Try a robot or spaceship
illustration to get
your audience in the
Star Trek mood. This
one by Kirk Manley is
to show his technique.
War of the worlds
Find colorful, cosmic
images galore on the
BrandX CD Air and
Space, Creatas Image BXP31667.
Designing a science fiction-inspired
color palette doesn’t have to be a mysterious,
daunting task. Just ask Kirk
Manley of Studio KM, whose illustrative
endeavors often target the sci-fi
book publishing world, comics, advertising, and the
video game and film industries. “Fantasy works are
successully executed if the viewer can look at them
and think, ‘Yes, it is fantasy, but it could be the real
world,’” Manley explains. “Just maybe a different real
world, or a different time in the real world.”
Pop culture is where Manley finds inspiration—
in movies, literature, games, music, the internet, etc.
“Since I was young, comics have been a huge source
of entertainment, inspiration, and motivation,” he
says. “I love the heroic imagery of comics, as well as
the visual storytelling aspects.” Manley’s artistic influences
include Adam Hughes, Alex Ross, Adi Granov,
and Travis Charest, as well as Japanese anime and
manga artists, like Masamune Shirow, and modern
fantasy painters and illustrators like Brom and RK
Post. “Books that collect the works of artists like
these litter my studio,” Manley admits.
Manley’s pieces always begin with pencil and
paper. “I sketch rough ideas and concepts,” he says.
He then scans them into Photoshop and digitally
inks or digitally paints, depending on the style he
intends to create. He also sometimes uses Illustrator.
“I like to illustrate robots and tech stuff like
machines, wires, weapons, and the like,” the artist
says. “This is probably traceable back to comics
and its stories about people in wild environments.”
Which is why Manley’s art is perfect to showcase in
this unusual palette. What environment could be
wilder and more unknown than outer space?