Recently I discovered the #spaceshipaday Twitter thread started by artist and designer, Jeff Zugale. Jeff was drawing his ships the same way I’ve been drawing my own, pens and design markers in a 5.5″ x 8″ ring-bound sketchbook. Each sketch has a 45 minute time limit. His posts garnered so much attention they were featured on Kotaku.
I’ve been drawing spaceships like this my entire life. My notebooks and sketchbooks are full of them. It used to drive my teachers nuts whenever they’d grade my papers only to see them surrounding by little spaceships and science fiction scenes.
Chris was always drawing little spaceships all over the place. ALWAYS. It’d be annoying if he wasn’t so damn good about it…
– (Annoyed Co-Worker, name withheld)
Drawing is one of the reasons I pursued a degree in Industrial Design, which amped up my ability to draw these scenes with better tools. To this day my notebooks appear to be written in an alien, heiroglyphic language composed of spacecraft and scenes. But I never really shared this with anyone, beyond a few close friends. With nothing to lose, I decided to jump on the #spaceshipaday bandwagon and join in the fun. Thank you, Jeff for starting a cool thread.
My Spaceship-A-Day Process
Like Jeff I’ve kept my sketches to a 45 minute time-limit, but I’ll admit some of mine have run to 60 minutes. Sometimes I draw in the rough shape with 2H pencil, then go over it with several fine-line ink pens (.03, .06, .01 sometimes). Next, a couple of shading passes with light gray design markers (20%-40%, sometimes 70% for darker details). If needed I’ve used a brush pen for more painterly ink tones.
I’ll begin posting my own here on my site, but you’re welcome to follow my Twitter account for active updates. And let me know in the comments if you’d like to see a video of the process.
For some of my drawings, I’ve taken them into Procreate on my iPad so I can add some color. Again I try to keep this to a 60 minute time limit, as the goal is to have a colored sketch or mood board view of the spaceship. Later on I will take some selections and do a fully rendered final piece.
This is also an exploration in tools, like in this case where I tried out a portable water-color set.
My Spaceship in Lego
Daniel Fortine, a fellow UX Designer and friend of mine, is very skilled in the brick arts. He really liked one of my drawings, and he’s gone ahead and started building it in LEGO:
He is part of a group pool over at Flickr, with a lot of really great ship designs. Good luck Daniel!
These drawings are part of a long-term strategy I’ve been following. For the last three years I’ve been practicing the necessary skills to be a professional artist, specializing in space, astronomy and science fiction art. Mostly it’s been an exploration of tools, media, and processes (including both digital and traditional methods). I’m also beginning to gain exposure as an artist, so I guess to some degree it’s just me sharing some cool spaceships with the world and saying “Hi, I can do this”. Granted if you’re the sort of person who needs a spaceship design, feel free to reach out.