Martin Woodward

Martin Woodward - Jet Engine Martin Woodward - Engine Martin Woodward - Water Turbine

Martin Woodward - Eye Martin Woodward - Vein Repair

Martin Woodward, also known as  tecmedi, is a British technical & medical illustrator. He has been producing illustrations for publishing, manufacturing & advertising clients for over 20 years. His portfolio features a broad range of subjects as well as tutorials and a quite sensible style & pricing guide.

Richard Chasemore

Jango Fett

Traditionally painted cross-section of a space ship from Star Wars Episode II

There are many unique forms of technical illustration out there.  Some illustrators from time to time get to expand the realm of technical illustration by depicting not only what exists in our real world and what makes it work, but get the opportunity to reveal the inner workings of fictional vehicles and worlds.

Richard Chasemore has worked for various clients throughout the years producing detailed work and is well known for his works featured in DK publishing and Lucas Books’ Star Wars: Complete Cross Sections and Star Wars: Complete Locations.  I recently had the opportunity to ask him a few questions:

What is your background? What inspired/got you into the field of technical illustration?

I did a four year course in technical illustration at Bournemouth and Poole College of Art and Design.  I came across the course quite by accident when I jumped on a school bus that took me to the Art College and when I saw the technical illustration department I just said to myself that’s what I want to do.

How did you start working for DK publishing? What were some of the projects that you did for them?

I was working on the See Inside series of books for DK when Hans started work on the Star Wars Project and I was brought in to help out.

What led you to produce the Star Wars Complete Locations and Complete Cross Sections books as well as  later works for Indiana Jones?  What was it like working for Lucas?

The locations books were incredibly hard work, but great fun as was the Indiana Jones arts.  Everyone at Lucas Films were amazingly kind to us, letting Hans and I work in the art department alongside their amazing artists.  We did meet Mr. Lucas and he was a really nice guy.

What is your process like?

Starting with very simple pencil works, building up to a complicated finished pencil which is then inked and painted in gouache.

What was your favorite thing you’ve worked on or best experience you’ve had so far as a technical illustrator?

I am working on Incredible Cross Sections Clone Wars at the moment which is all done in 3D and is looking amazing.

Any advice to technical illustrators just starting out?

Just keep working, day and night!

Richard’s work can be found at RichardChasemore.co.uk

Harry Campbell’s Technical Inspirations

© Harry Campbell

© Harry Campbell

The work of award winning editorial illustrator Harry Campbell is infused with a technical illustration aesthetic. A nod to the highly complex and industrialized world we live in, he makes use of bold structural lineart, axonometric drawing systems, parts explosions, and cutaways to communicate ideas.

For his latest work for The Wall Street Journal, he shares a bit about his process and inspiration:

[…] Just in case anybody is wondering about whether my mechanical objects are traced or taken from other drawings. Generally not, I just start drawing. I do look at reference like vaccum tubes, things like that. During this project I was thinking I need to start gathering a bin of junk to pull from. I do love exploded views of ordinary objects. Here’s one of my favorites.

Harry Campbell's Inspiration

Harry Campbell's Inspiration

See more of Mr. Campbell’s work on Drawger or his rep, Gerald & Cullen Rapp.

Jameson Simpson

Illustrator Jameson Simpson creates colourful lineart illustrations for a broad range of magazines and advertising clients. When appropriate, he infuses humour into his instructional style which makes for a witty, more engaging image.

Jameson Simpson - Clover

Tell us a little about yourself. What’s your background?
I’m currently living in Grass Valley, California. I tend to move a lot. I’ve been here 2 years. I never technically studied Illustration but I did study fine art and both my parents were artists so I grew up with that. I painted professionally for a couple of years before transitioning to Illustration. I’ve been Illustrating for maybe 12 year now.

What’s your work situation? Do you have an agent or are you self-represented?
I’m a freelancer. I have no agent. I’ve considered it a couple times but it always ends up feeling like it’s going to be limiting.

Software of choice?
Adobe Illustrator

Jameson Simpson - Rigamorole

Favourite clients or types of project? Subject matter?
I like larger projects I can sink my teeth into. Agency projects tend to be more like that. Humor is very good also. Because of the nature of Infographics, things can get a bit dry at times. Anything with a bit of lightness and humor poking fun at the genre is good with me, especially when I’m given free reign to throw in a little of the bizarre.

