airbus a310 side view all white

In my last post, I mentioned how much I like the look of a short and stubby aircraft. I wouldn’t go as far as to call it a weird fetish or anything (lol), but short and squat proportions help to exaggerate the impression of power and strength – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing for an airplane to convey. I don’t know about you, but I’m not about to step foot on any airplane that looks weak and flimsy. The Airbus A310 is a perfect example of an airplane that just looks tough.

Despite it’s tough outer appearance, I’ve always considered the Airbus A310 to be an oddball commercial airliner. It’s proportions are bordering on being somewhat cartoonish due to it’s extreme stubbiness, and I almost feel the urge to snicker whenever I see one. But then again, the A310 has always been a rare aircraft here in the US and I haven’t seen many in real life.

a310 side view line drawing

A technical side profile line drawing of an Airbus A310-300 over a white background with and without the landing gear deployed

Just so you know, adding this oddball to my side view airliner template collection was completely unplanned – I only created it because of a request I received from a reader pretty much right at the exact moment I was contemplating which airplane I should draw next. I couldn’t make up my mind, but the request sounded pretty desperate and I’m always happy to oblige provided I have the time. It hardly ever works that way with my busy schedule, but I’m glad I could fulfill this request in a (somewhat) timely manner.

Finally, I’d like to point out that comparing the visual differences between the A350-800 to this A310 has been interesting as I’ve been creating these illustrations. They are essentially the same class of airplanes, with nearly 30 years of technology separating the two. The fuselage of the A310 is almost boat-like in shape with it’s high nose and tail, while the A350 has a much lower belt line. The wings of the A350 are much more aggresively shaped compared to the A310, and I find it interesting how the vertical stabilizers vary greatly in size. The A310 vertical stabilizer is downright huge in comparison to it’s fuselage, while the A350 has opposite proportions.

Pretty neat stuff! If you’re interested in that sort of thing…

all white A350-800 side view

One of the biggest unknowns in the commercial airline industry at the moment is whether or not Airbus will ever build an A350-800. Of course Airbus would probably look at you funny while proudly telling you “absolutely”, but the fact of the matter is that this shortened variant of the A350 family hasn’t received very many orders so far while the larger -900 and -1000 versions are selling like hotcakes. This is leading many industry experts (and nerds like me) to think that it doesn’t offer anything that the airlines need and it’ll never see the light of day.

From a design point of view, I like this shortened version the most. I’ve always been a fan of stubby wide body aircraft (such as the 767-200), mostly because it exaggerates the size of the engines and makes the entire airplane look tough and muscular. Tough and muscular is better than flimsy and weak, right?

Airbus A35-800 side view line drawing

A technical side profile line drawing of an Airbus A350-800 over a white background with and without the landing gear deployed

I started these illustrations two years ago right along with my A350-900 templates. I had to take a lot of educated guesses in terms of figuring out what it would really look like (it was just a concept at the time), so I put them on hold until more details were released from Airbus. Now that some time has passed and we have a bit more information on what this aircraft is going to look like, I thought it would be a good idea to get them wrapped up. No, these side view drawings aren’t perfect – after all, there hasn’t even been a prototype of this thing built yet so all I had to go by was a collection of 3d renderings and part drawings found on the internet. From what I can tell, this shortened A350 shares quite a bit with it’s bigger brothers so I don’t think I’m off by very much.

I’ll be sure to update these templates when (if) Airbus builds a real prototype. I’m sure there will be a lot more differences than what I’ve captured in these illustrations, but I figure these should be good enough for anyone who needs a clean side view illustration of an A350-800.

erj-190 blank side view template

Embraer has come a really long way since the 120 Brasilia, and this ERJ-190 is nothing like those old turboprops from the 80’s. It’s everything those old airplanes weren’t: quiet, spacious, and dare I say it…comfortable! I’d also go as far as to say that the 190’s are much better looking airplanes, but that’s totally subjective so I’ll leave that up for you to decide.

