blank white 757-200 illustration

These side view Boeing 757-200 templates have been on my to-do list forever, and I just couldn’t put them off any longer due to a personal side project of mine that required some illustrations of this aircraft. I’m really glad to have these done and out of the way! Well, sort of. You see, just like the Airbus A319/A320/A321, there are actually quite a few versions of the 757-200. There were two engine types (Pratt and Whitney and Rolls Royce) offered during it’s production run, with two different wingtips (with and without winglets). I only illustrated the Pratt and Whitney engined version for now, but I did create both versions of the wing. So I still have some work ahead of me…

I’ll attach the versions with the Rolls Royce engines to this post as soon as I complete them, but for now, here are some all white renderings and wireframe line drawings of the 757-200 with Pratt and Whitney engines – with and without winglets.

Here is the line drawing version of the aircraft at the top of this post (with winglets):

757-200 line art with winglets

Technical line drawing of a Boeing 757-200 with winglets

And here is the fully rendered blank white version and associated line drawing for the non-winglet version.

white 757 template

All white Boeing 757-200 template (without winglets)

757-200 line drawing without winglets

Technical line drawing of a Boeing 757-200 (without winglets)

The 757-200 is a good looking aircraft, isn’t it? The equivalent airliners of today (the Boeing 737-900 and Airbus A321) just don’t look as sleek and graceful as this thing does, so it’s going to be a major bummer when they retire these things for good. But now that I have these templates, I plan on creating many variations of it with some of the best airline liveries from all over the world.

glossy card with article title

There are dirty little secrets in every profession, and the field of visual design is no different. It’s been my experience that clients tend to think of me as someone who sits around and has fun playing in Photoshop all day (hardly what they would call “real work”), and that couldn’t be farther from the truth. This isn’t easy – I’m usually juggling many clients at once, trying to meet insanely tight deadlines, fielding phone calls and attending meetings, all while trying to stay as creative as possible and on top of the latest design trends. Therefore, it shouldn’t be surprising to learn that visual designers (like me) generally tend to look out for themselves and skew their output in ways which makes the daily grind easier to manage.

So, in no particular order, I’d like to present a few dirty little secrets about the visual designers you hire to work on your own projects:

We use stock photos and other graphics whenever possible

Back in the early days of my design career, I worked with a guy who I considered to be a really good designer. Whatever he worked on seemed to be on the cutting edge of the latest trends, and I remember greatly admiring him for his ability to reinvent his style from project to project. That’s a really hard thing to do, and I was in awe. However, it wasn’t until we worked together on a project for the first time that I learned the secret to his success: stock illustrations and “borrowed” design elements. What he essentially did was take existing elements from other designers, modified them a bit, and arranged them into compositions relevant to the project he was working on – and he wowed the client every single time. He did very little illustration and layout exploration on his own, and I was totally bummed when I realized what he was doing. It was like revealing the man behind the curtain in the Wizard of Oz!

That’s an extreme case, but the truth is that I learned a very important lesson from him. Sometimes it’s ok not to reinvent the wheel and struggle to solve design problems that have been solved long ago. Illustration, for example, is extremely time consuming and can easily eat up entire project budgets really quick. More often than not, I find myself reaching for assets left over from old projects (and even from my own stock illustration collection) in order to meet tight deadlines at or under budget.

Additionally, ask to see the contents of your designer’s bookmark folder. You’re likely to find scores of links to award winning (and really cool) examples of projects just like yours. We look at this kind of stuff a lot to help spark ideas for the work we are creating for you. Just don’t be surprised if we “borrow” an element or two that we found somewhere else.

We don’t like it when clients give us laser-specific design direction

I may be nodding my head in agreement when a client tells me to change the button colors from blue to orange, but the truth is that I already tried orange and it clashed with other elements on the page. And although I’ll try my best to give them my expert opinion as to why that doesn’t work (possibly creating an updated mockup right then and there in the meeting), I know that these battles are not easily won.

The fact of the matter is that we are the style and design experts, so we appreciate it when clients respect our opinion when it comes to knowing what looks good and what doesn’t. Our reputation is on the line as well, so this project is as important to us as it is to them.

The Oatmeal did a brilliant job of summarizing this point in a comic strip, so much so that it’s not even worth reading any additional thoughts from me on the matter. He totally nailed it.

