Car Drawings or Photos? You choose.

Drawing of a Car That Looks Like a Photo

realistic 1932 coupe hot rod drawingI’ve been pleasantly surprised by the European hot rodders that have made their way to This story is about a new member, Alan Brightmore from Manchester, United Kingdom. His member name is Slammed56 cause he’s added an in the weeds 56 Volkswagon Panel Bus. Not long after joining, I found out Alan’s quite an artist, or is he a photographer? Look closely at the image to the left. Is that a picture? No. It’s an amazingly realistic looking pencil drawing!

What follows was written by Alan about his work. Please say hello in Alan’s Garage and add him to your crew.

Ok, brief history first of all and you could say I got into the artwork ‘seriously’ kinda by accident. Having always had a natural talent for drawing from an early age (left school at age 16 with a grade A in art/photography) I just drew for fun really and never even entertained the idea that I could actually sell some of my work. Well, years went by and the artwork eventually became secondplace to ‘real’ jobs and spare time didn’t exist anymore.

It wasn’t until a good friend of mine (who got me into VWs) had the idea of drawing a couple of bugs and buses, making prints, and taking them to a show here in the U.K. to see if they would sell. I had seen some cool artwork before around the Volkswagen scene but most were of the ‘toon style which is why I guess mine stood out as something ‘different’ and to my amazement – they sold!!

What a feeling that was to have somebody part with their hard-earned for something I had created. Ok, they were only £5 each at the time but to me that’s the biggest buzz of all, not the cash (although very welcome!) but the compliments, the comments, the looks on peoples faces when they realize that they are pencil drawings and not black and white photographs.

Chevy stepside realistic drawingIt’s been around 10 years now since those first sales and I have a pretty big portfolio of work, from those early beetles and buses to the cars I loved as a kid – big noisy American muscle. I even tried my hand at something a little different and drew Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page for my brother’s birthday last year!
Aside from selling prints of all of my drawings, I do take commissioned work drawing customers own cars which over these last couple of years has helped me improve my technique and given me the opportunity to try out new materials. Although I do charge more for these original pieces as some can take 30+ hours, It’s still the buzz to this day more than the money when a customer calls or emails after they have recieved their drawing and says ‘Wow!’

I have enclosed a couple of work in progress shots on a drawing I did not so long ago. Although not a commission, this one was just something I saw whilst browsing the internet one day. Being a big muscle car fan, it was one of those pics that just stood out and shouted ‘draw me!’ – great looking car, cool angle.

I could look at 100s of photographs but to want to make me draw it, It has to be an interesting angle – no side on shots! different cars have their own ‘best side’ I find, and this for me works for the Mustang. Once I have a good quality photo of the subject I then go about sketching roughly the outline, wheels etc with a light pencil (H), this can take a while gradually getting more and more exacting until it looks spot on. I have my own method for very tricky bits like highly detailed wheels but a magician never gives away his secrets…

Outline done, my first area I tend to start work on is the furthermost left of a drawing, this may seem natural to most anyway but it also serves the purpose of not leaning over what’s already been drawn – keeping the paper clean and tidy. Working on small sections at a time helps not to rush a drawing which can happen, kind of thinking of it as a patchwork quilt being sewn square by square. The darker areas of the drawing which give it depth are created by using soft pencils, I use up to a 9B for the darkest of shadows. An important part of the drawing process I find is actually not drawing, just sitting back and looking at the piece compared to the photo reference helps a heck of a lot. Unlike cartoon style pieces where you have a good degree of artistic license to run wild, realistic, highly detailed drawings need to look like the real thing so spotting mistakes is important.

With the Mustang drawing, I knew what areas would be difficult to reproduce, mainly around the front grill area and radiator, lots of straight lines together are a pain in the ass to draw and looking at it now I think they could have been better. As it took up most of the A4 sized piece of paper, I didn’t want to detract from it by putting in a detailed background so went for a kind of simple sky/distant mountains look which again I think could have been better but that’s the goal for each new drawing, to be better than the last!

I’ve also included a couple of shots of a commission I did finish this year for a guy in the US, he owns a cool early VW bug and although it took me a very long time to draw, he was totally in awe of the finished piece which even I look back at sometimes and think ‘shit, I really drew that?!’

Thanks Alan. There’s more work to see at Alan’s Deviant Art gallery, including some photos he’s done. To contact Alan about a commissioned drawing, it’s best to go to his web site

IF you are digging Alan’s Mustang drawings, check out this sweet Anvil Mustang from SEMA 2010.