“KARR” the art of Knight rider

Too busy here at work to scan all the art for the Valdore, so today’s post is comprised of images already in the computer.  Last year the old “Knight Rider” TV show from the 80’s was re-invented and had a short one season run as a new series, and sadly it died away right when it was getting it’s bearings and the cast was getting into their roles.  During that time I got a call from Richard Toyon, the production designer on the show to come over and work on the Karr designs with him!!  It was great fun to work on an old favorite show, and it was a treat to work with Richard.  He is a comic book artist on the side and he worked on “From the earth to the Moon”.  Anyway, Richard was sketching out some pretty awesome ideas for KARR, but his work load keeps him away from his desk more than he is there.  Taking his roughs, we started to come up with a plan and not be a rip off from Transformers…I hadn’t seen the Transformers movie so I hadn’t been jaded yet!  The first drawing asked for was of the robotic KARR’s silhouette behind a curtain; it was a backwards way to start, but it was the first set to be built and had to be done first.  So the shadow that came to be on paper had to be turned into what KARR’s shape and mechanics were going to be later.  Working closely with Richard and the in-house CG unit, we worked out all the details and came up with a very fun robotic car (KARR), so below are the renderings that established each mechanical piece and hinge-point so the animators and modelers could run free and add their own creativity to the project.  These guys were a lot of fun to work with, and their end results were awesome.  This episode was a big, fast and crammed story, and the KARR segments were short and left you wanting more!!  Below is also a link to some of the trailers and the official site.




the first drawing establishing KARR's look

the first drawing establishing KARR's look



driving and attack mode

driving and attack mode


wheel base and extensions for transformation sequences

wheel base and extensions for transformation sequences

working out the individual pieces

working out the individual pieces


making it fit inside the Mustang

making it fit inside the Mustang


working out all the postures of the transformation

working out all the postures of the transformation


more parts

more parts

a color comp

a color comp


and the final presentation piece

and the final presentation piece

grab 1

grab 1

grab 2

grab 2

grab 3

grab 3











and g7

and g7

Here's Kitt at the Santa Clarita Studios

Here's Kitt at the Santa Clarita Studios

My daughter Olivia with Kitt

My daughter Olivia with Kitt


37 Responses to ““KARR” the art of Knight rider”

  1. 1 DeanneM
    July 30, 2009 at 9:19 am

    Isn’t that second from the bottom pic actually KARR? I watched every episode and was very sad to see this show get canned so early. But then what’s new? NBC especially seems to have a very short attention span when it comes to new and promising shows.

    You did a fab job getting the mechanics to work and fit neatly into that beautiful Mustang! 🙂

    The standing version would make a great Mech Warrior (I used to play that back when I had time for video games).

  2. 4 Don
    July 30, 2009 at 9:21 am

    WoW! I never saw the KR retread, but this is so awesome that I wish I had seen at least this episode! Great stuff, John.

  3. 6 deg
    July 30, 2009 at 10:07 am

    Your talent never ceases to amaze me, dude! Even more so with the thought to design something that “should” work, mechanically speaking, like a transforming car, K.A.R.R. I never watched this show, but now that I see the screen-caps, a shame I didn’t. Perhaps Sci-Fi (or SyFy now, go figure) will re-run it.


  4. 8 Freak
    July 30, 2009 at 10:13 am

    I was like WT*? when I first saw that episode, but it seemed the right direction for the KARR to go.

    As for the show itself, the first half the season was intresting but was not the same as the oringal show. the second half of the season got back to what the made the show great.
    The show itself was fun for kids, but for those of us that grew up with the oringal it just was not the same.

    I also think what turned people off was the fact that KITT could turn form a Car to a 4X4 and also a VAN. Thats a little far to strecth the imaingation in a show that set in the really world.

    • 9 DeanneM
      July 30, 2009 at 10:23 am

      I knew that the tranformations of KITT were crazy, but I thought it was a fun stretch of the imagination. And to hear KITT’s voice come out of the truck was just fun. I’m glad they didn’t use the truck very often.

      It certainly wasn’t a thinking man’s show, but I was sad to see it go soon. Good looking guy, talking Mustang Shelby GT…what’s not to like? 🙂

    • 14 johneaves
      July 30, 2009 at 11:53 am

      You missed the episode where Kit transformed into the airbus I am guessing

  5. 15 Richard Knapp
    July 30, 2009 at 10:28 am

    Hi John
    I never watched the new Knight Rider show but these pictures have got me wishing that I had. Thank you for posting them.

    I’m really looking forward to your Valdore art – that ship was and is my all time favorite Romulan design.

    Thanks again and have a great day!

    • 16 johneaves
      July 30, 2009 at 11:51 am

      the show was getting better with every episode despite it’s very far reaching SCI-FI ideas,,, My daughters loved it, especially the star of the show

  6. July 30, 2009 at 11:52 am

    they could have used a better car than a mustang! that is the only thing i didn’t like about the show.

  7. 18 Jeff
    July 30, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    John, as ALWAYS, great work. i had no idea you were the one drawing this stuff! The only thing that the majority of KR fans wanted was for this KARR to be tied into the original KARR, which it clearly wasn’t. I’m going to guess you were just told to draw some transforming car into robot designs, or did you have any weight/insight on how they were going to portray KARR???

