Star Wars MOMENTS

scenes we've never seen


These images were produced for a competition hosted by ILM. They were offering prizes and a possible job to those who placed high in the results. They were also offering a tour of their facilities. I'm a huuuggge fan of ILM and really just wanted to be part of that tour! Unfortunately, due to a work commitment I was not able to devote the time I would have liked and will not be working on these anymore. I figure I would at least post what I had completed to show my general thought process. Maybe it will be helpful to someone out there!

Concept art by Bob MacNeil of Han Solo and Chewbacca of Star Wars. With odds stacked against them, a friendship bigger than a sworn life debt will overcome any adversity.

Initial Roughs - Smuggler's Blues - Han and Chewie surprised during a botched smuggle.

Concept art by Bob MacNeil of Luke Skywalker and his buddy Biggs Darklighter, racing through Beggar's Canyon on their Skyhoppers.

Initial Roughs - Beggar's Canyon - Luke and Biggs piloting their T-16 Skyhoppers.

Concept art by Bob MacNeil for the horrible fate of Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru, by the hands of the stormtroopers.

Initial Roughs - Droid Hunt A- The Empire will resort to the darkest of atrocities.

Concept art by Bob MacNeil for the horrible fate of Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru, by the hands of the stormtroopers.

Initial Roughs - Droid Hunt B- The Empire will resort to the darkest of atrocities.

While I'm working on these rough drawings, I am also thinking about the layouts and how they would work in a cinematic environment. I like where Droid Hunt is going, but I want to explore it further. My goal is to have these compositions reflect the same sensibilities of the original trilogy's cinematography. The aesthetic created by the use of simple, bold shapes might seem dated by today's standards, but IMO this design approach helped tell a much better story. We, (the viewers) were not distracted by all the "bells and whistles" found in a lot of films today. Our brains were allowed to absorb this fantastic story and not be overwhelmed by how cool stuff looks.


My friend Mark Holmes discusses film design on his blog with great insight, do yourself a favor and take a look here!

Concept art by Bob MacNeil of the moment when the Milennium Falcon arrives on Bespin.

Initial Roughs - Lando's Lament A- Lando distraught by his decision to work with Vader.

Concept art by Bob MacNeil of the moment when the Milennium Falcon arrives on Bespin.

Initial Roughs - Lando's Lament B- Lando distraught by his decision to work with Vader.

Concept art by Bob MacNeil of the moment when the Milennium Falcon arrives on Bespin.

Initial Roughs - Lando's Lament C- Lando distraught by his decision to work with Vader.

Around this time, I received notice of a mandatory out-of-state work summit I was scheduled to attend. I had to put the project on hold. Because of the contest deadline, my days alotted to work on this were numbered but I decided to try and keep going. I chose to explore Droid Hunt and Lando's Lament as I felt the emotional overtones of each idea would be fun to build on.

Concept art by Bob MacNeil for the horrible fate of Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru, by the hands of the stormtroopers.

Refinement Sketch - Droid Hunt 1- The Empire will resort to the darkest of atrocities.

Using basic photography methods, I begin to hone in on a layout. The "Rule of Thirds" for instance, is the simplest way to help identify regions in a scene that are accepted as "more dynamic" to viewers. It's not the only method to aid in good composition, but it's the easiest to implement. I also wanted to utilize stronger shapes, so I began to block in my layouts with simple silhouettes.


I abondoned this sketch because it had less emotion as an aerial shot. When I pulled the camera away from the POV shot I initially established, the characters lost focus.

Concept art by Bob MacNeil for the horrible fate of Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru, by the hands of the stormtroopers.

Refinement Sketch - Droid Hunt 2- The Empire will resort to the darkest of atrocities.

I abondoned this sketch as well because the linear, left-to-right layout felt too mechanical. I like that I'm starting to use bolder shapes, but they could be combined or unified more thoughtfully, to push the abstract.

Concept art by Bob MacNeil for the horrible fate of Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru, by the hands of the stormtroopers.

Refinement Sketch - Droid Hunt 3- The Empire will resort to the darkest of atrocities.

