Rebour Redux (sort of…)

One of the things I enjoy most about Bicycle Quarterly is the publisher’s decision to include Daniel Rebour illustrations in their publication. A French illustrator during the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s, Rebour is noted among vintage bicycle enthusiasts as an extraordinary talent, merging technical and artistic worlds in his intricately detailed and finely crafted line drawings of bicycles and components.

As a former illustrator I can appreciate the exquisitely drawn images of Rebour. They must first be easy to reproduce and also be at informative and clear while continuing to engage the reader. Not an easy task, especially given the crude printing reproduction and frequently awful paper quality of the war and post-war years.

For some little while now I’ve been thinking about trying my hand at a similar type of drawing, using my own bikes as a reference point – a sort of homage to Rebour, if you will. The drawing above was drawn in Adobe Illustrator CS5 and took me about seven hours to generate. I printed it out and used a technical pen to add stippling and crosshatching, which is illustrated below.

I rather think I could do a better and faster job by hand – oddly enough, some of the subtleties of the mechanical components are difficult to draw using the computer.


4 thoughts on “Rebour Redux (sort of…)

  1. Christian Bernhard Hagen says:

    Very nice and clear Illustrator work, and beautifull hand stippling and cross hatching. One thing: I think your Illustrator basis might benefit from using the fat lines for “whole objects” or objects that are “in front of” other objects rather than as a sort of silhouette enhancer – I really like the handlebar in front of the bag. It does get a little awkward with the outline of the saddle, if you get what I mean?

    Perhaps, with the level of detail hinted at with the stippling and hatching, the spokes would “fit in”, too.

    • Your points are well taken. At this stage I’m simply experimenting more than anything else. Many of the Rebour drawings I’ve seen leave the spokes out and I have, in fact, run into the problem of way too much detail when I’ve included them in other previous versions. It bothered me that those details detracted (to my eye, anyway) from the overall drawing. I seriously doubt this approach will in any way influence my “primary” art making style, but it’s fun to dabble in areas that push me outside the box…this was, after all, what ultimately got me interested in bicycle recovery in the first place!

  2. I like both images, though the second one definitely looks more “organic” esp. with the stippling and cross-hatching. It is ironic that the Illustrator generated image took seven hours, since using a computer is supposed to be “easier”.

    • Funny how the computer has this reputation for making things easier! So much of the time it makes things less so…I think of the drawings as being more “accurate” and more consistent, in terms of line weight and quality. Nevertheless, I far prefer the “imperfections” of the artist’s hand to show in the final drawing myself. I’m doing this very thing with the Bob Jackson drawing that I recently completed in Illustrator, and now going back in with a pen to “untidy” those perfect draftsman-like lines!

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