These side view illustration templates represent the first in what I hope will be an entire series of Embraer regional jet illustrations. I was even planning on doing the E175 in conjunction with this 190, but I realized that the differences between the two are so great that it made more sense to focus on each one individually instead. I’m not sure yet if the E175 is the template I’m going to do next, but it’s certainly on my list of aircraft to draw.

erj-190 technical side drawing blueprint

A technical side profile line drawing of a Embraer 190 regional jet over a white background with and without the landing gear deployed

You might have noticed that I’m slowly refining my rendering technique on the all white versions of these illustrations. Back when I was doing the L-1011 artwork, I realized that the way I had been doing the fuselage shading up until that point wasn’t quite right. The linear gradient which I created to show the curvature of the fuselage was too abrupt as it wrapped over the top, which created a harsh “halo” shadow along that top edge. This is more prevalent in my earlier templates (such as the 737-800), and it I’ve been working on finding ways to smooth that out while keeping the shape and depth of the tube. It hasn’t been easy to find the right balance, but I think the softer shadows that I’m using now look much better and are a lot more realistic.

Anyway, we don’t see very many Embraer 190’s here on the west coast of the US, so up until now it hasn’t been an aircraft I’ve thought much about. However, a recent trip to the east coast (which included my first flight on one) made me realize that these are popular little airplanes that needed to be part of my overall template collection. Hopefully you find these illustrations useful!

crj-700 regional jet side view template

It took far longer than I thought it would, but finally – here is the line drawing and all white template of the Bombardier CRJ-700. I was assuming that these illustrations would be really simple and all I would have to do is stretch the CRJ-200 template that I recently completed, but it turns out that the only thing the -700 shares with the -200 is the fuselage sectioning. Everything else (vertical stabilizer, the wing and wing box, engines, and main landing gear) is different, which means that I pretty much had to start from scratch. Heck – even the windows sit higher in the fuselage. I wasn’t expecting all those differences, so my enthusiasm was quickly doused once I realized what I was up against.

crj-700 side view line drawing

Technical line drawing of a Bombardier Canadair Regional Jet (700 series)

I ended up putting these templates aside for a while, but one of my other projects needed an illustration of a CRJ-700 so it became necessary to get this thing wrapped up. The problem is that I haven’t been in the mood to work on airliner art recently, but I’m feeling energized again now that this one is finished. It’s a great feeling when I finish one of these templates! They take a lot of time to create and I get a huge sense of satisfaction scratching another one off my to-do list. I also hate having half-finished projects lying around reminding me how much I’ve been slacking, so yeah – I feel pretty good to have this side-view CR7 template complete so I can move on to other things.

I’m pretty sure that the CRJ-900 and CRJ-1000 are have more in common with the -700 than the -700 did with the -200 (don’t quote me on that – I need to do some research), so hopefully those stretched versions will be relatively easy to do. However, before I get to those, I need to do an Embraer 190 regional jet for that same project I mentioned above. As a matter of fact, I’ve already got a head start on it so hopefully it won’t take very long to finish. “Hopefully” is the key word here…

CRJ-200 all white side view

Finding the time (and energy) to create these side view airliner templates isn’t easy. Of course it’s fun, but it can be downright tedious at times and it’s hard to stay focused when I’d much rather be doing more creative work instead. But I’m staying on track with my goal of creating templates for as many commercial aircraft as I can, and this Bombardier Canadair Regional Jet 200 is the next airplane in that series of illustrations.

I’ve got a love/hate thing going on with the CRJ-200. On one hand, they are extremely cramped and uncomfortable, and I hate flying on them even more than the EMB-120. On the other hand, I personally think it’s one of the best looking commercial airplanes in the sky at the moment. The fact that it looks just like a sleek private jet is what I like the most, and I went out of my way to fly on these things as much as possible back in the late 90’s when they were first introduced. I quickly came to realize how cramped and small they are on the inside, and it didn’t take long before I was avoiding them like the plague. I’d be a happy guy if I never have to step foot in one of these things ever again!

