Thursday, January 11, 2018

Progress Over The Years..... My Automobile Artwork

I am not a full time artist. At least this is not something that I do on a daily basis or even a weekly basis for that matter. I enjoy drawing automobiles and started when I was in grade school.  If someone at that time had told me that I could have made a living at drawing cars it would have changed my life no doubt. I have done well for myself over the past 60+ years of my life and am very happy with what I have managed to accomplish and am still working on in my retirement.  But drawing cars has always been one of my passions that I always end up going back to from time to time.  With that in mind I thought you (the reader of this post)  might light to see just a small example of my progress over the years.  In my last post I had shown you the pen and ink artwork that I created with my British sportscar artwork business.

This is one example of the artwork that I created over 20 years ago for my British sportscar business. I started with drawings like this which later were converted to make t-shirts.  Each drawing took around 24 hours to create.
Later on in the business I started creating full color drawings of my cars. I am rather proud of this MGTC that I made during that time and so the business grew because of my efforts. Again another 24 hours were needed to change or create new drawing of my cars to full color with shadows and reflections that looked even more realistic. This was in the early 2000's at this point in the business.

I went from line drawings to t-shirts and later on to clocks that I was shipping worldwide.  I even made some nice money along the way. A labor of love to be sure. After seven years I closed up shop and moved on to other projects.

From this point I created artwork of my own cars once again. The Mini Cooper artwork shown above I made for a poster that is hanging in my workroom still today.  It was a great car and I am happy to have owned it and have a nice drawing to show it off.

Now as you can see I am still creating automobile artwork. Only this time it's full 3D computer graphics.  I still have a passion with creating automobile art and I guess I always will. Each of the 3D computer graphic vehicles above took roughly 100 hours to create. It would have been excellent to be able to create this level of artwork when I started, but back then computers and software for drawings were still in the stone ages compared to what is available today.

Each of the styles that I've created over the years have their own following. The next step would be to start creating automobile artwork for virtual reality. Something to think about as my son is deep into this tech with his own business creating new virtual reality video games and running his own virtual reality arcade.

Anyway I thought you'd like to see where I started and where I am now with my artwork efforts. I hope you enjoy my creations and the labor of love that went into making each style for my business.  Maybe you will find a passion in your life and never let it die also.  If you can also make a few dollars along the way it is just icing on the cake too. 

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

British Sportscar Artwork Is Where I Started Drawing Cars

Over 20 years ago I started creating pen and ink drawings of British sports cars. My reasoning behind this was the fact that I owned one for many years and simply could not get a drawing of my car.  No one did them. Or at least at the time I could not find anyone that made drawings of British sports cars. So I drew my car and members of the car club I was in at the time were so impressed with my work that they to wanted their cars drawn.  This led to starting my own business and producing prints of ten different British cars. This then led to t-shirts. Then to color t-shirts. Then finally to clocks.  

I was in business to be sure as I was shipping my products world-wide!  I made some nice cash at the time for all of the work that I did. After seven years of running the business I said that was enough and I closed up my little home business and moved on to other interests.  

I don't regret running the business and I had a lot of fun creating the artwork for it.  So I was happy to check it off of my bucket list and go from there. I still have all of the original artwork and even some of the t-shirts stashed away.  

With this in my past I always thought since I am writing for this blog that it would make a good post to show you what I created all those years ago. The only problem was I did not have the artwork saved on my computer that was clear enough to post it without it looking to put it bluntly..... like crap.   This changed over the past week or so when I was fortunate enough to find my original computer files that are still bright and clear to show the detail and effort that I put into each of my drawings at the time. Each car took roughly 24 hours to create and were hand drawn on mylar film in ink. I am rather proud of my early work in drawing cars and so with that in mind I wanted to show you them today in this post. Click on the images below for a larger view and enjoy.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The Ladder Wheel Project

This last fall as usual like most guys that take care of chores around the house I had to once again drag my aluminum extension ladder out of the garage to clean the gutters.  Not a terrible task on my part as I take precautions to keep leaves out of my gutters in the first place by using gutter guards.  But this only eliminates around 80-85% of the problem.  So I still have to check the gutters to clean out whatever I can find that manages to sneak into the gutter even with using gutter guards.  It's not the gutter guards that I have a problem with.  It's the task of just dragging the ladder out in the first place.  

