All posts tagged: american airlines
American Airlines 757-200 side view

I’m not sure how many of you have been paying attention recently, but I’ve been doing a lot of organization and clean up to this blog over the past several months. Most of it involves removing old irrelevant content that has nothing to do with my core brand anymore (which happens to be aircraft illustrations and 3d rendering), so if you came here looking for generic low res background images and abstract vector illustrations, I’m sorry to tell you that they’ve been eliminated from the site and they’re never coming back!

Part of the organization and cleanup process involves redoing some of my old airliner art which isn’t quite up to my current standards of quality. Yeah, it’s hard for me to go back and look at some of my earlier work and see how sloppy and inexperienced I was when I first started. But that’s just it. I was inexperienced and therefore unable to produce quality of work that I do now. That doesn’t stop me from cringing every time I look at some of those older illustrations though, so I’ve been slowly redoing some of them one by one (such as this Emirates 777-200) if only to satisfy the annoying levels of perfectionism that I have sloshing around inside of me. It’s a ton of work, and I know my time is better spent creating new aircraft templates and livery illustrations. And that brings me to the purpose of this post…

It’s been exactly two years since I last posted an airline livery illustration, and as much fun as I had illustrating that Southwest airlines E190 concept, busy life got in the way and I haven’t posted any others since. I have been creating a lot of these highly polished airline illustrations over the past few years for my travel blog, but I just haven’t had the time to post them here to The good news is that all changes starting today. From this point forward, you were going to see a lot more of these type of illustrations posted here, just like I used to do several years ago. No more slacking!

So to kick things off, here is an illustration of one of my all-time favorite aircraft: the American Airlines 757–200, wearing the newest livery which was created by Future Brands several years ago. Those of you who have been following me for a while will know that this is not the first American Airlines livery that I have illustrated. This 737–800 in the old color scheme is one of my all-time favorites, and it just happens to be one of the illustrations that I completely revamped over the past several weeks. The first version of this one was not pretty, and trust me – you’re better off not knowing what that original version looked like.

American Airlines 757-200 side profile

American Airlines Boeing 757-2B7 over a white background

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There hasn’t been much love for this new version of the American Airlines brand in the airline and aviation community, but I’m going to go on record saying that I consider it to be one of the most brilliant airline livery designs ever created. Yes, really! I still think it would’ve looked better with polished aluminum instead of silver paint, but the way most aircraft are constructed now with composite materials, it’s just not going to happen. Normally I’m a fan of the progression of technology, but in this case it’s just downright unfortunate that we’ve reached a point where polished aluminum airplanes are all but dead. Total bummer.

Hope you like this illustration. There is lots more to come, and yes, don’t worry – that includes a bunch of new aircraft templates!

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!

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.

american airlines 767-200 artwork

I’m still taking a short break from building that 3d model of an R8, so I thought it would be fun to get back into doing some more airliner art. Jumping back and forth like this between 3d and 2d stuff like this is good for my brain, as it keeps me from becoming burned out from being focused on one thing for too long. Burn-out is definitely a problem for me – it tends to happen quite often if I don’t take the initiative to combat it (not doing any illustration work for a while or just switching projects is a good start).

Anyway, I’ve been wanting to do an illustration of an American Airlines 767-200 for a while now. For those of you who don’t follow the airline industry, the 767-200 has been a backbone of the American Airlines fleet for nearly 30 years, and the last one of them was retired earlier this year. They were old, tired, and in desperate need of replacement – but the aviation buff in me saw these old birds as one of the last of the flying classics. It was a real shame to see them go, especially since they were directly replaced by not-so-exciting Airbus A321 single-aisle aircraft.

Nostalgia aside, another reason for wanting to do this illustration was because of the complexity of the livery. I like a challenge, and creating a realistic-looking polished aluminum texture was not easy – I struggled with it for a long while before getting to a point where I was satisfied. Is it perfect? Hardly. There’s a lot about this illustration that I don’t like, and I’ve already got some ideas floating around in my brain about how I can do it better next time.

For the background, I created a simple silver texture and then placed a very large solid gray version of the American Airlines eagle logo on the right hand side to compliment the shape of the vertical stabilizer. It becomes more of an abstract element like this (as opposed to being identifiable as the AA eagle logo), but that’s why I thought it looked kind of cool.

AA 777-200 in the One World livery

It’s been about a year now since American Airlines introduced their new livery, and it’s been controversial to say the least. So controversial, in fact, that American Airlines recently asked their employees if it should stay or go. The results of that poll were close, but long story short – this color scheme is here to stay.

Personally, I really like this new design. It’s a modern take on an old classic, and I’m glad they took some risks to make a livery that stands out from the crowd. The tail art is busy but fresh, and it blends well with the new silver paint applied to the fuselage. The only issue I can see is that the new corporate logo they designed doesn’t seem to have any relationship to the tail art (at all). I don’t think that it necessarily has to, but a lot of people see that as a huge disconnect.

Anyway, I had fun creating these side-view illustrations of this One World livery Boeing 777-200/ER. I chose to do the One World livery instead of the standard AA version, being that it’s slightly more interesting and rare. And now that I’ve spent some time working on it, I’ll go as far to say that it’s one of my favorite airline liveries now – even more so than the Sun Country 737-800 I just illustrated. I’m a fan.

AA 777-200

Side view illustrations of a Boeing 777-200 with the American Airlines / One World livery over a white background

new american airlines livery on a boeing 777-200

Like it or not, this is the new look for American Airlines. Even though we all knew this was coming, I was actually at a loss for words when I first saw it. It was nothing like I thought it would be. I knew that the iconic polished aluminum fuselage was history, and that silver paint would be used instead. And I had a pretty good feeling that they would stick with a red, white, and blue color scheme. But the tail. That tail! I was hoping to see something a bit organic and flowing, but instead we got hard-edged and highly abstract American flag. The concept in and of itself is good – I like the idea of incorporating the flag into the livery. But I personally feel it’s too busy and not complimentary to the new logo (which, as a matter of fact, I love).

Now that this new livery has had a day or so to sink in, I thought it would be good to create an illustration of it on a Boeing 777-200LR (N773AN). This helps me to examine the livery on a nearly microscopic level, in much more detail than I ever could just by looking at a few low-res pics found on the internet. And you know what? I think American Airlines has got itself a winner here. Yes, now that I’ve had the chance to have a really deep look at it, I love the attention to detail – especially in the tail. I do still think it’s too busy and not playing well with the logo, but there are some beautiful gradients and textures in the tail that I didn’t notice until I did these illustrations.

The new American Airlines logo is the best part of this livery, and I think it’s a natural evolution of the classic “AA” eagle logo of today (er..yesterday). It’s unfortunate that they didn’t place it on the tail though, as the darn thing is in the shape of an aircraft vertical stabilizer for crying out loud. And since I’m talking about things that I would do different, don’t you think that some color on the engines and /or winglets would look sharp? I do.

Hey – I know it’s easy to be a critic, and even though I have a lot of bad things to say about this, I still think that Futurebrands did a great job. It’s not easy to take something as iconic as the 30+ year old American Airlines identity and give it a modern look. No matter what they did, they were undoubtedly going to tick some people off. But this shall pass, and this new livery will seem “normal” in no time at all.

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

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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.