What an awesome project to work on—creating cartoon Frankenstein artwork for a custom hot rod 1971 Barracuda. This project started life when Murray Pfaff of Pfaff Designs contacted me to create the artwork as part of a custom hot rod design he was working on for a client.
The process started off—as usual—with an initial rough sketch to make sure the client and I were on the same page. Of course, we had a phone conversation before this to make sure we both were on the same page as far as the artwork.
The spark plug “Frankenstein’s Lab” lighting towers needed to be included, in addition to the main Frankie art. At this stage I just wanted to get sketches for all the elements to make sure the look was headed in the right direction. Client’s response: Frank looked too “Fred Flinstone-y”! And I had to agree. He wanted something more aggressive, so I literally went back to the drawing board working on some variations.
I was kind of stoked, as usually the characters I develop are more cartoony and I like to work in a more “realistic” style when I have the chance. I thought the followup Frankenstein head sketch came out great:
This guy (above) was more for style than the actual look. Needless to say the client wasn’t keen on this one either. The next one was getting closer:
Besides not being right for the project, this sketch has some general issues with physiology and proportion, despite this being a rough sketch. I was struggling with the “snarl”. And the hands are looking odd. But the good thing about this sketch is that it led to what became the final:
We toyed with the idea of how to play on the “neck bolts” of Frankenstein, and thought of this idea of him cranking on them with a big ol’ wrench as I was working on the sketches. Client loved it and we moved to the final.
One of the limitations of the art was that it needed to be all in gray tones, and very few (2-4 maximum). Also, the final art was intended to be very subtle, so I needed to choose gray tones that stood out enough from each other, but not too much.
After creating the vector art version, I started working on variations for the gray tones with all the elements. We went through a few variations before settling on this as the best solution:
The Mopar logo needed to be included, and I added lines as a graphic element. It all makes much more sense when you see the car template overlay in conjunction with the actual artwork:
And here is a version with the final Frankenstein art cropped to the template. I made the transparent areas a light magenta to help them read better visually:
The artwork was transferred to the actual vehicle as follows: the top of the car was sprayed the lightest color – silver. Then they printed the artwork on adhesive vinyl with cuts along all of the color break edges. That was applied to the top of the car. Each of the remaining two shades were pulled away and sprayed, then remasked until the shades were done.
Murray sent me some build photos of the actual car, which I’m sharing below:
(The last photo is a detail of the hubcaps)
This was an awesome project to work on. Murray Pfaff was great to work with, and we had a lot of fun creating the Frankenstein artwork. Seeing my art on the final vehicle is a blast! I’d love to work again with Pfaff or any other custom hot rod designer looking to incorporate some killer illustration work in a hot rod design. Drop me a line if you’re interested!
Mopar Collector’s Guide Magazine featured FrankenCuda in the September 2009 issue. Here are the relevant pages: