The Sunbeam-Talbot 90 that was launched in 1948 was a very distinctive car. I thought it would be a worthy addition for illustrating but soon discovered there were four to choose from. The original Mk1 had spats over the rear wheels which didn’t attract me that much and obviously others thought the same as they were soon discarded on later generations of the model.

My original of the Mk3. By 1954 the Talbot name had been dropped.

     Decision made, let’s do two, the later Mk3 and the one before that, the Mk2A. However, the customer had a beautifully preserved Mk2 and wanted an illustration. My Mk2A was close to his car but his had the wheel spats which he’d removed, so that wasn’t a problem. The front bumper was completely different with the front number plate hiding the hole for the starting handle. He said the number plate had a hinge which you swung down for access (the things you learn, eh?).

My original of the Mk2A, close, but not close enough.

     Also, the wheels were different, the wing mirrors were on the front doors,  the spotlights were gone and, while you’re at it, get rid of the corrugations in the seats.....seems straightforward, let’s do it. Oh, by the way, DON’T FORGET MY NUMBER PLATE! Another happy customer!

The finished car!

The finished car!

The finished car!

The finished car!

Voila….la voiture!

     The customer had found a Sunbeam 25 saloon somewhere. For the sake of a good yarn let’s call it a barn find, though I knew it was stored undisturbed for a good few years and probably not a barn.


     The year of manufacture was 1935 and during 2018 his determination to restore it as faithfully as possible for that year was proceeding nicely, including the accessories. The correct spotlights, horns and driving mirrors were part of the restoration process, as were the road wheel hubs.

     For the Sunbeam, however, the customer decided to start with an original drawing rather than a modified existing drawing. A good reason for this decision was the fact that there was no suitable image in existence of the Sunbeam, I would have to search for good reference and photographs supplied by him to cobble together a pencil sketch and progress from there. Once the simple line work was established, images of the accessories were sent and drawings made of these which were then added to the main sketch.

     Once the customer was satisfied the linework was correct, the pencil rendering was done, which is shading using various pencils with varying degrees of hardness. Have a look at the illustrations on this page showing the progress of the Sunbeam artwork.

     My part in this story of renovation starts here. The customer had bought one of my prints of a Morris Eight Series E with some modifications, including mirrors, number plate and mudflaps. How do you modify a pencil drawing of a motor vehicle? A pencil eraser could do the job but that would only work on the original drawing. What about making an exact copy of the original pencil drawing and modifying that? No, because the copy would be a photocopy or an ink jet print, and an eraser isn’t going to alter the image no matter how hard you try. What about that white stuff that typists used years ago when office workers were bashing away at a typewriter? That would work but the overall effect as a piece of artwork would look awfully messy unless you made a copy of it, all very time consuming and certainly not good value for money.

      So, what’s the solution? How do you draw a mudflap, for instance, on to an existing pencil rendering of the Morris Eight so that the mudflap is a seamless integral part that anybody would swear was done on the same day as the original drawing? Why, you employ technology on the original drawing of course!


     Produce an overlay drawing of the mudflap so that it aligns exactly with the original car on a separate sheet of cartridge paper. Scan the Morris Eight original into the computer and save it in an image manipulating program. Do the same with the mudflap drawing and copy and paste the mudflap onto the Morris, adjusting the position and size so that it looks just right, and erase the bits you don’t want, including all the smudges that are inevitable with pencil rendering. Then make a good greyscale print at whatever size you wish - another masterpiece!

     For the Sunbeam, however, the customer decided to start with an original drawing rather than a modified existing drawing. A good reason for this decision was the fact that there was no suitable image in existence of the Sunbeam, I would have to search for good reference and photographs supplied by him to cobble together a pencil sketch and progress from there. Once the simple line work was established, images of the accessories were sent and drawings made of these which were then added to the main sketch.

     Once the customer was satisfied the linework was correct, the pencil rendering was done, which is shading using various pencils with varying degrees of hardness. Have a look at the illustrations on this page showing the progress of the Sunbeam artwork.

     The original linework came from a tracing of the basic photograph of “a car that looks something like a Sunbeam 25” as a starting point. It could have been anything with four wheels, one at each corner. At this stage the aspect, layout and perspective of the car were more important than technical details.


      For the repetitive parts of the illustration, such as the radiator grille, I used a vector drawing program on the computer, utilising the blend tool. This enabled me to draw the beginning and end of an object, specify how many steps to apply between the same two objects, in this case about twelve, hit go and the blend tool will give 12 lines changing between the two original lines. In other words, blending the two into a total of fourteen. This image is then applied to the car drawing. The amount of work saved by letting the computer do the tedious bits is wonderful.

     The final illustration, a picture of a car that doesn’t yet exist. If the plan goes right, it will look like this very very soon. That’s the beauty about pencil drawings, they’re created to look like a pencil drawing! In other words, a representation of the car, a piece of artwork, an impression of the car, not a photograph.


     The number plate was important. The customer had to have it in 1935 style. That doesn’t mean just white or silver characters on a black background. If you study the history of car registration plates in the UK, which is what I have done (now you’re thinking you’re dealing with a total nerd, aren’t you? Trust me, it’s not necessarily a fascinating subject but over the years I had to get my number plates right), you’ll know of the many style changes that occurred. More on that subject some other time!


     Time to go and sharpen up the pencils, again.