The Empire is Thirty, but this Artwork is New.
This you might’ve seen on the home page of this site. This is “Departure” by Pual Allan Ballard. This captures an unseen moment near the close of The Empire Strikes Back in which Vader is leaving Cloud City — and the uncertain fate of his son — behind.
s the artist responsible for capping off the Empire 30th Artwork Series with its twelfth entry, did you feel any added pressure to really knock your piece out of the park?
“>Yes, lots of pressure! Every time I work on Star Wars I have tons of passion for the piece and especially for The Empire Strikes Back. I’m also very honored to be included with the high caliber of artists in this set and hope my piece pleases the fans that have been following along these past months.
Why this particular moment from the Empire storyline?
I went back and forth on the image I wanted to do. I had thought of doing a scene from the Rebel fleet at the end of the movie, but decided on Vader leaving Bespin because he is the driving force of the narrative that leads us directly into Return of the Jedi.
What materials and technique did you use on “The Departure”?
When I think of cloud paintings it’s hard for me not to think of the twentieth century illustrator Maxfield Parrish. My goal was to create a feeling similar to his luminous glazes. I started originally with acrylics and markers on illustration board, then scanned in to Photoshop and painted digitally with some photographic elements blended in, but still trying to keep that organic painting feeling layer after layer.
Check below for the other side of the early gallery before this new peice
The new 12-print series, which launches with Tom Hodges’ “The Taking of Echo Base by the Sith Lord Darth Vader,” includes a very cool incentive for early adopters — a FREE handsome portfolio case (a $50 value!) designed exclusively for this set will be included with the purchase of this print, and will also be made available as a separate purchase for those who miss it (act fast — the print/portfolio bundle isn’t expected to last long!).
“For years I’ve always wondered about the moment Vader and his troops entered the base. I’ve gone so far as to rough storyboard the sequence when I was in animation school years ago: An AT-AT stops over a flat area of Hoth, with the base underneath. From inside the belly, Vader barks orders to the troop commander to clear an entrance to the base below. A hatch opens and Vader drops out from the bottom as the camera follows him to the surface where he lands on what sounds like steel. He takes out his lightsaber, cuts a huge hole in the ground and drops into a wall of ice and steel which he rips apart with the Force. Troops descend on wires and take Echo Base. Vader clutches the Rebel captain as he makes that fateful announcement: ‘Imperial troops have entered the base! Imperial Troops have–‘,” says Hodges
I’ve always loved the lighting of the Falcon cockpit scenes in Empire. They feel similar to a battleship on alert — low ambient lighting, and all the gauges lit up with critical systems info. There’s a wide range of colors going on, lots of magenta and blue hues, some spots of yellow and it all comes together in a great combination. The colors are amplified with C-3PO reflecting everything too. I remember admiring theEmpire Strikes Back lunchbox when I was a kid because of the cockpit scene on the side. It made a real impression on me and this was a great opportunity for me to capture that look. It was also very deliberate that the cockpit is so colorful to set itself apart from the grays and browns of the background. Color was an important factor to guide the viewer’s eye to our heroes.
The cockpit lighting in A New Hope is notably more neutral with just the tiniest spots of color. I would probably still play up the subtle hue of the fluorescent light bar along the back wall and the distinctive square green hallway lights in A New Hope. Those cockpit shots are more about bright sunlight and bold shadows though. There’s a scene in The Making of Star Wars that comes to mind where Mark Hamill is careful to keep a shadow from the window frame off his face while also being mindful of his place within the shot’s composition. The shadows set the characters apart from one another yet tie them together with the dark walls of the ship.
I tried something new this time. I’ve been toying lately with adding some hand-drawn elements into my digital work. It gets me back to the drawing board and it’s fun to change things up now and then. The Falcon, TIEs, and asteroids were hand drawn on vellum with black colored pencil and gray markers. Vellum is a slick, heavy, semi-translucent paper and markers tend to work like watercolor on it. They blend pretty smoothly, you can smear the colored pencil with them, and you can also puddle them up a bit which was great for the weathered look of the Falcon.
I drew the Falcon about 15 x 12 inches, which is big for me but still not big enough to draw the figures comfortably. So I drew them in digitally using my Wacom tablet after I scanned and arranged all the separate drawn elements. The digital painting is done in several layers with the drawings set to be transparent so I can add color on top and underneath them.
For Empire‘s 30th Artwork Series, Nathan has composed “Found Someone You Have”, a whimsical interpretation of the first meeting between Luke Skywalker and Jedi Master Yoda. Limited to just 100 pieces, Hamill’s artwork is the third in a series of 12 that celebrate the 30th anniversary of the saga’s first sequel.