Jameson Simpson - Rigamorole

Jameson Simpson - Rigamorole

Any advice for illustrators just starting out?
Advice? Hm. My experience was that putting together a really nice promo card or promotional package is a good start. Then just put yourself out and see what happens. I’ve seen in myself and others in the field that it can be an overwhelming task promoting oneself. In the end though, it’s preconceptions that make things complicated for us. Better to be a man or woman of action and just throw oneself into it (both the work and the promotion) and magic can happen. I always loved that quote by Goethe (which may or may not historically be his words, nevertheless):

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness concerning all acts of initiative and creation. There is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans; that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen events, meetings and material assistance which no one could have dreamed would have come their way. Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now!”

Jameson Simpson - Military

All images © Jameson Simpson. You can find his work at http://www.jamesonsimpson.com/

Critique Request!

Steven Howards writes in….

This is my portfolio link, http://www.swhowardillustration.blogspot.com

I’ve been studying illustration at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco and have only recently developed a desire to pursue technical illustration. I know there is much that I need to do and work on, but any comments, critiques, and help is very much appreciated!

Here’s my critique, you do very nice work, keep drawing your butt off. If a chump like me can make it as a Technical Illustrator you surely can. One suggestion, get yourself a real website with a quality domain name, not that blogspot business. If you want to go the free route here are some suggestions.

Thanks for sending that in.

Any advice for Steven?



Kevin Hulsey

Kevin Hulsey - Radiance of the Seas Cutaway Illustration

Radiance of the Seas Cutaway - Copyright © 2010 Kevin Hulsey Illustration, Inc. All rights reserved.

Kevin Hulsey - Radiance of the Sea Process

Radiance of the Sea Process - Copyright © 2010 Kevin Hulsey Illustration, Inc. All rights reserved.

“Any subject-matter is no more, or less, complicated than any other if you break it into small enough sections. A big, complex object like a car, plane or ship is just 30 or 40 small illustrations that happen to occupy the same space.”

The career of technical illustrator extraordinaire Kevin Hulsey is nothing short of prolific. His client list reads like a roll call of the world’s major transportation, technology, manufacturing and entertainment companies. His work has been recognized with numerous awards from Belding, Best in the West, Communication Arts Magazine, and the Art Directors Club Of Los Angeles. He began his trade with an airbrush in hand, then traded it in for a Wacom tablet and made the leap to digital media. And his website is an abundant source of inspiration, with illustrations of mind-boggling complexity and accuracy and myriad resources, articles and tutorials.

This all keeps Mr. Hulsey rather busy—unfortunately for us too busy for an interview. However, with his permission, I’ve collected some links to images, resources, and an interview he did with another site:

Kevin Hulsey - Pickup Truck Cutaway

Pickup Truck Cutaway - Copyright © 2010 Kevin Hulsey Illustration, Inc. All rights reserved.

Kevin Hulsey - Automobile Motor Illustration

Motor Illustration - Copyright © 2010 Kevin Hulsey Illustration, Inc. All rights reserved.

“Even after nearly thirty years, and thousands of illustrations, it is still fun to see your work on a billboard or in a magazine, particularly when you aren’t expecting it.”

Big thanks to Mr. Hulsey for sharing his time and work with us, and all the amazing resources on his site!

Update: Wacom case-study on Mr. Hulsey.

All images copyright © 2010 Kevin Hulsey Illustration, Inc. All rights reserved.

Bill Fehr

Bill Fehr - Equipment Cabinet

Bill Fehr is a technical illustration veteran, with 20 years experience in the field. In this interview, we discuss the technical skills, the ongoing learning of new software and technologies, and the exploration of new business models necessary for a sustainable career in illustration.

What is your background? How did you get into technical illustration?
I have worked and lived in St. Louis my whole life. I graduated in 1982 with an Associate in Applied Science degree in Technical Illustration from Meramec Community College here in St. Louis. I later went back and got my Bachelors in Business Management.

Since I was in High School I knew that I wanted to become a technical illustrator. That idea came to me when I was in drafting class and in the text book we were using was a description of what a technical illustrator does. It was accompanied by a photo of a guy using an airbrush to create a concept rendering of a car. That was it for me.

I was lucky enough to land a job as a technical illustrator before I graduated with my illustration degree. This was in the 80’s mind you so there were no computers. Everything was hand drawn. I was lucky enough back then to work for a small company where I had to learned to wear many hats. It was there that I learned to spec type, create photostats, airbrush, knockout backgrounds in photos, take photos, and paste up documents by hand.

