New drawings and a wake up call.

Wakey wakey Jon!

Writing the first post at the end of an absence is the hardest thing. It’s not about working out where to start per se but, it’s more about avoiding the endless list of excuses as to why this has happened. This is not so much to make my readers feel some kind of sympathy for me, more to do with appeasing my own guilt at having been so neglectful. Ok, that’s the bit about feeling bad done with. There is one big excuse though.

CR_group©Jon Tremlett2016

You may have noticed in a couple of the pictures from the last post that I’m standing in front of a rather untidy brick wall. Well, that was the remains of my kitchen and was taken at a time when we had just embarked upon a major overhaul of the house. Various building works to remove some walls, make holes in others and finally fit a new kitchen were already turning our lives upside down. It went on for quite a few weeks. To finish everything off it was down to me, a form of self selected masochistic punishment, to build some big floor to ceiling cupboards, box out the under stair area and fit bookcases, all after redecorating the whole of the ground floor. It took a while and consumed my life until well after Christmas. All done now, until I need to get cracking on the first floor. A smaller project that one.

I was still doing some drawing but not making the effort to blog about it, so I’ll shed some light on what I’ve been up to on that front over the following posts. The photo above is of three black and white reductive ink drawings that were done after doing the t-shirt for my local bike shop (they sell like hot cakes by all accounts, which is good to hear). I have a contact in the US who fancied some designs for shirts of his own, having seen the blog post, so I set out to see what I could rustle up for him. Two of them made it through to printing and can be found in the apparel section of his web shop here, They look pretty good combined with his type work so I’m hoping they’ll sell well and more work comes of it.


These next two pictures are really to shed some light on my process and show the preliminary sketches I do for these pictures so that you can see where things come from and how they change and develop as I move them through to inking them up. I invariably reach for my favourite blue biro for preliminary sketches, for no other reason than they’re lovely to use and one can achieve such a variety of line weights. This helps hugely when I want to move a line or change details. These are then traced off on the light box, making changes along the way, to give me a base drawing that I can then ink over. It may seem rather a long process, repeating a drawing two or three times but, it’s the best way to get it how you want it. The downside is that this is one of the main reasons why these drawings take so much time.


As before the inking is done with Rotring and Steadler technical pens so that I can maintain as crisp a line quality as possible and there is no ink bleeding on the thin Bristol Board I use. Because the ink is similar to Shelac based Chinese ink, it is very black which is a great help. You don’t have to go over everything twice to get great opacity and it’s just about sturdy enough to cope with tidying up the drawing with a small eraser after you’ve finished. The creation of printable artwork for shirt printing requires these drawings to be scanned and converted to vector paths in a graphics package, so the cleaner and crisper the initial scan the better. I’ll talk more about the whole vectorising thing in a later post.

I hope you like todays pictures and thanks for visiting the blog.

Back to the drawing board.


Now that the freelance job has finished, for the time being at least, it’s time to return to the other kind of creativity that occupies the time not spent working on other peoples stuff. The great pity about so much of the freelance work I do these days is that I can’t share it with you, which would help to bring a hefty dose of making activity to the blog. Development projects are always shrouded in a bit of mystery and the ever present blanket of confidentiality to prevent development details from being compromised. Few projects progress fast enough for details to see the light of day within months of being completed, let alone a couple of weeks. In this case it is more likely to be a year or more before it’s safe to show anything and of course there are always permissions that must be granted too. As a third party contractor one must live with this apparent inconvenience but it goes with the territory. I suppose I’ll have to build another bike and get the making-o-meter back round the dial that way. Now there’s a thought…….

In the meantime it’s back to the drawing board and some action with the brushes and pens. There is still some work to do on some colour sketches which are sitting here and that means getting warmed up again for some painting.

So here above is yesterdays warm up exercise in the form of another “bikehead”. Not quite as successful as the previous attempt, a bit heavy on the colours, but it served its purpose.Yes, there are lots of things wrong with it, but these only serve to remind me that there is some way to go on the journey to a more confident and polished technique.

Sketch results in the next post.

Painting the bodywork.


The full list of parts that were to be painted consisted of the fuel tank, two side panels, front mud guard, rear mudguard and the small fly screen. Six parts in all. Before preparing their surfaces for painting it was important to make sure that all trimming had been done and that all edges were smooth and free from any swarf.


Although it would have been ideal to hang the pieces whilst painting them there wasn’t enough room so some stands were made out of scrap wood and card, and the parts could then sit comfortably on the spraying turntable during application.


