With five of the small Cafe Racer colour pictures done and posted there is one left to do which will complete this set. Rather than merely post up the final finished version of it I thought it might be interesting for people to see more of the process I go through when creating these images. So for this one I’ve scanned the various stages as I complete them.
The first step, once the overall composition had been decided, happens on the newsprint pad where I rough out a couple of sketches to get a feel for what I’m after. Often this involves sketching it out a couple of times as in this case. The first sketch is really just about working out the proportions, rider position and the general look of the bike in the image. Once you’ve got something then you’re in a position to make changes as you see fit.
So with this done, I decided that I wanted a slightly different looking bike and to move the rider up the tank a bit, good reason to do another sketch. I wanted to base this drawing around a twin cylinder Norton and a quick search on the net yielded the right picture which could inform me about engine details and other bits and bobs. I can now start to work these into the drawing.
With these two sketches done there is enough information on the sheets to allow me to transfer the image onto the A4 Bristol Board for the final version. This is where my handy little light box comes into its own. If there is a need to blow up or reduce the sketch size for this stage then it is simply a matter of printing out a quick scan at the right size before hitting the light box. For the pencil stage I need a good point to the pencil so use a 2mm leaded technical push pencil, with an H grade lead, which keeps a point well and isn’t so hard as to leave big grooves in the paper when you erase it. Most of the drawing is done freehand though I resort to my ellipse guides to get the wheels nice and tight. At this stage I’m building in all of the details gleaned from reference pictures like the engine case shapes, cylinder head position and brake details. I love density in these drawings so put a lot of effort into distorting things slightly and filling in all of the big gaps that normally exist when looking “through” a motorcycle. It’s also a good time to get all those tiny details in. I don’t necessarily need accuracy here but I do like things to be reasonably believable, if that makes sense. With the bike and rider done, I loosely put a box around it which will approximate the background block. By the time this pencil layout is done, my mind has already started to think about what colour to paint the bike, the riders helmet design and the background colour. Time to get the brushes out and a look at the various painting and inking in the next post.
Welcome to the first post of 2013, a new year hopefully full of promise, creativity and unbounded potential for us all. Whilst trying my upmost to remain in a creative mindset over the holiday period, I have to confess I found it monumentally difficult to maintain any momentum. Still, there are some things to show today so the time wasn’t wasted completely.
The small doodles from the previous post have received a goodly amount of attention in their transfer from the sketchbook into the A3 Newsprint pad. Taking them up in scale quickly helps greatly in the process of nailing the views one is after and is a great way of giving the old freehand skills a good work out. The newsprint paper is possessed of a beautiful kind of softness which takes Biro pen really well, and so drawing is both fast and furious, though it has a strange resistance to certain media like chalky pastels. That said, it can withstand a healthy level of abuse for such thin paper. This stage of the process also provides a great opportunity to throw some colour about, just to see how things might work if that’s the chosen way forward. For this I’ve used some very old Caran D’Ache Neocolor pastels that have been with me for years. They don’t crumble like normal oil pastels, so less mess, but they still maintain a fair degree of smudge-ability, so you can blend and overlay the colour. Sat here writing this I’m of a mind to perhaps try them out on a much larger format sometime, once I’ve visited the art shop to get a few more colours that is, currently the small tin holds the remnants of perhaps half a dozen or so. There are quite a few of these little sketches to work up, so more coming in the next post.
So here we are, presented for your delectation today is the fourth finished drawing in the Cafe Racer series. Like the previous drawing it treads the line between caricature and reality, leaning in one direction or the other depending on which bit you’re looking at. I’m not one to shout loudly about my work but I have to admit here that I’m very happy with it, all things considered. What was mentioned in Post No. 63, “Cafe Racer 3, finally” about how ‘static’ and ‘moving images dictate the background in very different ways rings true here. The original idea of a stylised chevron barrier, you know, the big black and white things that alert you to a bend in the road, just didn’t work, so a far simpler approach was taken.
The perennial problem that faces you when you’ve got parallel or converging lines to cross-hatch between is staying inside the lines. If you have an occasionally wobbly hand as I do, then it can be a real ordeal. Each stroke of the pen is a potential mess maker waiting to happen. My solution, and it’s obvious when you think about it, is to mask off the area. Normal masking tape’s no good though, particularly if you want to preserve the surface of your paper. Every roll tried just seems too sticky. Back in my designer days, some guys I was working with at Philips’ studio used a lovely low-tac masking tape when making their marker renderings. It was brilliant stuff but I’ve no idea what it was called or where I could get any. If you know, please let me know. My solution currently is Scotch Removable clear tape which is similarly low-tac. It doesn’t bend as much as masking tape does, so it has its limitations but for these purposes it’s fine, and not so thick that it makes the pen jump on the edge. Pretty good and a neat way to get those edges really crisp.
The next two drawings are already laid out in pencil so I’ll be posting updates on their progress when there’s something to show.