Drawing the CRJ-200 made me appreciate it’s design even more. Perhaps it’s because my last template was a less-advanced aircraft designed in the 1960’s, but I really like the forms of this little jet. Everything just flows together nicely, all elements (fuselage, wing, vertical stabilizer, etc) perfectly balanced. Even the panel sectioning is organized and clean – there aren’t too many places where it looks like swiss cheese all patched together.

CRJ-200 line drawing side view

Technical line drawing of a Bombardier Canadair Regional Jet (200 series)

I also discovered some oddities about the CRJ-200 that I hadn’t noticed before. Did you know that the windows are not evenly spaced? There are slightly wider gaps between certain windows, but it’s hard to tell just by looking at it because the differences aren’t much. But that spacing certainly isn’t consistent! Another interesting discovery is the front landing gear. Of all the airliner templates I’ve created so far, this one is different in two ways: first, it’s really complex (for reasons I don’t quite understand). This is a small airplane, and it just seems odd that it’s a massively complicated piece of equipment clumped together with all kinds of sensors and parts. The second thing is the door flap. See how it opens from front to back rather than side to side? Pretty cool – and very unique.

Stay tuned for a template of the slightly larger CRJ-700, which is on my drawing board right now…

side view eastern airlines l-1011 tristar

Right off the heels of my TWA L-1011 illustration series, here’s another nostalgic set of this classic Lockheed wearing the three different variants of the Eastern Airlines livery. I actually had no idea that there were three different versions of the Eastern color scheme, but the bit of research I did revealed that there were some slight differences over the years.

The illustration at the top of this post depicts the second version (my favorite of them all) with thick blue cheat lines spanning the entire length of the highly-polshed bare-aluminium fuselage. This is the version I had in my mind when I set off to start this illustration set, and it was only when collecting reference photos that I discovered the different versions of this livery. I guess I’m not as much of a hard-core aviation nerd as I thought I was!

Eastern launched their L-1011 service in 1972 with a very clean white and blue color scheme:

white eastern airlines l-1011

Side view of the original white and blue Eastern Airlines L-1011 livery

Personally, I think this design was a bit ahead of it’s time. Those cheat lines are oh-so-70’s, but they remind me of something that was commonly seen later in the decade, and not as early as they were introduced. Also, the colors seemed to have more of an 80’s look and feel with soft blues over a clean white fuselage. Most 1970’s airliner liveries were very bold and featured dark (saturated) colors integrated with large sections of exposed metal. On a side note, I love how they referred to these things as “Whisperliners”. If you’ve ever had the chance to be under the flight path of one of these things on takeoff, you’ll know what I mean when I say that the nickname was a bit of a stretch. These airplanes did anything but whisper.

The final livery was just a slight variation of their second, with the only difference being thinner cheat lines. The polished aluminum fuselage and both shades of blue remained, but making the stripes thinner had a rather significant impact on the overall look of this design IMHO.

the last eastern airlines l-1011 livery

Side view of the final Eastern Airlines livery, which featured a much thinner cheat line

All the research I’ve done seems to indicate that the purpose behind the stripe re-size was to reduce the amount of paint they used for each aircraft, which not only saved on paint costs, but weight as well (translating to better fuel burn). Eastern Airlines must have been in pretty bad shape financially if they found their original polished-aluminum livery to be too costly. There was hardly any paint on those airplanes to begin with! I would have guessed the reasoning to be just a modernization of the look, that’s all. Remember those ultra-thin neckties in the 1980’s? Thin was in!

side view TWA L-1011 illustration

Now that I’ve got blank side view templates of the Lockheed L-1011 created, applying liveries (the fun part) can now begin. I knew right from the beginning that TWA was the first airline I was going to render, so here you go! Actually, I was only planning on illustrating the 70’s dual stripe version, but halfway through creating that one I figured I might as well render each of the three Trans World Airlines liveries that this aircraft wore. It’s weird how my brain works like that – simple projects always seem to turn into something much bigger than originally planned. My Northwest Airlines 747-400 set came to be much the same way.