In the eighties we didn’t have the advantages we have today of tracing digital photos or importing CAD data. Illustrations were created by extracting dimensions from blue prints or measuring actual parts. We would draw out the illustration in pencil first on a sheet of velum. We would then lay over that a sheet of mylar and “ink” the illustration using technical pens and templates. Inking was an art all by itself and one that I still miss to this day.

I have seen many changes over the 20-plus years that I have been doing this. The one thing that has never changed is the need for visual communication. The only difference between then and now is how it is created and how it is delivered.

How do you work? Employed, freelance or somewhere in between?
Currently I am employed by American Power Conversion as a technical writing manager. Our department creates installation, operation, maintenance, and service documents, just to name a few.  In the evenings and weekend creating stock illustrations and photographs. I do very little freelance work. It requires much more time than I am willing to give these days.

What’s your favorite kind of project?
I still find black and white line art to be the most fun. Though at first it seems like it would be the easiest I find the opposite can to be true. You don’t have color, transparency, or animation to get you out of tough situations. All that you have to use to communicate is a black line. What you do with that line, now that is what makes all the difference.  To me it’s very Zen-like.

Bill Fehr - Parts Identification

Any advice for technical illustrators just starting out?
Experience with software is secondary to technical knowledge. Anyone can learn software. The ones that can get themselves out of tough situations without using software in as a crutch are the ones that I respect the most. That’s not to say the you don’t need to know how to use Illustrator, or CorelDRAW, or whatever. In fact, the better you know the software the better you can illustrate because the software is not “getting in your way.” I’m just saying that you shouldn’t rely on the software to replace technical knowledge. There were many times where I had to rely on my technical training to get me through projects that had no reference photos or CAD data. All I had was a rough prototype and some napkin sketches.

Bill Fehr - Syringe

What is your software of choice?
Everyone has their favorite software. This is usually the software that they have used the most and are most familiar with. For many years I have used CorelDRAW exclusively.  Once I started getting into stock illustration however I started to migrate over to Adobe Illustrator because stock agencies require an Illustrator version 8 compatible EPS file. It was much easier to make the transition to AI than it was to go through the process of exporting Draw files over to Illustrator, make correction, then export to EPS. I also moved to an iMac recently so that drove my decision to move Illustrator as well.

I have used a few vector illustrations packages over the years, CorelDRAW, Corel Designer, Xara Xtreme, IsoDraw, Deneba Canvas, and Adobe Illustrator. I also have used Solid Edge, SoldWorks, AutoCad, Maya, 3D Studio Max, and Blender for 3D modeling and rendering work.

Most of my experience has been with CorelDRAW. It has, I believe, one of the best toolsets for technical black and white line art. It allows you to draw with much more precision and at a higher rate of speed than other programs. I have also created a custom technical illustration toolbar that I use within DRAW which helps me get through an illustration pretty fast.  I also like that the overall file size is small. CorelDRAW is great for those just starting out because it is inexpensive.

The downside to CorelDRAW is that it is a bit buggy and will crash at the drop of a hat. I have learned to save versions of the file that I am working on just in case of such a crash. CorelDRAW does create backup files and crash recovery files but they are not always usable.

Bill Fehr - Padlock

You sell stock illustration via iStockPhoto, Shutterstock and Dreamstime. What has your experience been with this?
I love the microstock business. It’s kind of the best of both worlds. On one hand I can create what I want when I want and still get paid. Of course the more your work aligns with the needs of the customers the more money you will make.

The stock photography and illustration business can be tough to define. What is going on is your trying to guess what somebody might need. You want to create images that can be incorporated into design pieces, film, advertising, mailers, etc. You can try to communicate concepts or ideas like space travel or a health care. It can be fun and challenging.

I think creating stock images fits my personality and lifestyle better than doing freelance work. I am under no pressure and I can work whenever I want. I have done my share of freelance and I don’t care for having to find the jobs during the day then working evenings, weekends and holidays to get it done.

Bill’s technical illustration work can be found at TekART Technical Illustration, and his fine art and photography at BillFehr.com.

Troy Doolittle

Top Dog Illustration - Bell Helmet Cutaway

Top Dog Illustration - Bell Helmet Cutaway

Troy Doolittle is an award-winning illustrator by profession & outdoor adventurer at heart, and the artist behind Top Dog Illustration.

What is your background? How did you get into technical illustration?

