All posts in: Aircraft Illustrations
MD-80 side view blank
Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on LinkedIn

Next up in my series of blank side view airliner templates is this McDonnell Douglas MD-80. Technically, this is also an MD-82, MD-83, and MD-88 because they all look the same from the outside – the only differences between them are technical and under the skin. So that means I just created three templates for the time it took to do one! :-) Seriously though, I researched all three aircraft rather thoroughly while doing this illustration, but I’d appreciate clarification from the experts out there as to whether or not they truly are identical. From all that I could gather, there are no obvious external differences.

md-80 line drawing

McDonnell Douglas MD-80 technical line drawing

You might also notice that just like my Embraer 120 Brasialia template, I decided to spend a bit more time on this and accentuate the shadows more than I normally do for these types of illustrations. Stronger shadows help to make the aircraft look more realistic, but I purposefully left off the gloss and reflections. That kind of stuff just gets in the way when adding color to these things if you aren’t working with the layered source files, and it’s always best to apply the bling after everything else is done. I can still remember my college viscom (visual communications) professor getting excited when he added the white gauche highlights to his demo renderings in class. I get that same feeling today when doing the same thing!

I’d also like to point out that I’m not completely finished with this MD-80 set. One particular aircraft that is pretty high on my to-do list is an American Airlines MD-83 in the bare metal livery. I can’t use the all-white template attached to this post, so that means that I’m going to have to create a bare metal version (just like I did for the DC-10 and 767-200). Those take a long time to create though, so I didn’t include it as part of this basic template set. But it is coming, and I’ll add it as an addendum to this post when complete.

I may also create another minor version of these with the cone tip at the rear of the fuselage (under the vertical stabilizer). These illustrations feature the more common “screwdriver” tail, but to make this set complete I’ll need to do the other version as well.

british airways 777 side view illustration
Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on LinkedIn

One of the most interesting things about being a visual designer is that it is very easy to track personal growth over the years. I learn something new with each illustration I create and it’s fun to look back and see how far I’ve come! This British Airways 777 illustration is a perfect example of that. Let me explain…

I was quite proud of my British Airways A380 illustration two years ago when I created it, but comparing that drawing with this 777 is a night and day comparison. The Union Jack colors on my A380 are dark and muddy, and some of the details on the aircraft itself are too bold and heavy (such as the part lines). I’ve since learned to exaggerate colors a bit, keep the shadows light and transparent, and tone town the little details as much as possible. This helps to make the illustration to look more like a photo rather than a drawing, and I feel like I’m making pretty good progress with this stuff. I’m far from an expert at airliner art, but it’s fun to keep learning and refining my craft.

The flip side of all this growth is that it makes me feel ashamed about some of my older work and it’s difficult for me to resist the urge to delete it all from this blog. Of course I’m not going to do that – being able to see (and analyze) a linear path of growth and learning is an essential part of being a successful illustrator. But it still doesn’t make me feel comfortable!

Anyway, creating this British Airways 777 was fun – and challenging. I didn’t realize it before doing this illustration, but there are several versions of the Union Jack flag on these BA 777’s. The shape and complexity of the wave is different, and the newer version is a bit more wavy with smoother highlights. This illustration, by the way, features the older version on aircraft G-YMMS. I’m surprised they even made that change at all because I’m willing to bet that most people wouldn’t even notice that kind of thing.

united express emb-120
Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on LinkedIn

As strange as it may sound, this United Express EMB-120 was the motivation for creating a template for this aircraft in the first place. I know it isn’t the most exciting thing that I’ve ever illustrated, but I needed this airline/aircraft combo for a personal side project that has been neglected badly as of late. It feels good to be scratching items off my to do list!

Introduced by Pentagram in 1998, this blue “tulip” livery was never a favorite of mine. The contrast between the upper and lower sections of the fuselage makes the aircraft look bottom-heavy, and I’ve always thought that they should have incorporated that dark color higher into the fuselage. But we all know how badly dark-painted aircraft fade just after a few years, so I guess it was a smart idea to keep the top portion white. Especially since the United livery that preceded this one was dark gray (commonly referred to as the “battleship gray” scheme), which was starting to look downright horrible on many aircraft in their fleet by the time this livery was unveiled. I think they learned their lesson on that one.

