Monday, September 15, 2014
When I begin lettering, I often start with the horizontal stripes that can often run along the top and bottom of locomotives. It is important to measure these stripes at several places across the locomotive, as you want to keep the stripes straight. If they begin to angle, not only will your eye catch this in the finished drawing, but also, your lettering may likely begin to slant, as well.
After the stripes are in place, I begin to letter the railroad name that is often centered on the hood of the locomotive. First I see how many doors the lettering will span. Next, I measure the length of this span in inches. I then count how many letters and spaces are in the road name.
It is important to count letters accurately, and to keep a close watch on the words as you letter, as a big challenge to lettering, I find, is that even when measured properly, it is very common to run out of room on your last word. This can be frustrating, as it is hard to see a beautifully written road name spelled out, only to run out of room for the last letter or two. Also, when done in pencil, the paper often, at best only allows about one or two erasures before losing its texture.
Lettering is an exciting part of the drawing process. It is when you get to see a locomotive, freight car or caboose take on the name of its owner. I recommend practicing lettering as much as you can on scraps of paper and even freight cars and cabooses, testing to see how many times you can write a given road name in a set area, such as two or three inches. This skill will lead to great results as you draw. Enjoy drawing trains.
I have also painted the underframe black. It is very important when painting the locomotive to use two and often three coats of ink. The first coat merely blocks in the green area. The second coat begins to smooth out the brush strokes and even out patches that the first coat missed.
Often, it is good to find a pen that is a close match but perhaps a bit lighter in color to use as a top coat. This smooths out the paint and gives the scheme a sheen. Before beginning to paint, test and see on a scrap of paper if the lighter top pen and the darker base coat look good together. Do not be afraid to test many colors until you find the right match that works for your railroad. Enjoy drawing trains.
Sunday, September 14, 2014
Once the gold is painted, the over spray of gold will be trimmed with a fine-tip dark green pen. Gold will not be seen underneath the darker green trim.
Painting gold past the edges and then trimming up to it with green will reduce the amount of white paper that shows through the drawing. This will make your finished locomotive truly stand out. Enjoy drawing trains.
Monday, September 8, 2014
Freight cars such as this Rock Island piggyback trailer give you a chance to practice many aspects of your drawing. As you work on this fairly modern piece of equipment, you may not think that you are building a very essential skill for drawing steam locomotives-making straight, evenly spaced rows of rivets.
Steam locomotives are covered with rivets. As you begin to invest long periods of time drawing steam locomotives, you will be glad that you spent so many invaluable hours practicing skills such as riveting. Keeping rivets straight and placing them well truly enhances the look and feel of your steam locomotive drawing.
Many early diesels you draw also have long, straight rows of rivets on their hoods. Keeping these rows straight will allow observers to focus on your lettering and painting.
Box cars and piggyback trailers truly build key skills. I always draw them whenever I get the chance. I find myself drawing a freight car today so I can draw a locomotive tomorrow. Enjoy drawing trains.
Sunday, September 7, 2014
Grand Trunk Western, for example, switched from black to blue. The red ends stayed the same, so especially in a black and white photo, at times, it can be hard to spot if certain locomotives are painted in black or blue.
Right before committing to painting, it is always a good idea to check as many references as possible to see if a locomotive is painted a certain way. As in the drawings above many Grand Trunk Western locomotives were painted in black, blue, and also green.
Your eye will catch details, such as the longer arm on the "G" on the black paint scheme as compared to the blue paint scheme. Many times, details on locomotives, such as horn and antenna placements give clues to the era or shop a locomotive is from. This can give clues to variances in paint schemes, especially when looking at black and white photos.
Spotting details on locomotives is key to the challenge of lettering placement. Notice the placement of the "GT" logo is towards the front and center of most of the locomotives, however, it is towards the rear of the GP9. This is because the GP9 has grills located in the center of the hood, making center placement a challenge.
The more you spot on locomotives, the better your drawings will become. With each detail you see, the more fun you will have. Enjoy drawing trains.
Lettering on a light background is a good place to start when you are practicing lettering. This style of lettering is a little more forgiving if you make a minor mistake.
In the case of the Illinois Central Gulf piggyback logo and the Illinois Central Gulf lettering, it is important to keep the edges crisp. When building your concentration, however, it is a relief not to have to paint around these letters and the logo once trimmed.
Your finished trailers will be very impressive. Intermodal trailers truly are a key part of what moves America's trains. Many railfans will recognize your piggyback trailers both past and present. Enjoy drawing trains.
Saturday, September 6, 2014
The more you practice drawings such as box cars, the straighter your lines become. If your initial rectangle is straight, you will find that it truly shows in the end. Doors, rivets, even lettering are important details, however, if the outside "box" of the box car is not very straight, immediately your eye will see the slant.
Also, throughout the process, as you draw the braces, the door, and line up the lettering, you will find that each of these details becomes skewed if you are lining them up to a top, bottom or side that is not perfectly straight. So remember, simple as it may seem, the box truly is the most important part of the box car. Enjoy drawing trains.
Friday, September 5, 2014
Locomotives such as this Citirail ES44AC are always popular. As you incorporate the color gray, you will see that Citirail has a fairly basic paint scheme.
Your Citirail drawing will be a great conversation starter, as Citirail locomotives are on lease across America. Whenever a Citirail locomotive is in a consist, it is a great catch.
It is always fun to draw a great historic locomotive, however, there is nothing like a locomotive that you can see rolling by on today's railroads, as well. Enjoy drawing trains.
Wednesday, September 3, 2014
Fine point pens come in more and more colors these days, and a wide variety can be purchased at art supply, craft stores and even office supply stores. In the case of this Atlantic Coast Line locomotive, it is key to have a purple pen, as when you trim the fine lettering, a pen such as red or blue would stand out. At times, I have mixed red and blue fine point pens to make purple, however, that is difficult and poses an unnecessary challenge that can be easily avoided.
When trimming around the yellow stripes, it is also important that I have a purple pen, as colors such as red or blue will stand out when I fill these areas with purple ink. It is important to use a straight-edge whenever possible along stripes, as a this keeps the lines crisp.
Once the purple areas are trimmed, you are ready to paint. Enjoy drawing trains.
It is important when you begin painting gray, that you set aside enough time that you can fill the whole area and paint at least two or three coats without interruption. Always be patient with gray, and remember to even out the lighter spots as soon as you paint. It is much more difficult to touch-up large areas of gray than it is on darker colors once gray has had some time to dry.
Gray is an important color to practice. Gray and silver are common colors on classic locomotives and on many underframes. As your confidence with gray improves, you will find yourself able to draw a much wider range of locomotives. Enjoy drawing trains.
Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Western Pacific was known as the Feather River Route, after the scenic Feather River Canyon it followed entering Northern California. Western Pacific is remembered as a railroad that linked California and the West to the gateway of Salt Lake City.
From a time managment element, you will quickly see that a box car gives you a long time to work on lettering and painting versus a locomotive. This gives you valuable practice time, as most of the mistakes and stress you will feel while drawing happen when painting. Pencil lines can be erased, pen and ink is much more difficult to correct.
So when you see a train, keep an eye out for some of the interesting freight cars. They truly are the best drawings to get started on. Enjoy drawing trains.
Constant practice of lettering builds your confidence. Your eyes grow sharper and sharper at seeing the spaces between letters and the many shapes, twists and turns on each letter. Who would have thought that drawing a simple box car would give you this much practice? Enjoy drawing trains.