In addition to designing the series villain’s starship The Thunderer for the 2020 SyFy show Vagrant Queen, I was also asked to take a pass at the hero vessel, the Winnipeg.
‘Vagrant Queen’ follows the adventures of Elida, exiled child queen of Arriopa, as she and her crew of scavangers pilot the Winnipeg (or ‘Winnie’, as she is affectionately known) across the galaxy on the run from the law.
Based on the graphic novel by Magdalene Visaggio and illustrated by Jason Smith, the TV series was helmed by showrunner Jem Garrard and starred Adriyan Rae as Elida.
When I joined the project, the Winnie had already been fleshed out by designer Pouta Moayedi, but Jem wanted to do a second pass on the design. I started by painting over Pouta’s sketches to explore variations on the ship’s basic form.
I also sketched out a couple pages of brainstorms, exploring the Winnie from the ground up…
… And there were a few designs that emerged out of this process that I’ve fallen in love with, even though they never actually made the cut for the show.
But it wasn’t meant to be; turns out the showrunners actually really liked Pouta’s basic design and wanted to elaborate on that. I took another pass at his sketches, modifying and polishing some details but keeping the great freight train-like profile of the ship.
To show off the Winnie, I created a couple of key frames like this landing scene:
One of the elements of the design that needed particular attention was the shape of the cockpit window and how it would line up with the actual set which was being designed by Deon de Lange. One thing the producers wanted to explore was a split-level cockpit with a larger viewport. I created a series of options with different window shapes…
… and I was also asked to explore different engine and wing configurations for the ship…
… before settling on the final layout:
The final design was given a final few tweaks by Deon de Lange, the lead concept designer for the series, and the filming model below was built by Robert Allison:
And finally, the Winnie as she appeared in the show: