Kevin Hulsey’s Illustrator Master Classes

    Alex Walker

    This has been around for a while, but if you’ve even doubted the power of Illustrator, this is a great refresher. After reaquainting myself with Kevin Hulsey’s amazing technical illustrations, I’m still not entirely sure whether I want to:

    a) launch Illustrator and start drawing in a blur of inspiration, or:
    b) permanently uninstall it and ne’er let it’s name pass my lips again.

    As you can see, the finished pieces are remarkable, if for no other reason than the sheer bloodymindedness it would have taken to complete them — his ‘Empress of the Sea’ drawing below clocked in at 960 hours, or 120 eight hour days on the same piece. The level of detail is truly mindnumbing, from the green salad in the salad bar to the Drambuie bottles in the cocktail bar to the free weights in the gym. The guy is a stickler.

    'The Empressof the Seas' cutaway illustration

    The great thing is Kevin doesn’t show-off while hording his secrets away, but instead takes considerable time to demonstrate exactly how he gets his results. Starting with nothing more than a set of detailed blueprints, Kevin creates the three vanishing points he’ll need to give the ship it’s spacial dimension, and then begins to gradually warping the 2D plans into their 3D form.

    Although this may well be ‘big picture’, this isn’t a job for ‘big picture’ thinkers — Kevin clearly has a meticulous attention to the small things.

    'Blueprints and vanishing points

    It’s also interesting to note that Kevin chooses not to color his illustrations in Illustrator, but instead exports his line art to Photoshop. One of the reasons I personally like Fireworks for illustration is I was never 100% happy with the coloring tools in Illustrator. You could certainly get any effect, but it just took too long. I must admit though, there’s no way you could use Fireworks for a illustration of this size and detail.

    Still, it is amazing to think what you can accomplish with a blueprint, Illustrator and three vanishing points.