MY ILLUSTRATION PROCESS
Drawing a base model of an aircraft type from scratch can take from 2 to 6 months of full time work, including details such as rivet and panel placements, aerials, static dischargers (wicks), hinges and various sensors such as pitot tubes. That is then followed by a livery, and modifications to the base model of the aircraft to match any customisations of the real aircraft such as the number of aerials, blocked windows, engine types, placement of sensors, reflections, streaking and weathering on the aircraft surfaces. A complex livery can take up to 1 month to complete, including readjustments and colour matching. And finally the print template is created followed by test printing.
To create each illustration I follow a meticulous process that starts off with a basic outline drawing. This is followed by research, often hundreds of hours of research, trawling through manuals, books and periodicals, tens of thousands of photographs, diagrams, plans, some of which is available online, but all too often not easy to find, or it's in a different language. I network, I participate in forums and refer to museums. I estimate that over 60% of my work is research which is necessary in achieving a highly accurate representation of aircraft and liveries, and the individual customisations of each aircraft and liveries, and of course there is always more research to further fine tune details, and let's not forget the history of each airline, as well as aircraft specifications. To create my illustrations I primarily rely on two Adobe products, Illustrator and Photoshop.
PRE-DIGITAL ERA CHALLENGES
As my subject matter is primarily from a pre-digital era a lot of manuals as well as clear, crisp, close up imagery of aircraft is not as readily available as they are for current generation airlines and aircraft, as well, many airlines only existed for a very short period, as is the case with many largely unknown smaller 3rd level/commuter carriers for which finding any photographs is often very difficult, and most predate the common use of websites, therefore there are no internet archives to be found.
Unfortunately for a lot of these smaller carriers not much of their full clear history has been formally recorded anywhere, and where anything has been recorded it is usually in reference to their operations during a particular year, and does not include their establishment history and so a lot of it has been passed on by word of mouth, and as a result it may have been miscommunicated, misinterpreted, lost, or simply shelved in memory banks waiting for someone or something to rekindle them and bring them back to the fore to be enjoyed as personal memories, and for stories to be shared.
I hope my illustrations can rekindle some of those memories or further add to theme, help clarify lost history or simply add a quality illustration to someone's wall or desk.
When I was born in the mid 1960's my parents lived under the flightpath to the local regional/general aviation airport. We lived there for a few years, and considering it was the mid 60's through to the early 70's I later found out the aircraft gliding overhead were primarily cargo C46's, DC-3's and DC-6's, as well as a high number of light aircraft with the occasional HS748, SE210, DC-8, 707 or 727 that was on a placement flight for routine maintenance.
My family then migrated to Australia on a Boeing 707. I still recall the day we left, approaching the airport in the convoy of cars filled with family and friends, and suddenly seeing through the thick fog ahead in the approaching distance the greyed out silhouettes of tall white fins with a red, white and blue logo....wow....the entire scene captured me. It was dramatic, beautiful, I was absorbed in it. It is etched in my mind.
The entire experience triggered a passion within me, and each and every time we travelled, either domestically or internationally on 727's, DC-6's, DC-8's, DC-9's, 707's, 747-100's, 747SP's, DC-10's, PA-31's, F27's, F28's, A300's, EMB-110's, on LADECO, LAN-Chile, QANTAS, Pan Am, Air New Zealand, NAC, Ansett, TAA, UTA, Air New South Wales, East-West Airlines, Hazelton Airlines, Masling, Air Great Lakes....it took a stronger hold of me, all the more so as I was also a passionate painter from a young age, I loved colours, so it combined my love of colours and my love of airlines, and having been raised in an era where many airlines displayed amazing colourful liveries and some wonderful cheatlines. It was eye-candy for me all round, especially as Sydney has a continuous stream of low gliding aircraft overhead.
When I was a kid mum would buy me project books and large diaries where I would draw airliner profiles and colour them in any spare time that I had away from school work and sporting commitments. I'd replicate airlines current at the time, create updated versions, and also fictional airlines, including fleets and registrations, aircraft transactions, finances and marketing brochures. Dad would take me to Sydney airport, along the perimeter fence extending out to Botany Bay, I think it was "Gate 17", and we'd sit there for hours just looking at the planes as they rolled by either after landing, or on their way for a smokey, noisy, smelly departure. Loved it.
Over the years I have held several roles in the airline industry, and also graphic design encompassing web design, freelance illustration and exhibiting art work. I set up my first online presence, a web design and graphic design business in 1998, and in 2003 I set up my first airline related web site focusing on recording the illustrated history of Chilean airlines. It was an online gallery created to showcase my love of airlines and to assist airline historians, hobbyists and enthusiasts by displaying my profile illustrations of the airlines, their aircraft and liveries. I suspended this in 2016, and I still receive emails from hobbyists, enthusiasts and historians asking when that will return. Soon I hope.
For a number of years I continued creating aircraft profile prints on commission through word of mouth, but I also continuously toyed with the idea of doing something more formal with my illustrations. I then formally registered AVIAgrafix but due to other responsibilities I could not get it underway. I then took time away from my full-time career which in turn allowed me to focus on my illustrations as a priority as well as creating this web site, again involving two of my passions.
I often reflect on my younger years and the eye-candy that filled the skies, the eye-candy that crowded the airports often turning the tarmacs into a colourful kaleidoscope, and the joy I felt, and still feel, especially when I look at images of aircraft of that era, hence the reason for a lot of my attention being on airline schemes and airliners from the 1960's through to the 1990's.
Now, please sit back and I hope you enjoy the eye-candy and that you find something for yourself or someone you know will appreciate my illustrations, and maybe rekindle memories. There is plenty more on the production line.