This blog post is about spaceship doodles. I’m always sketching spaceships, and today I thought I would share one of the doodles I happen to be doing right now. These doodles aren’t just for fun, though I get a real kick out of them, they actually serve a purpose. I write sci-fi novels, and I like to put spaceships on the cover. I design my own cover spaceships, and sketching is an important part of that.


My latest novel is Drifter Prime, which has one of my spaceships on the cover, blasting across the frame on blue plumes of power from the fusion drives. I create spaceships like this using a 3D package called Blender. Sometimes, though, before I start modelling using Blender, I like to sketch some ideas for what the spaceship should look like.


For my latest spaceship doodle, I was sketching away, thinking about what a starfighter would look like. I’m using the term starfighter for a small spaceship that doesn’t ever enter a planetary atmosphere. I created this image with four engines on the back and a cockpit at the front. It isn’t smoothed like a fighter jet because it is designed for use in space and doesn’t have to worry about drag. I liked that part of the sketch, and thought it worked very well, but other parts looked a bit weird to me. After I was done, I started to second guess some of the choices I had made for the spaceship.


Instead of reaching for an eraser, I decided to take another crack at drawing the spaceship. The first thing I didn’t like was the cockpit canopy. I realized that the cockpit wouldn’t need to be as prominent as it is in the first sketch. In fact, a cockpit canopy is likely to be a weak point in the design, and maybe should be removed completely. The pilot would probably be located within the spaceship, using sensors to see the battle, or even more likely would be located on a carrier some way away from where the fighter was deployed. A spaceship without a canopy doesnt look cool, however, so the second version will need one, just not one so prominent.


Another one of the strange design choices I made, that I wanted to rethink, was the big door in the side of the spaceship. The idea for the door was so the pilot can enter without opening the cockpit canopy. I’m not convinced there is any good reason to do this, and a canopy that opens would be much more sensible. So the second version does not have a big door on the side. Of course, I kept the four engines, with four thrusters, because I figure that will help the spaceship adjust its position quickly.

For both versions, after finishing up with the pencil, I scan the picture into my computer and load it into GIMP, because I like to mess around with them a little. The first thing I do is increase the contrast in the scanned image to make it easier to see the detail of the spaceship sketch. Spaceship sketches also just look nicer with dark lines.


I also increase the contrast on the doodles, and remove the lines of the lined paper. All these operations are super easy with GIMP. With these starfighters, I’ve also doodled a few areas of light and shade over the spaceship. It really starts to pop from the page with a few shadows and highlights on it. I’ve even added a few dashes of red paint to the second one, and a background of stars. It is more like a picture after spending some time in GIMP, but far from a finished image. It is still very much a sketch.


In the end, the spaceship I’ve ended up with looks a little generic. It looks like an A-wing crossed with an X-wing. I guess Star Wars designs are never far from my mind, so I’ll have to work a little harder to try and prevent them influencing my doodles. If that is even possible. There are still more sketches to do before I decide on what the next cover spaceship will look like.

If I do use a small fighter, what a spaceship like this would actually look like is very difficult to say, even if there will be a role for them at all, in an imagined future. There are long articles discussing this very issue, such as this one where the case is made for and against space fighters.

I’ll keep reading blog posts, and keep doodling starfighters, and who knows, I might put one of them on the cover of my next sci-fi novel. It will be some while before that appears, so in the mean time, why not start reading the four books in the Dark Galaxy series, starting with Galaxy Dog.

Galaxy Dog (Dark Galaxy) Start Reading the Dark Galaxy Trilogy

The first book in the Dark Galaxy Trilogy, always the best place to start, is Galaxy Dog. It’s a little more old-school and fun than a lot of the sci-fi that is around at the moment. It has spaceships, robots, battles, and brave warriors rebelling against an evil empire. Click the book cover and go to the storefront you prefer to buy it now, or follow this link.

This is a universal book link (UBL) and you will be greeted with a page displaying all the places the book is available online. Just select the storefront you prefer and, if you want, also make this your default bookseller. From then on, every time you click a UBL you will be taken directly to the book you are interested in, on the storefront you prefer. The UBL even allows you to go to the Amazon store that matches your region.