All posts in: Automotive Illustrations
audi R8 3d model maya
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Remember that 3d model of an Audi R8 that I started building in Maya two years ago? Don’t worry, I hardly remember many of the details myself (lol) but I’m happy to report that I’ve revived it from the dead and managed to get it wrapped up. The entire project started as a way for me to dive head first into the world of 3d modeling in Maya, and it even though I bailed on it early on I’ve still considered it a successful exercise. First of all, the work that I put into it way back then was the perfect introduction polygonal modeling and I was able to put the project aside feeling like I had a gained a very solid understanding of what it takes to build complex surfaces in Maya. I wasn’t an expert at that point (heck, I don’t even consider myself an expert now) but the knowledge I gained from that short stint of automotive modeling allowed me to jump into other Maya projects with ease.

But you know me – I feel uneasy when my pile of unfinished projects start backing up and I couldn’t resist the urge to pull this R8 out of my archives and finish what I started two years ago. The biggest reason for wanting to finish, I think, was the fact that cars are my biggest passion in life and I’ve always wanted to get into automotive design and modeling. And I’ve never built a complete 3d model of a car. So yeah – I just had to finish this, if only to say that I’ve built a car in 3d.

So, if you recall, here is where I left off in August of 2014:

Audi R8 3d wireframe

Audi R8 3d wireframe in progress

Audi R8 3d wireframe

Front 3/4 view

And here is the completed 3d model:

audi R8 3d model maya

Completed Audi R8 3d model in all white. Don’t look at it too closely…there are a ton of embarrassing panel gaps that would make a 1975 Lincoln look good in comparison!

Wireframe over the 3d model

Wireframe over the 3d model

audi r8 3d model wireframe

This is definitely not low-poly. I chose to model the tires instead of using texture maps, so that added a lot of complexity to this project.

audi R8 wireframe 3d model

One of my biggest mistakes was not taking the time to be sure that the polygon flow matched from panel to panel (compare the doors to the front and rear quarter panels). This resulted in a lot of messy transitions and weird panel gaps.

audi R8 wireframe 3d model

It may look decent at first glance, but there a ton of newbie mistakes here. Oh well – all I can do is to apply what I’ve learned to my next automotive 3d model!

Is it perfect? Absolutely not! The surfaces of the Audi R8 are generally simple and not overly complex, but there were a few sections that I really struggled with. The taillight area is a total disaster and not anywhere near accurate. Same goes for the headlights – no matter how many vertices I pushed and pulled, I just couldn’t get it to look smooth and accurate. This entire model is what I consider to be a “10-footer”, meaning that it looks okay from a distance of 10 feet or so, but things get gnarly when viewed up close.

Even though it’s quite rough around the edges and very amateurish in spots, it’s a relief to have it wrapped up and close enough to call “done”. Many of the flaws were from errors I made very early on in the modeling process that wouldn’t be able to be rectified without starting over from scratch. Could I have fixed many of the problem areas? You bet. But it would have taken a lot of time to do – time which I would rather spend working on my next automotive model instead of trying to polish this turd.

mercedes 300sl line art
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I was a car-drawing machine when I was 10 years old, and by the time I turned 18 I was getting pretty good at it – as a matter of fact, I even started college with the intention of becoming a car designer. My freshman year was all about cars, but I found the work that the product design students were doing to be really interesting – enough so that it ultimately persuaded me to change focus. Despite that change, my passion for cars has never fizzled over the years.

In mid 2011, I set a personal goal to get back to drawing cars (by hand) as much as possible. Automotive art can be a beautiful thing with varied pencil strokes, subtle gradients, and hard reflections – none of which can be captured so artistically in a computer-generated 3d rendering. It had been years since I had put pen to paper and actually created art, so the desire was strong to get back to the basics and learn how to draw all over again.

The good news is that I’ve been sticking with it, drawing and sketching cars between meetings and late at night. I’m still not anywhere as good as I want to be – but I’m pushing on knowing that it’s going to take years to master. In the meantime, I’ve decided to start posting some of this automotive art here on the blog.

First up is a vector line drawing of a Mercedes Benz 300sl – one of the most beautifully designed cars ever IMHO. Deciding to draw this out was a bit of a spontaneous thing, as I was just browsing a car forum one night and I saw that someone had posted a picture of this beautiful Mercedes. I just had to draw it!

Creating the line work for my car illustrations is actually the easy part for me. I start by sketching it out by hand (using SketchBook Pro), export it to Illustrator to do the vector line work, and then I bring that into Photoshop to render it. It’s the rendering part that I feel like I still suck at.

It ended up being a lot more sloppy than I would have preferred, but the only way I’m going to get better is to keep practicing. If you want the vector source file for the line drawing posted at the top of this post, you can get it by clicking here.