Speed Racer (30 minute Spit Paint)

Ah, got the Miles Davis "Bitches Brew"* on vinyl fired up for it's first spin here in my office and cranked on this one. Speed form cars are easy, the spun aluminum wheel covers are also easy and effective solutions to fast finish. The odd angle saved me from having to draw the cockpit as well so 30 minutes was no problem!

*Thanks, Permanent Records, Eagle Rock!


Bad Penny always comes back to you.

Could be a coincidence, but I'll bet you one bad penny that this customizer has a copy of Dwayne's Masters of the Chicken Scratch II in their shop. A bit surprising to see the same name and same graphic treatment at SEMA this year on a car as my design from a couple years back. They got theirs in sheet metal, so hat tip for that, I suppose.

Frye, "Bad Penny," 2009
 CDC Concepts "Bad Penny," 2013.


Daily Spitpaint

Amigo Vaughan Ling brought this to my attention recently:  Daily Spitpaint group on Facebook. I am more comfy with sketching with line, and my color usage is basic, so this is way out of my comfort zone, but I'm enjoying it. The thirty minute time limit forces you do abandon all sorts of left brain cogitation and push to finish something. My vehicle focus is going to limit my subject matter somewhat, but definitely a good exercise and skill boost. All sorts of kick-ass humbling talent involved including David Levy and Sparth. We all should have 30 minutes to spare a day to create something like this. Maybe I'll drop the Call of Duty and make THIS my new lunch time activity...that'll be tough to do.


Re-post from my class blog.

I wrote this for my class blog, and while my plan was to keep this particular blog to the selfish topic of MY artwork, I want to post this exception because Ftiz and Van are an inspiration for my illustration, though you probably don't see much literal translation into my work.

I present two advertising illustrations for the 1960 Pontiac convertible. I talked in class about Fitz and Van, an illustrating team at General motors. They did the second piece above- Fitz doing the car, Van doing the scenery and figure work. While collecting some of this old ad art, I accidentally purchased a non-Fitz and Van piece from their era and was very interested to compare the two works because the car and perspective were identical. When I scanned these in and scaled them, the overlay was remarkable, I'm thinking that the same photo reference of the car was used for both, though the lighting comes from a higher angle in the second image. What is interesting is while the first illo is good, how much better the second, Fitz and Van is. This is why the team of Art Fitzpatrick and Van Kaufman was so valuable to General Motors in the 1960's.

I've neglected Van's portion of the piece somewhat, cropping much of his work here. He did the backgrounds and figures in the illos, but it's worth noting the overall feeling of the scene itself, comparing both images. The family in the first image is apparently some mid-western tourists visiting California for the first time. Dad can't figure out his camera, dopey son is helpless to assist and can only gawk. The graceless girl has awkwardly dropped her doll while the mother, shapeless, almost two dimensional with a dowdy dress that just hangs at an uninspired length, stiffly turns to glance back. Child number three, fey and completely ignored, is likely to run alone into the parking lot while each parent thinks the other is watching. There is nary the connection between any of the family or the car. We're not even sure if it IS their car.

Moving on to Van Kaufman's work, someone has made the right call- we have no kids in the image. This, of course, is the two-door convertible, and the market for this particular model is a couple or swinging single. In pure advertising strategy logic, the two couples interacting are appropriate for the car. Now these folks have style, apart from the relaxed, energetic interaction, there's all sorts of style with these folks. While the first guy couldn't figure out his camera, it looks like this guy has a yacht, as implied by the cap and harbor scene. He's the regular captain of a ship! My general feeling is that Van intended the couple outside the car to look longingly, jealously and the driver and his gal and their great car. You get a feeling of consumer want and envy here. The guy in the sportscoat is just dying to ask the yacht captain the secrets of his success. That little tilt of the lady in yellow's head just has the wistful dreaming indication. Maybe it's just my imagination.