Preparation for priming: Firstly everything was thoroughly cleaned and degreased. The tank badges were removed, mountings ground down and body filler applied to fill any recesses. For the plastic side panels a small piece of ABS plastic was glued behind the now empty badge holes to provide a backing for the filler. This was all then sanded flat and all old paint removed using fine grade wet and dry paper. Once dry everything metal was treated to some etch primer. After another rub down with fine paper (wet and dry, 800-1000 grit) it was all then coated in grey primer and left to dry overnight. No plastic primer was used as the straight cellulose primer adheres well to plastics like ABS without the need as long as the surface has a good key.

Application of base black coat. Another rub down to sort out any tiny surface imperfections and a final degrease to remove any finger prints it was time for the black. For cost and convenience reasons I’d chosen to use standard cellulose paints for the job, a litre each of black and white. These would be mixed with clean thinners to make the right consistency for applying with a small gravity fed spray gun. In effect the paint ends up being of a consistency somewhere between milk and single cream. Too thick and you need too much pressure running through the gun and risk creating an “orange peel” finish. Too thin and you risk the paint going on too wet and creating runs or “curtains”. In essence it is purely experience that guides you in balancing paint thickness, air pressure through the gun and controlling paint flow. Having said that it is invariably the case that building up the paint in a number of thin coats will give you the best and most consistent results. Runs and other imperfections can be rubbed out later but if you can avoid them all the better. Once sprayed all parts were then left to dry for a couple of days. It’s worth remembering that when paint feels dry it may be so on the surface but, often it remains quite soft underneath for some time and can easily be damaged by a finger nail or small knock.


Application of white stripes. With the black fully dry everything was rubbed down again with extra fine paper and water to provide a good “key” for the stripes. The stripe edges were masked off with professional quality 3M Fine Line masking tape. This is a plastic based tape so has a very crisp edge, unlike readily available paper based tapes which don’t, and as a result never give you a crisp line on your finished part. It was really worth finding this stuff and paying the extra for it. It comes in a variety of widths and is relatively flexible too, so you can create smooth curves as well. Lovely stuff. This was used on the edges and the remaining area covered in conventional tape and paper. Some white primer went on first and then the final white was built up slowly in light coats. The masking was removed after a couple of hours. Long enough to let the paint dry a bit but not so long for it to harden up and risk tearing. Again everything was left to dry for a couple of days.

Final lacquer coats: Although standard paints come as gloss finish straight out of the tin, they have a percentage lacquer content already, they invariably need a good polish to bring out the full glossiness once fully hardened. As a protective measure as much as for aesthetic requirements a separate clear lacquer is often applied to give the surface some extra depth to the shine. For all parts except the fuel tank, the plan was to give them all a good coating of cellulose lacquer to finish off. The tank itself was going to get some petrol proof lacquer I’d spotted in the auto shop. Unleaded fuel just eats normal finishes for breakfast unless you’re lucky enough to be using 2-pack systems. Not unusually the black and white had dried to a kind of sheen. This is not a problem as both would be rubbed down again using 1200 grit paper and water. This creates a very matt surface but provides enough of a key for the lacquer and the full colour returns upon application. The last thing to do was apply the small vinyl cut graphics that had been made for the side panels and the screen. These decals are cut from single colour vinyl sheet, so the red parts are separate from the white and were supplied by a friendly repro shop who have done stuff for past projects. Supplying your own artwork as a vector art file keeps the cost down and the lines crisp, and there are a huge range and variety of vinyls available if you ask.

Making sure everything is smooth, dry, clean and free of any dust is crucial before putting on any lacquer. Many pro paint shops use Tack cloths at this stage. Essentially these are a cloth made from a very loose weave cotton impregnated with a slightly sticky waxy compound. Passing one of these gently over your paintwork picks up and removes all tiny little bits of dust and grit from the surface. They are designed not to leave any residue on the paint either. So a quick once over with one of those and it’s lacquer time. Like the paint this is built up through many light coats carefully following the instructions on the tin. Go too heavy with this stuff and it runs very badly.

Lacquer, if it’s not 2-pack, needs to be left for a good week to properly harden up before polishing. A long time and it’s a real challenge to resist, but then again it’s a good time to take care of all those outstanding little jobs like tidying up the wiring, setting up the drive chain and adjusting the brakes. The next big job was going to be the final assembly so my fingers were crossed the seat would return in time.