By Alex Walker

Kevin Hulsey’s Illustrator Master Classes

By 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.

  • Wow… I quit.

  • Hehe
    That’s exactly how I felt

  • Umm, wow. That almost makes me sick. I just hope he got paid what he was worth on that project… whew!

  • Demex

    absolutely awe inspiring… my jaw dropped

  • Mr. B

    This just makes me want to work even harder – there is some amazing work here.

  • thorbergdt

    Perhaps the Mona Lisa of Illustrator? Simply amazing work!

  • weirdmonkey


  • stardustwd

    One word, Wow!

  • It is a staggering piece of work, I think. Looking at the whole thing is quite impressive, but when you see the level of detail – mindblowing!

  • I haven’t checked but I’m pretty sure Kevin exploded when he finished the boat.
    Probably would have only taken him 860 hours if he’d used Corel Draw instead ;)

  • DemonX

    860 hours. thats like 3 months for one illustration (working 7 hours a day). The pay better have been worth it.

  • TaliaJ

    Wow, absolutely stunning! Thank you for posting this, what a terrific site.


  • Wow…truly in a league of his own! The close-up shots have convinced me that I probably should just uninstall Illustrator and quit trying to play designer. ;)

  • joshica

    this is the great pictures, good work.

  • Brian-X

    incredible effort to make a image that someone will just say to “aha good …” without noticing the enormous level of detail that wnt into the image .

    It`s just stunning !

  • glenngould

    Hard work.

  • tekart

    Wouldn’t it be terrible if the customer said “Wow, that’s great but I’d like you to turn it a little to the left”. So much for vector programs. Not like that has happend to me before. ;-)


    Kya yaar kya mast bnaya hai… keep it up

  • Vinit Pratap Singh

    Work is very impresive. its look like very crazy.
    Keep it up Dude.. thanks

  • M.Mahgoub

    is this human?

  • potion

    no it’s not! he’s an alien! THE ALIEN!

  • arslan220

    London based website design company offers website design, shopping cart development, web development, SEO services, server administration services, web hosting.

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