Art Focus: Official Star Wars: A New Hope (Radio Drama) CD cover
The original Painting for this historical Star Wars Product will be in the live Auction at Rancho Obi Wan, during the World Record Night event November 2, 2013! For more info about Ranch Obi Wan’s World Record Night go to www.ranchoobiwan.org, and visit www.facebook.com/RanchoObiWan! The Painting is titled Star Wars Radio Drama: Villains, it is 18 X 24 acrylic on wood panel. Own a piece of Star Wars History!
I am happy to finally announce the release of my newest art, the official CD cover for the rerelease of the Original Star Wars: A New Hope, Radio Drama.
For those not familiar with the Star wars Radio Drama, back in 1981 NPR broadcast a live Radio production of the original Star Wars film. Most of the characters were voice by new actors, except for Mark Hamill and Anthony Daniels, reprising their roles as Luke Skywalker and C-3P0, respectively. What was really cool about this radio drama was it played out many scenes that were cut from the original script of Star Wars. Scenes like Luke Skywalker racing his T-16 Skyhopper through Beggars Canyon, and Princess Leia acquiring the Death Star Plans. Some of my personal favorite moments exclusive to the Radio drama are the humorous scenes that feature C-3P0 and R2-D2 eluding Imperial Stormtroopers through out Mos Eisly. The Radio Drama also expands on familiar characters such as Admiral Motti, and Biggs Darklighter, while introducing new characters to the plot like Lord Tion and Heater.
The rerelease of the Star Wars Radio dramas is a cooperative project with Topps trading cards who will be simultaneously be releasing it’s newest trading card set “Star Wars: A New Hope Illustrated”. This highly anticipated set of trading cards is like no other Star Wars trading card set in history. The entire set is new original art by some of the todays best and brightest Star Wars artists in the business. The Set retells the story of Star Wars as told in the Radio drama. Many scenes and characters being illustrated for the first time ever. Collect all 101 cards and you can piece together the whole story and follow along as you listen to the radio drama! I was tapped to illustrate 32 trading cards for this 101 card set, that will be released early November, with 30 cards being from the “base set” available in random packs of “Topps Star Wars: A New Hope Illustrated” trading cards, 1 special promo card that will be exclusively inserted into the Star Wars Insider Magazine (November 2013 issue, I believe), and 1 Exclusive Trading card featuring the CD Cover art that comes with the limited Edition Star Wars: A New Hope Radio Drama CD.
I was tapped for the CD cover project while I was wrapping up the accompanying Star Wars: illustrated Trading Card project. Topps and Highbridge were really happy with the work I was doing for the Trading cards, so they asked my good friend and fellow Star Wars artist Matt Busch and I to illustrate the two collectible CD covers. Matt was assigned the Heroes of Star Wars, while I was assigned the Villains, which Matt and I were both very happy about. As it turned out, I had usually always illustrated the good guys for different Star Wars projects in the past, while Matt had seemly always done the bad guys. So it was a great switch and opportunity to switch from our normal routines. Matt Busch and I have been friends since we met at Star Wars Celebration II in 2002, so it was really great for us to finally get to work so closely on a Star Wars project together. While we did not work on one another’s art, we shared sketches as the project developed and talked in great detail about the process and over all feel of the CD art. It was a lot of fun to correspond with a great artist like Matt, and since Matt is my friend, it really felt as close to being like kids playing with our Star Wars action figures in the backyard. Cross your fingers so Matt and I get the chance to work on some more Star Wars projects in the future!
