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How to Draw Cars - The Best Books

Updated on June 30, 2012
This '64 Pontiac GTO, one of my first efforts in using vector graphics software, is a work-in-progress.
This '64 Pontiac GTO, one of my first efforts in using vector graphics software, is a work-in-progress. | Source

With an almost endless variety to choose from, cars are terrific subjects for people who like to draw. Some exhibit beauty and style, others suggest power and speed. Vintage cars can evoke feelings of nostalgia, and futuristic designs can make you look forward to what is yet to come.

Vehicles present certain challenges for the artist, however. They can be very difficult to draw from every angle in correct perspective, and the variety of materials, from shiny chrome and glass to vinyl roofs, are difficult to render accurately. Different paints, from glossy to metallic flake, present challenges of their own.

The three books reviewed here provide a wealth of information on the subject. None of them alone includes everything you need to know, but taken together they constitute a great course on how to draw cars and other vehicles.

How to Draw Cars Like a Pro by Thom Taylor

In How to Draw Cars Like a Pro, Taylor gives a basic introduction to perspective, drawing ellipses (very important to draw wheels correctly), and using a vehicle's wheelbase to measure proportion. Where this book excels, however, is in its excellent, in-depth coverage of light sources, basic rules for how shadows are cast, and rendering reflective surfaces.

Taylor also has a great section on color, and discusses presentation, or incorporating graphic design elements into your artwork. Examples from many professional artists are included throughout the book, and different illustrative techniques are discussed. The book also contains sections on drawing interiors and cutaways.

How to Draw Cars the Hot Wheels Way by Scott Robertson

Based on the title, and the cover which features a prominent Hot Wheels logo, I thought this was a book for kids. I couldn't have been more wrong. How to Draw Cars the Hot Wheels Way is one of the best resources available for someone who wants to draw cars, and the techniques explained are helpful to illustrating any subject.

This is a book about the techniques used by designers at Mattel, who create concepts for new Hot Wheels cars. The cars may be just toys, but the artists produce amazing artwork. The illustrations are intended to sell the concept, so they must be eye-catching and detailed.

Robertson provides the best explanation of drawing complex shapes in perfect perspective from any angle that I've seen anywhere. A total of 44 pages is spent on perspective, with extremely detailed, step by step examples.

The book doesn't contain as much info on light and shade as Taylor's book, but has a better explanation of how different colors and paint finishes (glossy and metallic) affect reflections. On the subject of drawing realistic cars, these two books complement each other nicely.

How to Draw Cartoon Cars by George Trosley

Cartoon-style cars often appear in lowbrow art ("lowbrow" isn't a pejorative, it's actually the name of an art movement). Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, who began illustrating in the 1950s, was one of the first to use this style, which continues to grow in popularity, and is used today by many lowbrow artists. How to Draw Cartoon Cars helps you learn to draw cars in this style.

For many years in the 1970s and 1980s, Trosley had a feature in CarToons Magazine, in which he showed you how to draw cartoon versions of cars and other vehicles. Each feature was 2-4 pages long, and this book collects all of them (over 60). Not just cars, but also trucks, ATVs and motorcycles are included, as well as features on drawing engines, tires, chrome and other topics.

Trosley's book isn't sold through Amazon. You need to go to his website if you want to purchase it.

You may not be able to own the car of your dreams (especially if your dreams, like mine, contain several cars), but by learning to draw them, you can still make them a small part of your life.


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    • Doc Sonic profile image

      Glen Nunes 5 years ago from Cape Cod, Massachusetts

      Thanks! Drawing anything is relaxing, actually. It can be sort of like meditation.

    • profile image

      PWalker281 5 years ago

      Drawing cars, huh. Your Renaissance Man is peaking through, Glen :-).

      I used to draw (i.e., copy) furniture from ads in the newspaper when I was a kid. I didn't stick with it, but at the time, something about the practice was compelling.

      Good information here about drawing cars. Your work is excellent! Voted up, useful, and interesting.