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Creating illustrations for The Wishbone Express - part 1

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Bud Brewster
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Joined: 14 Dec 2013
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Location: North Carolina

PostPosted: Wed Feb 04, 2015 5:15 pm    Post subject: Creating illustrations for The Wishbone Express - part 1 Reply with quote

I feel the need to brag on myself a little (despite the apparent lack of interest by practically everyone here), because the illustrations for The Wishbone Express often required a remarkable amount of work and creativity.

Like I said, bragging . . .

For example, here's how one of the pictures was made, step by step.

I needed an illustration of the scene in which Bill Jenkins flies a modified jet fighter into low orbit, ejects from it when it breaks apart, and uses his suit thrusters to run from three missiles fired at him while he tries to reach the Galactic Stellacruiser Candlelight.

White-knuckle action for those bother to read it, I promise.

To make the illustration for that scene, I needed a nice shot of an Earth-like planet from high orbit. I found this one.

A nice start, but I knew I'd have to make the view of the planet wider by pasting and altering a section on the left, and I'd want to add a few stars to that bland background. Fixing that was the easy part.

Now I needed a guy in a futuristic spacesuit, along with a star ship that resembled the one I described in the novel.

The guy in the spacesuit worried me until I found lots of pictures from a game called Dead Space, such as these below.




I picked one and removed the background with (a simplified version of Photoshop), then I carefully feathered the edges so it wouldn't look "cut out and glued on" when I added it to the background.

Next came the hard part, the star ship itself.

I wrote The Wishbone Express after writing Sail the Sea of Stars (both written in the 1980s), and in those books I visualized the G.S.C Candlelight as resembling a pair of slender glider wings attached to the "sail" of a submarine -- but with lots of added structures and details.

I've made a few attempts to draw it, but I was never satisfied with my efforts.

However, artist John Berkey's spaceships often resemble parts of the Candlelight, like these for example.

However, I needed something closer to my vision of the Candlelight, so I was pleased when I found a website with pictures of "3D models" (CGI renderings of concepts) based on Berkey's paintings.

This one had the submarine sail-like structure I wanted.

Using Microsoft Paint, I created the glider wings for it.

Here's another version with different proportions.

And so, after several days of indulging in this labor of love, I had the elements I needed to put Bill Jenkins in a space suit and have him desperately trying to reach the Candlelight before he's nailed by the missiles.

And here's the picture I created to show what's behind him, surrounded by the debris of the modified jet fighter he used to get almost (but not quite) to the safety of the Candlelight's protective shields.

If you want know what else happens in the story, read the book. For free. With original illustrations by the author. And then please comment in a reply below the chapters you liked.

I mean, damn . . . it's not like we've got too many posts on this board, right?
Is there no man on Earth who has the wisdom and innocence of a child?
~ The Space Children (1958)
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