My step ladder is great! It can extend out to be an extension ladder. It can be adjustable to easily be used on a set of stairs.  It can even come apart and be used as two ladders so that a platform can be put between them. It is a very strong, solid aluminum construction that will last a lifetime. All good things.  The bad thing is that this ladder is heavy.  Forty-two pounds heavy.  I am not a big guy that bench presses Chevys on my weekends so to lug out a 42 pound ladder in my eyes is to but it simply....a pain.  With that in mind another project was born to eliminate this task and save my back in the process.

Why not have wheels on the ladder so that I could roll it outside when I needed it and not have to pick up this thing that is taller than I am in the first place? Shown above is what I came up with. I once again laid out the design using Fusion 360 CAD software (free by the way online) to get all of the parts I needed designed for the project work out. The image above shows the parts in various colors just so it would be easier to see all the different components. 

On the bottom of the ladder is a plastic foot that sits on the ground level when it is used as a step ladder. This foot is only held in place using a single 1/4" bolt. This worked out perfectly for my design as the framework of the wheel assembly needed to be mounted to the ladder and this mounting hole for the foot fit the bill. 

Inside of the wheel assembly is one of three mounting blocks (shown in red).  This is held in place using a 1/4-20 bolt 2.5" long and running through the outer wheel plates (shown in yellow) to keep the wheel assembly from moving up or down on the ladder arm. Then there are two more outer mounting blocks that again are mounted between the outer wheel plates and are on the outside of the ladder arm to keep the assembly from spinning.  Lastly the wheel that makes it all work that I found online needed to have a rounded shape as the ladder arms tip outward at the base at 7 degrees. A flat shaped wheel would be riding on it's edge so a rounded shape was called for.  I found what I needed by using 4" diameter inline skate wheels.

I started doing some calculations on the design and figured out that the ladder when you pick it up weighs 42 pounds.  But if you only pick up one end of it the weight you have to carry is only 21 pounds. So it only goes to show that each wheel only needs to carry 10.5 pounds each.  I original was thinking that I would have to make the wheel plates on the outside of the assemblies in aluminum.  I did some test parts and decided to just 3D print the entire assembly similar to what a bridge would be built like. 

Also when I 3D print parts I adjust the amount of fill I have inside the part along with the number of layers to construct it.  So if you had an egg and the shell was one layer thick to make it stronger you make more layers.  This is what I did here on this assembly.  Instead of my usual two layers I beefed it up to four layers thick and instead of making it hollow (no fill at all) I filled it at 40% fill. This make the parts very solid and with the light load I think the assembly will do the job I designed it for rather nicely. 

This is what I normally look like when I try to pick up my step ladder. Even using both hands the expression on my face is not much different than the one you see here.  (Maybe not as extreme but you get the idea).

Here I'm a much happier camper! One handed and I'm still smiling!  Eliminating 20+ pounds helps a lot. Plus the fact that now I can just roll the ladder wherever I want effortlessly! A win-win in my book any day.

I was not sure that the 4" wheels would be big enough to do the job but then again I did not want to make the wheels to large either just to make storage any more difficult in the process.  I will keep an eye on the wear and tear that the wheel assemblies take over time just as a precaution. 

Once I did bolt everything on to my ladder the wheel assemblies stiffened up very nicely so I think the design will do it's job as planned.  