This might have been a good direction. I mulled over going with this one for a bit, as I liked the POV a lot. The low angle showed the perilous nature of Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen's predicament by giving the Stormtroopers a domineering presence (above) and over them. I ultimately decided against it, because of the negative space in the top left of the frame. Negative space is good, but this felt unbalanced. If I worked further I could have done something to correct the issue, but time was running out and I had to make an executive decision, so I scratched it.

Concept art by Bob MacNeil for the horrible fate of Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru, by the hands of the stormtroopers.

Refinement Sketch - Droid Hunt 4- The Empire will resort to the darkest of atrocities.

This one was discarded because the POV through the Troopers' legs kind of felt too much like a "Shoot out at the OK Corral" shot. It wasn't emotional enough for me. However, what I did like about this sketch was my use of a better shape language. I'm also beginning to think in terms of fore, middle and background staging.

Concept art by Bob MacNeil for the horrible fate of Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru, by the hands of the stormtroopers.

Refinement Sketch - Droid Hunt 5- The Empire will resort to the darkest of atrocities.

I'm liking this because we the viewers are now involved in this scene. It's as if we we're seeing what's about to happen from a Stormtrooper's POV. I did feel like the left side of the frame lacked balance once again, so one more, I promise!

Concept art by Bob MacNeil for the horrible fate of Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru, by the hands of the stormtroopers.

Refinement Sketch - Droid Hunt 5- The Empire will resort to the darkest of atrocities.

By adding a trooper and the second moon of Tatooine (on the left), I think I reached a decent layout here. I also pulled the camera back a bit to speak more to the aesthetic established in "A New Hope." George Lucas used a lot of medium shots in the film, so I wanted to do something similar.


At this point in the competition process, I was very close to running out of time. The rules required (at least) two complete paintings, so I went with Lando's Lament as my second. For that one, I approached my refinement design the same as I did with Droid Hunt. Unfortunately, I did not have time to do any visual explorations. I needed to paint up the Droid Hunt image, because the details on Stormtroopers are a pain to paint.

Concept art by Bob MacNeil for the horrible fate of Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru, by the hands of the stormtroopers.

Trooper line art - Guidelines used to paint the final Troopers.

What has perspective, proportion and fluid shape design? A Stormtrooper's armor! Note to self never paint these guys again when on a tight deadline.

Concept art by Bob MacNeil for the horrible fate of Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru, by the hands of the stormtroopers.

Droid Hunt Color Rough - Color palette, time of day & mood.

I wanted to show the somber mood of the scene by setting it around dusk. I also really liked the idea of having some dramatic light emanating from the burning vaporators on the farm. I wanted to use the flames as abstracts to silo and emphasize focus on the Troopers.

Concept art by Bob MacNeil for the horrible fate of Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru, by the hands of the stormtroopers.

Droid Hunt Color Rough 2 - Color palette, time of day & mood.

I was not happy with the first color palette, and also decided to flip the layout. I wanted to leverage the bold shape of foreground Trooper and his flamethrower to serve as a subliminal lead into the scene.

Concept art by Bob MacNeil for the horrible fate of Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru, by the hands of the stormtroopers.

Droid Hunt Final Color

Here is the finished concept painting for Droid Hunt.

Concept art by Bob MacNeil of the moment when the Milennium Falcon arrives on Bespin.

Lando's Lament Final Color

Here is the finished concept painting for Lando's Lament. This image was created at the last minute, literally. I started it the day the full submission was due and completed the painting in about 8 hours. The image lacks a lot of elements I wanted to include, (such as some foreground elements for story and better staging, as well as some general architectural details in the room) The detail on both Vader and Fett was very time consuming. Not to mention, that Millenium Falcon... I actually painted the Bespin scout ships in 10 minutes, and mistakenly painted Fett's uniform similar to how it was in Return of the Jedi. For the purpose of this gallery, I went back and corrected that, but left the rest the same. (see below detail image for the first incorrect Fett version)


All in all, I'm happy with what I was able to do, (in the time I had to work on these) but unfortunately my work did not take me any further in the competition. Guess I should have added more "bells and whistles!"

Concept art by Bob MacNeil for the horrible fate of Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru, by the hands of the stormtroopers.

Droid Hunt Details

Concept art by Bob MacNeil of the moment when the Milennium Falcon arrives on Bespin.

Lando's Lament Details

Contact

bobby[at]taminglight.com

somewhere in marin county ca