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.
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’.
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.
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:
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.
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’.
The final colour scheme:
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.