All posts in: Aircraft Illustrations
boeing 747-8F side view drawing
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The cargo version of the Boeing 747-8 is a really nice looking airplane from most angles, but I’ve got to admit that this side profile view isn’t very flattering. This is a very long and lean aircraft, and viewing it directly from the side like this only exaggerates those proportions to levels which seem a bit comical IMHO. The problem is no doubt caused by the shortened second-level “hump” just behind the cockpit windows. It sort of reminds me of a lump on the head, just like you used to see when Tom and Jerry beat the ever-living crap out of each other during after-school cartoons. It doesn’t look right at all from this angle, and the lack of windows down the side of the fuselage doesn’t help either. “Tubeliner” is a totally appropriate term here.

However, I personally think that this is one of the best looking airplanes when viewed from almost any other angle. Lean and long is a good thing – especially when viewed from a three-quarter front view! But nice angles like that don’t work well as template illustrations so all I’ve got for you today are these side view drawings. Maybe someday once I’ve created templates of every major commercial aircraft past and present will I venture into illustrating other views. But that’s a long way off, so don’t hold your breath…

747-8F cargo side view drawing

A technical side profile line drawing of a Boeing 747-8F over a white background with and without the landing gear deployed

I just read yesterday that Boeing has slowed down 747-8 production once again to .5 airframes a month. That’s unfortunate considering how good of a commercial airliner this is. It’s even better in cargo configuration, but four-engine aircraft are quickly falling out of fashion these days thanks to how good (efficient/reliable) twin-engine competitors are becoming. The US government wants a 747-8 for the next Air Force One, and since interest from the airlines is drying up fast, it’s likely the two AF1 frames will be the last. That’s just my opinion of course, but the future isn’t looking good for the 747.

With this 747-8F, I’ve now got three 747 templates available (the 747-400 and 747-8i). The 747 has always been my favorite commercial aircraft, so I’m itching to fill in the blanks and create illustrations of all the other variants to make my collection complete. The 747-100 and -200 are similar enough that I could create both at the same time, and the -300 (with the stretched upper deck) shouldn’t be too difficult based on how much it shares with the -400. Famous last words I know. I always assume these things are going to be easy but it never really works out that way!

American Airlines A321 side view rendering
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These American Airlines renderings are getting to be fun. I complained a lot in my post about the American Eagle ERJ-175 last week, but I’m really liking the way that these colors can make boring aircraft such as this A321 look halfway decent. Part of me still thinks that their official logo (as seen on the forward part of the fuselage) doesn’t mix well with the tail art, but it’s not enough of an annoyance to keep me up at night. Hey – I tend to dwell on the details sometimes!

If I can ever find the time I’m going to to create a full design exploration of the American Airlines brand (just for kicks). It’s so close to being perfect IMHO, but the logo / tail art issue I mentioned above could stand a bit of tweaking. Perhaps the logo can replace the flag art on the tail? Or what if the logo and flag art are combined somehow to create one cohesive mark? Maybe the current logo needs to be eliminated altogether and replaced with one that is more symbolic of the American flag? These are just simple questions, but coming up with a solution would not be easy given the history of this brand (and company as a whole). I have huge respect for the design teams responsible for refreshing well-established brands such as this and I fully admit that it’s not something I’d like to spend the majority of my time working on. Design is a naturally subjective thing, and it only gets more complicated when there are historical and political factors at play. None of this will stop me from creating my own design concepts however – I’d only do it for fun so at least I won’t have to stress out about making the corporate office in Dallas happy.

As far as the background for this illustration is concerned, I thought that a shiny silver texture with a subtle “American Airlines” graphic would do well to accentuate the silver and bold tail colors of this aircraft. You’ll recall that I did something very similar with my American Airlines 767-200 rendering a while back, and the only reason I did it then was because I was trying to create a background texture that mimicked the polished aluminum of the fuselage. AA has since moved on from that livery (unfortunately), but silver remains a dominant color of their brand so I didn’t think it was too far out of place to do a silver background again. I actually like it a lot better than the dark blue I used in that ERJ-175 illustration.

