For awhile I’ve been working on a personal project in fits and starts. I have a fair bit of material in my sketchbook, but I thought I would reveal the name of the project and the logo. It will be a narrative art book with some actual video elements for promotion.
In 2013, I was contacted by Tony DiTerlizzi to create a couple of keyframe illustrations based on his book “The Search for Wondla”, the first book in his excellent science fiction trilogy. It’s a superb series, and it would be incredible to have it made into a feature film franchise or Netflix series.
(Part 1 here) Once again, no spoilers.
When I was asked to take a shot at designing the aliens for Arrival, I leapt at the opportunity. It was still the very early days of pre-production, and Denis and Patrice had already given the alien task to a couple of concept artists. The extraordinary concept artist Peter Konig was working at the same time as me, but I didn’t get to see any of his work till a few weeks ago. In the end, veteran creature designer Carlos Huante was the one that got it right; his majestic and mysterious heptapods embodied all the qualities Denis was looking for.
My contributions were more to see if I could come up with something different than the other guys, so I had a little free reign to mess around with ideas, with the mandate to “design something we haven’t seen before.” I had only a couple of weeks for this task, so I experimented more with shapes and impressions. Below are just a few samples of ideas I tried. In hindsight, after seeing the film, I’m glad these didn’t make the cut, as I was going a bit too abstract to identify with the beings. Once again, I’m still so grateful that I got to work on such an incredible film, even if my part was small.
In February of 2015, I began work on “Story Of Your Life,” the Denis Villeneuve movie that would eventually be called “Arrival.” I worked with Patrice Vermette, the production designer to illustrate his and Denis’ ideas, and over the course of three months provided many variations of designs for the ship and its occupants. It was a real treat to be part of this film, and to work so closely with one of our most visionary directors, a real honour.
Here are a few samples of the various designs, beginning with the vessels which were called ‘shells’. There were many shape explorations, beginning with a sphere, some triangles, odd shapes, and eventually an ovoid. The lozenge shape seen in the final was designed by another concept artist; sorry, not sure who*. No spoilers here, as most of what you see ended up in the trailer. (*Edit – the final lozenge shape was rendered by assistant art director Aaron Morrison)
Coming next, Part 2: Alien designs
Back in 2011, I posted some images I created, trying to reproduce the effect of light through eyelids that are almost closed. Recently, I created a video based on these images for an exciting exhibit at Dawson College called Vision(s), on till May 11th at the Warren G. Flowers Gallery at Dawson College in Montreal. The video was created using photography through polarized mylar, Photoshop layering and effects, video segments using lenses and found objects in front of the lens and After Effects compositing – my first full video using that program. I created the music using a tiny segment of the end of a song, time stretching it, reversing it and layering it on top of itself to create an ambient wash.
Every once in awhile, I like to grab a pencil and draw without any preconceived idea or rough sketch. Sometimes it’s just random scribbles, sometimes it’s something like this that happens. It’s got some old-fashioned Sci-Fi clichés. Guy standing, looking at alien stuff. Took me about about 4.5 hours total. Sometimes I want to smack myself and say “imagine how many drawings you could crank out if you did this every day.” Yeah, I know. We who carry our supply of pencils, pens and paints will always beat ourselves up for all the times we “could have been making art.” I think when all the client-based work slows down, and we have time to do other things, we do other things. Then, when the time is quiet, we draw, to remind ourselves that we can still do it.
I took the plunge, got my hands dirty and made a few oils paintings. I think if I really take the time to practice, I’ll get the hang of it. These were done over 4 days, (there’s another one, but didn’t post it because it needs touch ups) and though I think they turned out ok, I feel like I have a lot to learn. I want to paint much larger canvases next.
Update to the previous post: So excited, and yet I’m not completely surprised. The book is perfect for a film adaptation. It’s a real page-turner, a fun thrill-ride of a novel. I can’t wait to see what they do with the ship designs.
Here’s a link to the Hollywood Reporter article:
About a year ago, I was contacted to design spaceships for a YA sci-fi novel. Naturally, I jumped at the opportunity and it was a thrill to come up with these ships. I’m pleased to say the book has been released this week and it was a blast to read! It’s the first in a trilogy, and I highly recommend it if you like a fast-paced and unique space adventure. It’s also an amazingly well-designed book, told through transcripts, archived files, text messages, blueprints… and at 600 pages, it’s a surprisingly fast read. This book is going to be a big hit. Thanks to Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, the brilliant authors, and Heather Kelly, designer at Penguin Random House for this cool opportunity.
Here are my designs for the main ships that appear in the story, and in the book.