white sukhoi ssj-100 side view

At first I thought this was something that I was embarrassed to admit, but now I think that I’m proud of the fact that before I created these SSJ-100 (Sukhoi Superjet) templates, I always thought that Sukhoi was a Japanese company. I’d be willing to bet that most people could admit that it is a very Japanese sounding name, so you can’t blast me too hard for thinking something like that. But why am I proud of this? Quite simply, its confirmation that I’m not as much of an airplane nerd as I thought I was! 😃 Not that being an airplane nerd is a bad thing – but I’ve always been a car guy and I have been feeling bad about neglecting my main hobby so much over the past few years. I love to draw cars (and the automotive industry in general), so it was a bit disconcerting that my aviation knowledge was slowly surpassing my knowledge of all things automotive.

So yeah. Sukhoi is a Russian company with a Japanese sounding name. I’m actually glad I received so many requests to illustrate this aircraft because it opened my eyes a bit to how large (and amazing) the Russian aerospace industry is. The Russians definitely know how to build airplanes, and a bit of research resulted in a long list of new aircraft I want to illustrate – starting with the Antonov 225. That thing is a beast!

Another thing I learned while doing this template of the SSJ-100 is the fact that Boeing was a consultant for the design and engineering phases of its development. I never would have expected that, simply because Russian aerospace technology is very advanced and I would think they would prefer to keep everything “in house” rather than seek the help of an American company. But that’s globalization for you!

sukhoi SSJ-100 line drawing

A technical side profile line drawing of a Sukhoi SSJ-100 Superjet over a white background with and without the landing gear deployed

Stylewise, the Superjet isn’t really pushing the envelope. To me, it looks like a less-aerodynamic Bombardier CS100 with small Rolls Royce Trent 700 engines, and that’s unfortunate because most commercial airliners are starting to look the same these days. I will give the Sukhoi designers credit for the really aggressive (and cool looking) windshield though – it’s not so impressive from a side view like this, but the shape is very pointy and sleek from the front view and unlike anything I’ve seen on a commercial aircraft before.

Unfortunately, the SSJ-100 isn’t so common here in the US yet (much like other Russian aircraft) so if you want a ride on one you’ll have to catch an Interjet flight out of Houston or Miami to Latin America. I’ll admit that I’m a wee bit tempted…

Airbus A330 white side view

I really wish that I could work on these side view airliner templates full time, because things would happen a whole heck of a lot faster than they are right now. I’m almost embarrassed that it has taken this long to create these A330-300 illustrations – after all, it’s basically an A330-200 that’s just a little bit longer. My apologies for dragging my feet on this one.

That’s not to say this was super easy and it only took me ten minutes to put together. The fact that the vertical stabilizers are different between the -200 and -300 made this a slightly more involved project than simply stretching the fuselage, and it did take a bit of time to make sure that I illustrated the differences correctly. Making matters worse was the fact that I realized that the vertical stabilizer on my original A330-200 illustrations wasn’t totally correct so I had to go back and update those as well. It wasn’t a big deal, and it actually felt very satisfying to have made those updates. Like I said – the more accurate these illustrations are the better. I still don’t recommend building actual airplanes from my drawings though. They aren’t that accurate.

The image at the top of this post is the all white version of the -300 with General Electric (GE) engines. Here is the wireframe line drawing for that model:

a330 ge engines wireframe

A330-300 line drawing with GE engines

Next up is the Rolls Royce Trent option. This is the version that the designer in me likes the least, as I just can’t seem to get over the fact that the long and thin shape of this powerplant looks out of place on a modern airliner. But the “Trent” name is super cool – I can’t put my finger on exactly what it is about it, but to me the name is powerful and fitting for a large aircraft engine.

a330-300 white side view rr engines

All white A330-300 with Rolls Royce engines

a330 RR engines wireframe

A330-300 line drawing with Rolls Royce engines

Last but not least, here is the A330-300 with Pratt & Whitney engines. The proportions of this powerplant look the best to me, and is perfectly matched (aesthetically) for a large airliner like this. She’s a good looking bird, for sure.

All white A330-300 pw engines

All white A330-300 with Pratt & Whitney engines

a330 pw engines wireframe

A330-300 line drawing with Pratt & Whitney engines

On a side note, I’m still planning on creating templates for the A330-200F. I’m also still working on gathering reference material for the next generation A330 (-800 and -900), but I haven’t been able to find much other than low resolution renderings from odd angles that don’t provide much detail. I’ll continue to keep looking though, because the A330 is one of my favorite commercial aircraft types at the moment and I’m looking forward to having a full set of templates covering the entire lineup.