We care more about our own portfolio than your product

Don’t worry – I’m not saying that we don’t care about making you and your product look good. What I am saying is that we tend to skew our output towards styles that we favor and are likely to enhance our full portfolio of visual design work. Even I fully admit to steering clients into particular design directions that would help me learn new techniques and fill in empty spaces in my own portfolio.

I can hear you all gasping from here. But fear not – even though I’m looking out for myself, I’ll do whatever I can to address my client’s issues and make sure they get what they want. The key here is negotiation – both sides listening and respecting one another, and making adjustments until everyone is satisfied. I’m not going to just throw ideas at them that I know they won’t like – I’ll integrate my needs in with theirs, and I’m hoping they will do the same.

And yes, we will turn down projects that don’t seem interesting. I’ve certainly done it in the past, and a long time colleague of mine is notorious for this. He’s incredibly picky, selfish…and very smart. He’s also one of the most talented designers I know, so he can afford to be choosy.

Indecisiveness will cause us to lose interest

I admit it. I’ve dropped clients in the past who kept changing requirements all throughout the design process, causing confusion and chaos for all involved. It’s a mentally draining experience to have to go back and redo design concepts over and over (and over) again in order to incorporate last minute feedback and product tweaks, and I do what I can to avoid getting stuck in that trap. There are so many other things I’d rather be working on that would feed my creative soul and further my career.

Most of the other visual designers I know have that same “abbreviated” attention span, and I’d be willing to bet that they’d agree with me when I say that clients who don’t know what they want are usually the most difficult to work with.

We secretly wish we would have chosen a different career

I’ve always wondered if I was the only designer that had rouge thoughts like this, but after 18 years of being deep in the trenches of corporate design studios, I’ve found that many of my visual design colleagues feel exactly the same way. Why the heck did we choose a career that is so incredibly subjective? Everyone has an opinion on style and design, and it’s impossible to make everyone happy. Our ultimate goal, it seems, is to deliver design solutions that will annoy as few people as possible.

I should have chosen a career with very clear objectives. Moving furniture is a perfect example – there’s only one way to deliver furniture from one building to another, and once complete, you punch your time card and go home. The world of graphics and design is not like this, especially when dealing with clients from hell. Once the preliminary concepts have been presented, then begins the endless stream of revisions, more brainstorming sessions, design explorations, last-minute requirements changes, and more revisions. All due within incredibly short deadlines, of course. I just want to finish gracefully and move on to the next project!

The bottom line

I realize that all of this probably sounds selfish and arrogant (so much that I was even thinking about not posting it), but writing stuff like this helps me vent. Being a visual designer is a lot harder than most people think, so don’t be too hard on me for shedding some light on what’s really going on.

Anyone need some furniture moved?

spirit airlines silver and gray pixel livery

Spirit Airlines is one of those obscure air carriers that I’ve never really given much thought to in the past. They’ve always just sort of been there, distant and uninteresting, mostly flying to places I never travel to. But all of that has been changing over the past few years – they are quickly turing into a major low-fare airline, and I’m starting to hear more and more people talk about them wherever I go. Usually that talk isn’t so good (they are probably the stingiest airline in the US right now), but it’s been interesting to watch them grow from nothing into the near-beheamoth they are today.

All that growth has meant that they’ve had to experiment with a lot of different things over the years, playing with different business models and fine-tuning their product. That continuous fine-tuning has resulted in three different liveries over the past decade – all of them quite different from one another, reflecting a “low fare” look with a twinge of serious professionalism. Sort of. Let me explain…

The silver and black “pixel” livery at the top of this post is my favorite of their last three liveries. It’s cool, high-tech, and very unique. It doesn’t really convey the “low fare” message very well, and I’d go as far as to say it does the exact opposite. It looks very high end! That’s probably why it didn’t last so long.

The next livery (below) was unveiled just a few short years later, and to me, it was a huge step down in terms of style and design. I’m not really sure, but the bright blue and and neon accent colors just scream “cheap vacation packages to Cancun”. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I really cringed when I first saw it. I couldn’t believe they killed the pixel livery!

Spirit Airlines blue and white livery

Spirit Airlines blue and white livery

And finally, Spirit just went through another major rebranding effort last fall. The livery they came up with was…well…um…bold. Have a look for yourself:

Spirit Airlines yellow livery

Spirit Airlines yellow livery

I have to give them credit though. If they are looking for attention, they are certainly going to get it with these bright yellow banana planes flying around. How could you not notice something this flashy over all the other airlines that are mostly white with a few splashes of color here and there? Knowing how risky they’ve been with their marketing campaigns in the past, I’m pretty confident in saying that I’m sure that’s their goal. They’ve succeeded admirably in gaining my attention.

