Welcome to Issue 16
We are very pleased to talk to Syd Mead, THE visual futurist who has had a long-time love for automotive design. Besides his illustrations of cars, Mead has been recognised by the motion picture industry for his conceptual contributions to such movies as “Blade Runner,” “Aliens,” “Star Trek: The Motion Picture,” “Time Cop,” “Elysium” and “Tomorrowland.”. We are grateful for his example on approaching design and influencing how our future may look through some of his work.
Syd on the evolution of automobiles – to the eventual state of driver-less cars with AI:
“Automobiles originated as an evolutionary emergence from horse-drawn carriages. In fact, vehicle body styles — even those used today — still use the carriage designations of Landaulet, brougham, etc…”
“Those carriages were drawn by horses, an intelligent beast that ‘knew’ where it was and could take you home without further prompting. In effect, that would constitute an automatic and sentient occurrence. Our modern AI advances, as applied to the automobile, will — in a strange ‘closing the loop’ way — end up with a sentient entity again. One that takes you places and brings you back, only needing a prompt. It is a sentient creature. ”
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We’re very pleased to have an in-depth interview with the great master of sci-fi art, visual futurist Syd Mead.
2D | VISUAL FUTURIST
“Hang out with (creative) people who don’t do what you do. That gives you a broader insight into problem solving, a broadened appreciation of difference and inspiration …”
Adam talks about what insects can teach vehicle designers, and his love of riding real-life speed machines in the desert.
SKETCHUP | PHOTOSHOP
“For me, it’s actually therapeutic using SketchUp’s tools. Sure they might not be the most efficient or crafted, but they get the job done and can be learned by child or adult alike.”
Vadim uses Photoshop and a Wacom pad — and his vivid imagination — to visualise very appealing future vehicles.
PHOTOSHOP | WACOM
“… The book-cover assignments are a win-win for me, I love painting science fiction themed illustrations and for some reason I always get better ideas through other people’s works.”
PLUS… the 1000 MPH BLOODHOUND SSC, MARK ROOSIEN (‘MARREKKIE’), GALLERY and the IMAGINARIUM
Sample Interview from Issue 16
SKETCHUP | PHOTOSHOP
Adam’s Gallary at DeviantArt
DAL: How did you first become interested in vehicle design? Was it something that was encouraged, or which developed early on in your life?
AC: Ever since I can remember, perhaps 4 or 5 years old, I was always obsessed with cars. I used to take a stack of blank paper, a handful of lead pencils, and I would use a “Mathaid 4”. That was something that my older sisters had for high school. It’s like a see-through stencil with all these mathematical shapes and curves on it. I would start by making two round circles for the wheels, and use all the shapes and curves in it to draw a detailed 2D side view of a car design. I would do this for hours at a time and when I didn’t like where it was going, I’d chuck that piece of paper away and start again.
DAL: Fascinating, yes I think the best of that sort of ‘drawing office’ equipment will become quite collectable in time. Now, in terms of location you’re based in Perth, Western Australia. Tell us about that, please. For instance, I was recently amazed to learn that much of Australia doesn’t yet have fast broadband and is still being wired, or even services such as Amazon. I assume you’re in a much more wired-up place? Also, what’s the creative scene line there these days, in Perth?
AC: Actually, Perth is known as the most isolated capital city in the world. We have close to two million people sprawled along a pristine coast line easily stretching 100km from top to bottom. It’s a beautiful and quiet place. The city can be known as “a large country town” and I’m not sure if you know what I mean there but it has its quirks. It’s a city where trends take a while to arrive.
DAL: Wow, that sounds superb. Like a sort of tropical Stoke-on-Trent! /Laughter/
AC: Regarding broadband, I would say that a massive percentage of the overall population — as most Aussies live in main coastal cities — would be on broadband. The non-coastal areas of inland Australia are certainly isolated in many places. Amazon is arriving soon, haha!
The creative scene in Perth I would say is alive and well! My highlight is a really cool annual sculpture exhibition I usually go to, on the famous Cottesloe beach during March of each year, called “Sculpture by the Sea”. That is spectacular!
DAL: Great. Now, you design and make your fabulous vehicles and their renders in SketchUp, the very popular free 3D construction tool which was formerly from Google. Many of our readers won’t be familiar with the software as they often use Poser and DAZ Studio and Vue and Blender and similar, or are 2D digital painters. Could you walk them through why you like SketchUp for modelling and then talk about your workflow from SketchUp to Vray to Photoshop?
AC: Sure thing. As I mentioned before, growing up in the 1980’s and 90’s I typically used traditional art media to design cars. Around the mid to late 90’s I got my first PC – a 486 DX2/66. I found a program at a shop one day that was called CAD-3D by Expert Software. It was a consumer or hobbyist version of a CAD program, but was a steep learning curve for me at the time. I persisted and really found it amazing designing in a virtual 3D space.
DAL: Yes, learning a CAD package back then was not the easiest thing in the world.
AC: Fast forward many years later, where early adult life had got the better of me. Partying, chasing women and what not. I hadn’t “been creative” for some time and I was yearning to get back into doing something creative. I stumbled across the Russian artist “ixlrlxi” (or 600v as he is now known) on DeviantArt and was instantly thrown into his world! The chord struck so deep, when I saw the types of vehicles he was producing. I was so inspired to try my hand at the same tools he was using — to see if I could birth something a fraction of his quality.
I watched every video and looked at every tutorial he was kind enough to post. Although he didn’t speak English I would painstakingly pause the video and see what tools and techniques he used to create shapes. It took me six months of frustration. But after getting comfortable modelling with SketchUp, I then started to expose myself to VRay and Photoshop.
DAL: What’s the basic workflow on that?
AC: In terms of workflow, I have a detailed tutorial in my DeviantArt gallery called “Bomber workflow”. This shows how I start with basic shapes and chip and chisel the shape into its final design. From there I pick a perspective and save that as an Animation view, so I can go back to the same viewpoint.
Once I finish the model, I then start to lay VRay material onto the model, start modifying the properties to get shiny effects for example and produce partial renders to check lighting.
Once I’m happy with the materials and lighting, I will perform a full render and open it in Photoshop. I then export the Engineering Style 2D view in SketchUp – a simple monochrome weighted outline – and layer it over the VRay render with the Multiply style in Photoshop. From there it’s just personal tweaks of light blurs, enhancing contrast, overlaying other images, layer masks, gradients, etc. That is where the personal creative flare can come out. I’m no Photoshop expert, but grasping the concept of layers and what you can do with them is where you need to focus if you are a beginner.