A330 pratt & whitney engines side view

Finally. Here is my third and last template for the Airbus A330-200 series! Rounding out the set is this illustration with those big Pratt & Whitney engines looking good and hanging low under that large swept wing. I claimed that I liked the look of the GE CF6 engine the best on the A330, but I may have to retract that statement in favor of these PW4000’s instead. These are the largest-diameter engines currently available on the A330-200, so in my opinion, they are more in proportion with the fuselage (and overall size) of the aircraft. Note that these engines are the shortest of the three – but I don’t think that makes any difference. It’s the diameter that gives the impression of power and strength.

Now that I’ve completed the illustrations for all three engine options, the thing that surprised me the most is how different the connections are to the wing. The Rolls Royce Trent 700’s appear to be bolted right to that connection without much complexity, but both the CF6 and this PW4000 are actually blended into that structure in a way that I’ve never seen before on any other airliner. The Pratt & Whitney version is the most pronounced, as it looks to be seamlessly integrated into that wing connection without any hard breaks in the exterior surfaces. I can only imagine how long the designers and engineers spent refining this in the wind tunnel, but all I know is that it looks really great and it’s one of the most interesting things I’ve ever seen on any aircraft. Yes, I think it’s that cool!

a330-200 pratt & whitney line drawing

A technical side profile line drawing of an Airbus A330-200 with Pratt & Whitney engines over a white background with and without the landing gear deployed

It’s the discovery of these interesting little details which keep me interested and pushing forward with this side view airliner template project. I’ve learned so much about these airplanes since my first DC-10 illustration back in 2012, and it’s a lot of fun noticing new things that I never would have paid attention to before. There is a lot of work that goes into the design of these airplanes, and I’m certainly appreciating that fact with each new template that I create.

Now that my A330-200 set is complete, it’s time to move on to the stretched -300 variant. I just finished all three versions of that one (yes, the same three engines are options) and I’ll be posting those templates very soon. After that I think I’m going to tackle the A340, which makes sense since it shares so many components with the A330. My fingers are crossed that it’s going to be relatively simple and won’t require me to start from scratch. Using existing components will make things go much faster…

airbus a330 ge engines side view

This has been a long time coming, but I’ve finally decided to go ahead and finish out my Airbus A330-200 templates and create versions with the other two engine options. The first illustration I created way back in 2014 had the Rolls Royce Trent 700 engines, but I’ve been getting a lot of requests for the others lately and I don’t think it can wait any longer. So here it is: an updated version with the much fatter and tougher looking GE CF6 engine option.

I guess I never realized before how weird those Rolls Royce engines look on the A330. They are very cigar-like; long and lean, sort of like a scaled up version of the original Pratt & Whitney JT8D engines on the old 737-100 (which looked more like rockets than engines). But now that I’ve spent so long researching and illustrating this General Electric CF6 engine, it seems “normal” to me and I can’t help but to raise an eyebrow or two when looking at my original A330 RR drawing.

a330 line drawing ge engines side view

A technical side profile line drawing of an Airbus A330-200 with General Electric engines over a white background with and without the landing gear deployed

Another thing I like about this GE engine is the way that the exhaust protrudes out the back. It has a very aerodynamic look to it compared to the similar-shaped Pratt & Whitney engine option that I just finished as well (coming to norebbo.com soon), and I like the way that the entire structure is broken up into three parts. There’s the fat main section, a step down to the thinner mid-exhaust section, and finally the pointy exhaust tip protruding out the rear. It’s a good looking powerplant – the best looking by far on the A330 as far as I’m concerned.

From a styling and design point of view, my only gripe is the overall diameter. It was really hard for me not to take some artistic license as I was drawing this to increase the size of the engine a bit to make it look even tougher, but my desire to keep these templates as realistic as possible trumped that urge. This is why I’m looking forward to the A330 NEO (New Engine Option) so much – that airplane features much bigger engines, and you can bet I’m going to do a template of that one as soon as I can get my hands on some decent reference material. It’s going to make these A330-200’s look weak (and probably a little bit funny) in comparison!

