In the interest of doing an about face of sorts in redesigning this iconic vehicle for a certain desmodus-man, I returned to a more comic-book approach. More style, less bare functionality. Back when the cape was just a cape, not a kevlar reinforced protective shield. There was the inner conflict that always existed with this character that was apparent, but what about the struggle of trying to be stealthy versus the need to be expressive and needing attention? In this design, it's more about expressive impact than functional camouflage. More working process images on Behance. 




I'm having some color conversion issues when posting these to Blogger, but here we go again...


Moleskin I: Xunk-TH

Eh...I was a bit disappointed that I had purchased the off-white toothy cold-press paper version of the Moleskin sketchbook. I bought it over a month ago far away and didn't open it until yesterday, so no way to return it. The ballpoint works OK with the surface, but it isn't ideal. Scanning in the tonality of the paper picks up- I may need to swap to a different marker underlay color and value- something warmer probably. In any case, this sketch breaks in the book.



For the Daily Spitpaint Facebook group, definitely a needed exercise for me as I get obsessed with finished lineworky stuff. This forces you to work with value and color faster- 30 minutes from blank page to finish, no photochoppery or photo brushes.


Vehicle Design at Concept Design Academy enrollment open!

 Enrollment is open at CDA where I will be teaching Concept Vehicle Design. Learn a broad range of vehicle types from air to wheeled to space. Basic functional and mechanical design to help create interesting concepts with believability are instructed as well as aesthetics and the history of flight and automobile styling to gain an understanding of how to create vehicles for any particular era of design.

Concept Design Academy enrollment link!


More press rendos...

These two renderings just were released today. The car is a collaboration between Acura and Galpin Auto Sports for SEMA. It was requested that I create some high impact images to precede the actual car's introduction later in the week. I went for some ultra-high contrast value for strong expression of the customized vehicle.


Concept Design Academy course coming up

I return happily to instruct the concept vehicle design ten week course at Concept Design Academy in Pasadena, California this upcoming term. Please keep tabs on CDA's blog for open enrollment soon.



The whole sketchbook thing was never much a thing for me as I was more of a sketch on any blank paper scrap kind of artist. Working around the spine and elevation of many pages is kind of a skill I have yet to master but am starting to get used to. Lots of fun to do these little guys for the Napkin Sketch Facebook group in my Cottonwood Arts sketchbook.


Comic Book Cars: Green Hornet "Black Beauty"

Based on a class assignment to design a vehicle for a comic book character, here's some Black Beauties for The Green Hornet to drive.


Concept Design Academy Vehicle Design In-Class Demo

Drawing and talking is a bit of an art that I am still getting used to. Amping myself up on caffeine and then trying to relax my nerve and explain process as I work through a line drawing (on paper) and then the digital color illo is a right brain-left brain juggling act of sorts.


GP Tens: Brickhouse Torpedetto

Team Brickhouse's followup to the ill-fated Brickhouse Special. Using a 12 cylinder radial biplane motor, seeking a lower drag with trailing in-line wheel spats, no wings, and an enclosed cockpit. Forward visibility was completely reduced to the periscope view, making navigation from the nearly flat reclined seating position somewhat tricky.


GP Tens: Team Jesperson Transport Lorry & Triple Axle Special

During the fall Europe circuit races, Team Jesperson used this eight wheel, triple-axle transporter for hauling car and equipment from track to track all the way from Scotland down to Tunisia. While the driver, owner, and high level staff traveled by train, the mechanics and support staff packed gear and did the driving. The truck had the world's first mobile "outhouse," something of a luxury at the time for more remote racing venues. There was also a small private nap cabin for the driver to recharge after an exhausting event. The following season, after seeing the benefit of speed and organization of mobility, most well-funded teams followed suit with their own team transports.


GP Tens: Bizarre Entries

More experimental race vehicles in the GP Tens race series. According to the formula, nothing was illegal, so imaginations and ideas ran wild, budget and engineering skill permitting. 1915 saw at least half a dozen different entries with six wheels or more, mostly as an attempt to carry the weight of enormous double engine layouts and for the narrow tired front traction issues. None of the triple axle designs had any success as tight turns proved difficult to negotiate and too much mechanical complication meant increased likelihood of mechanical failure.


GP Tens: La Victoire Totale "Lupin"

La Victoire Totale. Shakedown, Pendine Sands, Carmarthen, 1917. Archie Leabo, pilot.


