AA 737-800 drawing
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Ok, here it is. The livery that I wanted to create the most, but was the most scared to try! Yep, the bare-metal American Airlines livery was a really difficult one to illustrate due to the fact that it’s basically a chrome tube with lots of variance in gloss and reflection. I’m not saying that I recreated it perfectly (it has it’s flaws), but I was happy to at least capture the spirit of the color scheme. It looks like shiny metal, right? I hope so.

The amazing thing to me is that this livery has been around since the 1960′s. Is there any other major airline livery that has lasted so long? It’s pretty interesting to think about, especially since airlines like Delta and United have gone through 3 different color schemes each in the past 15 years. Talk about an identity crisis!

It’ll be sad to see this American Airlines livery disappear, which will start happening next year when the 777-300 rolls out unveiling a new corporate identity. I think it’s time though – cheat-lines are oh-s0 1970′s and AA needs desperately to shed it’s old and tired image and step into a new era of quality and service. The rumors are suggesting that the bare-metal look will not be a part of the new color scheme, mainly due to the fact that many modern airliners aren’t actually skinned with aluminum anymore. It’s not so easy to polish carbon fiber to a mirror-like finish!

Anyway, I create most of my airliner illustrations in Adobe illustrator with a few minor details added in with Photoshop. I would say the ratio is normally 90% Illustrator and 10% Photoshop, but this one was a little different. The metallic look was difficult to create entirely in Illustrator, so I did the best I could with it and moved over to Photoshop to polish it up (pun intended). The ratio of this particular illustration ended up to be more like 50/50 in order to get things looking right. But as I said, it’s not totally perfect. I’ll try again as I create new aircraft such as the Boeing 777.

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