All posts tagged: 737-800
AA new colors 737-800

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.

While I can’t say that I’m a fan of Sun Country Airlines, I must say that they have one of the best liveries out there at the moment. While most other airlines tend to favor simple paint schemes with lots of white, Sun Country has bucked the trend and created a design that stands out in a crowd! Quite bold for a low cost airline such as this.

One interesting thing to note about their logo and corporate branding: there are two active versions of it (one for their aircraft and one for their marketing materials). At first glance, that big orange sun graphic with the “S” in the center looks the same on their website as it does on their aircraft. But they’re not the same! The aircraft version sports a different font for the S, as well as some minor tweaks to the sun rays around it. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize this until I recreated what I thought was their latest logo and tried to apply it to these side view illustrations. It wasn’t lining up like the pictures I was referencing, and it was a real head scratcher for sure. Then it hit me – I created the wrong logo!

Anyway, I like the way this illustration turned out. Compared to the Alaska Airlines 737 drawings I just created, I decided to go heavy on the blue (just as they have for their livery design). I love the way blue and orange works together.

If by some chance you’d like to use these illustrations on your blog or article, here is a version without the blue:

Sun Country 737-800

Two side view drawings of a Sun Country 737-800 over a white background

Alaska Airlines is one of my favorite air carriers, so I’ve been wanting to create a detailed side-view illustration of one of their 737-800’s for quite some time. The problem was that “Chester” (the Eskimo depicted on the vertical stabilizer) is very detailed and it was going to require a lot of time to draw it for myself and get it to look right. Considering how busy I’ve been lately, finding time was difficult. Also difficult was recreating the “Alaska” font on the forward fuselage. That’s a totally custom font so it would be necessary to recreate it from scratch.

But earlier this week I decided to sit down and get it done. I spent several hours a night over a span of three days to create the artwork, and then another night to apply that to my existing Boeing 737-800 template that I created a while ago. It was a lot of work, and I’m happy to say that it’s done!

For anyone who would like to use these side profile illustrations for their own blog, here is the same artwork as above without the background:

Alaska Airlines 737-800

Side view illustration of an Alaska Airlines 737-890 over a white background

QANTAS 737-800 illustrations

Well, you can chalk this one up into the “I thought it was going to be easy but it wasn’t” category. The current QANTAS livery is quite decieving, primarily because the main titles are in a typeface I can’t find, and the kangaroo was not so easy to replicate by hand. Other than that, it’s just a simple 2-color airline livery! Jeez, I spent much to long on this one and I am glad to be finsished with it. Recreating much of this livery by hand was not an easy task.

But overall, I’m really happy with the way it turned out. I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for QANTAS (they took me to Australia for my first long haul flight back in 1999), so that made it easier to keep plowing forward with this illustration when things got tough.

QANTAS 737-800 illustrations over white background

Here’s the same illustration over a plain white background

Buy full size airliner illustration

There is one thing that bothers me about this color scheme however, and that’s the way that the red color transitions from the vertical stabilizer to the fuselage of the aircraft. There is just something odd about the way that the front edge of the vertical stabilizer acts as the front edge of the color, and it creates somewhat of a broken transition as it moves down the side of the aircraft. This is especially evident on the 737-800, where the vertical stabilizer has a small (unpainted) extension protruding off the front. Leaving this element unpainted looks a bit unfinished to me.

But I understand why they did that, as this isn’t an issue on other aircraft types (due to the shapes of the vertical stabilizers). It’s just one of the sacrifices that need to be made when it’s impossible to come up with one solution that works for all scenarios.

Other than that, this is a sharp livery. I’m not a big fan of prominently white aircraft, but the strong colors and stylized kangaroo logo make it very appealing to me. Now I’m getting inspired to create a 747-400 illustration and put this livery on that. There’s just something not quite right about seeing the Qantas color scheme on a small aircraft like the 737-800. In my mind, the QANTAS brand is all about international long-haul (and large aircraft).