As a child of the 80’s, my memory of the TWA L-1011 TriStar only goes back as far as the dual stripe livery (the version at the top of this post). Trans World was a pretty big airline back in those days, and I remember most TWA advertisements and movie/television appearances featuring this particular aircraft and livery combo over anything else. Perhaps my perception was just skewed, but I found it odd that they didn’t showcase their flagship 747’s more in the media back then.

The livery that preceded the Red Stripe was referred to as the Star Stream colors. It was the color scheme that TWA launched their L-1011’s with back in 1972, and to be honest, it wasn’t their finest. From a designer’s perspective, I find it to be quite sloppy – especially in the forward section where the red arrow, white fuselage color, exposed aluminum, and black anti-reflection paint come together right under the cockpit windows. Nothing blends together well, and it could have looked so much nicer if they would have spent the time to make sure those elements intersected cleanly instead of just…well…ending them abruptly without worrying much about their relationships to each other. It just looks sloppy, IMHO.

side view TWA L-1011 star stream livery

TWA StarStream livery

TWA introduced a brand new livery in September 1995 that never made it to all their aircraft before being absorbed into American Airlines in April 2001. As a matter of fact, only one L-1011 ever wore these new colors. That honor went to aircraft N31029, and it’s a shame that they didn’t have enough time to convert others in the fleet before the last of this type was retired for good in 1997. Interestingly enough, seeing any L-1011 wearing these colors almost didn’t happen – the only reason why this particular aircraft got that paint job was because it was the only L-1011 in the fleet that was due for major maintenance before retirement. Stripping and repainting the airplane was a necessary part of the process, and there was no point in repainting it in the old colors before returning it to service.

TWA L-1011 in the new livery side view

The newest TWA livery, of which only one L-1011 ever wore

As much as I like the final TWA livery, the dual stripe version is still how I remember Trans World today. Long live racing stripes!

Starbucks coffee cup engine

Over the past few days I’ve been tinkering with some of the new texture mapping tools in FormZ, and I’ve got to say that having the ability to place textures “live” in a 3d viewport is a huge help when it comes to composing a scene. In FormZ 6, the texture mapping tool was completely separate from the modeling windows and testing placements meant running test renders over and over again until the image map was positioned correctly. It was a very time-consuming and clumsy process, so I ended up placing textures in Photoshop more often than not. Maya (my other favorite modeling software) is much better when it comes to texture mapping, but the process is a lot more complex and not as intuitive as doing the same thing in FormZ 8.

For testing purposes, I built a simple 3d model of a white coffee cup and played with different ways of placing the Starbucks logo on it live in the modeling windows. No, these aren’t the most exciting renderings I’ve ever done, but that wasn’t the point – I consider this set of Starbucks logo renderings to be more of a test than anything else. Perhaps I’ll create a full set of images with 3d Starbucks logos in the future if there seems to be enough demand, but for now, this is it.

starbucks coffee cup with pills spilling out

Starbucks Addiction

handcuffs and starbucks coffee cup

Protecting the Coffee

magnifying glass and starbucks coffee cup

Searching for Starbucks

starbucks coffee cup and lifesaver

Starbucks to the rescue!

screenshot of formZ modeling window placing textures

Having the ability to place textures “live” in the modeling window is one of my favorite things about the new version of FormZ. The map can be repositioned in any axis in real-time, eliminating the need for endless test renders.

