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How to draw Cars!

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Cars are really a pain to draw! But after having to draw a bunch of cars, trucks, trains, and bikes in JUDGE DREDD – MEGA CITY 2 (#5 comes out this weds!) I really got a handle on these beasts. Now i like drawing them.

Reference is absolutely necessary for drawing cars, because although they are simply buckets to transport humans in, there is a massive variety of lines, forms, shapes and details to vehicles, that you don’t even expect. Fortunately, you can buy dozens of toy cars for about a buck each, at any supermarket. Hotwheels leads the way!

The first thing to keep in mind with cars, is that the Driver and Passengers are all sitting in a nice squashed cube. The front and back of the vehicle, are simply attached to this cube. But all lines on the vehicle must align with this cube, that is the most difficult part. People are usually sitting in a lower position in a car, than in a standard chair, and when they are standing outside the car, they can almost always see the top of the vehicle.

So i begin by taking photos of the toy car that is closest to the design of the car i’m drawing. Judge Dredd’s vehicle is a mix between a Chevy Vega and a Dodge Daytona Charger:

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You don’t want to just take one photo, because cars are always supposed to look in motion, and the first photo you take will always look very stilted and stuck. Take a number of photos of the toy cars, until you find the right shot. You won’t be tracing this shot exactly, you will be interpreting it. Also, the ‘crop’ function on an iphone is useful, for creating the exact panel dimensions you’ll be using.

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When you begin drawing the cars, you start with drawing the squashed cubes that the characters sit in. Perspective rules are king here, and this is why you begin with the squashed cube. Cars are often hard to draw, because they are shaped like strange tetris blocks, which are moving against a static background, which throws the car’s vanishing points into opposition with the background’s vanishing points. But as long as you follow the perspective lines that you’ve set down with the cube, you will be okay. Having the toy car with you, will help you in keeping the proportions of the vehicle correct. Like a face with eyes, ears and nose, a car has wheels, windows and spoilers.

unused cover pencils

Above are some pencils i did for the Judge Dredd – Mega City 2 #5 cover, that i decided i hated, but its a good detail of the pencils for the car. Occasionally, you will find that you just can’t get some details of the car to mesh right, and you gotta fudge it. I just use motion lines to cover up any wonky spots on the car. Its an easy cheat. Once you got your car, nicely rendered in your pencils, you can begin inking, and this is where other motion flourishes and movement can be depicted. Wheels should stretch and lean a bit into turns, think of old school animation techniques.

And here are the finished inks and then colors by Ryan Hill for this car chase sequence in Judge Dredd – Mega City 2 #5, out this May 15.

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ENJOY! AND DRAW THOSE CARS!