Anyway, it was a lot of fun to illustrate these three Spirit Airlines liveries on the A319. I was dreading the silver and black pixel livery the most, as I wasn’t sure I would be able to replicate it with any sort of realism. But it wasn’t that bad – and as a matter of fact it just reaffirmed itself as my favorite Spirit Airlines color scheme of the past 10 years. The yellow version was the most difficult of the three – yellow is always a difficult color to render because it’s way too easy to make the shadows look muddy (“poopy” is another way to describe it). On top of that, there isn’t always enough contrast to be able to show gloss and reflections accurately. I gave it my best shot though, and I hope you enjoy.

Smartphone Sale

The trouble with creating conceptual stock illustrations of anything related to the world of tech is that those images don’t have much of a useful lifespan. My 3d rendering collection consists largely of tech-related concepts, so it’s a major bummer that much of my early work (starting in 2006) has become horribly outdated and darn near useless for anything but laughs.

Because of that, I spend a lot of time recreating and modernizing some of my oldest and most outdated images. A perfect example of that is this series of smart phone illustrations, created to directly replace my old collection of conceptual flip-phone renderings. That flip-phone collection had a good run, but they are understandably not so relevant today and there is nothing more I can do with that set. They are gone for good, forever regulated to my personal archives never to be seen again. Maybe someday I can create a “Norebbo Classics” section of the blog where I can post old images and we can all sit around and laugh at technology long forgotten. :-)

Anyway this collection of smart phone illustrations marks the beginning of what I hope will become a much larger set. There are a variety of concepts here featuring the same basic device, some with a blank display, and some with a generic home screen that I created. I realize that most people would want to map their own custom screens onto these illustrations, but I just wanted to include a few “complete” images just in case anyone needed them.

Free Smartphone

Free Smartphone

Smartphone Security

Smartphone Security

Smartphone Data

Smartphone Data

Smart Phone Audio

Smart Phone Audio

Smartphone Batteries

Smartphone Batteries

Chained to Your Smart phone

Chained to Your Smart Phone

Black Smartphone with Blank Screen

Black Smartphone with Blank Screen

Black Smartphone with Home Screen

Black Smartphone with Home Screen

White Smartphone with Blank Screen

White Smartphone with Blank Screen

White Smartphone with Home Screen

White Smartphone with Home Screen

Smartphone Help

Smartphone Help

Smart Phone Chips

Smart Phone Chips

UX Design for Mobile Devices

UX Design for Mobile Devices

Smartphone Tools

Smartphone Tools

Smart Phone Research

Smart Phone Research

Smart Phone with Connected Cord

Smart Phone with Connected Cord

Smart Phone Sale

Smart Phone Sale

Locked Smart Phone

Locked Smart Phone

Smart Phone and Checkmark

Smart Phone and Checkmark

Global Smart Phone

Global Smart Phone

Broken Smart Phone

Broken Smart Phone

Hopefully you’ll find some of these smart phone renderings useful. You can always leave a comment if there’s something in particular you’d like to see, and I’ll do my best to try and get it into my rendering schedule. I also want to create some different devices (tablets, for example) just for the sake of variety. But I’m probably going to be forced into doing it anyway once the next big thing is on the market and I’m forced to retire this set…

cloud space for rent

With all the talk about cloud technology these days, it seemed like a no-brainer to create a set of stock illustrations featuring clouds with a variety of different objects. The trouble is that I’m not much of an organic 3d modeler – my style is a bit more on the chunky side of things, and I found it to be quite a challenge to recreate a useful cloud-looking object that could work in a variety of different poses and perspectives. As you can see here, I settled on a simple icon-style design complete with an ultra-blingy chrome finish. And I’ll let you in on a little secret: that simplicity is what allows me to create so many illustrations from a single object. There’s no way I could be able to generate so many images if I only built objects that looked good from one angle!

You’ve seen this cloud from me before here and there (if you’ve been paying attention), and I even used a variation of it with Facebook logos a little over two years ago. But I thought it would be good to finally post the entire collection here on the blog for those who might have a use for them.

