Illustrator CS5 – Perspective Grid

Adobe Illustrator CS5 - Perspective Grid

Adobe Illustrator CS5 - Perspective Grid

It’s that time of the year when we’re blessed/cursed with another release of Adobe’s Creative Suite software and the inevitable question of whether or not to upgrade. For those of you teetering on the edge, here’s the push you may need to break out the credit card.

Brand new to  Illustrator CS5 is an embedded perspective grid and all the accompanying tools you’ll need to streamline your perspective drawing work flow. I was lucky to be part of the beta testing for this tool, along with fellow contributor Cody Walker, and I have to say I’m really pleased with how it turned out.

Anil Ahuja of Adobe has posted a tutorial that shows most of the features of the perspective grid. Have a look at it here. Check out the PDF at the bottom – it goes into more detail regarding how the tools are used. A sample of the file is there as well, but you’ll need a copy of CS5 to open it.

The grids come in default one-point, two-point and three-point perspectives, but you can tweak everything – vanishing points, origin, grid size, the height of the horizon and much more. When the grid is active, the shape tools all conform to a plane (chosen by you with the 1, 2 and 3 keys). Once objects are on the grid they can be copied and moved perpendicularly through the space as well.

However, for me the true power of this tools comes from the ability to transfer flat orthographic drawings directly to the grid. The only drawback is that raster images are not supported – only vector shapes can be applied to the grid.

The new tools will not obsolete or undermine our abilities as technical illustrators. Rather, as Anil states:

“…please understand that Perspective Drawing in Adobe Illustrator CS5 is NOT a 3-D environment. It is an extension of traditional perspective drawing technique. An artist will have a capability to define a perspective grid (one-point, two-point or three point), define a relative scale, move the grid planes and draw objects directly in perspective or attach flat art onto them by dragging with the new Perspective Selection tool.”

Also, all the old quirks of working with a grid are still there – so don’t throw out your techie toolkit just yet!

I highly recommend downloading and trying out the new version of Adobe Illustrator cs5. A 30-day trial is available on Adobe’s site.

Home Appliance Energy Use – Infographics

GE: Home Appliance Energy Use

GE: Home Appliance Energy Use

General Electric has posted an interesting infographic that illustrates how much energy certain home appliances use. Leafing through the interactive site yields all sorts of information that the typical consumer may be unaware of.

It’s a good example of an infographic that cleanly communicates a complex and obscure issue – in fact, it’s so simple that I found myself mystified as to why I hadn’t seen something like it sooner. Enigmatic concepts like kilowatt hours can be hard to describe, but putting them into a real world context can firmly solidify their meaning in the audience’s mind.

What might be the most interesting bit of information is that a coffee maker requires roughly an equal amount of energy as a new washing machine…

You can check it out on GE’s site here.

Auto Show Eyecandy

Most people go to auto shows to see the latest bunch of cars they’ll never be able to afford. I go for things like this:

Bugatti Veyron - Máté Petrány

Bugatti Veyron - Máté Petrány

That’s a Bugatti Veyron stripped of it’s panels, and displayed in all it’s glory.

To me, displays like this are the best part of auto shows: the exploded and animated engine, the gutted drive train, the new Mustang that’s been cut in half  so that you can walk between it.  Seeing into everyday objects and learning how they work has always fascinated me.

I’ve also found that auto shows are a great opportunity for photo reference. Not only may you find a gem like this, but you can also observe all the various textures on the car under ideal lighting conditions.

You can see the rest of the pictures over at Jalopnik, here.

Exploded Photography by Adam Voorhes

Adam Voorhes - Exploded phone

Adam Voorhes - Exploded phone

Adam Voorhes has an interesting photo set on his portfolio website. He’s taken some everyday (and a few not-so-everyday) items, disassembled them, and arranged them like exploded drawings.

You can find the rest of the images on his site, here.

Alan and Beau Daniels

Oasis of the Seas - Alan and Beau Daniels

Oasis of the Seas - Alan and Beau Daniels

It’s always good to hear that working technical illustrators are keeping busy, and even though they’ve been neck deep in work, Alan and Beau Daniels were able to submit this questionnaire to me. You can check out their site here at

At what point did you guys become involved with drawing? Both recreational and professional; try to give me the who, when, where, and hows…

I have drawn for as long as I can remember, professionally I started to make a living with the Young Artist agency in London, mostly science fiction illustration. They had tremendous publishing contacts, but no one would give me a break in England until I got the cover of Anarchistic colossus, an American publisher took a chance with me and that helped with the English publishers. There was a lot of work commercially and I was still able to pursue the fine art side. Beau was and is really a science major and business person, the passion for Beau is in chasing the job and managing the process, this works very well for us.

NPCA Poster - Alan and Beau Daniels

NPCA Poster - Alan and Beau Daniels

What would you consider to be your first BIG GIG as an artist? That is to say, what piece or body of work got your foot in the door of Illustration? Who was involved? What happened after that?

