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Design sketches for driverless minibusses

Ayal Pinkus

Hi there!
The four lithographs Gottfried made, which I showed earlier, actually tell a story in four panels. This inspired me to go back to doing wordless stories and approaching it in the same way he did: ditching continuity.

He just used four panels, not dozens to show every step of the story. Maybe that is something we got from movies, to force continuity. The old wordless pictorial stories did not have that.

And I wanted to try that approach, and so I wrote a short script for an online course on making comics.

In a near-future world, everyone moves around in driverless minibusses which you can hail with your mobile. No one walks, drives, or cycles anymore. All transport is door-to-door. But the mode of transportation is not too fast as there are traffic jams that stretch on for miles on end throughout the cities. Then one day, while walking out in the forest — something people don't actually do all that much anymore — our protagonist finds some rusty antique wreck that appears to be a vehicle of transportation with two wheels. He decides to take it home and reconstruct it using his 3D printer. He tries it out and discovers he can easily bypass traffic! People notice this, and he gets rich selling what is essentially an ancient mountain bike.

It's a comment on our society. With our relentless focus on efficiency, I think we do lose a thing or two from the past. That's why I look at artists from the past. I believe there are many things we have unlearned in our relentless pursuit of efficiency.

Anyway, enough talk. Here are some design sketches for the driverless minibusses.

designs for driverless minibusses.

I like how they make people look boxed-in. I can make the protagonist soar through the city on his mountain bike in contrast.

I am currently enjoying sketching loosely by first setting up a rough sketch with a regular blue pencil and then going in with a cheap Muji pen to freehand render it as carefully as possible.

And here are studies for houses.

Amsterdam canal houses drawn in a cartoon style.

I based these off photo reference of Amsterdam canal houses. I want this to happen in the near future, and we'll still be living in the same houses, but I think the road network will probably be optimized more and more for electric driverless cars, up to a point where humans are not allowed to drive anymore. And so a lot can be removed from sight: road signs, traffic lights and such are all not necessary anymore. The cars communicate with a central system over a wireless network.

The process I am currently trying is one where I try to draw panel thumbnails to get the design right. I discover the things I need to learn to draw and then I practice those things in my sketchbook, first by drawing from reference, then by drawing from imagination from any angle and modifying the design at heart's content, then returning to the original reference to see if I missed anything.

And so here are three thumbnails — of the many more I drew.

thumbnails for illustrations for story.

I wanted driverless cars in a contemporary cityscape. You can see in the first thumbnail that I didn't know how to draw buildings, hence the practicing in my sketchbook. And the cars looked like our own. I wanted them to look more like something that would be driverless, so I figured maybe something that looks like a minibus without a driver. That would look like futuristic public transport.

This will hopefully turn into a multi-panel silent story told through images.

Yours truly,
Ayal Pinkus