Mr. Murdoch Design & Illustration

Graham Murdoch is the man behind MMDi. Although not strictly a technical illustrator, his 3D renderings of technology and futuristic subjects for clients like Popular Science, Wired UK, Maxim and Bloomberg Markets, should win the admiration of any techie. Graham was kind enough to answer a few questions for us:

How did you get your start in illustration?
My background is graphics and it’s still part of what I do today. Four years of college then ringing bells and following up leads. It feels a LOT busier today, there sure are a lot more cars on the road!

The tools of the day were Rotring pens (there’s still some visible ink in my finger from a 0.2 Rotring that was dropped on it about 30 years ago), CS10 artboard, cow gum, spray mount, 10A scalpel blades, gouache, frisk and a Devilbiss Aerograph (which I could never do anything more than gradients and splatters with). Caught the wave of desktop publishing at just the right time. First 3D package was Alias Sketch! (yep, it came with the exclamation mark), then Bryce, onto Lightwave 3D and now MODO (formely modo) which I’ve been using pretty much from 101.

Graham Murdoch - Railgun Scramjet

What’s your favorite subject matter or type of project?
One with time, I’m slow and need lots of it. The more there is the better things get. I’m pretty good at losing it too, though.

What’s your process on a typical project?
Understand what the brief is asking for, reference, more reference, distraction, avoidance, then work, work, work. Sketching, definitely, as a real quick way of laying things out and excersing some different muscles. Hardware has always been Mac-based, from the IIcx through to today’s 27” iMac. In this room there’s also a still operational G3 running OS9, a G4 Quicksilver and a dead G5 (nice job on the motherboard Apple!).

Graham Murdoch - Formula E

 The Formula E Car you did with Popular Science is amazing. What was that project like?
The project was a dream, I have to thank the fine people at Popular Science, particularly Todd Detwiler, for letting me run with that and giving the time it needed. Finding the car’s shell with decals as a purchaseable model was such a big time saver, it meant more attention could be put into the details. As the car was still in development there was next to no reference for the under the hood stuff, so the majority of that is just artistic license. The elements are there; batteries, motor, drive train etc. they just don’t look much like that on the real car.

Graham Murdoch - Formula E Detail

What advantages does working in 3D have over 2D?
The freedom of options and the ease with which they can be realised. Camera angles, materials, lighting, the whole virtual studio thing. Being able to get a 3D print of something you’ve just made, that’s a bit like the leap TV made from black and white to colour, for me. I really should be exploring that! The disadvantage is that there are so, so many options.

The people that did this stuff with pen, brush and board, o my, un-be-(insert expletive here)-lievable!!

Graham Murdoch - Driverless Car

What do you see for the future of the medium?
The expansion of 3D printing and definitely more motion. Total absorption by digital and virtual realities. Of course, we will be assimilated.

You can find Mr. Murdoch’s work on the MMDi website and Behance.

Scott Robertson’s Free Tutorial Fridays

Scott Robertson is a concept artist well known for his educational books, DVDs and workshops. Every Friday he posts a free video tutorial to his YouTube page. He covers a wide variety of topics including sketching, inking, marker rendering and Photoshop painting. What I like about his videos is that they’re not strictly technical, he’s really good at explaining the thinking and process behind everything he does.

General Motors Media Portal

Corvette Cutaway Illustration by David Kimble

Corvette Cutaway Illustration by David Kimble © Copyright General Motors

Davvi wrote in to tell me about this somewhat hidden collection of technical illustrations and photography of the Chevy Volt. Very cool stuff, hopefully that link doesn’t disappear!

From there I found my way to GM’s excellent media portal which provides official content and high resolution images for news and editorial outlets. Digging around in the photo section yielded some awesome finds like the huge David Kimble airbrushed cutaway illustration above. Try searching for illustration, cutaway, and rendering, you’ll love what you find!

Know of any other manufacturers with public media portals? Let us know in the comments!

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 http://www.richardchasemore.com/ or http://www.richardchasemore.com/flyingmachine/

Presentation Techniques by Dick Powell

Presentation Techniques by Dick Powell

Presentation Techniques by Dick Powell

The second of Marc Gellen‘s book recommendations is Presentation Techniques by Dick Powell, first published in 1985. Whereas Technical Illustration – Techniques and Applications was more of a textbook of tools and techniques, this book is a practical guide to accurately drawing and rendering for the purpose of communicating design ideas. While both books are reminders of how much illustration has changed in 20 years in terms of media and style, I think this book’s techniques are well presented and still relevant today.

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Mercedes-AMG Website

Mercedes-AMG

Mercedes-AMG’s Official Global Website is infused with a technical illustration aesthetic that underscores the company’s eighty-plus years of automotive design and innovation.

Mercedes-AMG

Mercedes-AMG

The Coolest Things Already Exist – Concept Art Inspiration

Concept art is  a very closely related profession to technical illustration. Concept artists are responsible for designing vehicles, props and environments mainly for the entertainment industry, including film, television and video games. These designs require a high degree of precision, and an amazing grasp of three-dimensionality since their designs will be manufactured either to scale, fullsize or in 3D. The designs often reference actual vehicles, objects or environments to imbue a sense of near-reality. In fact, a rule of thumb is 70% reality, 30% fantasy.

Soviet Ground-Effects Tank

Soviet Ground-Effects Tank

Sometimes, though, that formula can be 100% reality.

Pictured is a Soviet-built cold war era “ground effects” tank. These things were like proto-hovercraft. They would be pushed along by jet turbines and use airfoils to force a pocket of air underneath the craft. This would allow the vehicle to hover above water (and potentially land), move with very little friction — and as an added bonus, be undetectable by radar.

Soviet Ground-Effects Tank

Soviet Ground-Effects Tank

Where do you find inspiration for your concept designs? Let us know in the comments.

Source (via Boing Boing)

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