The Art itself was a pretty quick turn around. They needed the art quickly, so it didn’t give me a lot of time to come up with a lot of different compositions, but sometimes that is good. With out a lot of time to think, it forces one to go to basics and do what you know is a strong design. You have to through any tricky designs out the window, but that is okay because for a product like a CD, you want to be bold and stick to the basic things that grab the fans eyes and says “STAR WARS!”. I actually went back and looked at a bunch of old compositions I never used. After 15 years of doing Star Wars art, I’ve accumulated a lot of unused compositions, so I’m glad I’ve held on to all my sketches over the years. The unused sketch that influenced this piece the most was an almost fully developed sketch idea for the Official Key Art for Celebration IV (Los Angeles, 2007). It featured shares of light flying over the head of Darth Vader, like a projector, and I always loved that effect. I eventually did a completely different design for the Star Wars Celebration Key Art, that turned out to be a much more fitting design for the event, but If you look closely, you can see a little of that in the final art.
The only requirements I had fr the CD cover Design was to include all of the main Villains of the Star Wars Radio Drama. The only Villain that is missing is Greedo, but he really didn’t fit into the composition and he’s not so much a Villain anyway, he’s just one of Jabba’s Lackies doing his job. Haha. BUt really, I wanted to keep the tone grand and intimidating. So I knew Darth Vader and the Death Star had to be prominent. But I also wanted to feature the other characters who are important to the story lines in the Radio drama. Grand Moff Tarkin is actually front and center in this story. Much of the plotting and terror comes from Tarkin directly with Admiral Motti playing a much bigger opportunist and weasel. It’s very “Julius Caesar” good stuff. But who are those two characters on the outside, and why does the guy on the left look so familiar? The character on the right with the crazy hair is Heater. No, that’s his name… Heater. Truth be told, he was Jabba in the original script. They actually shot these Jabba scenes with the actor who depicted in my painting. Several years later, Lucasfilm reinserted the confrontation scene Han Solo has with Jabba the Hutt outside of the Millenium Falcon, but put a CG Jabba the Hut over the actor who portrayed Jabba in the original filming. By 1981, when the Radio Drama was produced, Lucasfilm had already started developing Jabba the Hutt for Return of the Jedi. As we all know Jabba is a big slimy slug-like Hutt, and does not speak English. To patch this continuity problem, Lucasfilm changed the name of the Jabba character to Heater for the Radio Drama. But then, in the movies he went back to being Jabba the Hutt for the Special Edition… I know it’s confusing, but Heater, for all intents and purposes, is Jabba the Hutt. As for that handsome devil on the left, that is none other than Lord Tion. Lord who? I know, that’s what I tought too, at first, but Lord Tion is a great character. Lord Tion is a high-ranking officer in the Galactic Empire, and like all imperial swine, he is a plotting, ambitious, scheming slime ball. He is arrogant, ruthless, and has designs to marry Princess Leia. I was lucky enough to get assigned to illustrate two key scenes that feature Lord Tion and Princess Liea. I really wanted to capture Lord Tions rotten expressions, so I modeled Lord Tion after myself. Wait, I’m not saying I’m rotten… let me explain. I will often use models for action poses or different scenes that I paint. My friend Michael Bender, for instance, modeled as all my stormtroopers in the project. For Lord Tion, I really wanted to nail some subtle expressions and feelings. I knew exactly what I wanted, so rather than get a model, I took pictures of myself for reference. I took TONS of photos until I got the expressions I wanted just right, leaving me with some pretty funny outtakes. I honestly never thought my depictions of Lord Tion would be more than the Trading Cards, but when I got tapped to do the CD cover I got very excited because it meant my face would be in official key art for Star Wars. My face is now the official Star Wars personification of Lord Tion… kinda cool!:)
As great as the final product came out, with the Star Wars logo front and center, I am also a little sad too. Sad because the Logo got placed directly over the Star Destroyer that literally took me days to illustrate. I slaved over that Star Destroyer and now it’s completely covered. Well, most of it. You can see a little bit of it creepy from behind the Star Wars Logo. Really, though, I am beyond excited, and not that sad. The reality is this is part of the job. Sometimes your art gets edited completely different from how you designed it. Even thought the Star Destroyer is covered, I am really thrilled with how the final product looks, and I can’t wait to get an actual copy of the CD!
Star Wars: A New Hope Radio Drama Villains
18 X 24 Acrylic on wood panel
Original Art Available for purchase
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