Everyday Concept Art Using Copic: Spaceship

Andrew Probert | June 27, 2017

 Explore how a professional concept designer, Andrew Probert, renders his spaceship ideas.

Spaceship Illustration by Andrew Probert


Sketching Concepts

My name is Andrew Probert.  I’m a Concept Designer who has been lucky enough to have designed some noteworthy Science Fiction hardware several years ago.  Even though I left Hollywood, I still enjoy providing concepts for various productions; mostly independent shows, these days.  

Concept sketches like these are typically done in my 8 1/2” x 11” sketchbooks, as part of my thinking, or development stage; ideas spilling out as they come.  The drawings themselves, as you can see by the page size, are relatively small, more like notes to myself, not needed to be any larger unless I’m asked to draw them up for a presentation.  In that case, I can enlarge the idea-sketches I think work best, within the context of the assignment, and use them as underlays for the required larger formal renderings.  So - let me show you what I mean.

Spaceship Small View Andrew Propart

Initial Thoughts & Scribbles

Originally, I produced this video of my initial thoughts & scribbles, for this project called “Indi”.  The story was about a woman in a small 1-person spacecraft, already in space, as the film starts.  The actual ‘story’ isn’t important here, but the requirements of this little ship are.  The Producer-Director-Writer wanted the interior of the cabin to be very small and have an octagon section (or maybe that would be an octahedron, since it is three-dimensional).  

Spaceship Andrew Probert

Exploring the Shape

Starting with that shape, in this first section, I quickly push beyond that perimeter toward an exterior which I felt would provide a more interesting and believable-looking ship, adding additional space for life-support and engines.  The Producer hadn’t thought beyond his interior so he was, at first, open to these additions.  I continued thinking of ways the ship might operate, even though the script did not call for this extent of development.  This is the way, however, in which I create my Designs, by understanding all that they do, or might do, if they were real, filling out the rest of page one. 

Spaceship Entry And Exit Andrew Propart

Looking closer, you can see my first concerns were how to enter and exit the craft.  I explored various ways the cabin could be opened, how the pilot would get in and out, and started to develop a sense of how small it could be and still ‘work’ within the story.  Being my first Copic demo, however, I forgot to document the colors used - something I’ll remember next time.

After several meetings with the Production team, I came to understand that it was important for them to have an exterior that related ‘directly' to their octahedron interior set (which, in my video, I kept mistakenly called a hexagonal shape), going back to that shape at the top of page two.

Spaceship Illustration by Andrew Probert
Still, I was thinking I could unify that octagonal cross-section with a curved front, for their exterior, producing this first top-row ship (E).  Even that idea was rejected in order to absolutely mimic the octagon interior.  That became my new challenge: to somehow incorporate that indefatigable requirement into a believable spacecraft.  
Spaceship Design by Andrew Probart
Starting with that exact shape, I began wrapping other shapes around it while still keeping the practical requirements of a spacecraft in mind.  Oddly enough, that came relatively easily - but, as I began to refine the details of this version - the project was canceled. 

A Learning Experience

So, within this work, lasting less than a month, I came back to matching that original shape, challenged with incorporating it into something I really wanted to see on the screen, which I did.  Time wasted?  No, because this became an awesome exercise, working with their absolute requirements (once they were fully explained) forcing me to push beyond my normal tendencies and create a ship I never would have thought of on my own.  And, nothing done in earnest is wasted. For me, it was another learning experience.

Discover more sketch techniques exploring the Copic Inspire Gallery!


Topics: Artist Interviews, Illustration, Copic

Andrew Probert
Andrew Probert on June 27, 2017

Andrew Probert is a Concept Designer who has professionally designed spaceships and other science fiction hardware in Hollywood. Designing things since the age of six (redesigned Flash Gordon’s spaceship using the blank pages of one of his mother’s books), Andrew studied Product Design at the Art Center College of Design, in Pasadena, California, but went into the entertainment Industry instead, designing (you guessed it) spaceships and other science fiction hardware. Starting out designing the original cylon robots for ‘Battlestar: Galactica (1978)’ and moving into creating designs for ‘Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)’, Probert continued providing concepts & storyboards in Hollywood up through ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation (1989)’ where he took a career shift into the real world fantasy of designing for Walt Disney Imagineering. Currently residing in central Massachusetts, Probert freelances out of his home office … and is still designing things.