JAL boeing 737-800 drawing

I just came back from a trip to Japan, and I had a 6 hour layover at NRT/RJAA on my way back to the US. Most people would cringe at the thought of such a long layover, but I love that kind of stuff – especially at large airports such as Narita! I passed the time taking pictures, doing some reading, and casually wandering around the airport just people watching. For an aviation geek such as myself, I was happy as could be.

One thing I did notice during my time at NRT is the increase in the number of JAL 737-800′s, at least compared to my last visit over a year ago. Anyone familiar with Japan knows that the public transportation and railway system is excellent throughout most of the country, so there has historically been less need for frequent flights between cities. That seems to be changing now, as evident by the increase of these smaller 737-sized aircaft being used by most of the major Japanese airlines. ANA has a large fleet of 737′s too.

As far as airline liveries go, the current JAL color scheme is nice. I actually prefer the old “crane” logo, but this one is modern and clean, and reflective of the quality of service they provide. But that’s just hearsay (lol) – I’ve never actually flown Japan Airlines, but chances are we will get to try them next year when we try their new 787 service out of San Diego (SAN/KSAN) which starts in just a few weeks. I’m really looking forward to finally getting a non-stop flight from San Diego to Japan.

AA 737-800 drawing

Ok, here it is. The livery that I wanted to create the most, but was the most scared to try! Yep, the bare-metal American Airlines livery was a really difficult one to illustrate due to the fact that it’s basically a chrome tube with lots of variance in gloss and reflection. I’m not saying that I recreated it perfectly (it has it’s flaws), but I was happy to at least capture the spirit of the color scheme. It looks like shiny metal, right? I hope so.

The amazing thing to me is that this livery has been around since the 1960′s. Is there any other major airline livery that has lasted so long? It’s pretty interesting to think about, especially since airlines like Delta and United have gone through 3 different color schemes each in the past 15 years. Talk about an identity crisis!

AA 737-800 drawing white background

Here’s the same illustration over an all white background

Buy full size airliner illustration

It’ll be sad to see this American Airlines livery disappear, which will start happening next year when the 777-300 rolls out unveiling a new corporate identity. I think it’s time though – cheat-lines are oh-so 1970′s and AA needs desperately to shed it’s old and tired image and step into a new era of quality and service. The rumors are suggesting that the bare-metal look will not be a part of the new color scheme, mainly due to the fact that many modern airliners aren’t actually skinned with aluminum anymore. It’s not so easy to polish carbon fiber to a mirror-like finish!

Anyway, I create most of my airliner illustrations in Adobe illustrator with a few minor details added in with Photoshop. I would say the ratio is normally 90% Illustrator and 10% Photoshop, but this one was a little different. The metallic look was difficult to create entirely in Illustrator, so I did the best I could with it and moved over to Photoshop to polish it up (pun intended). The ratio of this particular illustration ended up to be more like 50/50 in order to get things looking right. But as I said, it’s not totally perfect. I’ll try again as I create new aircraft such as the Boeing 777.

Delta 737-800 side view white background

As a quick follow up to the KLM 737-800 illustration I just posted, here is a Delta Airlines version of it in the latest livery. Being that Delta is the airline that I fly most these days (by convenience – not necessarily preference), I thought it was only appropriate to draw it up. Especially since Delta 738′s are pretty much becoming as common as mud here in the US, and I’m finding myself on these things more and more on my travels in and out of SAN. 10 years ago the 757 was the DL workhorse out of San Diego, but now it appears that the torch is being handed off to the 737.

I started this illustration late at night, just before bedtime thinking that it would be very quick and easy to do. Wrong. To be fair, yes, it’s not that complicated. However, the wave on the belly of the aircraft that protrudes up the sides was a little bit difficult to get right – especially since I couldn’t find a decent reference photo of a true side-on profile with this livery with the gear doors open. I wasn’t exactly sure how much of the wave is visible in the front when the gear door is open, so what you see here is just my best guess. It’s stuff like this that makes these illustrations take a long time to create. And because of that, I don’t consider any of my illustrations to ever be complete. I have a list of things that I would like to fix and modify once I find proper reference material for, so it’s quite a lot of work.

