Under the Influence of artists Chris Foss and John Harris

Recently I purchased The Definitive SF Works of Chris Foss, and Beyond The Horizon – The Art of John Harris. Both are amazing collections of science fiction imagery by masters of the art. Their work has been seen on many books, influenced movies (Chris Foss had a direct hand in ALIEN, Jodorowsky’s DUNE, among many others). Like John Berkey, their images left an indelible impression on my mind.

Having blazed through both books multiple times, I took to the sketchbook and canvas and came up with this image. It’s a moody, ambient piece featuring a spacecraft floating near an outpost in a nebula-filled region of space.

Outpost

So far this has garnered a lot of positive comments, and I wanted to share with you a bit of the process. The entire painting was done in two relatively short sittings over the weekend. My technical goals included using a violet color palette (which I’ve not worked with heavily so far), and no black paint. All the darks would be created using colors in the palette. The first pass established the nebula:

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Next I referenced a sketch for a starship from my own sketchbook, and created the shape in the darkest tone I planned to use, a mixture of ultramarine blue and deep violet.

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At this point I found that my camera revealed shapes in the spaceship that didn’t occur to me in my original sketch. In the reflections of the wet paint I was seeing a front-end view, although I’d intended this to be the business end of a giant spacecraft. I’ve saved those options for later, instead I proceeded with an engine-facing view.

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As I began laying int he mid-tones and highlights, I decided to add a ground-plane and some kind of structure as if the ship were approaching or leaving a mooring point on some airless world.

 

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