By the way the ladder wheel assembly is only used to roll the ladder from place to place. You never step on the ladder with the wheels supporting it.  It's designed not to be able to work that way. When the ladder is used as normal the wheels do not even touch the ground. This eliminates the chance that the ladder would roll out of place and at the least have the wheel assembly break apart because of the extra weight if you stepped on the ladder when using it. The smile on my face will increase over the years as I use this newly designed attachment to eliminate or at least lighten the load so to speak of a back breaking chore. 

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

A Simple Project For Great Photos Of Your Projects!

Over the years I have been complimented numerous times by people who have seen photos on the blog of the projects I build and how these photos themselves look. So with that in mind I thought I would show you a very simple project that anyone can build to get the same results that I do.  In almost all of my photos of my projects, the subject is photographed so that there is a seamless white or colored background behind it.  This shows off the projects nicely and is easily achieved using a small stand made from 1/2" PVC pipe, some connectors, poster board and painters tape. 

The photo above shows the simple stand that you will need to construct for this project. Here is a list of materials that you will need to put it all together.

1/2" PVC Pipe 24" long - 2 needed (upper framework)
1/2" PVC Pipe 14" long - 6 needed (upper framework and legs)
1/2" PVC Pipe 1 1/2" long - 4 needed (upper framework ends)
1/2" PVC "T" connecter - 4 needed (upper framework)
1/2" PVC Elbow - 4 needed (Top connectors for legs)
1/2" PVC End Cap - 4 needed (Bottom of legs)
12" - 20" of Painters Tape

The PVC is cut to length using a pipe cutter or small hand saw.  Then assembled to the connectors, elbows and end caps (as shown above) to make up the stand that is pictured in this post.  No glue is needed as this makes it easily possible to fold the stand up when not in use. Just push all the parts together as there is enough of a friction fit to make it all the parts hold together and stand up easily.

Next attach a large piece of poster board to the rear cross member using painters tape. The poster board shown in the photo above is 22" x 28" in size.  This can be found at any craft store or any store that handles school supplies. I use painters tape to attach the poster board. When you have completed taking the photos you want the painters tape can then be pulled off of the poster board and then wrapped around the upper framework for later use. With the shorter edge of the poster board attached to the rear cross member the poster board naturally bends when it is resting on a table.  This makes a nice even seamless background with no ugly edges for your pictures.

This is what my subject looks like once it has been placed on the "stage" ready for photos. As you can see I have a lot of room for my little Lego Jet Man and it's and easy task to center him for pictures.

At this point, the process that I use to get the photos I want is to play with the lighting and position of my subject until I think I have what I want or at least something I can work with to edit later for use in the blog. The above photo is one that I thought would work out pretty well. 

Once I have a photo that I can work with I bring it into a simple photo editing software on my computer.  All I really need to do at this point is crop the photo down to eliminate everything but my subject. Then I adjust the lighting and contrast and when I am happy with it I call it good.  It's that simple.  It gives me a nice photo of my project so that I can show you and everyone else who reads my blog what I am working on or have just completed. The photo above probably should have used a colored background so that the white propellers would have shown up better but you get the idea for this setup anyway.

It's that simple to get good photos of your projects to show off your hard work to your family and friends or post on your own blog. Cost for the background stand for your project photos is very inexpensive (less than $10) and will last for years. So put one together for you next photo shoot. You'll be glad you did. 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Merry Christmas From The Tinker's Workshop

I can't believe that another year has passed so quickly and we're enjoying another Christmas season once again.  I enjoy Christmas and am very grateful to all of you who have faithfully been following me while I design and build the  projects I write about on my blog every year. You are the very special people who give me encouragement to continue working on the things that I create. I enjoy writing my blog for people like you so I can show you how I manage to make new and sometimes unusual things.  You have brightened my days over the years with the many complimentary comments that I have received and helped me with suggestions to make not so great projects better than ever.

I want to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I hope that the projects that you dream about, plan for, and work hard at will turn out far better than you ever imagined. Thank you all once again for another great year on the blog!