allegiant air a319 over blue background

I’ve always considered Allegiant Air to be one of those airlines that I’d only fly if was really desperate and there were no other options available. After all, they have never been known to be anything but a budget air carrier here in the US and quite frankly, I’m at the point in my life where I don’t mind spending a few extra dollars for a better experience on another airline. But how bad can Allegiant really be? It’s a question I’ve been asking myself a lot over the past few years, so about a month ago I made a conscious decision to choose Allegiant over a plethora of other choices for a quick trip I needed to make to the Pacific Northwest. And you know what? It wasn’t an entirely bad experience! For the price I paid, I was pleasantly satisfied and I wouldn’t hesitate to fly with them again.

Despite being notorious for penny-pinching and cutting corners, Allegiant is making great strides to improve it’s in-flight experience with the addition of A319 and A320 aircraft to replace it’s aging fleet of MD-80’s. The MD-80’s were the backbone of the G4 fleet since the beginning, so it is a bit weird to see this livery on any other type of aircraft – even though the transition has been going on for several years now.

Speaking of the livery, it’s not that bad IMHO. I wouldn’t go as far as to call it as classy as something like what LAN or Hawaiian is doing these days, but I think it fits their brand ideology perfectly. Remember – this is a Ultra Low Cost Carrier (ULCC), so it’s understandable that the livery leans more towards the flashy side of the spectrum as opposed to being more reserved and sophisticated. The purpose of this livery is to grab attention! Bright colors, high contrast, and a splash of marketing messaging help to convey the “budget” message loud and proud.

I need to point out, however, that blue and orange is my absolute favorite color combination. I’m of the opinion that it’s hard to make anything look bad in blue and orange, so it makes me wonder if I’d have a different opinion of this livery if it were anything else. I don’t particularly care for the generic typeface they used in the logo, and the sun illustration looks a bit like clipart, but the colors make up for those shortcomings in a big way.

bombardier Q400 all white

I’ve been getting a lot of requests for a Bombardier DHC-8 Q400 illustration over the past six months, so I know there are a lot of you out there who have been patiently waiting for this one. And I do mean patient – heck, I proudly announced the start of this illustration on my Facebook page nearly two months ago, and it was only tonight that I finally wrapped this thing up. I’ve had a lot of other projects to work on since then (and I took some vacation time as well), so there just wasn’t much time to focus on this little guy. But it’s complete, and I appreciate the patience of everyone out there who needed this one!

dash 8 q400 line drawing

A technical side profile line drawing of a Bombardier DHC-8-402 Q400 over a white background with and without the landing gear deployed

The Q400 is actually one of my favorite airplanes – at least from an aesthetic point of view. It’s a very lean looking aircraft that looks downright stealthy and sleek from certain angles, and the high wing gives it a fairly unique look compared to most the other twin-engine airplanes roaming the airports these days. It’s also pretty neat from the inside, provided that you have a window seat. That high wing means that there isn’t anything to block your view of the scenery below, and watching the main gear smack the runway in a plume of smoke when landing is always a treat. It’s also an awesome reminder of how strong they build aircraft these days. These things take a beating, that’s for sure.

From a technical illustration point of view, this ended up being one of the easiest templates I’ve ever created. There is a ton of really great Q400 reference material out on the internet, and I didn’t have any difficulty finding detailed photos or illustrations of all the little details. The only downside to that is knowing when to say when – having too much detail in these illustrations never works out (because things get messy at smaller scales), so deciding what detail to put in and what to leave out was the biggest issue.

Another thing that made this illustration easier than the others was the fact that it’s a prop (as opposed to a jet). That means a simpler engine and wing, which is always the most time-consuming thing to replicate in these drawings. It’s nice to have an easy one every now and then!

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!