Click "Enter" to submit the form.

Featured_VQ Thunderer_1

The Thunderer

For the 2020 SyFy show Vagrant Queen, I was tasked with designing the series villain’s monolithic starship, the Thunderer.

Vagrant Queen, based on the graphic novel of the same name, follows the exiled queen Elida as she scavenges the treacherous corners of the galaxy, always one step ahead of the republic government out to extinguish her bloodline. Leading the hunt for Elida is the unhinged Commander Lazaro on his command ship, the Thunderer.

Client:
Blue Ice Pictures
Date:
2019
Role:
Concept Artist

In the graphic novel, the Thunderer is literally a battleship in space, a hulking monolith that dwarfs everything else. On that prompt, my first round of designs leaned heavily on the keyword ‘monolith’.

VQ_Thunderer_01
VQ_Thunderer_06
VQ_Thunderer_05
VQ_Thunderer_02
VQ_Thunderer_03
VQ_Thunderer_04
VQ_Thunderer_09
VQ_Thunderer_07
VQ_Thunderer_08

I was also given reference material from the video game Star Citizen, and a few of my early designs also tried to capture a smaller, more sleek and charismatic styling. I personally really loved a few of these designs, but they weren’t quite right for the Thunderer.

VQ_Thunderer_10
VQ_Thunderer_11
VQ_Thunderer_12
VQ_Thunderer_14
VQ_Thunderer_13

The breakthrough came with a series of doodles inspired by the ‘clamshell’ design of the Earth Battlecruiser in Fifth Element. Metal plates on the top and bottom, crammed full of machinery:

VQ_Thunderer_15
VQ_Thunderer_16
VQ_Thunderer_17
VQ_Thunderer_18
VQ_Thunderer_19
VQ_Thunderer_20

These brainstorms finally led to an overall rough shape the producers liked:

VQ_Thunderer_23
VQ_Thunderer_22

A few other sketches with a more spade-like silhouette also factored into the final design.

For colour, I was thinking about the monolith from 2001: a dark slab that blots out the sun as it passes overhead. I also played with having circuit-like lighting across the surface of the hull, perhaps as an indication of power as the vessel charges up its weapons.

VQ_Thunderer_28
VQ_Thunderer_31
VQ_Thunderer_30

Showrunner Jem Garrard also wanted to see ideas for a transforming shape, where a more simple outline becomes more dynamic when it’s in ‘attack mode’.

VQ_Thunderer_25
VQ_Thunderer_24

Colour explorations:

VQ_Thunderer_26

The final colour scheme:

VQ_Thunderer_27

The final approved version of the Thunderer borrowed elements from both the ‘clamshell’ and ‘spade’ designs:

I built up the ship as rough 3d model, to visualize the paint scheme and in order to provide the producers with an interactive model they could explore in VR.

VQ_Thunderer_Render_04
VQ_Thunderer_Render_03

The Thunderer as it appeared in the show, built by Refinery in South Africa:

VQ_Thunderer_Render_05
VQ_Thunderer_Render_06
VQ_Thunderer_Render_07