All posts tagged: 787-8
AeroMexico 787-8 side view rendering

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

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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).

Custom airline livery by

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.

Retro United Airlines 787-8

Yesterday I created a mockup of a United Airlines 787 in the “rainbow” Saul Bass livery, but I wasn’t really happy with the way that the titles were placed. I thought they were a bit too small, but there wasn’t really anything I could do because of the way the cheat line was situated. However, since I posted that image, I learned that UA actually had a variation of this livery with larger titles – which was used primarily on the narrow body aircraft. The difference was that the cheat line was moved down on the fuselage so that the orange stripe ran through the windows (instead of the red stripe). I think this looks much better applied to the 787.

United 787-8 Saul Bass livery

Inspired by this recent rumor thread on, I was thought it would be really cool to mock up a preliminary illustration of a United Airlines 787-8 in the 1980′s Saul Bass livery. I was a bit skeptical at first, but after looking at it for a little bit, I’ve got to say that I’m really liking it. I really hope UA does this!

Creating these side-view drawings was fairly straight forward, but I did have a bit of difficulty placing the main United Airlines titles at the front section of the fuselage. The problem is that the Dreamliner’s windows are very high in the airframe, which pushes cheat-line colors really high as well. The orange stripe in the middle is historically where the windows have been positioned on other aircraft in the United Airlines fleet, so that left a very small vertical space for the main titles. I would have personally liked to make them larger, but there’s just no room to do so.

I’m really glad that airlines see the value in these retro liveries. While this Saul Bass United Airlines 787 is purely a rumor at this point, I really hope it becomes a reality. Die-hard 1980′s airline nerds like me would really like to see it!

One of my favorite airline color schemes flying around these days just happens to be the iconic blue and white LAN livery. Combine that with the sleek shape of the new Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner, and well…I like. Anyway, this particular illustration is the latest in my growing collection of stock airliner illustrations, and I’m happy to add it to the fleet. It’s a good lookin’ airplane, don’t you think?

The large “LAN” titles at the front of the fuselage balance out the color-heavy tail section of the aircraft very nicely, and it’s a nice lead-in to the two-tone sweep of blue that begins at the mid section of the aircraft and extends all the way to the tail. There are some other airlines which have a similar layout as this livery (UPS, for example) that doesn’t balance as well as LAN – mainly because the UPS titles are too small and become overpowered by the visual weight of the rear half.

Most of this illustration was created in Adobe Illustrator, and I finished it off in Photoshop for the finishing touches (subtle shadows, part line details, etc). My goal when I first started creating airliner art was to stay 100% vector-based – and that failed quickly as I discovered how inefficient Illustrator is when it comes to shadows and subtle gradients. Long live Photoshop!

UA 787 drawing

Sometimes I think that it’s a good thing that I create all these airliner illustrations. You see, prior to creating this artwork, the United 787 livery was probably my least favorite of the current special 787 color schemes.

United hasn’t really been winning very many points in the mind of this designer recently. First, they totally take the easy road and inherit the old Continental livery when the merger happened. They could have done something big there. Second, this special 787 livery seemed like such an afterthought and I was thinking that it didn’t go well with the existing livery at all (I still think it doesn’t but more on that in a second). So – two big visual identity “blunders” in the past two years didn’t sit well with this proud UA customer and professional visual designer.

But now that I’ve had the chance to sit down and draw this out for myself…I kinda like it. The gold stripe flows from the front of the aircraft very nicely from front to back, with really nice tension and weight. They did a really good job there. But (there’s always a “but”) why on earth didn’t they flow that gold ribbon into the tail? It wouldn’t have worked well with the current globe logo, but this livery was such a drastic change from the existing one anyway so I don’t know why they didn’t do anything with the tail. We may never know…

I’ve yet to see one of these United 787’s up close in real life, so maybe my feelings about the livery will further improve once I can see it in all it’s glory. I have seen two from a distance while at LAX a couple months ago, and they did look sharp. Let’s hope Boeing can get the current battery issues sorted out soon so we can see these things flying once again!

ANA 787 experimental livery illustration

You may or may not have noticed that I recently created some artwork of an ANA (All Nippon Airways) 787-8 in the 787 launch colors. That one is ANA’s special livery for all but two of their 787′s, both of which are wearing yet a another special livery. So I guess that would be called a “special special” livery? It makes my head hurt just thinking about it.

To make matters even more confusing is the livery depicted in the illustrations above. This is how Boeing originally painted these ANA 787′s before delivery. Since ANA was the launch customer for the type, Boeing had to do a lot of final testing before finally handing the keys over (figuratively, not literally) to ANA. These aircraft, while considered “experimental”, were ultimately delivered as brand new aircraft to the Japanese airline.

It’s basically a standard All Nippon Airways livery with a few special markings on the forward section of the fuselage aft of the forward boarding door. But still – no aircraft were delivered to the airline in these colors as they were modified/repainted into one of the two special liveries mentioned above.

Hopefully all of this makes sense. As I mentioned in that other ANA post, I’m going to try and create an illustration of that 3rd ANA 787 livery just so I have the complete set. Keep an eye out for that soon.

Air India 787-8 side view drawing

I was scratching my head trying to think of all the current Boeing 787 operators, and for some reason or another Air India didn’t even register in my brain. We’ve all heard plenty about every other airline operating this new airplane, but for some reason or another Air India just doesn’t get much mention in the news and the media. In light of that, I’ve decided to do an illustration of one of their new 787′s to help give them some of the attention they deserve.

I’ll come right out and say it: I give Air India props for doing something different than all the other airlines. I wouldn’t go as far to call this livery nice, but it is unique, and that gets a lot of respect in my mind. With that said, let me list out a bunch of things that I like and don’t like about this livery:


  • The orange red colors. Awesome, and very unique!
  • Air India titles in English on one side of the airplane, and in Hindi on the other.
  • The yellow “sun” graphic is nice. It adds a nice splash and style to an otherwise simple livery.


  • The way the red color of the tail “wraps” around the horizontal stabilizer. In and of itself, it’s a nice treatment. My problem with it is that all airplanes are built differently with wildly different dimensions, so it will look different depending on which aircraft it’s painted on. Is that really a smart thing to do when trying to build a consistent brand identity?
  • The red frames painted around each window. This adds a lot of unnecessary visual complexity IMHO.

I was surprised when Air India ordered 787′s to begin with, and I love seeing smaller airlines such as this with cutting-egde fleets. I’m sure they were betting on attracting customers who hadn’t normally considered flying with them before, and I think it worked – I suddenly have the urge to book them for a trip to India that I hadn’t even been planning…

ANA Boeing 787 illustration

Being that ANA was the launch customer for the Boeing 787, I thought it was important that I make an illustration of this airline and aircraft combination before I do anything else. If you’re paying attention, you know I made a Japan Airlines version as my first 787-8 illustration – it’s not like I’m trying to go in chronological order or anything, but I should have done the All Nippon Airways version first.

This particular ANA color scheme is one of two special liveries that ANA is using on it’s 787′s. It features very large ”787″ titles at the forward section of the fuselage, while the rest of the livery remains standard ANA. Not a bad way to represent their admiration of the aircraft, eh? The other special livery (used only on two aircraft I believe) is much more detailed and I do plan on making some illustrations of that one too. But for now, I just wanted to illustrate a version of this one as it will be applied to all new 787′s that ANA receives from here on out.

With that said, I tend to think that this blue and white livery (although very attractive) is a bit dated and not as bright as some of the other liveries we are seeing from competing airlines these days. I was actually getting a little frustrated as I was drawing it because it seemed so dark and unbalanced. I had to wonder if it was my drawing or just the way that the color scheme really looks – and based on all the photos I used as reference material, I’m going with the latter. These are dark and busy colors.

Japan Airlines Boeing 787-8 rendering

It’s been a long time coming, but I finally finished creating an illustration of a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner. This was the aircraft that I wanted to draw the most when I started creating airliner art last year, but the lack of good reference material held me back a bit. Well, I’m happy to say that I finally got to work on it over the past few weeks and I finished it up this past weekend.

Being a resident of San Diego, I thought it would only be fitting to create a Japan Airlines version of it for my first one, as JAL recently stared nonstop 787 service from Tokyo Narita (NRT/RJAA) to San Diego (SAN/KSAN). Of course it has been put on hold for a while due to the federally-mandated grounding of the aircraft due to the battery issues, and the route is currently being served with 777-200′s. But we will see the 787 back in San Diego soon enough and all of us here are quite happy about that.

Japan Airlines 787-8 side view

Side profile illustration of a Japan Airlines 787-8 over a white background with and without the landing gear deployed

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I’m still not sure what I think about this particular Japan Airlines livery. On one hand, I’m thrilled to death that they brought the Crane logo back – but on the other hand, could this livery be any more bland? There’s really nothing to it other than the logo and “Japan Airlines” titles applied to a completely white aircraft, and it sure doesn’t even look as if the designer who put this together spent very much time on it at all. Compare this to the tail of the recently-unvieled American Airlines livery, and you can see what I’m talking about. The designer in me thinks that there could have been so much more to this color scheme, even without going too heavy and bold.