Saturday, June 09, 2012

Prometheus Concept Art II

It has been over 2 years since I worked on this film, which has now been released. My focus was the human technology,  primarily the spaceship - called the "Magellan" at that time.

Here are some early 2D sketches done in order to discover the design of the "Magellan" aka the "Prometheus". I did a number of these "speed paintings" to explore the shape this craft might have.


The sketches were reviewed by director Ridley Scott and production designer Arthur Max, and we began to zero in on the general feel of the ship - as seen in the sketch below.


I made a number of very quick 3D studies to try and capture the look in the approved painting. The focus was on quick iteration of pure design, as opposed to a lot of illustrative polish. It was at this stage that the variable geometry VTOL engines were introduced.



Below is the final "first draft version" of the "Magellan" - aka the "Prometheus". The concept was developed in 3D to work out the articulation, and to facilitate views from different angles so the ship could be incorporated into key illustrations rendered by Steven Messing and David Levy.



Due to the severe time constraints, the 3D asset was handed off to the other artists as soon as it was deemed suitable to address the immediate needs of producing illustrations for the studio pitch.

But... I really wanted to do some nicer renders of the ship! Later on, once we were past the crunch, I threw some quick textures onto the geometry and put in a sky background to provide some context.




The first pass at the "Prometheus" was envisioned as a significantly larger vessel than the final, and the central hull was a bit longer in proportion, a bit more streamlined. These differences are evident when the ship is viewed from above and from the rear.


The very talented Ben Procter produced all the final iterations and details of the ship you see on-screen - at a later stage in the production cycle. And he did a fantastic job!

The artists at MPC also did a tremendous job of turning concept into final on-screen images that are truly breathtaking. They did all the shots of the spaceship and many of the environments - and really brought the world to life.

I would also like to mention Ron Cobb, who designed the "Nostromo" for the original "Alien" film. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work with Ron on several projects ("Leviathan", "The Abyss", "Total Recall") and he was a de facto mentor to me. Though Ron did not work on "Prometheus", his amazing work for "Alien" and other projects was inspirational to much of the design work done for the film - certainly the human technology.


The "Prometheus" might hold the world record for "spaceship with the most landing feet". There are 16 individual landing gear units, and each is comprised of dozens of moving parts... :)

Thanks for looking!

26 comments:

jason park said...

brilliant! sick sick stuff.

jason park said...

champing at the bit to get a toy or model of this the second it hits market. im sure mr. hua would be in too hahaha.

Isaac Barrett said...

Awesome! I was trying to find out who designed this ship for ages, the sheer scale of it was jaw dropping in the cinema!

Levi said...

Nice steve, love it.

Kenrick said...

Impressive as always Steve!

Emerson Tung said...

Amazing work, sir. The design of the ship was definitely one of my favourite parts of the movie.

Ben Lo said...

Hello Steven, just wanted to say your works are awesome and inspiring!

jdl said...

Great work, Steve. Thanks for sharing the process.

Rob Caswell said...

A great sequence here, Steve. It's cool to see how the design process works these days, versus the days of the original "Alien". Do you think having 3D protoypes available to the director makes for a BETTER film? What do you see as the benefits of how the concept art process has changed since you started your career?

Those last two images are pretty cool and really show off your design nicely. In many/most ways, I prefer your earlier design to the film's final version. The only thing I'd take from the final is their more refined surface textures. Have out considered trying a texture update for your model?

So were the variable geometry VTOLs an idea that you came up with, or did they come from feedback in the design review process? Your version seems sleeker - more believably aerodynamic. A plus. But are all those antennae supposed to be retractable?

So, in retrospect, where does this design rate on your personal satisfaction scale of hardware you'd designed for El Screeno Grande?

Rob Caswell said...

Oh! One last thing. It's too bad that more of this imagery wasn't in the "Art of.." book. It's nice to see how a design evolves. I think we were all inspired by Cobb's other Nostromo concepts in "The Book of Alien".

Steve B said...

BTW thanks everyone for your comments!
Rob - 3D is a great design tool, especially when something needs to move and reconfigure. It also solves so many questions about shapes, and scale considerations.

The antennae are retractable - I presume! :)

The variable geometry was my idea, although it really came from the need to somehow have the ship look powerful and fast when in-flight, yet become a "platform" on the ground. There was no other way to really do that!

I like the final version that Ben Procter did very much - they almost seem like variants of the same airframe.

Re: textures: I don't think I'm going to touch this thing - too many other things I want to do! This is more of "historical interest" - I suppose I could spend a month making a hi-res model of the early shape, but I think it served its purpose and I'm on to other stuff :)

richard anderson said...

these are so great! i saw a few earlier when i was at mpc. congrats! it is a great design! always inspiring:)

ashrock said...

most amazing thing in prometheus was this ship..fantastic design..what inspired you while conceptualising this spaceship..

Steve said...

Hi Steve, I had a feeling when watching the movie that this was your work! Awesome...

Ben Mauro said...

Great stuff Steve! One of the highlights of the film for me. :)

Austra said...

Wow just discovered these sketches out of the blue, amazing stuff, well done, very inspiring matte paintings!

Maurice Mitchell said...

Steve, it must have been an honor and a challenge to take the visual cues of Cobb's work and make it look new and fresh. Do you think working with him on other films helped you to do that?

Steve B said...

Maurice; I gained a lot of knowledge from working with Ron Cobb back in those days. Probably the main thing I absorbed was the idea that form follows function - especially with regard to machines. When it came to figuring out what this spaceship might look like, I made a conscious effort to apply that methodology. On another level, I tend to approach vehicles as though they are "characters" - bringing in some qualities from animals. To me, the "Prometheus" is reminiscent of a tortoise. The process is one of merging the practical engineering and the emotional aspects together. While it might be said that the "Prometheus" is a throwback - a "retro" design concept, if you will - to me it was an attempt to reach back to a lot of the great spaceship designs of the past and reconnect with the thinking that inspired those creations. And then produce something hopefully new! :)

Mathias said...

I had noticed your's and Ben's name on this sketch(http://www.prometheus-movie.com/media/concept12.jpg) and couldn't help but smile. There's no one better to do this job, haha. Thanks for sharing the process!

Nelson Luty said...

wOOOOOOUUUUUUUU AAAAA MEN!!!! Great Job!!!!!!

Pierre Graf said...

wow crazy work!

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illustration

SIM-R said...

Just perfect - love the scale weight and mass .It really came across in the movie very close to the way you designed those qualities . Rare for that to happen .

Thanks for the insight on the steps taken .

Cheers Steve .

Steve Chon said...

so amazing, inspirational work!!

Inigo Cook said...

Here nice blog are given.

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Andrew Glazebrook said...

Superb !!!

manhkha said...

Great!

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