Etienne Carignan - Going Digital

Going Digital – Etienne Carignan

Etienne Carignan - Going Digital

Etienne Carignan is designer and illustrator who has done over 300 car illustrations in his career. His work has appeared in many magazines and art exhibitions.

In his last update, he mentioned about going totally digital with his work-flow and we wanted to follow up with him to find out a little about his transition to digital.

We contacted him during the time he was putting finishing touches on his latest work, a beautiful Aston Martin DB5.


AA: Have you always been doing digital art or did you start out in another medium?

EC: I started drawing cars in a more professional way while I was at University, back then I worked with many different mediums; I did some oil paintings, charcoal drawings but fell more in love with pen and color marker techniques.

Because I was in design school, the markers felt more like what car designers are working with. I started doing car illustrations with ink and markers for a couple of years and became good at not ruining my artworks, because ink does not forgive any mistakes…

AA: How has going all digital helped you?

EC: After a couple of years with markers, I always find myself struggling to get perfect car body reflections and a level of details I was happy with. The digital techniques were evolving to become more and more interesting, so I bought my first pen tablet and began to experiment the possibilities.

I realized I could become really quickly good with the tablet and it was not only allowing me to do so much more details, but it allows me to be a lot more creative.

Etienne Carignan's Office

AA: What was the final hurdle that you needed to jump to go fully digital?

EC: My first couple of illustrations in the digital world were a mix of hand ink sketch and digital coloring. With a standard pen tablet, it’s always hard to feel the same as when you are hand drawing on a piece of paper because your hand is sketching on the tablet and your eyes are looking at the screen, so there is a transition period before it becomes natural.

The next step for me was the purchase of a screen tablet with which you draw directly on the screen with an amazing pen pressure sensibility. With this new tool I was able to find the accuracy and feeling of drawing like on a piece of paper. So I began doing entire digital illustrations, still all handmade, but on this beautiful screen.

This technology along with good graphic editing software makes my life, as an illustrator, so much more exciting. Not only I can zoom in and do a high level of details, but the work I do is more versatile, editable, precise and can be use in more ways than before.

AA: Tell us your equipment set up?

EC: I now only use a Wacom Cintiq screen tablet and I can never go back!

AA: What would be the biggest tip you would tell someone who might be interested into going fully digital?

EC: Digital is certainly the present and future of the illustration world, but I think any young artist must experiment with standard art mediums. They must acquire all the basis and art sensibility to become a good artist first, than the digital tools will enhance their talent and creativity.

More importantly in the automotive illustration world, strong sketch basis is an obligation. A car is one of the hardest objects to draw; any good car illustrator has good 3D perspective sketch techniques and thousands of hand sketching hours are required to just get cars looking the right way…

AA: Anything new you are working on you want to mention?

EC: I recently complete an illustration I wanted to do for some years now. I have always been a fan of James Bond and most of all great cars. I did a tribute to a magnificent English emblem, the Aston Martin DB5 1963. This car is always voted in most top 10 cars of all times, so I immortalized this British legend with a Union Jack background.

1963 Aston Martin DB5

I printed this digital illustration on premium quality canvas at a size of 33″ x 21″ and added even more one of a kind value with a handcrafted walnut frame with the Union flag lines flowing on the frame’s front.

1963 Aston Martin DB5 frame

This unique Aston Martin artwork with handcrafted frame will be for sale shortly.

1963 Aston Martin DB5 frame closeup

AA: What’s the best way someone can purchase a print of your work?

EC: I love doing one of a kind illustration of owner’s car, so I’m always open for commission artworks working along the customer to create an artwork they will be proud of.


We would like to thank Etienne for taking the time for doing the interview and sharing with us information about him and his work. He became a father for the second time during the time of the interview, so congratulations to the new addition to your family.

Find out more about Etienne and his work at his website http://www.etienneart.net.



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