I recently got hold a rather large picture frame.
I realise that most people buy a picture BEFORE they buy a frame, but a blank frame seemed like a nice way to get inspiration (a lovely suggestion by my wife), so I invested.
After a few days of deliberation, thinking about what type of image I would love to have on my wall, I eventually decided to knuckle down and draw something I’ve been meaning to get around to for the last 30 years… My favourite spaceship – Solo’s hot rod – the Millennium Falcon.
I grabbed as much reference as humanly possible and started sketching…
Even though I work digitally, I decided to take the long road and draw every line by hand.
There are a million ways to get your image looking right when you draw digitally – tools that draw shapes for you and filters that make photos look like they were drawn in pencil, but I have a natural aversion to using those techniques. I tend to treat my digital drawing board like I would a piece of paper or a canvas. For me, if the drawing doesn’t challenge me, then I won’t learn anything from it.
The first stage for me is to explore what I want the final print to look and feel like.
I played around with the idea of drawing the Falcon as an outline only, and leaving it as a simple pencil drawing. I stuck with this idea for a while, as I really liked the look of the image tinted so it looked like an old drawing.
As I progressed, I realised how much work there actually was to do to get the amount of detail required to make the pic feel like it wasn’t cutting any corners.
I found a few web forums where people were discussing their home-made Millennium Falcon models, and I started to realise that there were people out there who demand the highest levels of accuracy from the things they love. I thought about the effort they were putting into their projects, and I figured, if they can spend the time making sure that their creations were movie-accurate, then I can too.
At this point, I figured I need to go all-out on the art, or I shoudn’t bother. So I decided I was gonna colour it.
Besides, as gruelling as it was making sure every pipe/flange and sprocket was accounted for, it was actually quite a nice experience adding so much detail. I found myself zoning out here and there.
Once the back-breaking work of the pencils were out the way, I started to fill in the blanks.
I started with the greys, using an amazing set of digital brushes that give an incredible watercolour effect, then started to throw in the splashes of red here and there.
With a few colours in place, I started to add the dirt.
Solo’s ship isn’t known for being the cleanest mode of transport, but once I took a good look at the models they use in the movies, it’s obvious the guy has no intention of ever cleaning it.
Seriously, that first time he took Leia on a date – if he’d taken her out in the Falcon, she would have run back to Luke. Brother or not.
So – with the artwork finished, I threw it over to my mate Andy who handles all my print work, and told him I needed it BIG.
And big it came back.
My initial plan for this piece was for it to grace my own wall. I’ve loved the Falcon since 1977 and I’d finally drawn it to a standard that I was proud of, so it made sense for me to throw it in that frame, pop it on the wall and sit back. But then I started getting interest from a few people online. “Can I get this as a print?” “Will you be doing a limited run of these?” “Hey Dave, can I have that for nothing?”
I started thinking that maybe I SHOULD sell it. I’m sure some people might be interested, and if they were, I could keep printing them.
But if I did, what would differentiate it between the next one I print out? What would make this piece special in the way I intended it to be in the first place?
I had a think and decided to draw a few additional features over the print itself.
Wielding my trusty metallic marker, I started adding highlights and details on parts of the machinery, picking out pipes and sprockets and flanges so that they caught the light and shone when seen at the right angle.
Looks nice too.
Once I’d gone to town on the details, it finally felt finished.
Out came the frame, and I mounted the sucker up.
I’ve gotta say, this piece has been one of the most fun, satisfying projects I’ve ever undertaken. I thought it might turn out ok, but the combination of the detail, the size and the little flashes of metal has got me thinking it should never leave the house…
It probably will though :)
Like the man says – “She may not look like much, but she’s got it where it counts, Kid”.
So – what’s next…
Posted on: 27Aug By: David Kennedy