How to Draw
a Colourless Car

How to Draw<br>a Colourless Car

She gives the impression of fragility. But when she starts talking about her work her firm approaches and exact thinking emerge. Find out what illustrator Vera Matys, who is the creative force behind ŠKODA Christmas campaign, enjoys.

20. 12. 2016 Lifestyle PEOPLE

She sees herself as a decently creative person who takes pleasure in visual arts. When Vera Matys lists all her professional specializations she can’t help herself but smile during one. Illustration. Evidently, it’s a field that she truly enjoys and which defines her the most.

Vera would like to see her life balanced and she’s been indeed successful in that for the past two years. “I have equal parts work and free time, so I can choose commissions I like or projects I’m suitable for.”

After long years, Vera left the “safety” of employment in advertising and took her chances on unexplored grounds of freelancing. Although she confesses that she wasn’t risking that much by going freelance because she had certain livelihood securities, it still required a big chunk of courage to make the deciding step.

But when the strongest attribute of a decision happens to be freedom, your steps leading up to the defined goal are certainly more surefooted.


I have equal parts work and free time, so I can choose commissions I like or projects I’m suitable for.

Vera Matys





Vera gives the impression that her decision was worth it. Her surrounding is treated to smiles and good mood without the constant stress. That’s because when she doesn’t work at clients’ commissioned projects she has time for her own from the “endless list”. If a routine setting like this is supposed to run smoothly, one needs to make the quality named Discipline into one’s faithful friend. And that is just what Vera did.

Just as a doctor, carpenter, or a mechanic, Vera has various work tools at her disposal. The cornerstone ones are predominantly her head and her right hand, which she uses for sketching her ideas and drafts the old school way – with pencil on paper. Her considerateness resurfaces from time to time, when she realizes how many sketched papers she needs to throw away before she reaches the desired result. Furthermore, even the constant erasing, which is an inherent part of such process, doesn’t rank among her most favourite activities, even if it could be perceived as a certain kind of “cleansing” process.

Vera likes digital drawing too, so she combines. She perceives it as a cleaner and more practical counterpart to the classical one. “I can always undo any changes and, on top of that, save a great amount of paint, pencils, and paper.” Even though she sees a huge added value in work with software and hardware, she always likes to come back to the literal drawing board and manual work in general. It feels more real to her. The illustrator defines it as an escape from the omnipresent technology that surrounds us.


Vera’s profession is to create artworks, and for those she needs inspiration. She sources it from all around her but, almost mainly, from within herself, via her childhood experiences. “To this day, I draw my inspiration from times when everything felt just right and I project these feelings into my works.” Apart from her own lived out feelings, she’s inspired by many people – especially those who create similar artworks themselves. Vera admits that some of them even influenced the very core of her artistic thinking. With great admiration she talks about Karel Zeman or both Svěráks, father and son. But who has captivated her absolutely, with his artistic creations, was Tim Burton. Inspiration flows towards Vera also from various galleries, exhibitions, and festivals she visits frequently. She just chooses carefully.

To this day, I draw my inspiration from times when everything felt just right and I project these feelings into my works.

Vera Matys


Selecting car colours is much more in-depth process than it might seem on the surface. Colours are used the same way with cars as they function thorough life - as immediately eye-catching and emotionally arousing. While dressing up new cars the designers adhere to a few rules. Dark shades can make the car “feel” smaller in some cases, in others they might underline the car’s luxurious appearance. Lighter shades can, on the other hand, make a car appear larger or more striking. If the designer choses metallic paint it usually tends to support the car’s shape. The shade choice is also determined by psychological parameters and its usage purpose. If the vehicle in question is a show car, destined for public and media presentation at some of the world’s motor shows, where its primary purpose is to attract attention, then the designers can reach for more audacious colours. In such cases, they are limited virtually only by their own imagination


and they can play with the colours in such ways that would attract attention the most. Concerning cars destined for serial production, there comes a process when the designers join forces with the marketing and production department and they have to sort out the technological side of things. The result of this cooperation should be a palette of colours offering sufficient choice possibilities and, at the same time, maximally underlining the model’s character. The colours variants’ goal is to approach as wide spectrum of customers as possible, and also to satisfy a certain individuality in every one of them. Last but not least, the shade choice is influenced by trends, as in many other industries. But regarding cars, the colours are not that susceptible to fashionable fads, they’re more timeless, because the car purchasing process takes years, not a few month or seasons as it is for instance with clothes.


Colour itself is more tangible for Vera than “matters surrounding” the daughters of Mnémosyné who’s the mythological mother of all Muses. She follows the path of instant impression and as she herself says, she proceeds from the “assignment feeling”. Her inspiration doesn’t stem from colours at all and if there is a need to apply “new” and unusual ones, she takes them from available sample books. Although she seems slightly reluctant to point in the direction of her favourite colour, she admits that she likes to work with shades of grey because they are great to combine. The illustrator is satisfied with using tone-on-tone colour scales and she reaches for greater contrasts from time to time, but that depends on the individual project and her current mood.

When she talks about colours she visits the landscape of her childhood once again, because it noticeably brings her feelings of warmth and safety. Vera’s sense for colour harmonisation is apparent all around her atelier interior where we paid her the visit. Everything matches in deep detail and very light tones, the overall atmosphere is undisturbed.

The only thing that seems to stick out of the whole space and what constantly attracts our attention is a little red car, peeking gleefully from Vera’s switched on computer screen. “It’s Reindeer Red,” she says in response to our inquisitive stares targeted onto the screen. “And the colour is one part of the emotions I’ve used for the little red car illustrations for ŠKODA AUTO Christmas story.”

The author animatedly describes how and why she’s chosen this colour: “It’s not your regular red, this one is bright and warm and comes right from the Rudolph reindeer character; from his heart and his goodness,” she describes with a smile on her face and at the same time she makes us familiar with the whole creative process of the Christmas spot illustration. While she continues to unveil all creative steps needed for making of this friendly car character (and other protagonists) she mentions the biggest challenges and difficulties of this project, and at the same time she unintentionally reveals the extent of her knowledge not only about colours, but also the car industry itself.

Talking in detail about cars and her relationship towards them, she comes back to her childhood memories for the third time. Vera thinks back to her two grandpas who both owned ŠKODA cars, concretely old “Oktavka” and “Embecko”, how they’re familiarly called. “ŠKODA car was the first one I’ve ever met in my life. I like that it’s a Czech brand, that the car was produced here,” the author catches herself by a warm feeling of a certain kind of patriotism. Her truly gratifying feeling that she worked for ŠKODA AUTO is almost tangible. Fascinated by a functional and mainly esthetical automotive design, Vera could imagine herself designing her own car. What would it look like? In greyish tones and with goodness in its “eyes” or in that very same Reindeer Red that was so popular with ŠKODAs between 1972 and 1973?