GP Tens: Jesperson Superflivver

Trouser magnate Samuel T.Y. Jesperson entered the 1917 GP Tens Cup with a unique chassis built around a Brickhouse parallel straight bank 8. A crowd favorite at Jesperson's home track debut in Dayton, Ohio, the "Superflivver" failed to deliver the goods, dropping two laps to the leader in the first ten. Throughout the season, Team Jesperson managed to chase out some chassis issues that plagued the handling performance, and coaxed an additional 7 bhp out of the 18 liter engine and had a solid points finish by the end of the season, despite not winning a single podium. The car was put in storage immediately at the close of the season in anticipation of running in 1918, but Jesperson contracted typhoid while on vacation in French-Indochina that winter. The car was unearthed from the coach house of the Jesperson estate in 1952 by the great-nephew of S. Jesperson and is in preserved, but unrestored condition, permanently displayed at the GP Tens Museum in Waukesha, Wisconsin.


GP Tens: Brickhouse Special

In one branch of dimensional world history, there was no assassination attempt on Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and as a result, things just settled down in Europe and racing flourished during the second decade of the 20th century. GP Tens, a formula libre brought together the best automotive and aeronautical engineers of the day for insane competition where innovation was the key to winning. William F. Brickhouse, founder of Brickhouse Mining and Medical had the 17 liter V6 built for the 1915 GP Tens Cup race in Pennsylvania. Brickhouse managed third place at the Uniontown board track. In 1916, William's brother, Franklin L. Brickhouse had the car shipped to England where he intended to run at Brooklands, but the steamship rolled over in a storm and sank to the bottom of the North Atlantic. The floatation shipping crate that Franklin had designed as insurance for such an event broke loose as designed, but the crew had survival on their minds, not keeping tabs on the loose cargo. The car was never seen again. The Brickhouse brothers moved on and had success with the 1917 Brickhouse Speedliner, nearly winning the GP Tens Cup that year.


Summer Term Enrollment at CDA has started

Once again, I will be teaching Intro To Concept Vehicle Design at Concept Design Academy in Pasadena, California. We've shifted the class to Wednesday nights this term. Please take a look at the other offerings available- great learning opportunities with some talented instructors. The CDA site is here.

Last term we had come guest portfolios and demos, sketching at the Petersen Automotive museum and covered a broad range of vehicles of all types and universes. Lots of fun- check it out!



Syklopeus Boulder Breaker Truck w/o rock crusher arm attachment.  I had the rock crusher attachment planned (see earlier post for line drawing), but spent enough time on the truck I think it was OK to delete it from the design. It made the composition too square as well, so I get to call this one done!


Dump truck with rock crushing arm.

Class demo underlay on Cintiq and then refinement analog on paper with ball-point.


Smattering of Ships

A loose theme of racing air/spaceships of some sort as an example for my students of design process for the Concept Vehicle Design course at Concept Design Academy. Line drawing in ball point pen on 8.5x11 copy bond. Clean up and color in Photoshop.


Planes and Jets sketches

Ball point doodles of some conceptual plane designs and a couple of jets as an example for my students.


Old cars, new sketches

Ball point doodles of some old sleds and kustoms as an example for my students.


Time is running out to register for my Intro To Concept Vehicle Design and Concept Design Academy in Pasadena this semester. For more information and registration, please visit:

The class covers creative exploration and professional level execution of vehicle concepts for video games, toys, illustrations, and movies. Learn how to cull real-life technology into new vehicles and create designs with impact and character. Fundamental vehicle design essentials inherent in any successful design are explained.


NSX rendo on cover of Motor Trend, August 2013

I did two additional (First Showcar) renderings of the updated NSX concept car for American Honda press release. The side view that I created ended up being used on the cover of Motor Trend last August, which I completely missed somehow. The studio copy of the magazine seems to be missing, so I picked one up off of eBay last night. The background colors were used exactly as I hoped, bleeding under the title. They did a nice job, but of course had to cover my signature.


Speed Racer (30 minute Spit Paint)

Ah, got the Miles Davis "Bitches Brew"* on vinyl fired up for it's first spin here in my office and cranked on this one. Speed form cars are easy, the spun aluminum wheel covers are also easy and effective solutions to fast finish. The odd angle saved me from having to draw the cockpit as well so 30 minutes was no problem!

*Thanks, Permanent Records, Eagle Rock!


Bad Penny always comes back to you.

Could be a coincidence, but I'll bet you one bad penny that this customizer has a copy of Dwayne's Masters of the Chicken Scratch II in their shop. A bit surprising to see the same name and same graphic treatment at SEMA this year on a car as my design from a couple years back. They got theirs in sheet metal, so hat tip for that, I suppose.

Frye, "Bad Penny," 2009
 CDC Concepts "Bad Penny," 2013.


Daily Spitpaint

Amigo Vaughan Ling brought this to my attention recently:  Daily Spitpaint group on Facebook. I am more comfy with sketching with line, and my color usage is basic, so this is way out of my comfort zone, but I'm enjoying it. The thirty minute time limit forces you do abandon all sorts of left brain cogitation and push to finish something. My vehicle focus is going to limit my subject matter somewhat, but definitely a good exercise and skill boost. All sorts of kick-ass humbling talent involved including David Levy and Sparth. We all should have 30 minutes to spare a day to create something like this. Maybe I'll drop the Call of Duty and make THIS my new lunch time activity...that'll be tough to do.


Re-post from my class blog.

I wrote this for my class blog, and while my plan was to keep this particular blog to the selfish topic of MY artwork, I want to post this exception because Ftiz and Van are an inspiration for my illustration, though you probably don't see much literal translation into my work.

I present two advertising illustrations for the 1960 Pontiac convertible. I talked in class about Fitz and Van, an illustrating team at General motors. They did the second piece above- Fitz doing the car, Van doing the scenery and figure work. While collecting some of this old ad art, I accidentally purchased a non-Fitz and Van piece from their era and was very interested to compare the two works because the car and perspective were identical. When I scanned these in and scaled them, the overlay was remarkable, I'm thinking that the same photo reference of the car was used for both, though the lighting comes from a higher angle in the second image. What is interesting is while the first illo is good, how much better the second, Fitz and Van is. This is why the team of Art Fitzpatrick and Van Kaufman was so valuable to General Motors in the 1960's.

I've neglected Van's portion of the piece somewhat, cropping much of his work here. He did the backgrounds and figures in the illos, but it's worth noting the overall feeling of the scene itself, comparing both images. The family in the first image is apparently some mid-western tourists visiting California for the first time. Dad can't figure out his camera, dopey son is helpless to assist and can only gawk. The graceless girl has awkwardly dropped her doll while the mother, shapeless, almost two dimensional with a dowdy dress that just hangs at an uninspired length, stiffly turns to glance back. Child number three, fey and completely ignored, is likely to run alone into the parking lot while each parent thinks the other is watching. There is nary the connection between any of the family or the car. We're not even sure if it IS their car.

Moving on to Van Kaufman's work, someone has made the right call- we have no kids in the image. This, of course, is the two-door convertible, and the market for this particular model is a couple or swinging single. In pure advertising strategy logic, the two couples interacting are appropriate for the car. Now these folks have style, apart from the relaxed, energetic interaction, there's all sorts of style with these folks. While the first guy couldn't figure out his camera, it looks like this guy has a yacht, as implied by the cap and harbor scene. He's the regular captain of a ship! My general feeling is that Van intended the couple outside the car to look longingly, jealously and the driver and his gal and their great car. You get a feeling of consumer want and envy here. The guy in the sportscoat is just dying to ask the yacht captain the secrets of his success. That little tilt of the lady in yellow's head just has the wistful dreaming indication. Maybe it's just my imagination.

The car illustration: Art's work really pops. There's all sorts of things he's doing that the first artist is not. Starting with value range, the important basis of any illustration. Looking at the fronts of both cars with the color stripped away, look at the range of value on the right side, the liveliness of the hood itself and the fluidity of the reflection of the windshield- the work on the right pulling the window frame reflection into a dynamic, elegant point emphasizing the hood spear stamping. Even the reflection of the rear view mirror, probably eliminated by the first artist as a fussy, distracting detail is actually just another level of interest in Art's hood. The headlights are alive on the right, glazed with cataracts on the left. The Fitz and Van car has a bit of the turn of the tire to help the car feel like it is going somewhere, less static. The only thing that seems to be minimized are the wiper blades, which integrate into the cowl better in the second piece, probably not accurate. The focal point of the car is the front near corner, where the sunlight dazzles to pure white of both paint and chrome, and the blue turns nearly black. Contrast and value. Punchy. Attractive

When you get to the color, I did an eyedropper test in Photoshop on both cars and with Art's Pontiac, there is quite a bit of flop from purple to greenish blue. The first piece has one blue that carries through the whole car. Fitz and Van's pieces had an exemplary quality from their earliest collaborations around this time and it is little wonder that they basically owned the Pontiac brand image years after this, right up to the point when illustration ran out of favor and photos became de riguer, unfortunate as the photos were never quite as adept in selling the dream as these paintings were.

John A. Frye 10/31/13 Happy Halloween!