My favorite look on this little Embraer has to be the bare metal SkyWest and Comair liveries that seemed to be everywhere in the late 1990’s. I’m convinced that a livery featuring generous amounts of bare metal can make any airplane look good – even this Brasilia! These are complex machines after all, and exposed aluminum really emphasizes all the cool little details.

Anyway, that side project I mentioned above is in need of two more EMB-120 illustrations: a United Express version in the battleship gray livery, and the bare metal SkyWest scheme. I’m not sure how soon I’ll get to those but you can bet that I’ll post them here once I finish.

emb-120 blank template
Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on LinkedIn

I’m slowly chipping away at my goal of building a large collection of blank airliner templates, and this EMB-120 illustration is my first turboprop. I wasn’t particularly looking forward to creating it, mostly because I’m not a fan of smaller aircraft such as this, and the 120 is not a very nice airplane to fly on (IMHO). It’s loud, cramped, and it’s small size means that it gets bounced around a lot in rough air. Thankfully, I may never have to ride on one of these things again as they’ll be gone for good by the end of the year (at least here in the US).

Having said that, I actually enjoyed doing these illustrations and my admiration for the EMB-120 grew stronger by the time I was finished. There’s some pretty neat engineering going on where the wing meets the fuselage (I love complex surfaces like that), and the organic/twisting form of the prop is very well designed. Not bad for an aircraft that was designed in the early 1980’s.

mb-120 line drawing

A technical side profile line drawing of an Embraer 120 Brasilia over a white background with and without the landing gear deployed

One final thing I’d like to note about the white version of this blank template is that I got a little bit carried away and I may have put too much detail into it. That’s not really a good thing, as the entire premise of these templates is to present a basic representation of the airplane that can be enhanced later when a livery is applied to it. Too many shadows and reflections can actually make things more difficult when applying color later, so it’s best just to keep things simple. My 757-200 template is a perfect example of that. The shadows are light and transparent, and I didn’t apply any gloss to the surfaces. I should have had the same restraint with this Embraer – but I’m going to leave it for now to see how things go.

What do you think? Do you prefer these templates to be more or less detailed?

thai airways international a380 side view
Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on LinkedIn

It just occurred to me as I was going through my archives that I have a lot of airliner illustrations that I’ve created over the years which I never got around to uploading. Although I don’t create these side profile illustrations for the sole purpose of uploading to this blog, I do like to post as many as I can – after all, they don’t serve any purpose stashed away in my archives where nobody but me can see them.

This Thai Airways A380-800 is one of those “lost” illustrations. I created it shortly after I finished my A380-800 side view templates about two years ago, and being a new livery at the time, I remember thinking how striking this livery is on that big whale of an airplane. I’m especially anxious to apply it to the 787-8, but my to do list is long enough already, and there are a lot of other illustrations that need to be done ahead of that one.

Of all the airlines that fly the A380 today, I think that the Thai Airways version is the best looking of them all. The Lufthansa and British Airways illustrations I created just don’t seem to have that visual “pop” that I like, and I’m pretty sure the reason for liking this Thai version so much is that is that half of the airplane is painted bright purple. Combined with the gold accents in the logo, it’s a rather stunning combination – especially when viewed in bright sunlight. I can’t say the same for the more reserved (eh…stiff) liveries from LH and BA.

Anyway, I’ll be uploading more airliner art from my archives in the coming weeks. Some of those pieces aren’t as polished as my latest stuff, but it’s probably worth posting just so I can get my entire collection organized here on the blog.

blank white 757-200 illustration
Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on LinkedIn

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.

spirit airlines silver and gray pixel livery
Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on LinkedIn

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.

AA new colors 737-800
Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on LinkedIn

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
Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on LinkedIn

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
Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on LinkedIn

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!