Third in the series of FASA Trek covers. For various reasons there was an 18 month gap between this book and the previous one. In that time I had gone to the 1984 WORLDCON in Los Angeles where I spent most of my time going through the art show and taking notes. Soon afterwards I make a major change in the way I worked, incorporating more paint over the top of the airbrush work and using better reference material.
16″X24″ on hot-press watercolor board. (back portion of the wrap-around has been cropped off). Acrylic paint over the top of airbrush which in turn was laid over the top over a water-color underpainting. My friend Mark Robison posed for the Starfleet officer – the first of several instances in which he did so. The “Vulcan” in the background was based on my nephew Gordon Laird Michael.
The original art fell victim to the Christmas in Chicago curse. Four years running I had a painting bent when it passed through Chicago during Christmas time. FASA was still able to use this piece by some imaginative use of a clear overlay and an airbrush. but I was able to salvage only the cropped out head & shoulders of each figure
“Rich artist” is a contradiction of terms for most creative types. That certainly has been the case in my career; I have had periods of peak activity and affluence but they never last long enough to even out for the lean years. As a good friend said ” One month the chicken is in the pot and the next month you get only feathers.” In order to mentally and emotionally survive you have to find your rewards in others ways. You can’t used income to keep score.
Sometimes the pay-off comes with the subject matter you are assigned. It’s been my good fortune to make my living doing Star Trek art at three separate times in my career. In the mid-eighties I did covers for FASA corporation’s Star Trek role-playing game, in the mid-nineties I did a couple of sub-sets for Skybox Cards Star Trek Masterworks II set, and in the mid -“oughts” I did the three dealer-incentive covers for IDW comics adaptation of ‘The Wrath of Khan”.
It was kind of nice the way that all worked out….
This was the first cover I did for the FASA game series. I had just started free-lancing after four years as an officer in the army and truth be told this was a little difficult for me. During my “time in” I did occasional free-lance work but not enough to push me into developing my work; I came out making images almost exactly the way I did when I went in.
Unfortunately my “eye” did continue to develop – what I could conceive was much more demanding of what I could produce. I had an idea of what I wanted to do but was having a hard time getting there.
Considering the predicament I was in at the time this didn’t work out all that badly. It was done in July of 1983 with airbrush on illustration board with inks and Dr. Martin’s dyes. Some areas have been embellished with colored pencil or brushwork. It measures about 12″X16″ – it was originally a wrap-around cover so you’re missing half the image – the back area was split between white space and a continuation of the space-view.
I learned early on that good reference material get you a good painting. I have file cabinets full of clippings laboriously collected over the years but I find that even with all of those images available I usually end up shooting new photos for each project. It’s better to have a photo tailored to your design than it is to tailor your design to the reference you have on hand.
I have also found that even with the ba-jillion images available via the Internet I still have to set up shots. Google “The Romulan Starship ‘Buzzard’s Breath'” and you’ll get 100K results… but 998K of the images will be the same identical shot.
I don’t set out to use myself as a model but I often find it so much easier to do so. With this cover painting I wasted 45 minutes trying to get my model into the desired “crazed cult-member pose,” and in the end I had to pose while he took the photo. My only regret is that I couldn’t keep my McGuyveresque locks into the painting.
You never know beforehand who the best models will be either. I tried using one of Lori’s drop-dead gorgeous friends for a FASA Star Trek piece but the girl had no acting “muggability” at all. The gentleman who posed for the soldier in this painting verbally worried about “everyone in the neighborhood staring at him” during the shoot despite the fact that there were two, maybe three kids (no adults) within a four-home radius.