All posts tagged: airliner art
Southwest Airlines E190 drawing
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Have you heard the news? Well, it’s just a rumor at this point but there is speculation floating around the airline industry right now that Southwest Airlines is considering adding the Embraer 190 to it’s fleet. That’s pretty big news considering how they’ve been a Boeing 737 carrier since they launched back in the 1970’s. They did lease a few 727’s from Braniff for a few years, but other than that, Southwest has never operated another aircraft type.

I couldn’t resist creating an illustration of the E190 in the Southwest livery as soon as I heard this news. Of course this is the outgoing (old) livery, but since it’s a conceptual rendering anyway, I thought I’d do this one first since it’s my favorite of them all. I like the way this design flows nicely from the front of the aircraft to the rear, and it really grew on me over time. I didn’t care so much for the bold blue and red combination (with bright yellow and orange highlights) when it was first unveiled, but after seeing this design for so many years it almost became “normal” for me. It was definitely better than the original “mustard rocket” colors though – that livery was the worst of them all. But I will admit that now that some time has passed, it does have a sort of cool retro vibe to it that was lacking in the 1990’s. Back then, it was just downright ugly.

southwest e190 side view

Side profile illustration of a Southwest Airlines Embraer 190 regional jet over a white background with and without the landing gear deployed

Anyway, I believe the Embraer 190 will be a good fit for Southwest. It’s a smaller aircraft than the 737, and the lower seating capacity will allow them to enter (and augment) smaller markets that wouldn’t support the larger aircraft. Southwest has always been pretty good about serving the smaller and secondary markets that the larger legacy airlines choose to pass over, and having the ability to dig deeper into untapped (and profitable) routes is going to be necessary going forward. The E190 is a fine choice, and I also believe that the CS100 would be a viable option as well. But then again I’m not an airline executive, so what do I know?

Hope you like this quick conceptual rendering. It was fun to put together really quickly just for fun, but if Southwest does announce an order for E190’s you can be sure I’ll do another version in the latest livery. I may even do some special liveries too if I can ever find the time.

AeroMexico 787-8 side view rendering
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There hasn’t been much time for aircraft illustrations in my busy life over the past 6 weeks or so, but I have been tinkering here and there with some AeroMexico renderings for my travel blog whenever I could find spare time. I’m also trying to get Airbus A340 templates created, but those kind of technical drawings take a lot longer to do compared to these livery illustrations. And I fully admit that the livery illustrations are a million times more fun than the templates are – playing with graphics and color will always be much more interesting than drawing part lines on fuselages!

AeroMexico used to have a pretty cool livery. It was polished aluminum (just like the old American Airlines livery), and it looked downright awesome in bright sunlight. It probably pissed off other pilots every now and then due to how reflective that color scheme was, but it was a real looker for sure. But then the aircraft manufactures started building airplanes with non-metallic composite skin materials, which meant that all those beautiful polished-aluminum liveries of old had do go. You can’t polish carbon fiber, so the best the airlines could do was to start painting airplanes white. American Airlines is using silver paint instead of white at the moment, but to be honest, it looks like dull gray unless you see it in bright sunlight.

aeromexico 787 side view white background

Side profile illustration of an AeroMexico Boeing 787-8 over a blank white background with and without the landing gear deployed

The new livery that AeroMexico came up with is represented here on both the 787-8 and 737-700. I will give them credit for being creative with the curved two-tone blue tail section that blends into the white fuselage, but it seems as if they ran out of ideas (or budget) with that random red “stripe” on the forward section of the aircraft. That splash of color is nice – I think the red goes very nicely with the white and blue, but it simply doesn’t integrate with any other design element in a meaningful way. My experience as a designer tells me that it was likely added at the last minute by a non-designer executive who thought that “a little splash of red would be nice” even though there wasn’t enough money in the budget to add more paint to the airplanes. I can’t imagine that any designer, who after designing such a good looking tail section, thought that slapping that random swoopy red stripe to the forward section was a good idea.

AeroMexico 737-700 side view white background

Side profile illustration of an AeroMexico Boeing 737-752 over a blank background with and without the landing gear deployed

On a final note, I didn’t realize it until I made these illustrations that the engine covers are not painted blue on the 787. I assumed the liveries were the same across all AeroMexico aircraft, but I actually think I like the white engines better since it puts more emphasis on the tail section (and that ever important logo).

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!

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!

airbus a310 side view all white
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In my last post, I mentioned how much I like the look of a short and stubby aircraft. I wouldn’t go as far as to call it a weird fetish or anything (lol), but short and squat proportions help to exaggerate the impression of power and strength – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing for an airplane to convey. I don’t know about you, but I’m not about to step foot on any airplane that looks weak and flimsy. The Airbus A310 is a perfect example of an airplane that just looks tough.

