Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Job-from-Hell #327

I'm going be honest with you, when it comes to drawing I've always been a little weak on mechanical and man-made structural objects, more commonly known as "cars and buildings". So when I first began freelancing, guess what one of my first big storyboard jobs was? Yup. Visualizing Olympia & York's redevelopment plans for Canary Wharf in London.

Cars and buildings, buildings and cars, followed by some more drawings of buildings. And cars.

Remember, this was around... 1990, I think. No computers, no computer models, no Google Earth. All I had was a couple of helicopter shots of the un-redeveloped site and a couple of architectural concept drawings to use as a guide. The client was very particular about everything being extremely accurate, because investors would be scrutinizing specific sites in these drawings as potental locations for multi-million dollar construction projects.

At the time I was working at Ogilvy & Mather in Toronto on a 'full-time freelance' basis, meaning that they liked having me on location if they needed me, and I liked having a 'free' office and all the amenities in a fabulous big-city ad agency, but I was on my own to get outside work when the studio didn't have anything for me to do. So turning down a job - even a job as hellacious as this one - was not an option.

These are just a few of the multitude of frames I drew. Revisions piled on revisions, the same streetscape shown from various angles as new sightlines suddenly became important to the client. I can recall staring at the scant reference they supplied and sweating as I tried to imagine what that street would look like with the same buildings, but from 35 feet up ... or while standing on the opposite sidewalk... then from a fifth floor window looking down and to the left... and on and on it went - yeesh!

I still cringe at how awful my boxy little cars look. Like I said, automotive drawings have never been a strong point for me. Luckily the client was only focused on the buildings looking right. I bow down and once more thank John Buscema's perspective lessons in 'How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way" for getting me through this nightmare!

In the end, I remember the client being quite happy with these, so that plus the paycheque make it all worthwhile! And like all difficult tasks, you come out (hopefully) having learned something.

But I still can't draw cars worth a damn.

* Got a 'job-from-hell' you'd like to share with us? Send me an email and I'll send you a guest author invitation. My address is in the sidebar.


  1. Its too bad you weren't drawing these in the early 80's. Cars then were damn easy to draw. Essentially the ones you drew!

  2. Haha - See? I missed my calling: If the K-Car ever comes back, I'm packin' my bags and moving to Detroit! ;^)