Sci-Fi-O-Rama proudly present a very special feature on Chris Foss, as profiled by Jeff Love, owner and admin of the sublime Sci-Fi art blog Ski-ffy.
Born in 1946 in Guernsey, Channel Islands, Chris Foss is a British illustrator and a powerhouse of science fiction design and invention. His work is a celebration of future machinery, impossibly sized constructions exist on a planetary scale; a showcase of hardware so large that the human figure is dwarfed by comparison.
Arriving in the SF illustration field in the early 1970s, he is a cult figure, influential and universally admired. For British SF and SF art, his work can be seen as a catalyst; his prolific output was used abundantly in the UK paperback market, particularly by publishing houses like Panther, Coronet (Hodder & Stoughton) and Granada. Foss’ iconic paintings adorned the covers of American classics; E. E. Smith’s Lensman and Family d’Alembert series, reprints of the works of Asimov, James Blish and Philip K. Dick. These colourful scenes of gargantuan spacecraft, space-scenes and enormous robots not only influenced an entire school of imitators, but instilled a love of future-tech amongst several generations of science fiction fans.
So without ado lets hand over the controls to Dan…
Guest post by Dan McPharlin
And now for something a little bit different. Sci-Fi-O-Rama doesn’t normally feature 3D work, but Kieran has kindly handed me the keys and let me loose on his blog to write this guest post on a subject that is very dear to my heart; Sci-Fi model making.
Ever since I first saw that monolithic Star Destroyer swoop majestically into frame in the opening minutes of Star Wars it’s a subject I’ve been fascinated by. While CGI has unfortunately all but rendered the model-maker’s craft obsolete in the movies, there are still a handful of talented artists out there burning the torch for this fantastic art form…
Ok so this is something of a re-post lifted from the excellent designboom.com. Re-posting content in such verbatim fashion is something In which I tend to shy away from, but since it concerns quite possibly the worlds premier Sci-Fi Illustrator I’ve made an exception! We are of course talking of French comic artist/legend Jean Giraud, better known as Moebius and this article relates to his current exhibition “Transe-Forme” which is running now at Fondation Cartier in Paris until Saturday the 13th March, 2011. So as of time posting you have roughly a month too experience it.
A selection of imagery scanned from “The World of the Dark Crystal” a 2003 compendium of conceptual art, design and illustration produced for Jim Henson’s 1982 fantasy movie masterpiece “The Dark Crystal”.
For those of you not familiar with the story of the Dark Crystal – it’s a powerful and dramatic tale of a lost world and Jen, a young ‘Gefling’ who set out on perilous quest against sinisterm dark forces. 28 years after it’s original release the award winning Dark Crystal is firmly embedded as a true cult classic and even to this day a is a tour de force in special effects featuring breathtaking animatronics and puppetry… The whole film just oozes quality – there’s never been anything quite like it since – a remarkable odyssey suitable for adults and children alike, although I have to be honest, parts of it still freak me out!
I’d really like to write more here but I’m once again I’m a little time restricted, I think I’ll post here and then revisit again soon – anyway I’m guessing that most of you a familiar with the film. If not – wow! – your in for a treat! I recommend the 25th Anniversary Edition DVD with excellent special features http://is.gd/cTgLX or the BluRay version http://is.gd/cTgXX
The award winning design as shown here is the work of Devon based English Fantasy Artist Brian Froud, who in addition to producing of 20 illustrative book has also lent his considerable fantasy artist talent to several other famous film projects including as Labyrinth (1985) and Peter Pan (2003).
Ok so some notes on the Images I’ve featured from top to bottom (some spoliers here!):
Top: A conceptual sketch of an ‘Ur-Ru’. The Ur-Ru are the ying to the Skeksis yang, Ur-Ru represent light and good, the Skeksis dark and evil. Each Ur-Ru is inextricably linked to it’s Skeksis counterpart, both share a divided soul and are part of the higher being known as the ‘urSkeks’. This omnipotent super-race was violently spilt apart in an attempt to harvested the full power of the planets three suns known as “The Grand Conjuction”
2nd Top: A conceptual sketch of a ‘Skeksis’. For me creature and costume design doesn’t get much better than Skeksis – it’s not that the regal/Afghan hound looking Ur-Ru aren’t beautifully designed too (they are!) – there’s something memorably horrific about the Skekis, their shrill voices and bloated, twisted bodies wrapped inside fantastically elaborate but rotting clothing!
3rd Top: A perfect example of the fallen decadence – “skekEkt the Ornamentalist who made clothes above all for himself, rich fabrics that dripped jewels, the death of a 100 birds for 1 cloak. He first discovered the art of anointing the skin with a paste of clotted blood and diamond powder, to restore the sparkle of youth.”
4th Top: Another superior sketch, check the ruff, ruched sleeves and carefully balanced Tri-Spectacle action! “skekOk the Scroll-Keeper kept the record of the Skeksis; he was the smallest finest-featured, least honest of them all. He wrote and and rewrote his accounts, and kept changing them one or another of his shifting allies, The truth was soon lost.”
5th Top: A close up detail sketch of Skeksis head. A fair visual description would be to say the Skeksis are a kind of avian reptile, perhaps like an Archaeopteryx but also taking the most heavy visual cue from the Vulture .
6th Top: The contorted chaos of “The Castle of the Skeksis”.
7th Top: A design for the floor plan of the Crystal Chamber, the symbols of the original 18 urSkeks can be seen around the edge whilst the crystal hangs above the inner ring…
8th top & Bottom: Concept drawings for Jen the Gelfling, his costume and accessories – love the man bag!
Two fine examples of Illustrated Concept Art from the Star Trek Universe, the top Image is the Borg Queen designed for the 1996 film Star Trek: First Contact (best after Wrath of Khan IMO) this concept is quite a bit different to the film version, the carved skull idea here is particularly freaky! .The lower image profiles a Neutrino Welder apparently from the Original Movie Adaptation Star Trek: The Motion Picture – no I can’t remember them either… still, it’s a pretty cool looking suit.
Both these Images come via this superb Star Trek resource: Forgotten Trek http://www.ottens.co.uk/forgottentrek/ a vertible mine of behind the scenes stories, designs, concepts etc. Highly recommend even if your not a Trek fan, if you are however – this site’s worth it’s weight in Gold Pressed Latinum!
Scans taken “The Colonial Marines Technical Manual” written and illustrated by Lee Brimmicombe-Wood and published by Boxtree in 1995… I’ll have to admit this rare book is one of my prize possessions!
“The Colonial Marines Technical Manual” if you hadn’t of guessed is basically an analytical expansion on all the military hardware envisaged and designed for the movie Aliens. This book covers in an insane level of detail everything this future American fighting force has at it’s disposal, from the things you’ll recognise: Pulse Rifles, Drop Ships & Smart Guns etc through to things you won’t: Ghille Suits, Rocket Launchers, Tanks and much more…
If you’ve ever watched Aliens and wondered just how many floating point operations a Synth – sorry – Artificial Person is capable of processing per second then this is simply an absolute must read!