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!

shopify versus photostore from ktools.net

I’ve been experimenting recently with different ways of licensing my templates and illustrations, and after weeks of searching, I’ve come to the conclusion that there are only two products that photographers and illustrators should consider: Photostore from Ktools.net, and Shopify. Both platforms are pre-built and ready to run right out of the box, which is perfect for busy people like me who would prefer to spend their time creating content rather than tinkering with code. Both feature powerful selling tools which makes it easy to organize products in any way imaginable. But the important question is this: which one of these two is best for selling stock photos and illustrations? I’m actively using both platforms at the moment (I’ve even compared Photostore to other products in the past), and I’d like to share my thoughts on the matter.

Setup

Winner: Tie
I can sense you all rolling your eyes at me now – you’re probably reading this article in hopes of finding out which product is the clear winner, but I honestly believe that the amount of effort it takes to get both Shopify and Photostore up and running is about the same. The difference is the process.

With Shopify, you don’t need to know a single thing about how to set up a website. They host your store for you, so you don’t have to purchase hosting space, you don’t have to mess around with FTP clients, and you don’t have to don’t have to pray that your web host is configured properly to run your store. You just fill out some forms, upload your products, and you’re in business. But it’s not that easy: it took me an entire afternoon from the time I created an account to the time my store was online with a handful of products. There are a lot of steps to get a Shopify store up and running.

The Photostore setup process is a little different. You do have to sign up with a web host such as Hostgator or Bluehost (or whoever you want to use). And you have to upload the store files to your server yourself via FTP. But the online documentation is simple and easy to follow – it’s not that hard to do if you follow their directions step by step. And even if this self-setup process sounds scary, you can feel good knowing that Ktools will install Photostore for you free of charge. How easy is that?

Uploading photos / illustrations

Winner: Photostore
By default, Shopify is not set up to sell digital products. Every item you upload is referred to as a “product”, and you have to process each one (adding price, keywords, etc) manually. You’ll need to install a free app called Digital Downloads in order to sell photos and illustrations, but the setup is simple. Once it’s installed, you just attach a digital download to your product and Shopify takes care of the rest. This is fine if you only have a handful of products to sell, but this manual processing would be far too time-consuming if you have 1000’s of images to upload. This is precisely the reason why I only sell templates on my Shopify store.

On the other hand, Photostore was designed from the ground up to handle large image collections. You can batch upload through the admin area or via FTP, and the software will process the images and create all the sizes you need automatically. Just assign licenses and pricing to the batch, and let Photostore do the rest. Easy.

Batch editing

Winner: Photostore
The biggest downside to Shopify that I have seen so far is that there are very few batch editing tools that will allow global changes to similar products. That’s a big problem for me, especially since I’m always tweaking my licensing and pricing model to adapt to market needs. So what happens if I want to change the price of every image in my Shopify store? I’ll need to do it manually, one by one. Ouch.

Shopify admin section showing product listing

This is the listing of my products from within the admin section of the Shopify store – it’s a bit difficult to see what’s there just by a quick glance, and there are no options for batch editing

With Photostore, global pricing updates are simple. In the admin area, simply go to Library > Digital Profiles to change the price of each size of image being offered. Since I only have four digital profiles in my store (Royalty Free, Extended, Editorial, and Rights Transfer), the time it takes to change prices site-wide is just a matter of a few clicks.

Ktools.net photostore media gallery screenshot

This is the admin section of my PhotoStore site. Big thumbnails make browsing easy, and as you can see, there are quite a few batch editing tools in the top nav

Visual design (look and feel)

Winner: Shopify
Now here’s where Shopify really shines. I love good visual design, and it’s painfully clear that Shopify has a top-notch design team who cares. The entire user experience (front end and back end) is slick and refined, and there isn’t a pixel out of place – anywhere. This attention to detail spans across the wide variety of themes they offer, and I didn’t have to change one line of code to make my store look the way I wanted it to. It was beautiful and slick right out of the box.

Screenshot of my Shopify store

I like the look of my Shopify store quite a bit – and it required absolutely no tinkering on my part to get it looking good

Photostore, on the other hand, was built by extremely talented developers who know how to write flawless code – but don’t have the eye for design that the Shopify team has. Photostore themes just don’t have that same level of polish, thus requiring me to tinker with code to get things looking the way I want. The trouble with that is I don’t really enjoy dealing with coding issues, and I’m not talented enough to modify the themes enough to get them looking really good. I’ve had to settle for a style that’s “good enough for now” which kind of bugs me.

My ktools.net photostore homepage

I’m not quite as satisfied with my PhotoStore homepage. Things don’t fit to the grid very well, and it’s a bit too cluttered for my tastes.

Support

Winner: Tie
The technical support experiences for Shopify and Photostore are both quite good – but different. With Shopify, online support is available 24/7 via chat. Most of the time they’ve been able to help me resolve issues, but other times I feel like the people I’m chatting with don’t have enough knowledge of the system to help me do what I want to do. Being available around the clock is nice, but resolution is hit or miss.