Despite it’s tough outer appearance, I’ve always considered the Airbus A310 to be an oddball commercial airliner. It’s proportions are bordering on being somewhat cartoonish due to it’s extreme stubbiness, and I almost feel the urge to snicker whenever I see one. But then again, the A310 has always been a rare aircraft here in the US and I haven’t seen many in real life.

a310 side view line drawing

A technical side profile line drawing of an Airbus A310-300 over a white background with and without the landing gear deployed

Just so you know, adding this oddball to my side view airliner template collection was completely unplanned – I only created it because of a request I received from a reader pretty much right at the exact moment I was contemplating which airplane I should draw next. I couldn’t make up my mind, but the request sounded pretty desperate and I’m always happy to oblige provided I have the time. It hardly ever works that way with my busy schedule, but I’m glad I could fulfill this request in a (somewhat) timely manner.

Finally, I’d like to point out that comparing the visual differences between the A350-800 to this A310 has been interesting as I’ve been creating these illustrations. They are essentially the same class of airplanes, with nearly 30 years of technology separating the two. The fuselage of the A310 is almost boat-like in shape with it’s high nose and tail, while the A350 has a much lower belt line. The wings of the A350 are much more aggresively shaped compared to the A310, and I find it interesting how the vertical stabilizers vary greatly in size. The A310 vertical stabilizer is downright huge in comparison to it’s fuselage, while the A350 has opposite proportions.

Pretty neat stuff! If you’re interested in that sort of thing…

all white A350-800 side view
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One of the biggest unknowns in the commercial airline industry at the moment is whether or not Airbus will ever build an A350-800. Of course Airbus would probably look at you funny while proudly telling you “absolutely”, but the fact of the matter is that this shortened variant of the A350 family hasn’t received very many orders so far while the larger -900 and -1000 versions are selling like hotcakes. This is leading many industry experts (and nerds like me) to think that it doesn’t offer anything that the airlines need and it’ll never see the light of day.

From a design point of view, I like this shortened version the most. I’ve always been a fan of stubby wide body aircraft (such as the 767-200), mostly because it exaggerates the size of the engines and makes the entire airplane look tough and muscular. Tough and muscular is better than flimsy and weak, right?

Airbus A35-800 side view line drawing

A technical side profile line drawing of an Airbus A350-800 over a white background with and without the landing gear deployed

I started these illustrations two years ago right along with my A350-900 templates. I had to take a lot of educated guesses in terms of figuring out what it would really look like (it was just a concept at the time), so I put them on hold until more details were released from Airbus. Now that some time has passed and we have a bit more information on what this aircraft is going to look like, I thought it would be a good idea to get them wrapped up. No, these side view drawings aren’t perfect – after all, there hasn’t even been a prototype of this thing built yet so all I had to go by was a collection of 3d renderings and part drawings found on the internet. From what I can tell, this shortened A350 shares quite a bit with it’s bigger brothers so I don’t think I’m off by very much.

I’ll be sure to update these templates when (if) Airbus builds a real prototype. I’m sure there will be a lot more differences than what I’ve captured in these illustrations, but I figure these should be good enough for anyone who needs a clean side view illustration of an A350-800.

erj-190 blank side view template
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Embraer has come a really long way since the 120 Brasilia, and this ERJ-190 is nothing like those old turboprops from the 80’s. It’s everything those old airplanes weren’t: quiet, spacious, and dare I say it…comfortable! I’d also go as far as to say that the 190’s are much better looking airplanes, but that’s totally subjective so I’ll leave that up for you to decide.

These side view illustration templates represent the first in what I hope will be an entire series of Embraer regional jet illustrations. I was even planning on doing the E175 in conjunction with this 190, but I realized that the differences between the two are so great that it made more sense to focus on each one individually instead. I’m not sure yet if the E175 is the template I’m going to do next, but it’s certainly on my list of aircraft to draw.

erj-190 technical side drawing blueprint

A technical side profile line drawing of a Embraer 190 regional jet over a white background with and without the landing gear deployed

You might have noticed that I’m slowly refining my rendering technique on the all white versions of these illustrations. Back when I was doing the L-1011 artwork, I realized that the way I had been doing the fuselage shading up until that point wasn’t quite right. The linear gradient which I created to show the curvature of the fuselage was too abrupt as it wrapped over the top, which created a harsh “halo” shadow along that top edge. This is more prevalent in my earlier templates (such as the 737-800), and it I’ve been working on finding ways to smooth that out while keeping the shape and depth of the tube. It hasn’t been easy to find the right balance, but I think the softer shadows that I’m using now look much better and are a lot more realistic.

Anyway, we don’t see very many Embraer 190’s here on the west coast of the US, so up until now it hasn’t been an aircraft I’ve thought much about. However, a recent trip to the east coast (which included my first flight on one) made me realize that these are popular little airplanes that needed to be part of my overall template collection. Hopefully you find these illustrations useful!