One other thing I should note about this illustration is that it made me realize how much I dislike this current Delta livery. Introduced in 2007, it’s truly a step down from the “Wavy Gravy” livery it replaced. Normally this kind of stuff grows on me after time and I begin to like it, but I’m not getting any of that with this color scheme. I like the new widget logo. A lot, as a matter of fact. But the rest of the airplane is just so dull and white, void of any defining character that would make it memorable. You know what, just writing this is making me get inspired to create a fantasy livery for Delta. Now I just need to find the time to do it…

blue klm royal dutch airlines 737-800

It took a while, but I finally finished creating a template illustration of a Boeing 737-800. It took about two weeks of my spare time to draw and render it, with most of the time being spent pouring over photographs of real 737′s to make sure that I was creating the most accurate representation of it as I could. Let me tell ya…making airliner art is fun, but wow – it is time consuming! And the truth is that after all that time spent creating this illustration, I’m still not sure that I got all the details correct. That’s sort of a bummer, but there were just a few things I couldn’t find accurate reference photos of. Oh well – now I know what to take pictures of the next time I’m passing through Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport.

The first livery I created for this 737-800 illustration was KLM. I did this for two reasons: first, the color scheme was varied enough that it helped me fine-tune the shadows and reflections on the fuselage. Second, I just think it looks cool! Yeah, I really like that KLM blue, and it would be a shame if they ever depart from that. It’s a very refreshing color in a world overflowing with bland euro-white liveries. Oh – and ok, there is one more reason: the KLM livery is very simple to recreate, and this was a big plus after spending so much time drawing the airplane itself. I didn’t have much energy left to spend on a livery, but give me a few days of rest and recuperation and I’ll be ready to create a bunch more liveries for this.

I also debated whether or not I should create a nice background for this (like sky and clouds or something) or leave it just plain and white. I ultimately decided to leave it white because I think it allows other people to extract this image and put it on their own background if they want to.

So there you have it. Does anyone have any requests for the next 737-800 livery? I don’t have a lot of time to spare these days, but I’ll see what I can do.

737-800 side view all white

Right off the heels of my DC-10-30 blank template illustrations, I’m proud to say that I just finished blank templates of the Boeing 737-800! I was actually planning on doing the 777-200 next, but I’m currently working on an unrelated project where I need a drawing of a 737-800 – so there was a real need to make this set.

Just like that DC-10 set, I made a wireframe drawing and an all white version of this 738 – both with winglets. I’m going to hold off on doing a bare metal version for now, as I don’t need it and there are very few airlines these days with exposed-aluminum in their livery. Except for American Airlines – wow…they certainly have one of my favorite color schemes at the moment, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. Bare metal is a very difficult texture to recreate!

Technical line drawing

Technical line drawing

buy source file 737-800 airliner template

I’d also like to take a moment to mention that I’m actually learning quite a bit about aircraft design by creating these templates. In order to illustrate accurate representations of these aircraft, I have to pour over hundreds of photos and illustrations to make sure I’m getting everything as correct as possible. And the frustrating part is that there are still things in my drawings that aren’t totally accurate! Believe me, the perfectionist in me is not proud, so please don’t send me email reminding me about the little errors you spot. 🙂

August 16, 2014 Edit: I just finished up reworking this template to include a version with split scimitar winglets, so I thought I’d add it to this existing post instead of creating a new one. Here’s it is:

737-800 split scimitar winglets side view

All white version with split scimitar winglets

And here’s the line drawing version of the split-scimitar wing. This is the way the 737-800 was supposed look IMHO, as it looks killer with these aggressive winglets:

737-800 with split scimitar winglets blueprint

Wireframe line drawing of a 737-800 with split scimitar winglets

Also, we can’t forget about the version without winglets either. This is by far my least-favorite 737-800 of them all, as it looks downright naked without anything on the wingtips:

737-800 without winglets side view

2d side profile illustration of an all white Boeing 737-800 without winglets

737-800 without winglets blueprint

Wireframe line drawing of a 737-800 without winglets