It’s very meaningful to me. I was born in June of 1979 in England, where it was being filmed. I’ve been told that I was born the night before my dad filmed the shot where he jumps out the way of the AT-AT crushing the snowspeeder. I was twelve days late and everyone kept asking my dad whether I’d been born yet. Eventually he wore a sign, which read “not yet” or something along those lines.
I was brought to the Dagobah set as an infant. The goings-on of that set were some of my earliest stimuli. I have no memory of being around Yoda or his planet but, nevertheless, I was there. The experience was digested subconsciously and must’ve formed my young self on a certain level, however minuscule.
I was two and half months old when they wrapped and came to America with my British passport, which included a photo taken by George Whitear, the still photographer on the film. I’ve got to see if my mom can dig that up for me.
While we never actually see the Emperor in a physical setting in The Empire Strikes Back (he only appears as a hologram), Staggs has envisioned the scene as it takes place within the Emperor’s chambers on Coruscant, a locale that movie-goers had not yet been introduced to when Empire was released in 1980.
“Believe me, whenever I get a chance to play in the propaganda or pulp genre I will take the opportunity, but this piece didn’t give that vibe for me. Each piece has its own personality. Sometimes I know exactly what I want to do with a piece from the moment I start, certain ideas and images call for a particular style and then other times the elements fall into place and it grows and develops into the final work. I felt this piece was a pretty straight forward concept that didn’t take me down the retro road. I have often found simple portraits can be quite compelling and tell an incredible story if all the elements are there… he original piece was created on an 11 x 14 piece of bristol paper. I hand rendered it using Copic Markers and chalk pastel pencils. The Markers work like water color and allow me to blend and build the colors as I see fit. It also allows for subtle shifts in skin tone. The pastels let me add a punch in highlights without simply using white. There are some digital elements at play as well: the Coruscant skyline, as well as the hologram effect on Vader. Then I added some texture layers on top of the entire piece, which help tie the hand drawn and digital pieces together.”
This cartoony version of the pirate and his Wookiee co-pilot, “This is No Cave” is a fun retro perspective of a classic pair. “Each artist was assigned a section of the film. My section covered the mynock / space slug scene. Originally, I’d said to Matt Martin at Lucasfilm, who came up with this project, ‘I’m fine with any part of the film, The Empire Strikes Back is my favorite film. But there’s no point giving me the bounty hunters as I’d already scratched that itch with my “Wookiee Season” print for Acme.”
The concept for this peice started rough, and I mean ROUGH! Eventually it took shape as the painting’s air brushed acrylic graffiti styled came into action.
“The trouble with my part of the film is that the characters are all wearing gas masks, which didn’t seem like fun to draw, so at first, I concentrated on doing a cockpit scene of Han, Chewbacca, Leia and Threepio. So I was playing around with some kind of way of showing either the asteroid field, or perhaps the teeth of the space slug through the Falcon cockpit window. But suddenly, the Chris Trevas piece in this series was unveiled, and Chris pretty much nailed the cockpit shot, so it was literally a case of ‘back to the drawing board.’ I went back to the film and looked at those scenes again, and that’s when I hit upon the idea of Han and Chewie with thier welding goggles and hydrospanners. The composition took a while to work out, but I knew I wanted spraypaint to double up as a starfield and to help give the Falcon a sense of movement. I spent quite a long time trying different layouts and drawing different Han and Chewbaccas until I was happy with the likenesses. I then blew up the drawings to the correct dimensions, traced them off and added the spraycan splatter. That was scanned and then colored on my Mac using Adobe Illustrator. With pieces like this the original artwork is for sale, so I went back to the physical piece and masked off sections and then spraypainted sections. The finishing touches were done with acrylic paint and marker”
Luke’s scene with Vader in the cave is probably my favorite moment in Empire. I always found it funny that Luke travels all that way specifically to listen to Yoda’s teaching, and then completely disregards what he has to say with regard to the cave. It reminds me of when I was a teenager, so certain that I knew what was right that I’d ignore the voice of age and experience and do what I wanted. (Of course, in my case, the voice of age and experience was coming from my dad, not a 900-year-old Jedi Master. Nevertheless, like Luke, I did a lot of stupid things that could have been avoided had I simply paid more attention to what I was being told.)
“The piece is really mixed media: I used Graphite, acrylic, colored pencil, and gold leaf on the horizontal bars with digitally-accented smoke. My original intention was to print using metallic inks, but it was cost prohibitive. Referencewise, I used some early images of Hamill, since I wanted to portray the more innocent, younger looking Luke of A New Hope.”