New Media – Lemorris Harris


Lemorris Harris takes us from pencil sketch to finished artwork using Illustrator and Photoshop with his “How-To” called “Rendering the Rocket”.
See more of Lemorris’s artwork at his web site:


Back Story – At my place of work there is this sweet Olds that a co-worker drives. I have admired the car for years and through a series of events the wife of the owner found out I draw cars on the side. We talked and she gave me an opportunity to draw the Olds. So..first of all thanks to her for giving me a shot. I hope you guys like it.

Here’s how it happened.


Pencil – My first step was to shoot photos of the car and then draw it. Then I put my rough sketch on my light table and transferred it to another piece of paper. I repeated this process about 7 times until I got the lines looking like I wanted.
Modifications including increasing the wheel size for effect and also mapping out where all the highlights and reflections would be once I got it into Illustrator on my PC.
My initial plan was to keep the windows rolled up and just fade to a deep blue but the customer pointed out some specific things that were really key to creating a more accurate likeness so I added an interior on my computer.


Illustrator Trace – The pencil drawing was about 15 inches long so I had to scan it in 2 chunks and then line up the halves. You can see I didn’t do as well as I would have liked but it was close enough to get me going.


Illustrator Line – Next I began to trace over my pencil drawing using the pen tool in Illustrator. In general I work with 4 layers. The base layer is where the pencil drawing is locked. Then I creat a layer and using a bright blue pen at 1.5 pt I draw the contour of the vehicle. Then I create another layer and using blue with a .5 or 1 pt line I draw all the parts and stuff…you know, rims, windows, body lines etc. then I create another layer and use red at .5 pt to trace my highlight and shadow lines.
It’s important to keep them on separate layers because when I move them over to Photoshop I have the option of selecting small confined areas or larger broader shapes. In Photoshop the space between lines becomes fillable areas.


Photoshop Render – In Photoshop I take my exported Illustrator file and turn the layers into Channels. Each Channel represents a color in the drawing. I do it this way because I do a lot of work for screenprinting and working in Channels allows me to create my film separations as I render the car…huge time saver and great results.
By using the magic wand tool I click in an area which gets confined by the lines around it then I use the gradient tool or the airbrush tool to paint in the color. Since the specific channel determines the color I can use soft airbrush settings and the gradient tool to create blends. For The Rocket I actually filled the entire body with a blue base color then carefully added the darker blue tones on a separate channel.


Here you see the final rendered piece. I made a quick logo in Illustrator and dropped it on and added some nice soft white edges to give it alittle more pop. This was a fun car to draw and I learned a lot.

Thanks to the client for lettin me at it…it was great!

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