That logo is still bothering me though…

American Eagle Embraer 175 illustration
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It’s been just over a year since I last illustrated an aircraft with the new American Airlines livery, and the main reason for not attempting any more is because of how complex the tail art is. This is definitely not an easy color scheme to replicate – and to make matters worse, it’s just a little bit different on each aircraft it’s applied to. Yep, that means that I can only reuse little of versions I’ve already created so creating it from scratch every time is an unfortunate reality! I really shouldn’t fuss and complain about it though, because I know there was a designer or two tasked with figuring out how to apply these colors to aircraft of all shapes and sizes and that couldn’t have been easy at all. I’m only replicating what they labored over for so long, so I have to give huge props to the American Airlines marketing and design team for figuring out what was surely a decently hairy design problem.

The sense of satisfaction I feel when finishing applying this livery to one of my airliner templates is huge – I’ve mentioned before that this is one of my favorite airline liveries in existence today, and I love the way it comes alive when I apply the finishing highlights and gloss to the rendering. The metallic silver fuselage looks great rendered over a dark background, creating the kind of contrast I like so much. In other words, I’m a huge fan of bling (whether I like to admit it or not). This little ERJ-175 looks great in these colors!

If you’re curious, the partial logo in the background was a “happy accident”. My original thought was to place a transparent American Airlines logo into the center of the illustration somehow, using slight gradients and shadow to give it some depth. I ended up importing the logo into my PSD file, moved it around a bit, and quickly noticed how the top portion of the logo matched the angle of the vertical stabilizers of the aircraft. That looked pretty cool – so I left it alone and called it done. Simple is better sometimes, right?

Just so you know, I’ve got one more illustration of an American Airlines aircraft coming up soon. I’m putting the finishing touches on it now, and if you ask me I think it turned out better than this one. I did something a little bit different with the background color and texture for that one – something I thought was too bold at first but then it grew on me the more that I looked at it. So stay tuned for it – I expect to post it here just after the start of the new year. Happy Holidays!

boeing 747-8i side view drawing
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One of these days I should put together a video or infographic of some kind to document some of the struggles I go through as I build my airliner template collection. I started this project four years ago (man, has it really been that long?) thinking that I’d quickly build up a large database of highly-detailed side view illustrations of the most popular commercial aircraft – past and present. It seemed like a simple and innocent enough project at the time, but…well, I’m here to tell you that I’ve “quit” three times already and each time I swore that I’d never draw another one of these darn things again. Yeah, I like airplanes, but creating these templates can be very tedious and draining at times especially when I’ve got a lot of other things to do. It also drives my short attention span crazy!

But no matter how discouraged I get, I always come back to it. Contrary to my annoying short attention span, I have a bit of OCD in me as well that can’t stand the thought of having an unfinished collection of illustrations on my to-do list. I suppose this means that I’ll be working on this little project for as long as I live – no doubt struggling all the while and quitting a time or two along the way.

And that leads me to my latest airliner illustration: the Boeing 747-8i (the “i” stands for Intercontinental). I started working on this one immediately after finishing my 747-400 template (more than two years ago), but…well…that was right about the time that I went through one of my “screw it, I quit!” periods and it was hurled into my archives presumably never to be touched again. But like I said – my OCD can’t let stuff sit like that forever, so I pulled it out last week and made a commitment to get it wrapped up and published.

boeing 747-8i line drawing side view

A technical side profile line drawing of a Boeing 747-8i over a white background with and without the landing gear deployed

For those that don’t know, the Boeing 747-8i is the modern successor to the hugely popular 747-400, and most likely the final variant of the 747 ever. That’s especially true now since this airplane has proved to be less than popular and sales have been disappointingly weak since it’s introduction. There aren’t many airlines interested in four-engine aircraft these days, so it’s unknown at the moment how long the 747-8i program will live before Boeing pulls the plug on it.

All in all, creating this template wasn’t so bad. The wing was (by far) the most difficult part. I wanted to give it a nice “flexed” shape that would accentuate the new-style blended winglet, and it was a bit of a challenge to get it right. At first I drew the wing with a downward arch (simulating how it would look with a full load of fuel), but I didn’t think it was the right way to illustrate it since the winglet curves up slightly. Therefore, I decided to give the wing a bit of upward flex to simulate what it would look like in-flight.