The car illustration: Art's work really pops. There's all sorts of things he's doing that the first artist is not. Starting with value range, the important basis of any illustration. Looking at the fronts of both cars with the color stripped away, look at the range of value on the right side, the liveliness of the hood itself and the fluidity of the reflection of the windshield- the work on the right pulling the window frame reflection into a dynamic, elegant point emphasizing the hood spear stamping. Even the reflection of the rear view mirror, probably eliminated by the first artist as a fussy, distracting detail is actually just another level of interest in Art's hood. The headlights are alive on the right, glazed with cataracts on the left. The Fitz and Van car has a bit of the turn of the tire to help the car feel like it is going somewhere, less static. The only thing that seems to be minimized are the wiper blades, which integrate into the cowl better in the second piece, probably not accurate. The focal point of the car is the front near corner, where the sunlight dazzles to pure white of both paint and chrome, and the blue turns nearly black. Contrast and value. Punchy. Attractive

When you get to the color, I did an eyedropper test in Photoshop on both cars and with Art's Pontiac, there is quite a bit of flop from purple to greenish blue. The first piece has one blue that carries through the whole car. Fitz and Van's pieces had an exemplary quality from their earliest collaborations around this time and it is little wonder that they basically owned the Pontiac brand image years after this, right up to the point when illustration ran out of favor and photos became de riguer, unfortunate as the photos were never quite as adept in selling the dream as these paintings were.

John A. Frye 10/31/13 Happy Halloween!

Handout for hot rods

Here's a sample of the work I'm creating as content for handouts in the Concept Vehicle Design course that I'm teaching at Concept Design Academy in Pasadena. I have to condense a lot of knowledge about particular vehicles, drawing techniques, etc. into one or two pages. We go over a lot of material in a very short time.


1969 Honda RA303 Grand Prix Prototype

The number sequence of each subsequent chassis design in the three-liter class ended in 1968 for Honda, who decided to focus engineering manpower and budget on the production automobile development. Another impetus was the tragic French Grand Prix in Rouen. Was next year's car on the drawing board? Was the RA303 in development during 1968? What would it have looked like? One can only guess.


Intro To Vehicle Design Course at Concept Design Academy

 From Concept Design Academy's blog. Late notice, but I will be teaching vehicle design starting next week.

John Frye's Vehicle Design Course at CDA Link... 

Last call for enrollment for "Intro to Vehicle Design" with John Frye~!!

To sign up, visit our website at:

This is a great class for anyone interested to learn how to draw and design vehicles. John is currently the Digital Design Modeler/Studio Illustrator at Honda R&D and have much experience in both toys and game vehicle concept design.

Great for students who have taken Vis Com 1 and wanted to continue their learning.

Class starts on Friday, Oct. 4th. Sign up soon~!!


Claret Baron

Claret Baron, originally uploaded by Xyling.

I did this kind of mass balance for a bathyscaphe design, for some reason my creative subconscious replayed it in aerial form. Don't analyze the technology, there's no backstory there.


Honda Civic 40 Years

Finally I can sleep! 80+ hours of work spread over the last few months. Finished!



Vehicules, originally uploaded by Xyling.

More equipment from the Russian Mars expedition.

3rd Gen Civic

gen3small, originally uploaded by Xyling.

You can see where I'm going with these, probably. Five more to go...


Gen 1 Civic

gen1small, originally uploaded by Xyling.

Been procrastinating on this mural project for months. Will be a horizontal strip showing the progression of all generations US market Civics. Interesting challenge to work with some big sized files again.



robo, originally uploaded by Xyling.

Artwork from the turn of the century.


Kit Box

Kit Box, originally uploaded by Xyling.

Finished, folded box...should have put some old plastic parts in there for that authentic rattle.


Frankenstein Kit Box

FrankensteinFinalFrankless, originally uploaded by Xyling.
Illustration done for co-worker. Made an effort to create a vintage kit box art illo. Got the background color from an old magazine print ad so it had the right halftone feeling, then grabbed some vintage magazine off white for the rest of the background. The main "Frankenstein" font was painted from scratch in Photoshop using Ed Roth kit lettering reference. The rest of the artwork was created in Photoshop trying to replicate the old style analog brushwork. I then overlayed halftone dots on the finished illustration to push the cheap old color printing style. Box scuffs scanned from a 40 year old Kraftwerk record cover in my collection.