Science Fiction and Fantasy Illustration
with Professor Ray Lago
Rough and sketch phase
Our next project is a full color book cover illustration for one of three science fiction stories. The options are Farewell to the Master (became a movie called The Day the Earth Stood Still), To Serve Man (became an excellent episode of The Twilight Zone) and The Black Destroyer (so far hasn’t been filmed). I did rough sketches for both Farewell to the Man and The Black Destroyer. I started by doodling ideas in the margins of the stories as I read them. Then, I redrew them into layout rectangles at the correct ratio for the book cover and used black ink to find my lights and darks. These are my thumbnails inked.
Here is a closeup of the thumb that was chosen. In Farewell to the Master, a photojournalist sneaks into a building housing a mysterious spaceship and a giant, seemingly frozen robot. I thought it would be fun to show the robot reaching for the photographer through the old-timey view finder of the camera. The teacher liked the idea and we settled on using that image. I felt like I needed more space at the top for the title so in the final sketch, I moved the image down.
From this thumbnail, I went on to do a more finished drawing. In my first one, I felt that it could be more dramatic and I thought that the robot looked too man made instead of alien. When the story was written in 1940, all robots looked alien but we now have such an understanding of what they look like from the present day, that you have to find a way to make them more unusual when designing alien versions. Here, the robot looks too much like Ultron from Marvel Comics. So, back to the drawing board.
Here is my final sketch, rough inked to pick out light and dark. I used a bowl on top of a plate for the spaceship in the background and zoomed way in on the robot. I used a praying mantis to help me make the robot more alien looking. You can also see I moved the image down. Maybe too much? I also think I need to shift it slightly to the right to balance a little better. I will do all of that in the color comp which will be coming soon. Thanks for following.