Hope you like this one!

airbus a350-1000 side view white
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I normally hesitate to create side view templates of aircraft that haven’t even been built yet, and this A350-1000 is no exception. To be perfectly honest, I (and nobody outside of Airbus for that matter) really have no idea what this airplane is going to look like so there are probably a lot of things I’ve drawn here that won’t be completely accurate once we see the first flying prototype. But I decided to go for it anyway thinking that I can always go back and change/update the little details as necessary once Airbus gives us more information.

Considering that the first prototype is less than a year away, I can’t imagine that I’ve missed the mark too far with this template. After all, we know how long this thing is going to be. We know the door configuration. We know that it will feature a triple-wheel main gear just like the 777. Combined with the fact that the fuselage is going to be just a stretched version of the smaller A358 and A359 models, I figured I had enough information to take a first crack at it. I can’t imagine that I’m that far off – if anything, I’m sure there will be a few little details I’ll have to update later, but otherwise this illustration should be pretty close. “Should” is the important word here…I’d really hate to redo this template from scratch!

a350-1000 line drawing

A technical side profile line drawing of an Airbus A350-1000 over a white background with and without the landing gear deployed

Anyway, now that I’ve got templates of the full family of A350 aircraft, I’m still thinking that I like the stubby proportions of the -800 version the most. As far as I know, there haven’t been any new orders for that version since I posted the blank drawings in July, and I’m willing to bet that means trouble for that little guy. Will it ever be produced? It’s not looking good at this point, which is a real shame IMHO because the Industrial Designer in me has fingers on both hands crossed hoping that it will see the light of day. I wonder what the designers at Airbus think? Having spent my entire career so far in the design field, I know for a fact that design studios usually have their favorites in terms of what they would like to see being built. In my personal experience, it’s always the design that I like the least that is produced in the highest volumes. Go figure.

I’ll update this template once the first flying A350-1000 prototype is built, but until then, I welcome any and all comments regarding things I might have messed up with these illustrations.

err-175 new winglet
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Creating airliner templates isn’t easy – especially when it comes to getting all the little details correct. It was only a few days ago that I posted my completed set of ERJ-175 illustrations, and like always, it felt really good to have that project wrapped up and posted to this blog. It was especially true in this particular case because I had been needing (very badly) a version of this with the United Express livery for several weeks now. Having a finished template from which to work from was a huge relief and I wasted no time in getting to work on it.

But then…disaster. Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration (lol) but at least it felt that way when I discovered that there are actually two versions of winglets available on the ERJ-175, and the United Express planes have the one I didn’t know about (and didn’t include on my original template). Dang it! Just when I thought I was done, I had to go back to the drawing board and create another version of the wing with this new winglet. That might not seem like that big of a deal, but it required a major structural change to my original illustrations. This particular winglet is a completely different shape than the other one, which affected the structure of the wing slightly – so there were a lot of things I had to rebuild and/or adjust in order to get it to fit correctly. Considering that I just went though the “ahhh, it’s finally done!” phase of this template, you can probably understand how irritating it was to have to go back and reconstruct a major portion of it.

erj-175 new winglet line drawing

A technical side profile line drawing of a Embraer 175 regional jet with the new style winglet over a white background with and without the landing gear deployed

As much as it sounds like I’m complaining, the truth is that I’m glad that I took the time to create another version with this new style winglet. It only makes my airliner template collection more complete. And hey – I learned something new about the ERJ-175! These larger winglets make this particular airplane look very different from certain views – especially front and rear. They are wider and less angled than the original winglets, and that shallow angle helps to extend the overall wingspan a bit and make the airplane look larger than it really is. On top of that, Embraer claims a 6% increase in fuel efficiency over the original versions. Better looks + better economy seems like a winner to me.

embraer 175 template all white side view
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Creating derivative templates of a single aircraft type has always been a somewhat funny (and frustrating) experience for me. Whenever I finish a template of an all new aircraft type, I begin to feel complacent – thinking that the hard work is now finished, and creating the other variants of it will be really easy. Sadly, it rarely works that way. There’s no worse feeling for a time-crunched illustrator such as myself after realizing that the “simple” illustration I was going to knock out in a couple hours is more likely to take an entire week. My CRJ-700 templates were a perfect example of this – before starting on them I thought all I had to do was stretch my CRJ-200 illustrations a bit, add a few more details, and voila! Nope. Didn’t happen that way. The -200 and -700 are pretty much completely different airplanes that share little in common with one another and it ended up being an unexpectedly major project.

I’ve since learned to do more research on derivative aircraft types long before deciding to go ahead with an illustration. I actually planned to create this ERJ-175 along with my ERJ-190 template back in June, but the research I did beforehand led me to the conclusion that it was far too large of a project to do all at once (I’ve got way too much “real” billable work that has higher priority over this kind of stuff). Therefore, I’ve known all along that the ERJ-175 would essentially need to be drawn from scratch and I wouldn’t be able to leverage most of my existing ERJ-190 parts. Disappointing, yes, but at least I knew what I was up against long before starting this project.

erj-175 line drawing template side view

A technical side profile line drawing of a Embraer 175 regional jet over a white background with and without the landing gear deployed

Anyway, I needed an illustration of a United Express ERJ-175 for one of my other projects so this template couldn’t wait any longer. To be completely honest, I’m really surprised how different it is compared to it’s larger brother (the 190). The only thing that remained unchanged was the fuselage sectioning – everything else had to be modified in some shape or form, with the wing being the largest difference. It’s completely different, and to me, looks really small for the size of the rest of the airplane. But I have to trust that the Embraer engineers know what they are doing!

One final thing that I’d like to mention is that I drew this illustration in a scale that doesn’t quite match my ERJ-190 drawing. All of my aircraft illustrations are 5000x3000px, and I prefer to use as much as the page as possible. Therefore, I had to scale this up a bit to fit the page, and the result of that is being not to scale with my 190 illustration. So yes – you will need to adjust the scale of this one if you plan to be accurate and use both templates side by side.

Custom airline livery by Norebbo.com
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Airline livery design isn’t something that I do very often, though I will admit it is something I’m really interested in and I want to do more of if I can ever find the time. There’s just so much that goes into creating a great livery, and getting it to “fit” and flow correctly on an aircraft is a lot more challenging than it sounds. Especially when it comes to applying the same design to different airplane types. What works on one airplane doesn’t always work on another, and I enjoy the challenge of creating one cohesive design that can work in a variety of different configurations.

Most of you probably don’t know this, but my primary clients have me doing mobile app design 99% of the time, and this “airplane stuff” is just considered a creative hobby for me. Any chance I get to do custom livery design is considered a treat, and if my schedule allows it, I’ll usually jump all over these kinds of projects as fast as I can. Late last week the stars aligned and I found myself with a small hole in my schedule and a new client who needed a few quick illustrations to promote a mobile app he was working on.

This particular client already had logos for me to use, so it was just a matter of applying them (in a creative way) to my Boeing 787-8 template. I wasn’t given much guidance other than keeping the logos large, clear, and easy to read, which was really important since these illustrations would be used as marketing material for promoting the app.

I immediately thought to use the shield logo as the basis of the livery, somehow leveraging the shapes and forms that made up the shield into something more abstract that would flow seamlessly horizontally from nose to tail. I needed to keep the design relatively simple though – after all, the client’s logos needed to be the primary focus and a busy livery would only get in the way.

Here are a few more variations:

boeing 787 custom livery design

Variation 2: Directly intersecting the logo on the tail

custom 787-8 livery design

Variation 3: Using simple arcs (mimicking the shield logo) to split the fuselage

custom 787-8 livery design

Variation 4: Alternating yellow and blue sweeps of color

If it weren’t so important to keep the Engio brand name as noticeable as possible, I definitely would have used color on the engines. I tried a couple variations with swoops of blue and yellow on the engine covers, and it looked pretty cool – but unfortunately, I thought it was a bit too distracting and it wasn’t the right thing to do to meet the objectives of this design. But that’s the way it goes sometimes. Compromises are just part of the design process.

allegiant air a319 over blue background
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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
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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!