I grew up in Iowa and for the first 8 years of my career I worked as an illustrator for a fairly large ad agency in Des Moines. I learned a ton there and it gave me a good sense of how to run a business. It also taught me how important the client/agency relationship is and what kind of pressure agencies are under to do good work and deliver on time. Missing a deadline is not an option and that discipline really helps me focus on my day-to-day work.

Top Dog Illustration - WTB Grips

Top Dog Illustration - WTB Grips

Are you a freelancer or in-house illustrator?

While I was employed at the ad agency I started doing a lot of freelance illustration work for companies in the area. Once it got to the point that it was interfering with my day job, I decided to strike out on my own and start TopDog Illustration. Within a couple of years I decided I needed a larger metropolitan area to feed off of so I moved to Mountain View, California. That’s also about the time I started marketing my work nationally in the source books and that really helped diversify my client list. Since then, I moved a few miles south to San Jose and continue to do work for clients on the east coast as well as here in the Bay Area.

What software do you use to create your work?

After I do sketches I render everything in Adobe Illustrator. For my high-end cutaways I’ll then import that work into Photoshop, piece-by-piece. This helps me create the layers I need for rendering shadows, texture and highlights.

What are your favorite types of projects?

Over the last several years the bicycle industry has become a very important part of my business. I’m also an avid cyclist so it’s a great opportunity for me to combine my passions. When I look back at my work and think about which projects turned out the best and why, it’s almost always work for the bike industry. I attribute this to a couple of things; their passion comes through over the phone when they talk about their products and they completely trust that I’ll deliver what they want. Very few clients in other industries exhibit that kind of confidence. When someone believes in your work, you believe it yourself and the end result is a better illustration that in turn helps their company sell more product.

Top Dog Illustration - Helmet Cutaway Process

Top Dog Illustration - Helmet Cutaway Process

Any advice for illustrators just starting out?

There are a lot of headwinds facing content creators these days and it can be tough for artist to see how their individual decisions impact their fellow illustrators. But every decision every artist makes collectively has a tremendous impact on our trade. The only way to have a say in the future of illustration is to retain the copyright to their work. This at least gives you control over your creative content and won’t cheapen the future value of everyone’s work.

Whenever I have to review a contract for a project, I ask myself this: Could this potentially limit me in whom I can do work for or what I can create? If the answer is yes, I don’t sign it. If the answer is no, I sign it. Because if you want to protect the long-term value of your creative work and your business, you can’t let companies dictate who you work for or what type of creative work you hope to do in the future. Retaining the authorship rights (copyright) to your work is the only way to protect that.

Troy’s portfolio can be found at TopDog Illustration, and further information about his process at his blog.

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 beaudaniels.com.

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. Cutaway-illustration.com — Essentially a simple teaser site to get people to go to the beaudaniels.com 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.

Curtis Sayers

Curtis Sayers - Lotus

Curtis Sayers – Lotus

Tell us about your background?
I live in Newton, which is just outside of Boston. I took art classes at Hofstra University but actually majored in English. After school I got interested in illustration and design while working at an ad agency, so I took a lot of classes at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan. I started working as a graphic designer for high-tech companies about 15 years ago, and this allowed me to create technical illustration in-house and begin to build a portfolio. I decided to focus on illustration about five years ago and that’s the core part of my work now.

Are you a freelancer or in-house?
I freelance out of a home studio.

Software of choice?
I use Illustrator, Photoshop, and Luxology’s modo for 3d work.

Favorite clients/jobs?
Being an Air Force brat, I’ve enjoyed some military-themed projects for clients like Raytheon and Agility Logistics. I’ve also recently completed some projects in the renewable energy industry, which is very satisfying. Overall, clients that provide solid art direction but allow some freedom to create images that have marketing appeal are ideal.

Curtis Sayers - Tire Cutaway

Curtis Sayers – Tire Cutaway

Any advice for illustrators just starting out?
Always try to create your very best work. Of all the illustration disciplines, ours is perhaps the most demanding as far as accuracy is concerned, so be a perfectionist. Digital tools have allowed us to get lazy to some degree, so be methodical in your execution and scrutinize your work. The results will show for it.

When appropriate, use some creative license in how you approach a project to help it accomplish its communication goals. Sometimes people starting out are too rigid with how they execute an image and they don’t allow themselves to play with the subject matter and compose something that really resonates as a piece of art.

Curtis Sayers - House Wiring

Curtis Sayers – House Wiring

Curtis Sayers’ work can be found at Studio Sayers.