Isometric Cutaway Infographic Walkthrough

Isometric Cutaway Infographic Tutorial

Ninian Carter has put together another a great step-by-step of his isometric illustration process, this time of a tomb dating back to the era of Alexander the Great. Like his isometric aircraft illustration, he makes great use of the Scale-Shear-Rotate technique. The Live Traced textures really bring this one to life!

The illustrated elements were then taken into Adobe Edge to add some animation and interactivity.

Thanks for sharing, Ninian!

Cutaways on Tumblr

Subaru Levorg Cutaway
CUTAWAYS on Tumblr is just that—and endlessly-scrolling gallery of automotive cutaways and ghosted illustrations. Some are new, some old, some good, some bad, but still quite an impressive collection. Sadly, most are missing credit to their respective creators.

Honda S2000 Cutaway Illustration

Honda Civic CVCC Cutaway Illustration

McLaren F1 Owner’s Manual

Mark Roberts, Design Operations Manager at McLaren, reflects on his technical illustration work for the owner’s manual for the revolutionary McLaren F1.

It’s really inspiring to see a company take it beyond technical documentation to something of a brand statement or a collector’s item. Something you’d put on a shelf or frame rather than leave in the glove box.

(via Clint Ford)

Adobe Updates Mobile App Lineup

Drawing made with Adobe Illustrator Line on iPad

Drawing made with Adobe Illustrator Line on iPad

At its Adobe MAX conference today, the company has announced new features for its iPhone and iPad app offering. Potentially of interest to tech illustrators are:

  • Illustrator Line Create vector sketches freehand or with the help of a selection of shape guides and axonometric, isometric, or two-point perspective grids. Work can be brought into Illustrator CC or Photoshop CC via Creative Cloud.  [Video]
  • Shape CC Auto-traces photos captured with your device’s camera, creating vector artwork for use in Photoshop CC, Illustrator CC or Illustrator Draw. [Video]
  • Color CC Generate color palettes from photos, then mix, edit and sync via Adobe Color service. [Video]

All apps are free, but require a registration for a free Creative Cloud membership.

Do you use mobile apps in your creative process? Does professional work require a desktop? Sound off in the comments!

Some Perspective on Perspective Drawing

What we see versus what we think we see

If you’re struggling to learn perspective drawing, or even if you use it every day but never thought about it too deeply, I suggest you read Live Perspective: A New Approach to Depth in Drawing over on TutsPlus.

It starts off with the fundamentals of sight, perception and experience, and goes on to tie together phenomenon such as distortion, parallax, peripheral vision, depth of field and the limits of linear perspective into a sort of unified idea about visually communicating three dimensional space.

Autodesk Sketchbook Pro 7

Sketchbook Pro has been around for almost 10 years and is popular amongst comic, character and concept artists, but its latest release has a toolset that might be of interest to technical illustrators. While it’s a pixel-based application, as opposed to vector, I think it could still be handy for sketching roughs and even looser-styled finals.

Perspective Guides

These guides let you quickly and intuitively lay down lines converging on one, two, three or even five vanishing points. The tool gives you constant feedback as to where your cursor is positioned in space, and when you draw, it constrains your line to the appropriate heading. This looks like it would be very useful in the planning stages of an illustration, enabling you to quickly sketch in a variety perspectives.

Ruler & French Curves

The Ruler tool allows you to stroke a straight line in any direction. This works similar to Photoshop’s constrain modifier (Shift key) while using the Brush tool, but works in any direction. The French Curves shows an overlay of a variety of arcs and curves which can also be used to constrain a brush stroke. These tools would help add detail to a sketch once you’ve established the overall perspective.


Photoshop and Illustrator may have ellipse tools, but the one in Sketchbook Pro includes a minor axis guideline and displays the rotation and degree of the ellipse for added precision.

Everything Else

Other notable tools include the Symmetry mode that mirrors your drawing along a vertical and/or horizontal axis, Free Transform which is handy for distorting textures, patterns, shadows or repeating features into perspective, and Flipbook which enables frame-by-frame animation.

Sketchbook Pro is US $65, or via subscription for $25/year or $2.99/mo.

Mapbox – Design Beautiful Maps

Mapbox Sample Map

Mapbox enables you to easily design and use beautiful maps, selecting your own colors, typography, imagery, textures and line qualities from their vast and flexible toolbox. Then you can add points of interest and data from Pinterest, Foursquare, Github, spreadsheets and more.

This looks like it would be great for everything from an on-brand locator map to some serious big-data number crunching.

Hat tip to Davvi for the suggestion!

Embrace the Future

Cannot Predict Now

If only we could look into the magic 8 ball and know in an instant what the future of technical illustration will be.  I know some have seen it develop from the strictly traditional execution of the past to the now multi-functional digital aspects of today.

Yesterday evening, I attended the graduate show for the Bachelor of Applied Arts in Illustration program held by the 2014 class of Sheridan College students, my alma mater school.  It’s interesting to reflect back on where I used to once be, starting out as a professional after completing my degree, with no idea what the future would hold.  To now be able to see how far a career can progress, just by getting out there and doing.

Doing what? Creating, designing, marketing a skill set, keeping current with ever-changing trends and always new and improving software programs, creating and never ceasing to ask questions about how better to visualize information not only from a technical standpoint, but from a perspective where any viewer just “gets it” in one look.

This led me to ponder how the educational institutions play into what’s really going on in our industry and how this shapes the future as we professionals know it.  Sheridan College in particular when I attended educated students in the Technical and Scientific Illustration stream with a focused vision on what types of illustrations you could be creating out in the world.  Now, this stream is no longer going to exist, as they move towards a more University style approach, allowing students to choose which courses they want to explore.  The courses that were previously within the niche of the technical and scientific stream will still be available, however as a student, you would not be getting the end-to-end experience as I once had to hone the skill set in this ever-evolving field.

We have to ask: Are the educational institutions shaping the technical illustration industry properly, if not at all? Have they looked into the Magic 8 ball and know the answer, or are they assuming they know what the future will hold?

I believe there is still a successful career to be had in Technical Illustration, as the work I do daily reflects the need that clients still have.  So, I should be jumping for joy that major competition is being cut out, right? I think not.  The biggest reason I love competition is that is makes me better at what I do.  It pushes me creatively to do more and go further.  So, the real loss to the industry would be a lack of competition to keep those of us that have been doing this for years “on our toes”.

On the other hand, I know that technology is a driving force to how clients hire, whether freelance or in-house and that the other side of the coin, as a professional you always have to be improving upon the foundation of skills that an initial education brought.  A continual growth in knowledge of software, now even more into 3D modeling and animation, web design or even design of info graphics will allow for a more well-rounded approach for dealing with any and all clients that come along, now or in the future.

Sometimes it’s a challenge to get a pulse on an industry when we work in our own little bubbles, more now with online media.  But some of the indication of that pulse has to come from the education that future Illustrators would be receiving.

Inevitably, from where I stand today and where I stood years ago when I graduated from Sheridan, I choose to embrace the future.  If we don’t, we’ll be left behind.  The future may change, but there will always be Technical Illustration.  It may just be executed differently down the road.

A big Congratulations! goes out to the 2014 class of Sheridan Illustration students.  Good luck and embrace your future!  If you are in the greater Toronto area and want to check out the up-and-coming talent of illustrators, the illustration show is on until Friday, April 11, 2014 at 9pm.  You can find more information on

What do you see where you live? Is there a large school nearby that teaches the Technical Illustration skill set if you were to get into the field? Or has a program that you knew previously existed been pushed to the wayside?

Have you been in the industry so long and have a different take on where things are headed?