  8. 19 Scott D
    July 30, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    I never got to see the Knight Rider reinvention, but damn KARR is a meaner mofo than his 80’s counterpart! :O

  9. July 30, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    I watched the original series back then in the ’80s, but I haven’t actually watched this series, though I’ve seen the commercials on the Warner Channel all the time. In fact, I believe they were announcing the “season finale” – no mention whatsoever that the series was canceled after that. And I’ve never liked the Transformers concept (as a toy which can change shape they are fine, but my suspension of disbelief doesn’t go *that* far as to believe an actual machine would be able to work flawlessly in both configurations), though I must admit that this does look much more reasonable. A lot. I take it there isn’t much room (if any) for the driver and passenger(s) inside, and that its purpose is more of a military weapon disguised as a civilian vehicle? (as I said, I haven’t watched this new series, so I haven’t watched this particular episode either, of course)

    • 22 johneaves
      July 30, 2009 at 2:14 pm

      we tried to watch some of the old ones to show the kids the difference from the new one and my generation of Knight Rider did not hold up very well!!! HAA! Cool to see the old Universal backlot though!

  10. July 30, 2009 at 9:22 pm

    An amazing story, thanks so much for sharing it with the fans! We all wish the show had a longer run as well as a larger battle with KITT vs KARR! But unfortunately the length came down to budget.

    The visual effects house MasterKey put up the pre vis for the longer scene here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rxuk-GD18Rc

  11. July 31, 2009 at 7:35 am

    Honestly, I quite disliked the whole Transformers idea behind KARR. So a combination of a bad idea and (in my opinion) bad CG ruined the finale for me.

    • 25 DeanneM
      July 31, 2009 at 9:08 am

      There were actually five more episodes after the KARR story line.

      • 26 Rick
        July 31, 2009 at 9:38 am

        I have to admit, the last five shows were entertaining. It was nice to see that the producers were going back to the feel of the original show, but I was kind of hoping to see more of the storyline evolve with Michael and what’s-her-name, and a better season/series finale.

        There was so much potential for this re-boot, too. I just wish they had taken it a bit more seriously…I know, I know, I’m talking about a show with a talking car that can transform into a ricer/classic ‘Stang/F-150/any other Ford product, lol!

      • 27 DeanneM
        July 31, 2009 at 9:47 am

        It’s hard to admit, isn’t it? But the show was indeed finding it’s legs – NBC is getting good at starting something without giving it more than half a season’s chance.

        I absolutely loved it when they went “old school” as he said and changed into a classic Mustang! The exterior was only on the screen for a few seconds, but I loved seeing the red side to side glow on a classic!

  12. 28 Rick
    July 31, 2009 at 9:28 am

    John, this was you?! Oy…

    I’m really struggling to not start a bash-session on the new KR, especially when it came to this episode. Don’t get me wrong John, I loved the design…but in all honesty it detracted from what I was hoping to see of a re-invented KARR (nothing against you. I’m sure the ‘KARR-former’ wasn’t your decision). Seeing the ‘KARR-former’ though, it’s ‘Borg complex’ with wanting to become one with Michael, and the lack of prominent screen time really killed it for me.

    FYI: for those wanting to watch the new show, it’s still available for online viewing here:


    Sweet! NBC put up Season 1 of the original show (I’m so not getting any work done today)!


  13. 29 sillykhan
    July 31, 2009 at 10:29 am

    I missed the show. I hope it comes out on DVD. I will watch it again.
    Is NBC going to do another remake soon?
    They should bring back “Wonder Woman” to NBC.
    You can use my idea.

  14. July 31, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    I hadn’t heard it had been canceled. Pity.

    OTOH, perhaps it may get revived if Sci Fi … er… SyFy picks it up.

    They’re part of the same family of networks, aren’t they?

    BTW John, if you’re ever in Knoxville, you’ve got an open invitation for dinner.


  15. July 31, 2009 at 8:14 pm

    Any chance you could post some of the sketches that lead up to these final pieces? Would be a great insight to see what got you to this form, napkin sketches, failed directions, etc?

  16. 32 Matt Boardman
    August 1, 2009 at 10:26 pm

    I haven’t had the opportunity to see this show, but seeing this, now I wish I had! Too cool, dude! 🙂 Love that Shelby Mustang!

  17. August 1, 2009 at 10:49 pm

    Hey I never knew you worked on this. Of the new series I only saw the pilot and this episode. I love Karr and was delighted to hear Peter Cullen was coming back to voice him. I still think I like the original series more though. It is just so very iconic.

  18. 35 Logan B.
    August 13, 2009 at 10:08 pm

    You can catch all of the episodes on Hulu.com. It’s where I get my fix for the new car. Although, I wish they had more time to explore the KARR project and show more pix of KARR and KITT in action.

  19. August 17, 2009 at 1:32 am

    hi from germany,

    seen your stuff. did very nice job 🙂 damn! i think they will never release a german version. hope to see some more great stuff from you, maybe in transformers 3? 🙂


    .reEto (lexxy s.)

  20. April 18, 2013 at 5:03 pm

    Hey there! Would you mind if I share your blog with my myspace group?
    There’s a lot of folks that I think would really enjoy your content. Please let me know. Cheers

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July 2009

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