Ships

Ships

I have a ratty folder of every spaceship drawing I’ve done since I was in the 5th grade. Star Wars had just come out, and every able-bodied young man in the building started drawing. We would meet during recess and discuss the latest additions to our armada. Most kids dropped out, but I found a couple of people who liked spaceships and we kept at it through the 10th grade.

You can see I always drew from the side…I could never grasp how to draw perspective. I’m still trying to figure that out.

990-ds18.jpgI drew my first spaceship for a 5th grade science project. We got to play futurist and imagine what things would be like in the future. I designed in great detail (for my 5th grade mind, anyway) a long-term space colonization vessel with a cool support dune buggy, after doing a lot of reading about space. I think Mrs. Nunnalee was highly amused.

990-ds01.jpgThis is the first fighter I ever drew, also around the 5th grade I believe. I think I showed this to Freddy Von Lohmann and Wade Chow, who were the reigning kings of spaceship design in the classroom. And so disappointed I was in the color, I only drew one more before sticking to black and white for the next 8 years. My drawings really sucked, but I kept at it.

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This series of ships shows me struggling with representing 3d form in a flat space. I used a small straight-edge in this period of time, and graph paper to try to maintain symmetry. The designs are based on my childish notions of “fast and cool” equals “long and pointy”.

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Around 1980, we went back to the States for a summer, and I saw Battlestar Galactica on TV. I got a picture of a Colonial Viper and started drawing three-engined ships with skid landing gear. See the attempts at foreshortened wings? You can also see that I am starting to play with modular components: engines, laser cannons are becoming standardized as I draw them more.

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And then I saw Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, and actually bought a model of the main fighter. I paid great attention to the way the cockpit was modeled, and adapted it to the fighter series that had started with the Battlestar line. The basic “flying eraser” fuselage remains, but engine placement and cockpit remains somewhat varied. I drew maybe a dozen of these, trying to figure out the best arrangement.

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I finally start to shake off the Buck Rogers influences and pursue more original ship designs, around the 10th grade. There’s one last gasp.

990-ds17.jpgThe height of the “space race” in school was during the Battle Cruiser Yamato period, known as Star Blazers here in the States. In Yamato, the earth defense forces are basically refurbishing old WWII battleships and sending them into space. They had main guns and bristled with smaller anti-aircraft turrets. The more turrets, the better your ship. I remember staying up ALL NIGHT drawing turrets on this beast, easily crushing my opponents at recess, whos jaws dropped to the floor. How many are there? After that, I think everyone lost interest in drawing turrets, including myself.

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I finally broke away from graph paper in the 10th grade. The middle fighter, drawn in 1984, was the last ship I drew with a straight edge! You can see that by 1986, I had a better way of doing wing foreshortening and had learned something about line thicknesses and shading. Still drawing from the side, though.

990-htank2.gif.jpgThis was a significant breakthrough drawing for me.. It was one of the first no-straightedge drawings, had some good shading, and I was very pleased with the overall FORM. It was perhaps the first thing I had drawn that I knew what the shape would be like in 3D. More or less. I also liked the controlled placement of detail to create points of interest. The gun mounts are still a bit flat looking, but it was a big leap.

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I continued to draw a bit my freshman year of college. These pictures were drawn while doing laundry in the laundry room. But it was 1987, and I was starting to switch to computer graphics using DeluxePaint II. Sketching would become increasingly rare in my life. You can see the Macross (aka Robotech) influence in the tail and fuselage.

990-tships.gif.jpgThese are the last spaceships I drew, around 1992 as concept art for Star Reach, a computer game that I was helping my buddy Mark create artwork for.

» More Photos on Flickr

15 Comments

  1. Jeff 14 years ago

    Am I really the first person to comment on this great post?  Cripes, people.  Thanks for sharing all of these, David!

    So far, I refuse to draw on a computer.  When we get to the point of physical digital canvases and paper that I can draw directly on, I may change my mind.

  2. Fred von Lohmann 14 years ago

    Sadly, I never managed to get “king of spaceship design” on a business card. I gave up drawing and became a copyright lawyer instead. But I’m glad to know I inspired someone who kept drawing!

  3. Joey 14 years ago

    What a supercool post!  I’m glad you put this in “My Favorites,” Dave!  I’ve been reading this blog for over a year, and never saw this before!  SWEET!!!!!!

    This is the best thing ever to do with old drawings.  Plus, it’s just so darn cool!!!

  4. Dave Seah 14 years ago

    Wow, FRED VON LOHMANN!!! Dude! I’ll have to email you later and see what you’ve been up to.

    Jeff, Joey: Thanks for the nice comments! I’m so glad I still have the old drawings. They look different every time I take them out, oddly enough, the lines reflecting new experiences that I didn’t have at the time I first made them.

  5. Jason Dyer 14 years ago

    Thank you for sharing these! Makes me think of the countless hours I spent drawing similar items. I am going to unearth my old sketchbooks when I visit my parent’s around Easter!

    Very neat post.

  6. Amy Garrity 14 years ago

    Wow!  Those are amazing and the details are just so neat and acurate.  I wish I could scetch like that all my friends in school think that it is easy to draw from the top of your head but it really needs time and skill to form a drawing like yours!  p.s. sorry for the spelling mistakes I’m blonde.

  7. Emmanuel 14 years ago

    …that’s my dream right there…being able to draw. Very cool drawings, actually. Mmmm, yes, must do something about this drawing business…what am I doing with my LIFE ;-)

  8. Dave Seah 14 years ago

    Hm, we might have to start a Flickr group, or join one if it exists!

  9. WADE HONEY 13 years ago

    Great pictures… i think you should have put master spaceship designer on your business cards. the evolution in designs shows huge promise – might be worth having at least a doodle to see where your mind takes you in modern times. you never know til you try and who knows – that ole buzz of satisfaction could be waiting to say hi again.

  10. max 13 years ago

    I’m 15 years old and like to draw, I’ve seen you’re work and now boredom is no longer an issue in the classroom,
    thanks for the inspiration

  11. Les Hubert 13 years ago

    Hi David,
        I like your drawings, some reminding me of my own ventures into space craft design.  I was an illustrator for about a year(long hours,dont recommend it) and know what fun it can be to create something no one has ever seen before.  More power to you man!

  12. Phil Blakely 13 years ago

    Dave- This is a great website, and for the first time I have a clear and concise explanation of Star Blazers. I too, drew dozens of ships, most of mine were planetary exploration vehicles. I still have most of them, (mind you, these are from the 60’s and 70’s!) and a few years ago I took a look at them. They brought back alot of delicious memories. I am very glad I found this site, and I’ll keep checking in.

  13. Stephen 13 years ago

    Sweet!
    I have no idea what happened to all of my old drawings, and man, I wanted to design spaceships when I grew up.
    I went to college for Aerospace Engineering and I HATED it. All math and no drawing. CAD was new (AutoCAD 6 was the cutting edge), but you weren’t allowed to draw cool stuff, just dumb widgets.
    I am glad you have all those old drawings, good for you!

  14. Arshad 11 years ago

    Very nice site, I hope you keep on drawing. I’ve been trying myself and it’s very difficult. Otherwise don’t give up your passion.

  15. Troy Williams 10 years ago

    Those are so darn cool!! Awesome post! I love the Grennel. I wish I could draw that cool. I have some spaceship drawings myself, but nothing soo cool as those. Keep it up man!