Photostore support is a bit slower, but top notch. Responses to tickets usually take about 24 hours, but these guys know their code and they’ve always been able to resolve issues quickly without a lot of back and forth. I never stress whenever I run into an issue (which I should say is rare) because I know Jon and the team can fix anything.

Running my business

Winner: Photostore
There’s something to be said about the “ownership” of each platform. My Photostore site is mine. I own every aspect of it, and I can do whatever I want to it. I can host it wherever I want, and I can change the code to my heart’s content. Best of all, I’m not locked into Shopify’s fee structure and rules. I set my own prices, and I never have to worry about being screwed if Shopify changes the rules or goes out of business. I’ve spent a lot of time uploading and categorizing my images and templates on Shopify, and part of me cringes at the thought of spending so much time on a platform I don’t own.

On the other hand, Shopify does offer a great user experience with super-fast site speed, so I’m willing to suck it up and pay their fees for those kinds of perks. But I’m much more comfortable knowing that I own the Photostore side of my business.

The overall winner

I use both Shopify and Photostore because there are things about each that I really like. But when it comes to selling large collections of photos and illustrations, Photostore can’t be beat. It’s powerful batch upload and edit features are worth more to me than the slick user interface of Shopify, which says a lot considering how nit-picky of a visual designer I am. My urge to make everything I produce look as good as possible can be crippling at times, but I can live with some of the minor visual quirks of Photostore if it allows me to market my illustrations in a fraction of the time it takes in Shopify.

BMW M logo with engine pistons

Some of you guys might already know that cars and airplanes are two of my biggest passions in life, and if I didn’t have to worry about being practical and trying to make a living I would probably spend my days just drawing airplanes and cars just like I did when I was a little boy. A 30-second stroll though my airliner art gallery exposes my obsession with airplanes pretty clearly, but I don’t have very much automotive art to display here on my blog (yet). Of course there are the Lamborghini, Ferrari, and BMW logos – but those are just examples of 3d logo art that isn’t much different than the other 3d renderings I’ve been doing in my professional day job for years.

My ultimate goal is to be a master at hand-drawn car illustrations. It’s something I’ve been working on privately in my spare time, and I’ll start revealing that work here when the time is right. I don’t feel like any of my car sketches are worthy of posting here at the moment, so that means that I’m relegated to continuing with the 3d logo stuff until I become the automotive artist that I want to be.

And that leads me to my latest set of automotive-based 3d renderings: the BMW “M” logo. For those of you who don’t follow the car scene, BMW designates performance versions of it’s cars as M models (M3, M4, M5, etc). And just so you know, I’m an M3 kind of guy myself. As a matter of fact, I’m doing everything within my power to refrain from browsing for old e36 M3’s on Craigslist. I want one as a project car really bad, never mind the fact that I don’t currently have extra garage space (nor the mechanical know-how to keep an older car like this running smoothly).

The need to scratch that M3 itch is what led to this set of 3d BMW M logos. I didn’t have the time to create a full set of renderings, but since it’s a simple enough logo to begin with, I thought it would be fun to model it up and arrange it with a few performance-related objects. This is what I came up with:

BMW M logo with wrench and screwdriver

BMW M Tuning

BMW M logo with precision calipers

BMW M Precision

BMW M logo 3d addiction

BMW M Addiction

So, I’ll bet you’re dying to know if this little project satisfied my craving for that M3. The answer is a big fat “NO”, and I think this actually might have backfired on me. I’ve already been to Craigslist twice today eyeing a nice little 1999 white coupe with low miles and need for a good home. If it wasn’t tax season and we weren’t in the middle of some major home renovations right now, I’m not sure I’d be able to resist…

free parts

I haven’t had much time to work on 3d renderings lately, but I’m trying to tinker as much as I can so I don’t forget how to do this stuff. I’m not kidding – the intricacies of FormZ and Maya are so complex that I start forgetting things after only a few weeks of non-use. That need to keep tinkering is how this set of 3d renderings came to be. I wasn’t even trying to create a full set of images here…I just needed to do something to keep my 3d knowledge fresh.

Luckily I’ve got a pretty good system of pre-lit environments set up in FormZ that I can just dump objects into and render. Not having to set up environments from scratch saves a ton of time, which is really important to me these days. Time is something I don’t have much of anymore, so I’m taking advantage of anything that I can get! The downside to that is many of my renderings tend to look the same, so the balance of time and creativity (learning new things) is something I think about a lot. What’s more important? Spending 4 hours on one amazing illustration, or creating 10 in that same time period that are similar to what I’ve already been doing for years? I know that I’d learn a lot more by slowing my output and focusing on fewer (and better) images instead of trying to crank out as many as I can. But letting go of the feeling of needing to produce as much as humanly possible is hard to let go of, especially since that’s what the Norebbo brand was built on (in the beginning). But I’m getting off track here…

Free Time

Free Time

Free Help

Free Help

Anyway, these three renderings consist of various objects posing with bright red FREE tags. The one with the lifesaver is the one I like the most. It represents the concept of “free help”, which I think could be a useful image for anyone offering that kind of service. Please feel free to use the image to promote your own brand or product – and I’d love it if you send me a link showing how you used it!