Exactly why I chose to do this experiment with the Starbucks logo is interesting, as I’m not a coffee drinker at all. I do like the smell of it (quite a lot actually) but I just can’t stand the taste. My wife, on the other hand, can’t get enough and I’m convinced that she alone is keeping that company in business. Anyway, our refrigerator and kitchen is overflowing in white paper cups from Peet’s Coffee and Starbucks, so I thought it would be fun to create some illustrations that depict her crazy addiction to coffee.

all white lockheed l-1011 tristar side view

As promised, here is the shorter and stubbier -500 variant of the L-1011-1 TriStar template that I uploaded yesterday. It’s basically the same airplane, minus a huge chunk of fuselage and a different wing connection (plus a handful of other minor little details), so building it right alongside my L-1011-1 template was a piece of cake. Plus, my short attention span necessitates the need to create an entire series of airplanes at once rather than coming back to finish the others later – otherwise, they’ll never get done! I batch-produced my entire 767 collection like that, and I’m glad I spent the time to do them all in one shot because there are far too many other illustration projects I’d rather be working on right now.

This L-1011-500 (also known as the L-1011-385-3) is a strange looking bird, especially when viewed from the side like this. I remember seeing these airplanes a lot in real life 10 to 15 years ago, and they looked great close up at extreme front and rear angles. Unfortunately, this orthographic side view exposes it’s odd proportions in a way that you’d rarely see in real life. She was a fattie, that’s for sure. :-)

lockheed l-1011 side view line drawing

A side profile illustration of an all white Lockheed L-1011-500 TriStar over a white background with and without the landing gear deployed

In addition to it’s shorter length, the modified wing connection is another component which makes this version seem so much different than the original. It looks as if the Lockheed engineers had to chop (round) off the front and rear sections to fit the shortened fuselage, so all of those beautiful sculpted forms from the longer version are not present here. Bummer – because that was my favorite part.

So now I’ve got templates of two of the most popular variants of this aircraft created. Well, the -1 series is visually the same as the -100, so make that three. I’m not going to create other variants of this airplane right now, as that short attention span of mine is pulling me towards a long list of others that I want to create instead. Next up: the Bombardier CRJ-200 and -700.

all white lockheed l-1011 template

Those of you who visit my site frequently just to see if I have any new airliner templates available will be happy to know that I finally finished the L-1011 TriStar that I’ve been working on for nearly six weeks. No, it doesn’t take that long to create each template, but I’ve been really busy with a lot of other projects lately and I just didn’t have the time and energy to focus on this. Late last week I decided that I’ve been putting it off for far too long, so I rolled up my sleeves to get this classic old Lockheed wrapped up.

This particular L-1011 template is the -1 (and -100) variant (also referred to as the L-1011-385-1 and 15). It was the version Lockheed launched the line with in 1972, and in my opinion, is the best looking version of them all. The proportions are pretty much perfect, with enough length to balance out the very heavy looking tail section. That can’t be said for the longer-range -500 variant though, which is 14 feet shorter in length and looks completely unbalanced IMHO. And just so you know, I created a template of the -500 right along with this -1 version, and I’ll be uploading those files soon.

lockheed l-1011 detailed line drawing

A technical side profile line drawing of a Lockheed L-1011-1 over a white background with and without the landing gear deployed

The McDonnell Douglas DC-10 has always been my favorite wide body tri-jet, mostly because the industrial designer in me doesn’t really know what to think about the complex forms that are the result of blending the rear engine with the vertical stabilizer on the L-1011. There’s a lot going on there, and the thing that bothers me the most is how the curvature of the intake doesn’t line up with the forms of the engine protruding from the rear. In that one small section of this airplane, there are four major components blending together: fuselage, engine intake, vertical stabilizer, and engine. It’s kind of messy. The DC-10 solution of integrating the entire engine into the vertical stabilizer looks much better to me.

Other than that, there are some nicely designed parts to this airplane. The wings and their connection to the fuselage are beautifully sculpted, and are much more organic and flowing compared to the DC-10. As I was drawing this template, I couldn’t help but to think how ahead of it’s time this aircraft was. Really – it’s amazing to think that that this airplane was designed in the 1960’s.

Stay tuned for templates of the -500 variant. They are coming soon!