Spaceship Doodles

This blog post is about spaceship doodles. I’m always doodling spaceships, and today I thought I would share one of the doodles I happen to be doing right now. These doodles aren’t just for fun, they actually serve a purpose. I write sci-fi novels, and I like to put spaceships on the cover.

My latest novel is Drifter Prime, which has a white spaceship on the cover, blasting across the frame on blue plumes of power from the fusion drives. I create spaceships like this using a 3D package called Blender. Sometimes, though, before I start modelling using Blender, I like to sketch some ideas for what the spaceship should look like.

For my latest spaceship doodle, I was sketching away, thinking about what a starfighter, a small spaceship that didn’t ever enter a planetary atmosphere would look like. I created this image with four engines on the back and a cockpit at the front. It isn’t smoothed like a fighter jet because it is designed for use in space and doesn’t have to worry about drag. I liked that part of the sketch, and thought it worked very well, but other parts looked a bit weird to me. After I was done, I started to second guess some of the choices I had made for the spaceship.

The post continues below. If you are enjoying it, why not check out the sci-fi novels I write. They belong to a series called Dark Galaxy, which starts with Galaxy Dog. Here is some of Galaxy Dog's blurb:

What starts as an ordinary invasion of an alien planet brings to light an ancient archeological site of huge importance. A young man called Knave makes a life-changing discovery there and rises from a lowly position as an infantry trooper to become a player among the powers of the galaxy.

The entire series is ripsnorting space opera in the style of Doctor Who and Blake's 7, and they are available to buy from Amazon. Just click the link and take a look.

I decided to take another crack at drawing the spaceship. The first thing I didn’t like was that the cockpit wouldn’t need to be as prominent as it is in the first sketch. In fact, a cockpit canopy is likely to be a weak point in the design, and maybe should be removed completely. The pilot would probably be located within the spaceship, using sensors to see the battle, or even more likely, would be located on a carrier, some way away from where the fighter was deployed. That doesn’t look cool, however, so the second version will need a cockpit, just not one so prominent.

Another one of the strange design choices I made, that I wanted to rethink, was to have a big door in the side of the spaceship, so the pilot can enter without opening the bubble canopy. I’m not convinced there is any good reason to do this, and a canopy that opens would be much more sensible. So the second version does not have a big door on the side. Of course, I kept the four engines, with four thrusters, because I figure that will help the spaceship adjust its position quickly.

After finishing up with the pencil, I scan the picture into my computer and load it into GIMP, because I like to mess around with them a little. The first thin I do is increased the contrast in the scanned image to make it easier to see the detail of the spaceship sketch. They also just look nicer with dark lines.

I also increase the contrast on the doodles, and remove the lines of the lined paper. All these operations are super easy with GIMP. With these starfighters, I’ve also doodled a few areas of light and shade over the spaceship. It really starts to pop from the page, with a few shadows and highlights on it. I’ve even added a few dashes of red paint to the second one.

In the end, the spaceship I’ve finished up with looks a little generic. It looks like an A-wing crossed with an X-wing. I guess Star Wars designs are never far from my mind, but I’ll have to work a little harder to try and prevent them influencing my doodles. If that is even possible.

What a small fighter like this would actually look like is very difficult to say, even if there will be a role for them at all, in an imagined future. There are long articles discussing this very issue, such as this one where the case is made for and against space fighters.

I’ll keep reading blog posts, and keep doodling starfighters, and who knows, I might put one of them on the cover of my next sci-fi novel. Before we wrap up here, just a reminder that the best way to support this blog is to buy one of my books, so why not go over to Amazon, or Kobo and see if there is one that catches your fancy.