Grand Space Opera 2D Entry: Ken Henderson


A study of the seismic disruptor weapon that the attacking race will use. A quick marker sketch that I worked over a little in Photoshop. I wanted to get a sense of the hardware look of the ship, a sense for that race’s style. Much more work to be done on the ship itself but I’m happy with the menace this portrays.


lots of potential, I really like the latest concept. very good design, looking forward to more of the overall image…


Thanks Bolchover!

I’m doing some concept montage-ing to nail down my final image set-up. It’s changed a bit (mostly the foreground). I should have some images of the near-final direction later today.


I discover your work difficult all to see there is much
participant, your work is interesting and the design are very good,
good road for the continuation.


Smashing! Somehow though when looking at it the word “dentist” pops in my head.
That to show how menacing it looks :]


Great start, looking forward to more updates. Do you have a story established yet?



Yup… it can be a little daunting to try and find peoples specific entries with all the great work going on. It’s fun searching though, lots to be inspired from. Thanks for the comments!


Giant Alien warships descending down on a planet to disrupt its natural seismic patterns with massive weaponry reminds you of the dentist? Yeesh… no wonder that profession has one of the highest suicide rates; they must have left some emotional scars on you Ganthu! I’d try and use that pain and suffering in your Opera Challenge piece… if you can achieve that you’ll be set!



Thanks for the comments! As far as story goes… well, I haven’t named the planet, the races or any of the ships (or titled my entry for that matter) but… The basic story line is that one race is being attacked by another in what I’m sure is the culmination of many centuries of warfare between theses worlds. This scene is a depiction of the final battle for planet (TBD) as they muster all of their forces to try to stop this new lethal threat to their existence. These Seismic disruptor weapons from (TBD) are heavily fortified, almost like aircraft carriers. Their smaller fighters will be quelling any resistance as the larger machine focuses on its task.

This image will depict that battle, with planetary defense troops jumping into their fighters to engage both the enemy squadrons and the seismic disruptor gun-ships.

My next mock-up / sketch will show this a little clearer.

Thanks for asking!


Here’s a back view of what will be my Defending fighter ship. I spent the day searching for reference and then got down to doing a doodle. I’m happy with the wing / engine area but we’ll see how it evolves. Still have to do a profile and front view.

Did the sketch with markers. Digitized and quick colour in Photoshop.


Here’s what I hope will be my final composition. Basically I searched the web for some mountain range images and found a GREAT site to rough out my composition. (see link / credit below) (Cartsen Clasohm)

I’m a big fan of photo reference; from there I can take that real world scene and make a more dramatic illustration with the base composition I’ve created with photos as a reference. It also allows me not to get hung up on making a perfect, for instance, mountain.

Now, I’ve got a good image that I can work with and build on.

Once I got the scenic photo ref I modified the angle and comped a few of the photos together to get the scene I wanted.

Then I brought in my Seismic disruptor machine illustration and dropped it over top. Threw in a beam and found a volcano reference from one of Dylan Cole’s GREAT matte paintings for Lord of the Rings. (again
only using this as reference, will be painting my own).

I tweaked all the colour balances and saturations so everything seemed to fit together. That gave me my alien attack.

Then I threw in a rough planet shape using a sphere and a light fill in Photoshop.

From there I added my foreground elements (ships, landing pads). I took my defender ship illustration and dropped it in over my mocked-up landing pads. Modified the angle, sketched in some thrust for liftoff and some engine glow and was off.

From there I copied that same ship numerous times and scaled it, rotated etc. and placed those ships throughout the scene to flush out the attack composition.

Once I was happy with the placement (for now) I added exhaust, missiles etc. I also added smaller dots in the background around the Alien attacking ship to give the illusion of a massive battle. I continued on that idea by adding explosions on the surface of the Alien ship
really quick ones, just to get an idea.

Still missing is the city on the mountain top (between the two landing pads) and attacking alien ships
explosions within the city etc. Also the atmosphere vortex around the Alien ship. Massive scope is what I’m going for without losing focus of the big event. (aren’t we all?)


