We have long been a fan of Axesent’s work but we wanted to know how all of this started. Seeing Axesent’s sunning image’s across social media and all over the internet we decided to go directly to him and ask some big questions about his work and process.
GSS: How long have you been doing this?
– Axesent: I began drawing cars in the early 80s at maybe age 5, but not very well. Mostly side on profile views of panel vans, for some weird reason. The digital side started in around 1999, when I did a graphic design course and concentrated in mainly Adobe Photoshop.
Back then it was all just photochops until maybe 2007 , I started doing Vexel pictures (like vector art, but within photoshop). Vexel, like vector car art is mostly tracing over a photo. I was later doing the same style but adding race/drift livery over the top.
I wanted a way to render the car, but put decals and designs under the shine and shadows, so it would look more realistic.That’s basically where this style of transparent rendering began.
GSS: Who inspires you?
– Axesent: Nik Blackhurst and Richard Brunning from Bad Obsession Motorsport haha.
I’m not really inspired by people, but more so by technical videos and car builds.
There are many great artists out there, but I never really started because of the “art” side.
I started because I really wanted to build every car I have an idea for, and the only way that was possible was drawing or photomodding them.
GSS: Have you always been into cars?
– Axesent: Yes, ever since I can remember. My father ran a large automotive workshop/ service station in Tasmania, my mother worked in the office, so every after school and school holiday was spent in the workshop watching the mechanics. I was given an old engine to pull apart at around age 10 and that boosted my interest in the technical side of cars.
GSS: What is your day job?
– Axesent: Full time digital artist. Not only in automotive, but other areas like concept rendering, area development illustration, anime/manga stills
I was very lucky to get a job as a full time mechanic here in Japan, right pub, right time. I worked in a garage in Asaka-shi called “Modify” for 18 months before heading back to
Australia for a short time in 2014.
GSS: Where do you want to take this?
– Axesent: I would like to make a decent, comfortable living from it,
especially with vehicle illustration. The main thing i want to push is stylistic mods. Maybe become the digital Chip Foose (in my dreams) lol
GSS: How do you normally start a piece?
– Axesent: I mostly start by looking at and downloading a tonne of pics from all different angles,
especially if it’s a car I have never seen in real life, as an example American cars that I have only seen in pics. Getting the proportions and knowing how the light shapes the car from different angles is the most important part of the way I render. They are mostly lit as if they were in a studio setting, but layered in a way that I can light the cars for any background needed.
GSS: Do you gradually create over time or do you visualize the finished piece before you have started.
– Axesent: With customers cars, it’s all pretty straight forward. For my personal stuff, I’ll pick a car that interests me, (often odd and quirky) and mostly create as I go. Others I have an idea of what I want. It’s a bit of a mix.
GSS: Do you build the cars from scratch or start with base photos?
– Axesent: Side profile images are mostly from scratch, especially 80s cars. They’re all very angular and simple. Others I will Line art the shape from a photo to get proportions as they are in real life.
GSS: Is there a style that you aim for or a look you prefer?
– Axesent: I really like the subtle, less is more look rather than fireworks, balloons and glitter.
Cars that make you take that 2nd look, rather than slapping you repeatedly in the face yelling “look at me!” haha.
With the renders I really like bringing them as close to a photo as possible, purely just as a personal challenge. I have slightly changed the way I do some cars so they don’t get glossed over as photos. I had many doubters claiming they were just chopped images, so I began my youtube page showing all the layer groupings for pretty much every image I post on Facebook now.
GSS: Did you ever imagine your skills evolving as much as they have?
– Axesent: Not really, I moved to Japan in 2011, after selling almost everything I owned I had some money to just be lazy for a while, but I needed something to do, that’s when I started really getting into it.
GSS: Are your works mainly Japanese inspired?
– Axesent: Not intentionally, it’s just how lots of them come out. I’d say I’m more inspired by late 70s and 80s cars in general.
I’m very partial to old school Japanese wheels, so alot do end up looking a little “shakotan”.
GSS: How long do you estimate most designs take?
– Axesent: Rendering in the transparent style I do really takes a looooong time. Lot’s of people will tell me their friends do a vector in 2 hours. That’s true, but it’s all very trace bias and not a huge amount of detail.
I put lot’s of detail in bits that won’t really be seen on my pics for the internet versions, but on a A1 or A0 size print looking close they stand out more.
Start to finish on a side profile render will usually take between 8 – 12 hours work.
I’m a bit of a perfectionist, so i’ll look at the render for a few days and add little bits, but I’m never really happy, and I end up with 5 or 6 versions of different lighting and colors.
With cars I’m doing for customers, I usually do a little at a time and move to another project and back again etc. because spending that amount of time looking at one image is really very tedious.
GSS: What do you drive? And what would you like to be driving?
– Axesent: Right now, In Japan my transport is a Suzuki Verde 50cc scooter and my mother in law’s Suzuki Swift Sport. Sad times….
Though I still have my UK import Mk2 Golf GTI in storage back in Tasmania.
It’s an Ex Tarmac rally car, It’s no rocket ship but a good all round fun car for Tassie roads.
What would I like to be driving. –
There is not enough room to list them!
Here in Japan, I would really love to have the money to buy and bring over an RS2000 Escort.
It’s hard to be subtle and different in Japan, something hardly anyone here has ever seen would be great, and I love escorts!
GSS: Do you think Automotive art is neglected/unappreciated in the art world?
– Axesent: Not really, I think the old school pencil, paper and marker dudes are doing the best and most amazing jobs. Though I think as certain things get more easy, in the way many are churning out 100% traced Vector/Vexel artwork, the real creative and ornate stuff seems to get lost in the flood.
But my hat comes off to traditional automotive artists like Telly Sahara here in Japan,
also Mame Ozizo for his crazy stuff. Very creative.
GSS: Are there any other artist you work with to create designs?
– Axesent: Yes, I’m often helped along by a mate in Germany “polylinear” .
We often do collaborations. He sends me the basic line art and i basically color it in, haha.
He supplied the line art for a few images on display here.
GSS: What is your favourite software to work with?
– Axesent: Adobe Photoshop.
My style is very reliant on soft brushes and soft erasers to generate the gradients and keep it transparent over the base colour.
This can be seen in my videos on Youtube
GSS: Are you a Motorsport fan and what is your favorite Motorsport?
– Axesent: Yes, very much, but back to the 80s – 90s. Old Gr.C and Gr.A touring cars, the 500cc 2 stroke era of Motorcycle GP. Now my favourite form would be WRC
Thanks to Axesent for taking time to answer these questions and letting us share his amazing work.