In my last few posts, I have been writing about techniques I use when illustrating cars in Illustrator. I am still doing funky wagons/hatchbacks. My latest is a 1978 AMC Pacer Wagon. During the creation of this car, I took a screenshot every so often. I thought this would help illustrate the technique of drawing the main overall shape and then logically cutting it into smaller and smaller pieces that I mentioned in a previous post.
I really wanted to do a 1977 Pinto Cruising Wagon but could not find a high enough resolution photo to work from so I set my sights on an AMC Pacer. I finally found a large photo of a not just a Pacer but a Pacer Wagon with wood trim on Flickr.
Step 1: Place into Illustrator
Step 2: Trace the body of the car with the pen tool shown here in magenta. I find it easier to omit the wheels from this step as I will do the separately on their own layer(s). On this car, I did not include the roof rack in this step because it helped me create a smooth line for the contour of the roof. I can add the roof rack to the roof later. I always work to make my paths have as few points as possible. Fewer points on your paths make for smoother more flowing lines. I probably should have done that on the back bumper and the front spoiler.
Here it is in Outline Mode showing the 64 of anchor points:
Step 3: Start dividing this large shape into smaller shapes. I started with the front bumper and worked my way around the rest of the car in no particular order. I made an animated .gif from my screenshots showing the method to my madness.
Step 4: Add some color. For all my cars I have tried to limit the number of colors to 5 but for this car I used 6.(I know it looks like 7 but I consider one of the colors is the color of the paper this would be printed on.)
On the Aztek, I experimented with crosshatched lines in order to add tints and tones to the colors instead of using gradients. For this car, I created a huge concentric circle pattern and used it as a radial halftone to create tints and tones. The pattern is just a series of stroked circle shapes with space in between each circle. By changing the colors of the lines of the pattern and placing them over a solid color, you can create many more color combinations. In this example, I have turned 7 colors into 49. (I did not end up using all 49 combinations in my illustration.)
I filled each shape of my illustration with one of these 7 colors. In the shapes that use the halftone pattern, i add another fill to the shape using the Appearance Palette. For example, the shadow of the car is one shape that has two fills. One fill is black and the other fill is the gray pattern. To create another fill, open the Appearances Palette, make sure Fill is selected and click the New icon at the bottom of the palette. This will give you a new fill that is the same color as the original fill. All you then have to do is select this new fill and click the radial halftone pattern in your Swatches Palette.
Speaking of Patterns, they always behaved strangely for me. Sometimes they moved with the shape and sometimes they did not. In Illustrator Preferences ->General, I found a check box called Transform Pattern Tiles.
When you fill something with a pattern, Illustrator actually fills the entire document with that pattern but uses the object’s shape as a kind of clipping mask. So as you drag the filled object around the artboard, it’s like moving a window around … the pattern is stationary, just different parts of it are revealed as you move the clipping mask around. When you scale an object with the Scale or Free Transform tool, the pattern doesn’t scale. So if you would rather the pattern move and transform with the object, turn on Transform Pattern Tiles.
For this illustration, I made sure the pattern remained stationary so all the lines of the pattern lined up no matter what color they were. Here is detail of the center of the pattern starting just below the front tire. You can see how the lines line up through the shadow, tire, hubcap, and body of the car.
The entire pattern is revealed as a huge moon behind the car.
I created another animated .gif showing the process of me coloring the car.
This illustration was a lot of fun. I learned a lot and can’t wait to get started on the next one.