretty detailed model, I will build it at larger than true scale and shrink it down. I know in the end I am going to want some architectural elements to set in my illustration, so I will generate some basic shapes I can copy and rotate to add detail without bothering too much as to what they will be.

This piece just needs to look good and catch the eye as opposed to my normal work which must fit a very specific need.

3/4 view

I am pretty happy with what I got from sketchup, I definitely need to work on the generation of softer forms but all in all I am happy and its very close to what I was shooting for…


I have now added in some elements to add interest and also to help me generate some nice reflections in the render. I have decided not to render this in Modo but rather use SU Podium. Modo is a much more powerful stand alone program, and I use it for my work but I like some of the crazy abstract stuff that can come out of the less powerful / less accurate renders. Since my goal is not photo real but more illustrative I think this is appropriate. I have been experimenting with bot SU Podim and IDX Rendentioner two plug-ins for sketchup. They both work pretty well, both extremely slow on the laptop but at only a $150 bucks compared to Modo’s $ 1,200 price they are good little tools to have. One thing both these programs do that Modo will not is match the render camera to the sketchup model, something I need and am extremely disappointed that Modo will not do. Hint Hint Luxology…

Here is a test render to see if I am having any issues and so far its pretty good. I am almost tempted to leave it with matt color but I want to play with the reflections on this one.

Base Color Render

Another test with some shine and lights. The renderer I am using is going to make some crazy decisions which I will deal with in Photoshop in the painting phase. But again that is what I am looking for here.

Render Test 2

Here is the view I have chosen, I have added some people from Form Fonts to help with my reflections. The hanging elements will be lights as the dominant visual theme I see here in China and in Asia, generally is the abundance of  decorative lighting on buildings and almost everywhere else. The car is now a Buick since I figure my piece is set in Hong Kong and the Buick is very popular here. I believe the reason for this is that it was the official American diplomatic vehicle and has survived in the imagination of the Chinese as representing prestige and power.

The Shot

Here is the render out of Podium, it took 11 hours. I did it pretty large 3000 pixels as I know my final is going to be printed but man that is unworkable for anything time sensitive. I believe part of the problem is my computer just doesn’t have the power it needs, but then it is a Mac Pro 2.8 GHz… Anyway I am pretty happy with this as a start to my painting. I will be changing the size and repositioning to better fit my final image. Again I am not concerned with accuracy or scale really as this is an illustration and not a real design project.

Render from Podium

I won’t go into the process of painting here in this post as I want to show some stuff on that separately. As a general rule in my work for clients, I go from modeling in sketchup to a render usually produced in Modo. I then will take that in to Photoshop for more rendering and painting effects. Since time constraints won’t allow for the development of all elements for an image in 3D, I still spend about half my time in PS adding details. Since my work is pre production 90 % of the time this is fine.  The craftsmen building the set will fabricate what they need using my illustrations as a guideline.

For my  final illustration I have added some characters which I painted to look futuristic yet still believable they help to convey scale and make it more interesting. And of course some text to convey the point of the piece. I originally intended to add the text into the model and render that as a 3D element  but I found that it just didn’t look right to me, so I opted for a fix in Photoshop.

Final Image

Now I get to upload the final and cross my fingers, I hope people will like it and want to see more. Truth is if the page I purchased in Directory gets me even one new client it will be well worth the effort and money.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: