I had an interesting impression of you, somehow having heard someone reference you as a bit of a curmudgeon ...
Curmudgeon, eh? I like it, it's a good old word, not used enough these days - I may add it as a middle name by Deed Poll. No doubt the impression was given by someone who's never met me, that would be par for the course... As for being anti-social because the work is detailed and requires a deal of concentration - my philosophy has always been work hard, play hard. My impression is that there is a specific type of humour that exists, or existed, in drawing offices, and by extension, studios. I don't know whether the work creates the humour, or attracts characters who have a similar outlook on life. No doubt there are genuine curmudgeons who illustrate, but I've never met one, and on this thread I've met illustrators who are the exact oposite.
Briefly, my approach to a cutaway was:- a)Arrange to see the car, b)if it was an unfamiliar site, scan the area for nearby flat roofs, stairs, high windows or nearby transporters, c)photograph every damn detail of the car, d)get it moved to where I could get an overall shot or two from the aformentioned vantage point, e) go home. Obviously c) and d) could be reversed in order depending. If a Williams was just back from a GP it would be stripped down to it's component parts very quickly, so I would photograph the complete car ASAP so not to hold the mechanics up too much, then watch and click as they tore it down. Work fast and keep out of the way! Oh, and I always had back-up cameras, loads of film and batteries - and a Surveyors ladder!
Once home, process the film, choose an O/A shot, make a 20"x30" print for the outline and panels etc, and then print up the detail shots. Then tape the big print to a s/s piece of 3mm hardboard, tape drafting film over that and draw in all the detail I could. Then tape the film onto a hardboard-backed sheet of white board to show the lines, and start fettling the shape, re-drawing the wheel ellipses and find features that would enable me to establish a vanishing point. Having ascertained where the little devil was hiding, draw in a load of perspective lines, some based on features of the car, some intermediate, and decide where to cut the bodywork away...
Before I had my own darkroom I used a friend's Grant Projector to get the outline, etc., but I didn't like using his facilities, especially when his studio - graphic design and advertising - moved on to more advanced methods and the redundant projector was banished to his office basement, and new, young staff didn't know who I was - well, it just got a bit embarrassing. I have also used the squaring-up method, it is surprisingly accurate, and all these techniques have their uses, but if you are illustrating commercially, time is of the essence. I didn't want to spend three days drawing and re-drawing an outline when I could be cutting and detailing! However, having had to progress through these earlier techniques does no harm, they all add to your knowledge and experience.
Before all that, working for Jim Allington and then at Motor Sport and Motoring News, everything was sketched out from scratch - I look at drawings like the Porsche 917/10 and can't really imagine how I did it. I think one of the several reasons for giving up illustrating was that I felt I had gone as far as I could regarding technique, it had been a steep learning curve for decades, and suddenly I had reached a plateau - all that was before me was more of the same, and although I still think of cars I would really like to have illustrated, and I am still enthusiastic about the subject - and love this thread - somehow the fire has gone out. Also, all the manual work I do now has changed my hands, no doubt they would eventually revert to their former shape, but after wielding a wrecking bar for a week, holding a pencil is a bit alien.
So, in other words, we all tend to gravitate to more or less the same starting point and process. The next big jump is digital, which I admire enormously, but don't personally want to make. However, having discussed this with Tom Johnson on this thread and privately, and with alansart, I feel sure that a background of some of the traditional techniques probably helps. I may be wrong.
Bit of a ramble...
Edited by Tony Matthews, 29 November 2009 - 15:04.