So here’s the full set:

No Access to the Cloud

No Access to the Cloud

Space in the Cloud for Sale

Space in the Cloud for Sale

Keep Out of the Cloud

Keep Out of the Cloud

Data in the Cloud

Data Activity in the Cloud

Search the Cloud

Search the Cloud

Cloud Strategy

Cloud Strategy

Financial Data in the Cloud

Financial Data in the Cloud

I’ve also got a series of these metallic clouds over white backgrounds (and with different objects) that I’ll post soon. IMHO, the versions with the white backgrounds look better!

red smart watch

Wearable technology is all the rage these days, but I’ll admit that I haven’t been tempted by any of it. Head mounted displays (HMDs) and smart watches aren’t fully matured yet, and most of the products currently on the market just seem so…compromised. But I know all too well how fast technology moves, and I’m sure it won’t be long until you see me sporting the latest tech/fashion gadgets – heck, I laughed the first iPad off as a “worthless piece of crap” the day it was announced, but I’m not going to lie when I say that I can’t live without my Apple tablet today. Yeah, I can be stubborn and short-sighted sometimes…

Anyway, last year I created a series of generic smart watch designs for stock illustration purposes. The images you see here are the best examples from two different sets. The first batch I created (at the bottom of this post) was based around a very simple and blocky design, which I never really liked all that much. That lack of satisfaction kept eating at me for several months, so I decided to give it another go with a slightly more detailed and curved design. The illustration of the red smart watch at the top of this post is from that second set, along with this chrome one:

chrome smart watches

3d rendering of two polished metal smart watches with a glowing pulse graphic on the screen over a dark reflective surface

And yeah – I created these in Maya just as I was still learning my way around, so they took far too long to stage and render (which is the same problem I had with my forklift illustrations). For comparisons sake, the illustrations of the more angular smart watches (below) were created in FormZ within a matter of hours – fully rendered and all.

silver smart watch

3d illustration of a generic smart watch over a white background

upright smart watch illustration

3d illustration of the front three quarter view of a glass and metal smart watch over a white background

If you need to map your own custom design onto the face of the display, these blocky watches will probably serve you better. That’s precisely why they look the way they do – I knew that most people who use these images will need to customize them somehow, and a curved screen would give even the best Photoshop professionals serious heartburn.

I may do more of these in the future, so stay on the lookout.

yellow forklift illustration

As a recent convert to Maya, one of my first stock illustration projects I did in that software package was a simple forklift. I’ve always wanted to build one so that I could use it in a variety of my other stock illustrations, but it was hard to get it right in FormZ. It was certainly possible – but I kept putting it off and, well…you know how that goes. But I’m happy to report that building something like this is much easier in Maya, so I now I didn’t have an excuse anymore.

Forklifts are nice as conceptual objects for stock illustration. They represent things like “storage”, “organizing”, “movement”, “warehousing” and so on – all of which are topics that aren’t represented well in my existing portfolio of images.

Unfortunately, being that I’m a Maya newbie and all, these four renderings took far too long to complete. The biggest problem was rendering times. Holy crap! The image below with the globe took 24 hours to render, which is something I’m not used to at all. Even my most complicated FormZ renderings never took more than a couple hours. I’m pretty sure it’s because I’ve got the quality settings higher than they should be, so I’ll definitely have to look into that. My short attention span demands it!

Anyway, here are the final illustrations from this first batch, all measuring 1024x728px. Feel free to use them however you wish, and look for more illustrations with forklift-based themes in the future!

forklift and globe

3d rendering of a bright yellow forklift carrying a glowing transparent globe over a dark reflective surface

forklift tires

3d rendering of a bright yellow forklift carrying a large wheel and tire over a dark gray reflective surface

all white forklift 3d model

3d rendering of an all white forklift over a white surface

AA new colors 737-800

It’s been almost two years since this new American Airlines livery was unveiled, and I’ve got to say that it’s growing on me quite a bit. These colors look absolutely fantastic in bright sunshine (even better than the old polished livery did), and the silver paint they chose for the main section of the fuselage has a perfect balance of bling and class. I know that there are many out there who don’t feel the same way about this new look, but I’m liking it more and more each time I see it out in the wild.