Anyway, I’m going to upload a template of the -200 with Pratt & Whitney engines next. The longer -300 series is coming after that – with all three engine options of course.

white CS300 side view

As I promised two days ago, here is the Bombardier CS300 side view template. This is the stretched version of the CS100 that I recently uploaded, and it’s pretty much the same airplane except for a longer fuselage. Unfortunately, there is only one (ok, maybe two) flying prototypes of this aircraft in existence right now and it’s been very difficult to find decent reference material. Therefore, there are a few minor little details that I had to take an educated guess with – and it’s possible that I may have missed the mark completely. This is why I dislike creating templates of pre-production aircraft!

The biggest issue is the shape of the vertical stabilizer. The CS100 version has a rounded top edge, and according to the low-res 3d illustrations on bombardier.com, the vertical stabilizer of the CS300 should be the same. But that’s not what we are seeing on the flying prototypes of this longer airplane. Based on the real-life reference photos I’ve seen of the CS300, the vertical stabilizer features sharper top edge, and to me, it looks narrower overall. The official specs on the website state that both airplanes are identical in height so I’m not really sure what to think.

Unable to find anyone who could tell me which one is correct, I went back and forth for a bit before deciding to draw the vertical stabilizer as it is on the actual prototypes. This is mostly because I tend to believe that changing the shape of a major component such as this isn’t going to happen this close to it’s official release. I suppose it could happen, but for now I’m sticking with what I see. I’ll update these illustrations if necessary once we see production versions of the actual aircraft.

CS300 line drawing side view

A technical side profile line drawing of a Bombardier CS300 over a white background with and without the landing gear deployed

Now that I’ve got two variants of the CSeries illustrated, I’m having trouble deciding which one is my favorite. The smaller CS100 looks great with it’s stubby fuselage and massive engines, but there’s something really nice about this 300. It looks much leaner – and with those same large engines, I tend to think that it looks more athletic and strong. Looks are a very subjective thing, I know, but there’s no doubt that Bombarier hit it out of the park with the CSeries.

Rumor has it there will be an even longer variant called the CS500, but I’m going to hold off on that template until I see detailed renderings. An aerospace engineer I am not, so it would be a waste of time for me to guess what all the little details on that thing would look like!

CS100 side view CSeries

Despite how many aircraft illustrations I’ve posted over the last year or so, I’m not a complete nerd when it comes to commercial aviation. There is a lot about the industry that I don’t know, and I’m proud to say that much of that ignorance is by choice. Family, friends, other hobbies, and billable projects come first (and occupy most of my time), so staying up to date with the latest commercial aviation news usually only happens in the cracks in my day when I’m not doing anything else. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything I want…

This lack of focus has somehow (unfortunately) caused me to gloss over the Bombardier CSeries family of commercial airplanes. Of course I have heard a lot about them over the years, but I always seemed to skip over the press releases and endless discussion about them on airline forums such as airliners.net in favor of more interesting topics. Hey – regional jets aren’t very exciting to me especially when other (more significant) aircraft such as the A380, 747-8i, and A350 have been launched during the same time period.

Now that I’ve completed a side view blank template of the CS100, I’m disappointed that I haven’t been paying closer attention. This is an amazing little airplane! It’s sleek and elegant with eerily similar proportions to the Boeing 787, and it makes the ERJ-175 with its tiny engines and stubby fuselage look downright goofy in comparison. I know that the CS100 and the ERJ-175 aren’t direct competitors, but they will likely end up flying the same type of routes. In that regard, it’s always interesting to see how two different manufacturers approach a single problem from their own perspective.

CSeries CS100 line drawing

A technical side profile line drawing of a Bombardier CS100 regional jet over a white background with and without the landing gear deployed

Bombardier has certainly come a long way from the CRJ-200, and the CSeries looks to be light years ahead of that tiny little regional jet in terms of technology, passenger comfort, and design. My fingers are crossed that they can win some major orders for this airplane – things are a bit sluggish at the moment, but I’d love to see large numbers of these things flying around during my travels.

By the way, the CS100 is the baby of the CSeries family, and larger variants will be offered soon (beginning with the stretched -300 version, which I will upload a template for in the coming days). It’s massive engines and short fuselage make in an instant favorite of mine, for the same reasons why I like the A350-800 and 767-200 so much. Big engines on small airplanes always look great!

boeing 747-8F side view drawing

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 line drawing side view

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

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

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!