I happened to see Luke Skywalker and the Shadow of Mindor the other day, which happens to sport one of my favorite Dave Seeley paintings. The image was first created as a print for sale at the Star Wars Celebration convention and then later picked up as a book cover. I asked Dave to share a bit of his process with us.
The hook to get Star Wars artists to attend the Star Wars Celebration conventions is to swap them the rights to make 250 limited edition prints of an image they make exclusively for the show in exchange for the full copyright buyout of the piece. You’re free to pitch any image you like, and for me, it was a great opportunity to do one of the classic characters, after having done a bunch characters from the expanded universe and Clone Wars books. Luke was the obvious choice especially given that the convention was the 30th anniversary of A New Hope.
For me, the coolest aspect of Luke was the fighter pilot thing, and so I picked the point in the story arc where he had just defeated the Emperor in Episode VI, and began to rid the universe of the Empire as the leader of “Rogue Squadron,” which is covered only in novels and comics. I was inspired by a pic I had done for Wizards of the Coast’s minifigure series packaging, featuring a load of X-wings from the Episode IV Battle of Yavin. I wanted Luke on the battlefield with Rogue Squadron blowing by overhead…and that’s how “Rogue Leader,” the limited print for Celebration IV was born. It was dumb luck that the pic was perfect for the book Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor.
For Luke, I shot myself in orange flight suit and white tuxedo vest, in my front hall. I montaged three shots for a cool, but unlikely, twist and laid in my older X-wings over a stock photo of a sunset shot.
I developed an original Luke head from non-Mark Hamill pics, and began building background with city shots, and oil refinery pics. Once established, I used prior Hamill pics to refine the Luke likeness.
I decided to re-shoot the X-wing from a small model I made—the older image was at the wrong perspective for what I wanted—and then knocked out new photos of X-wings.
Here is the final digital step with an added explosion made from military Department of Defense pics, and dropping/spherizing the horizon for some vertigo. Then I printed and mounted the image on a panel and painted in oils over the print, making adjustments.
Final Star Wars Celebration 4 “Rogue Leader” print and the bookcover it was later used for, Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor.
Back Jacket with ShadowSpawn. You can read about the development of the back cover on the official Star Wars Blog.