Drawing a spaceship a day

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.

Drawing Spaceships

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.

Photo Aug 04, 3 39 15 PM (1)

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.

Adding Color

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.

Photo Aug 07, 5 17 16 PM

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!

The End-Goal

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.

4 comments on “Drawing a spaceship a dayAdd yours →

  1. Have you ever done the reverse, draw a spaceship based on a Lego design? What would the price range be for something like that? I ask because I make Lego spaceships (and robots) as a hobby and would love to commission some sketches but I have no idea where to go or how much it might cost.

    1. Hi! I could draw up some spaceships based on existing LEGO designs, sure! Go ahead and drop me an email – chris@christopher-doll.com and we can sort out the costs. I would charge based on the complexity, how you’d like the final drawing (color, black and white, etc.).

  2. Hello!!! I just wanted to say that really dig your sci fi art!! I was wondering if you know where you can buy a sci fi spaceship book to learn how to draw basic ships and even more advanced ships from there. Anyways thanks for your time!!

    1. Thank you, Curtis. I’ve been considering a how-to book for some time, but it may be a while :). I’ll see if I can’t find a few links for you and get back to you soon.

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