Star Wars | The Black Series

Last year my company was hired by Lucasfilm to create a great series of illustrations for a new line of toys called Star Wars | The Black Series. The goal of the illustration series was to capture quintessential characters and moments in time within the Star Wars universe in a very tightly cropped, simple, black and white format. It was a great problem-solving exercise to strip away so much of the detail and reflect the basic essence of the character in just shapes.

Anakin Skywalker had two different illustrations. One from Episode 2 that had to convey a much younger and more innocent Anakin, and the second is from Episode 3 portraying him as a much darker and wilder character.

Anakin Skywalker had two different illustrations. One from Episode 2 that had to convey a much younger and more innocent Anakin, and the second is from Episode 3 portraying him as a much darker and wilder character.

Darth Vader really was absolutely made to be a Black series character. 

Darth Vader really was absolutely made to be a Black series character. 

Boba Fett was, of course, one of my favorites to draw. He had several illustrations to his name in the series as well. This one was the only full body shot.

Boba Fett was, of course, one of my favorites to draw. He had several illustrations to his name in the series as well. This one was the only full body shot.

Greedo was another one of my favorites.  The pencil image was really exciting and fun to get into the detail of the skin. In final inks though the detail had to get trimmed down to reflect the simplicity of the series.

Greedo was another one of my favorites.  The pencil image was really exciting and fun to get into the detail of the skin. In final inks though the detail had to get trimmed down to reflect the simplicity of the series.

Slave Leia admittedly was a tough one. I had to take a few tries at the face to get it right. In the end I think the portrait was just a hair off but it was close enough to push through to the end.

Slave Leia admittedly was a tough one. I had to take a few tries at the face to get it right. In the end I think the portrait was just a hair off but it was close enough to push through to the end.

Mace was another difficult one. Samuel L. Jackson has great shapes in his face for drawing but I had a hard time pinning down the refracted light for his face. The refracted light became an essential element in these illustrations to really round out the shapes and present an endpoint for the far side of the figure.

Mace was another difficult one. Samuel L. Jackson has great shapes in his face for drawing but I had a hard time pinning down the refracted light for his face. The refracted light became an essential element in these illustrations to really round out the shapes and present an endpoint for the far side of the figure.

Mara Jade was a great challenge. Not having been in any of the movies yet there are somewhat limited and incredibly varied references for her. There have been many different interpretations of her from novels to comics and even cosplay. I did a lot of research and used elements from a few different places to create this image. This is one of the pieces that I really loved at the pencil stage but I really felt lost a step when the inks were done.

Mara Jade was a great challenge. Not having been in any of the movies yet there are somewhat limited and incredibly varied references for her. There have been many different interpretations of her from novels to comics and even cosplay. I did a lot of research and used elements from a few different places to create this image. This is one of the pieces that I really loved at the pencil stage but I really felt lost a step when the inks were done.

Darth Maul, as you can see, was another tough one. I really wanted to get him done with the hood on. I thought the black hood in just black and white was gonna nail it. It actually got approved right out of the gate and then unapproved later on. After a few different stabs at it I finally did one without the hood and it got approved right off the bat.

Darth Maul, as you can see, was another tough one. I really wanted to get him done with the hood on. I thought the black hood in just black and white was gonna nail it. It actually got approved right out of the gate and then unapproved later on. After a few different stabs at it I finally did one without the hood and it got approved right off the bat.

Padme Amidala, like Slave Leia, I knew was going to be a problem getting the face right. Natalie Portman has such sparse delicate features that distilling them down to just black and white I thought was going to be a nightmare.  For once I did the smart thing though and found a great high resolution photo to draw from and got it done without a hitch.

Padme Amidala, like Slave Leia, I knew was going to be a problem getting the face right. Natalie Portman has such sparse delicate features that distilling them down to just black and white I thought was going to be a nightmare.  For once I did the smart thing though and found a great high resolution photo to draw from and got it done without a hitch.

Darth Plagueis was a character with almost no visuals to speak of. I did an exhaustive amount of research on him and it turned up very little. I had to look him up by species in the Star Wars encyclopedia, The Muuns. The client wanted to see a few versions of Plagueis, with and without the hood, and with and without his breathing apparatus. In the end, they went with the hood but sans mask.

Darth Plagueis was a character with almost no visuals to speak of. I did an exhaustive amount of research on him and it turned up very little. I had to look him up by species in the Star Wars encyclopedia, The Muuns. The client wanted to see a few versions of Plagueis, with and without the hood, and with and without his breathing apparatus. In the end, they went with the hood but sans mask.

I love drawing Stormtroopers. The Speeder Bike scouts were my favorite when I was a little kid and that love carried over to doing these. There were probably six or seven different Stormtroopers for this series. I thought including all of them might be a be a bit much so I just chose my favorites.

I love drawing Stormtroopers. The Speeder Bike scouts were my favorite when I was a little kid and that love carried over to doing these. There were probably six or seven different Stormtroopers for this series. I thought including all of them might be a be a bit much so I just chose my favorites.

This is the Clone Pilot Trooper. It lost a little detail coming through to the end, but the subtraction of some of that detail made for some great negative space.

This is the Clone Pilot Trooper. It lost a little detail coming through to the end, but the subtraction of some of that detail made for some great negative space.

Stormtrooper Classic. In the end we added the shoulder pad for a little extra personality.

Stormtrooper Classic. In the end we added the shoulder pad for a little extra personality.

One of the lesser known characters involved in this series was Vizam. He is Jabba's weapons master. This one was a lot of fun because, again, there was not a whole lot of reference on him. It was exciting to take the limited information about the way that he looks and just make the coolest possible image of him.

One of the lesser known characters involved in this series was Vizam. He is Jabba's weapons master. This one was a lot of fun because, again, there was not a whole lot of reference on him. It was exciting to take the limited information about the way that he looks and just make the coolest possible image of him.

Biggs Darklighter.

Biggs Darklighter.

And last but definitely not least is R2-D2.  Always fun times, R2 needs no explanation.

And last but definitely not least is R2-D2.  Always fun times, R2 needs no explanation.

Here are just some of the images I did on the higher price point box packs...

Here are just some of the images I did on the higher price point box packs...

...and here are a few more as they appeared on blister packs.

...and here are a few more as they appeared on blister packs.