Boxtop Illustration

Shown below is the step-by-step process that has resulted in the creation of a new piece of original aviation art crafted specifically to fit Accurate Miniatures' boxtop layout.

(Please scroll down to view additional images)

  The opportunity to create this art came about  as a result of attending the IPMS/Metro Atlanta model show June 20-21, 2008 as a vendor. Since I was selling not only model kits & accessories,  but aviation art & art prints too, my work got noticed by Thomas Myers, the art director of Accurate Miniatures. When he later contacted me to send him a "comp" sketch for a painting to feature Tuskegee Airman 1LT Lee Archer's P-51 "Ina the Macon Belle" , this was the result.

After e-mailing a digital image of the sketch above to Thomas, he evaluated it and, even though he loved the dynamic angle of the fighters and the inclusion of Archer's partner - CPT Wendell Pruitt - just over Archer's shoulder, it just wouldn't fit his layout. So, I opened the digital image of the sketch in Photoshop and selected the fighters with the polygon lasso tool and copied them in as a new layer. I then rotated this new layer to level out their wings, and edited out their original positioning on the background layer to create this new image.

Next, I scanned the boxtop of an Accurate Miniatures P-51A kit that Thomas had given to me in Atlanta, and pasted the revised sketch into that layout as shown here. When he received this "comp" along with the image above, he was able to secure an approval from his management to commit to hire me for the job.

  Here is an in-progress image of the final  design of the painting in its full size 16" x 20" layout. The support is acid-free illustration board; the aircraft have all been inked  to keep me from losing panel lines and other detail under my paint applications; the cloud base has been rendered in pencil graphite applied with an artists' stump. The areas of skyscape above & below the fighters have been expanded to fill the layout; the bombers have been revised & repositioned to give the impression of a more vast formation that is moving across the scene from the viewer's right-to-left.

Here we have another of my in-progress images that I sent to Thomas during the project. The painting is nearing completion. With the exception of the addition of the "Zoot Suit" cool character to the rear fuselage, whirling prop blades to the spinner, and completion of the cockpit interior, "Ina the Macon Belle" is pretty well done here.

  Here is an image of the finished work that is available in my Aviation & Military Art Gallery .

And below, left is the main boxtop depicting the "cut & crop" application of the painting's image to emphasize the main subject. To the right is an image showing the box bottom with it's photo of a "build" of the enclosed kit, along with a fuller image of my painting on the boxtop end panel.

A Day in the Life of These Tuskegee Airmen:
  As I've said elsewhere on this site, as a model builder and military history
buff, I'm fascinated with the stories of men like Lee Archer & Wendell
Pruitt. These men were the most successful Leadman/Wingman team of
the 332nd Fighter Group - the famed Tuskegee Airmen. They were
renowned for being the most effective fighter escort group in the
Army Air Force. Serving in the 302nd Fighter Squadron out of southern
Italy, Archer & Pruitt became known as "The Gruesome Twosome" .
In one engagement on 12 October, 1944 the 302nd Fighter Squadron was
performing strafing attacks along the Danube River. On this day Archer
was flying wingman to Pruitt's lead when they came across a Heinkell 111
bomber and shot it down in flames. Their squadron was then attacked by
seven Messerschmitt 109 fighters. Pruitt & Archer turned head-on into
the enemy, guns blazing. After passing through the Germans, Archer turned
tightly & got behind a 109, fired several short bursts into it until a
wing ripped off of the plane & it plunged to earth. He then joined up
with Pruitt to protect him as he shot down another 109. Shortly thereafter
another 109 slid into the gap between Archer & Pruitt and closed on
Pruitt's Mustang. Archer drew close to the German until his plane filled
his gunsight & fired, causing the enemy to explode in mid-air. Later, while
Pruitt had tried to fire on another enemy, his guns jammed. Signaling Archer
to take the lead, they engaged the 109 as the pilot attempted to land, causing
it to crash on the runway.

CPT Wendell Pruitt finished his tour of combat duty in Europe and rotated back
to the U.S. where he became an instructor pilot. He was killed in a flying accident
with a student pilot in Tuskegee, Alabama.

1LT Lee Archer stayed in the Army Air Corps to rise to the rank of Lt. Colonel
in the U.S. Air Force. He is the only confirmed ace of the Tuskegee Airmen with
five air-to-air kills; he is also credited with another six enemy aircraft de-
stroyed on the ground. He retired from the Air Force in 1970.

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