You know that scene in Independence Day when Will Smith is getting the paper in the morning and he looks up to see a helicopter-flying overhead. He then fallows the helicopter as it flies towards downtown L.A. only to have the Alien craft revealed to him.

THAT’S the feeling I’m trying to get
we’ll see.

Thanks for looking. Hopefully the two guys whose artwork I used for ref imagery are cool. Thanks guys, your work is amazing!!!

that’s a long process explanation
hope it gave y’all some clarity!



One more thing… the above compositions colour palette, time of day isn’t set. I may take it a bit more towards dusk or back towards daylight.

We’ll see…

As well… the landing pads are ROUGH! I know, I know… they’re just sticking out their like columns for no structure…


I’ll make them more purposeful… and will more than likely have some ground crew milling around.

Thanks for looking!


Hi cgkrusty!

I like a lot your sketch stile. You have a very strenght line but in your final sketch it seem to loose some of it. I like a lot the kind of rock landscape you were working before, with those strange monoliths. It has a more alien feeling than the final one. Make me remember “Arzach” of Moebius. It will be great that you keep something of it. Perhaps the takeover platforms in foreground could be stone alien structures… I dont know.The ships designs is really cool. Very dinamic. Perhaps I am a little prejudice but I can’t avoid Arzach, so I am imagining the color palette in this way, more warm. Also the blue one you are managing is more cold, and it tends to remove a little the “heat” of the battle.


Thanks for the comments Kaparo…

Yah, great point about the monoliths… I think I will work that into my landing pads and will warm up the landscape. The photo manipulation is just for layout purposes… to get my space and composition settled… I love drawing the old statues, sculptures and stone work so I appreciate your encouragement there!

Appreciate the feedback!


Great Idea for the photo referencing there mate, ships are lookin snazzy to.:slight_smile:


Nice! I am not sure why wolud aliens shot at mountain but it looks interesting indeed :wink: I think that distant cityscape could give Your composition a punch. I like Your fighter ship. I think taht changing daytime to dask is good idea. Looking forward to next update!


I just want to tell you I realy enjoyed your early drawings- photo source hides that quality, but it sounds like you’re only using photos to block in the concept. Great drawings! (not that there’s anything wrong with the rest, I’m just a fan of drawing :))



They’re shooting at it to start a seismic reaction on the planet. Why go to all that effort to build a planet-destroying weapon when you can coax the planet into doing itself in? That’s the concept anyhow…

I’ve also slightly modified the concept as per kaparo’s comments. The Mountain / Volcano is now going to be a massive ancient temple built on and around a Volcano. So not only are the Aliens targeting the core of the planet through the Volcano, they’re also wiping out one of the most scared icons of this planets civilization… rotten scoundrels!



Thanks for the kind words. Have no fear… soon that photo ref image will be a distant memory and it’ll be back to doodles!

Thanks for looking guys!


As noted, I’m creating an ancient temple around the Volcano that is being activated by the Alien attacking ship. Here’s a first pass at it.

I’m happy that kaparo lamented the fact that I had got away from these ancient iconic images. I was worried when I did defending planets fighter ship that I might be getting two cultures that looked too similar. By adding back the ancient ruins I can key off those elements to create two unique cultures and that “clash of civilizations” that I was originally shooting for.


Still using the photo (I know…) but have comped in the new temple concept. My concern with it will be apparent scale and level of detail, but I’ll figure that out when I get down to painting.

Still have a lot of work to do but it’s getting there. We’ll see where the palette goes with this. With the addition of the temple it allows me to warm it up a bit but I don’t want to go all desert… hrmmm.

I’ll be playing with this all week. I hope to have the final line work done by this weekend so I can get down to doing some final painted work.

Thanks for looking!


Hi cgkrusty.

It looks really good! I love your ship designs. :slight_smile:

I’m not much of a 2d artist so I couldn’t offer many crits, but I think it looks very good so far. Keep it up!


Thanks Eagle_e7!