Every couple few years I get a shot at doing the artwork for the Annual Buses by the Bridge event in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. The show organizers are good friends and it’s fun to do a full cartoon design.
Before I get into this recap, I need to thank Cory “Screamin Eagle” Houck and Ronnie “Disco Boogie” Feitelson. Freedom of design is a great gift to give a designer. Thank you for entrusting me and keeping me grounded when I was bouncing off the satellites.
Also I need to send some love to John “Legend” Howard, Denise “D-Train” Howard, Art “White Version of my Dad” Lyons, Launa “Falana” Lyons, Bob “Soul on Ice” Bolen, and Mona “The Rock” Bolen. You guys always have my back. I appreciate your support, but moreso, your great friendship.
OK…here we go.
The Finished Art:
This is the 22nd time this event has been held. I swear it feels like 50 though. It is one of the signature mainly VW bus events in the country. There’s nothing like hundreds of buses and many hundreds of “bus people” gathering for 4 days! Much joy is had by all. They also raise much funds for charity and it really is a community effort.
As usual I grabbed a sloppy sketch only pencil. I already had a vision in my head. I wanted to pay homage to the history of the BBB designs, but bring a funky flavor to the mix. The crudeness didn’t bother me. I felt pretty good about what it was telling me it wanted to be.
The second round of roughs of the buses went pretty well. I was looking more for character, not so much detail at this stage. If the thumbnail sketch is oozing funk, then the final will too.
Here’s the rough comp. I added some lettering in Illustrator and tried to get a clearer vision. Like I said, this one was talking to me early on, so it felt pretty good.
After a couple rounds on the light table I was able to get a decent sketch to render from. This bus is owned by my good friend and fellow Funkateer, Camper Mike. He’s a Southeast beast!! Never afraid to hit the road and go where it takes him. Really cool cat.
I inked it in Photoshop, using a modified Frenden Brush that I purchased online. This was my first time inking a full design with them. I’m ok with how it landed. You can buy the brush set here.
I dropped in some flat colors and started to build my tones. The bus is named Mr. B. As I understand it, when Mike found and purchased this bus, there was a gold Buddha statue inside. He took it as a sign.
The final render landed about here. It went well and kind of established the visual flow for the rest of the design.
Here’s a video of the render process:
The sketch of the split window bus has a little more tonal range. It’s the featured vehicle so I knew visually it would have more detail. That’s a little trick we design cats use sometimes. You can add a sense of depth through the amount of detail you put into the design elements. This really isn’t any persons bus. I just thought it would be cool to do.
The line art landed good. It’s a little quirky, but really seemed to fit within the direction of the design.
I got excited during the render. I made the bumpers and other bits black. I asked Cory if it was ok and he said something like “Ummm heck yeah!!!!” He’s a very positive dude. Made me happy to just be able to go for it.
The final render came out nice. I got to spend some time on the folds and experimented a bit with pushing accent tones through and other artsy fartsy stuff.
Here’s a video of the Splitty Bus render:
The Vanagon sketch was pretty fun. I knew it’s location in the design, so I dialed back the detail a little. The gigantic tires just kinda happened, but it felt like it wanted to be that way, and who am I to argue???
Once again I inked in Photoshop with a Frenden brush, and I really liked it. There’s a slight taper adjustment I had to make but overall it’s an amazing set of brushes.
As soon as I got the flat color in and added some tone, it began to feel really good. Red is always tricky, but this one was giving me some richness and depth of paint early on.
The final render of the Vanagon landed about here. I don’t often get to do these so I had a blast!
Here’s a render video of the Vanagon and there’s a bit towards the end showing the design construction:
The Final Design 2.0
After putting it all together I dropped in a few different shirt colors just to see what it would look like. It came out very ok. I am pleased.
Once again, big thanks to my Havasu crew!! You guys are amazing!!
Thanks for taking time to read this.