As much as I like it this color scheme, it’s certainly not an easy one to illustrate. I’ve been wanting to do a 737-800 illustration like this for two years now, but I’ve held off out of sheer laziness (and a huge lack of desire) to get that tail section looking right. I’d go as far as to say that the Hawaiian Airlines tail colors were easier to do, which is saying a lot because that one was quite a hair-puller as well. But I tried to be smart about it this time – knowing that I’ll likely be creating a lot more AA aircraft illustrations in the future, I decided to go ahead and make a template of those tail colors that I can apply to any other type of aircraft. I have no excuse for not doing any more illustrations of other aircraft in this livery now!

There’s just one part of this livery that I don’t care for, and that’s the official American Airlines logo slapped on the forward section of the fuselage. Similar to the way UPS applied (slapped?) their logo to the vertical stabilizers of their airplanes, this looks like such an afterthought. If you recall, I ranted about this in my post about the AA 777-200 illustration – why did they not incorporate this logo into the design of the livery? Sure, the colors are the same, but that’s where the similarities end – it’s a 3d logo applied to a relatively flat 2d livery. I don’t get it.

Hawaiian 767 with winglets

Back in March of this year, I posted the illustration I created of my favorite airline/aircraft combo of all time: the Hawaiian Airlines A330-200. It was a horribly complex livery to recreate (and it wasn’t perfect), but I had a lot of fun with it and I enjoyed the challenge. As a matter of fact, I was so excited about completing it that I made plans to create side profile illustrations of the entire Hawaiian fleet! But you know how things go – life can get busy without warning, which means having less time for fun personal side projects such as this. Yeah, things have been busy between now and then, and I’m just now getting back to working on cranking out illustrations of the rest of that Hawaiian Airlines fleet.

You know that I’ve already done the A330 and the DC-10 (which was one of my first-ever pieces of airliner art), so the next one I decided to focus on was the 767. These Hawaiian 767-300’s are quickly being phased out of the fleet and being replaced by the A330’s (and coming A321’s), which is kind of weird to me considering I remember when the 767’s started replacing the DC-10’s. Has it really been that long? Crazy how time flies.

Just like the problems I had with the A330 version of this livery, this 767 was no different. The tail art is nearly identical, but there are some slight differences in the lower section of the fuselage – I’m not really sure why the designers chose to make this livery different between these two aircraft, as I applied the same one to both (just to see what would happen) and I didn’t encounter any issues. But being a designer myself, I know all about unforeseen problems and thus the necessary design inconsistencies between products that don’t really make much sense to everyone else. There’s a reason for everything!

And just like UPS (United Parcel Service), Hawaiian maintains several variants of the 767 in their fleet. Some of these have those beautiful winglets installed (as shown in the illustration at the top of this post), while others do not. Here is an example of this same aircraft (N582HA) without the winglets:

hawaiian 767-300 without winglets

N582HA without winglets

It won’t be long before these 767-300’s are gone for good, so fly them while you can!

UPS 767-300F drawing

One of my favorite US airline liveries at the moment has to be the iconic brown and gold scheme of UPS (United Parcel Service). The way the brown and gold intersect the white section of the forward fuselage is quite elegant, and much more interesting than it could have been if they took the easy way out and just painted the tail brown.

I like airline liveries that utilize the entire aircraft, and this one does a fine job of using color and shape to lead the eye gracefully from the forward titles all the way back to the rear of the airplane. And heck – the use of brown as a primary color shouldn’t go without mention, because, well, how many other airlines do you know of that use dark brown as boldly as this? I like it!

If I could criticize one thing, it would have to be the UPS logo itself. While it is quite nice on it’s own, it does look rather “stuck on” as opposed to being seamlessly integrated into the rest of the livery. It’s the 3d effect that is throwing me off a bit – there aren’t any other graphic elements in this livery that are as graphically rich as that 3d logo, and I think it would have been ok to remove that dimensionality and leave it flat instead. This way, it would appear to be cut out of the vertical stabilizer as opposed to being just slapped onto the side.

This particular 767-300 is aircraft N360UP – a 34AF/ER variant which features winglets (for better fuel efficiency). Not all UPS 767’s have these installed, so I’ve also created another version of the same illustration without them:

UPS 767-300F without winglets

United Parcel Service (UPS) Boeing 767-34AF/ER without winglets

I am of the opinion that these winglets make the 767 (and pretty much every other aircraft they’ve been installed on) look much more graceful and elegant – so it’s becoming difficult for me to create illustrations without them. Amazing how a simple change can make such a big difference!

On a side note, doing this artwork has reminded me that I need to stop slacking and send a few holiday packages off to the family…via UPS of course!