Big break, moving to Los Angeles to work on Blade Runner.  There were a large number of illustrators brought over from the Young Artists agency, to work on the film; they had a connection with Ridley Scott from his commercial filming. It was not an easy time working for the Ladd Company and all the other English artists eventually stopped working for them and returned to England. We had already made the commitment to stay, but if we had had the money in the first year we would have returned also. Working for the movie industry you are at the mercy of too many egos, they had the ability to twist you around. But, this was probably the best thing that happened to us work wise. We made lots of contacts, built our credibility and worked out which field of illustration would suite both of our work habits.

Did you guys have a mentor/s? Who were they?

Neither of us have had mentors, but we have been lucky in meeting people who have helped our careers. One collector of my fine art work, on finding out that we were moving to the USA. bought our entire collection of commercial artwork from us, it helped in the expense of moving. He ran Museum Gallery and was  a coin merchant in London, and a bit of a philanthropist. A very good man, who we are still in contact with today.

Atlanta Art Building - Alan and Beau Daniels

Atlanta Art Building - Alan and Beau Daniels

What did school do for you? (I know that sounds naive, but some say school did not give them much, others say a lot, whats your take). Any particular instructors, classes or groups that propelled you into doing Illustration professionally?

School taught me self-discipline and motivation. Again I was lucky at school, the teachers we had were David Hockney, Roland Piche, David Hall, Phillip Glass, Billy Apple, it was a very progressive college that believed in developing skills not only in your chosen field but also survival skills for the work environment.

Any regrets? If you could go back and do anything differently what would you do?

None at all.

How did you and your wife go about ‘selling/marketing yourselves’? How do you continue to do so?

Beau does the marketing, we have advertised in Workbook, Graphic Artist Guild Book, and Medical artists Book for many years. This form of advertising is being phased out as we get most of our work through our web sites. We have about twenty sites The reason for so many web sites was to narrow them down in content so that they are more specific, e.g. — Essentially a simple teaser site to get people to go to the site, but also a way of covering a lot more ground on the web.

Ghosted Car - Alan and Beau Daniels

Ghosted Car - Alan and Beau Daniels

On a personal note…. what is the philosophy behind your craft and work? Are there any deep reasons for why+what you do? Or is it just to pay the bills? What is your philosophy on the ART world in general?

We always do the best work we can; even if as sometimes happens you have underestimated the complexity of the illustration. Sometimes from your own fault, sometimes just misunderstanding and sometimes the client not quite telling the truth at the onset. The latter reason is easier to rectify in that we will ask for a budget increase if we have not been given correct information up front. Once you have committed to a job, the money no longer matters. Try to get something creative wise out of every job you do, that can be difficult!  Attitude towards the illustration business is changing, we are finding more and more agency contracts to be unacceptable in their demands, Copyright ownership, work for hire etc. we will not work under either of those conditions, and fight strongly for artists’ rights to their work.  I will always draw whether or not I get paid for it, but what I draw, that would be different. Having been on both sides, working commercial illustration and trying to produce fine art. There is now so little difference, fine art through the marketing process has attached itself to the commercial realm. I dislike intensely when the fine art “world” criticizes us for being commercial illustrators. They really don’t like the fact they can’t control you because the commercial work has given us financial freedom.

Design Drawing by Francis Ching

D. K. Ching - Design Drawing

Francis D. K. Ching - Design Drawing

Basic drawing techniques are an essential part of the technical illustrator’s skill toolbox. Design Drawing by Francis D.K. Ching proves to be an invaluable resource; whether it be for perspective drawing, isometrics, or orthographics. It offers a wide range of lessons that slowly allow you to build upon your skills, starting with the theory behind representing three dimensional objects on a two dimensional surface.

As an all-encompassing drawing resource goes, this book has it all. It covers the details of perspective drawing right from the planning stage, explaining how to best represent your object, what angle to choose, how to draw from plan drawings, and so on. Even if you already have a good handle on drawing in perspective, this book still comes in handy as a quick go-to book for those times you get stuck.

Concept Ships

Dr. Wong - Over Planet

Dr. Wong - Over Planet

If I could pinpoint one thing in my life that first sparked my interest  in technical illustration, I would have to say that it lay somewhere in designing ships. Planes, jets, spaceships, boats; I used to sit and draw them for hours.

So when I stumbled over this blog of nothing but concept and experimental ships, you can only imagine my enthusiasm. The image above is from one of the more recent posts; artists from all walks of life are exhibited here. Hit the links below for more.

Concept Ships Blog

Koshime – Dr. Wong’s blog

Exploring the 10th Dimension

Let’s dive right in with the heavy stuff, shall we?

I’ve always liked this simple animation as an example of what a good infographic should be. Clean and clear, it reinforces the the information visually, providing easy stepping stones that build to a ultimately complex idea.

And you know anything that can crunch theoretical physics into digestible pieces has done it’s job well.