Painting Star Wars, from Ackbar (with a Moustache) to Vader

Steven Daily, Star Wars artist

When I was approached to write a blog for StarWars.com, I was a bit scared. Terrified actually.

I am not a writer at all. To be honest, I am grammatically challenged.

Working for Lucasfilm was a dream come true. I have been a Star Wars fan since my parents took me to see A New Hope in 1978 at the Van Buren drive-in. Little me would be peeing his pants if he knew then that he would work for Star Wars. I have done four art pieces for Lucasfilm. All of them were extremely fun and exciting to make.

I was approached to write this at one of the busiest times I’ve ever had, and I wanted to put it off…BUT…I was working on a new piece for Lucasfilm and Acme Archives, so I thought this would be a perfect chance for me to write a little bit about my process.

When I approach a new idea for an illustration piece such as “Magnitude,” the first question I ask myself is: “What would I want to hang in my own house?” With “Magnitude,” I wanted to make Star Wars for a grown man. A classic-looking piece for your den, study, or something that would go well with hunting trophies, diamond-back burgundy leather chair, and mahogany desks.

Star Wars Magnitude Admiral Ackbar bust ad

Steven Daily paints Magnitude, a Star Wars painting with Admiral Ackbar

Star Wars Magnitude Admiral Ackbar bust

I got the idea for “Ride the Lightning” while watching Return of the Jedi. When I saw Vader hit with the Emperor’s Force lightning, it just clicked. I grabbed my pad and started sketching.

Star Wars Ride the Lightning Darth Vader sketch

Everything I do starts with pencil on paper, a few preliminary sketches, working out compositions, then a rendered drawing. I will then scan the drawing and tile it out into a few 8.5 x 11” prints. With Saral Blue transfer paper, I transfer the drawing onto a wood panel or canvas. After I have transferred the image, I will begin a raw umber under-painting.


Star Wars Ride the Lightning Darth Vader by Steven Daily

Star Wars Ride the Lightning Darth Vader by Steven Daily

Star Wars Ride the Lightning Darth Vader by Steven Daily

For illustration I mostly use Nova Color acrylic paint. After I have a good under-painting in sepia tones, I’ll start blocking in the darks, then the mid tones, and finally start building up layers. I usually leave the fine details, washes, and glazes until the very end. I think the final touches are the best parts. That’s where all the magic happens!

Star Wars Ride the Lightning Darth Vader by Steven Daily

“Ride the Lightning” is coming out in the end of January. I am very excited about this print because this is my favorite so far!

For more on Steven Daily, visit www.stevendailyart.com and follow him on Twitter @thedailysteven.

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