Behind Stories of the “Podracer 2022 by Sky”

May the 4th 2022, digital poster done by Won.
To celebrate “Star Wars Day” this year, we would like to share more stories behind the fan art by Sky introduced last year.
We believe fan art or secondary creation is always more interesting when you know both the original and the creator's thoughts. So we wanted to share more stories that we couldn’t last year through an interview between Jenny and Sky.
 And more than anything, we want to say that we always root for Star Wars and all the fan creators!
Hello, I am the community manager Jenny.
Hi Jenny, I am Sky, a concept designer. Glad to talk with you today.
I thought your Podracer design was awesome, with all the detailed lines describing all the engines and mechanical parts. Even though I don’t know much about the original Podracer, it was still interesting.
But it was a shame not many of the stories and your thoughts were not shared enough…
So this year, I wanted to share more about the design in detail.
Glad that you enjoyed the design without knowing much about the originals. The vehicle I designed followed the original design formats. So, as a fan of the original Podracers, it is good to hear that the designs are still fascinating to enjoy.
By the way, how did you get into Star Wars so much?
Oh! My parents showed me movies each weekend when I was young. We rented the videos from a rental shop. There were a lot of SF movies, and once it was Star Wars. The first episode of Star Wars was the first one I watched when I was about 9.
It was a great movie for a young boy full of amazing machines and awesome actions.
And until now, I think Star Wars is a series that shows a grand universe of its own, lively and in detail.
Oh, I see! Is there something you like the most?
I think the lightsaber and battleships are maybe the most famous things, but the podracing sequence was the most impressive for me. Those Podracers are my favorite concept designs until now. They have very iconic designs and are rich in detail, describing the actual mechanisms with very high leveled work. Even small buttons, levers, and interfaces are described in the scenes.
 I love such designs that have unique characteristics and a high level of completion.
That is why you drew a Podracer last year!
Yes, I would say so since it is my favorite design. The design of Podracers has a special meaning to me.
While watching the racing sequence, my dad told me how powerful the jet engines were. By then, the jet engine had become an uncharted object in imagination. You can’t see it, but you can hear its existence and power when the airplane flies above you in the sky.
After that, my dad often told me about technology and nature, which led me to work as a concept artist who connects those elements with imagination and builds a new concept.
Wow! It is a meaningful object, much more than something you just like.
Yes exactly. To tell more, it is because of all the stories my dad told me about the designs in movies. My dad often told me about the imagination and realism in the movie. All these conversations with my dad affected my thoughts on concept design. The most impressive one was about the Podracer.
papercraft model by Sky in middle school
digital painted picture by Sky in university
I also made fan art about the Podracer when I was young. In elementary school, I made a model able to turn the direction of the engines by the handle. It was made with straws, cartons, and plastic bottles. Then, in middle school, I made a papercraft model of Sebulba’s vehicle. The planar figure of the model was hand drawn and textured with pieces of screenshots from the racing game named Star Wars Episode 1:Racer. In university, I learned about technical drawing style and digital painting, then made a picture of a podracing scene using those techniques.
Not only the fan art but also when I do my work, I have the Podracer as standard in my mind.
This fan art wasn’t the first time; it is continued from when your childhood! Then, what was the difference between this Podracer design and your previous fan artwork?
Well, before, I mostly reproduced the original. But now, as a concept designer, I want to put some reinterpretation and new features for my fan art design while strongly based on the original.
I have always wanted to make my version of Podracer design.
When designing the new Podracer, my goal was to achieve an inventive concept and make it to be going well with the original movie.
So, while sharing the same theme and format with the originals, I referred to other new aeronautical technologies that the original didn’t use.
I see; then, before we talk more about your design. What were the theme and format of the original?
The art book of episode 1 says director George Lucas gave a design brief of 2 engines and 1 cockpit for the Podracer concept. After reviewing the initial concept sketches, they decided to make a loose connection between the engines and the cockpit. It almost looks like a carriage that changed the horse into a jet engine.
Another characteristic is that the exterior isn’t neatly covered but exposes some mechanical parts. This makes the unique look with a clunky mood. Also, it shows different types of jet engines.
Then what was your first step in designing the new one?
Firstly, I’ve decided on the motif of the design: a bird called a Toucan. This is a bird of our team’s character, Ferry. With the motif, I sketched some impressions of driving with a Toucan. Next, I searched for proper technologies that support the motif. And then, combine them with proper position based on original designs.
photo of a Toucan
sketch of driving with a Toucan by Sky
Were there any difficulties while designing? How did you go through it?
I actually had a lot of worries when I was doing the first sketches, since the sketches I made didn’t look identical enough. Those times, I kept sketching and throwing that away.
Then I found some hints actually by looking around the original designs. Especially by focusing on the front silhouette, I could find many forms I could regard as an identifiable guide.
the drawing of the original engine’s shapes from front view
So you got a clue from analyzing the originals! That is an impressive point.
Yes. So, I drew my versions of the shapes and then made thirteen 3d sketches.
Below is also the Sketchfab page to help you see the sketches in 3d.
It might be even more interesting to see if you keep in mind that the overall shape of the sketches is inspired by the Toucan bird.
the front view and 3d sketches for the new Podracer inspired by a Toucan
After doing all the sketches, I picked the parts I liked, recombined them, and made 3 new sketches. Now they look more balanced!
3 new sketches by Sky
I also put an animated energy binder arc between two engines using Blender to check it before doing the final version.
And then, finally! I made the final design based on the three previous sketches.
By looking into the 13 sketches, it is interesting to find the shapes of the Toucan! Also, I didn’t expect so many variations in the form and shapes. The best part is that you didn’t choose one among them but did 3 more designs recombining the parts from the sketches. It is so cool.
Oh, and before you said you added aspects of new aeronautical engineering. Could you explain some of the important parts?
Of course! Thank you for the good question about these points.
There are three main features of aeronautical engineering that I referred to for my concept.
Maybe it is hard to say that I used all the parts scientifically correctly, but they were really helpful when designing. And these kinds of contradictions sometimes give us room to create another fascinating detail when we show how this machine works.
 You can check the numbers from the Sketchfab link and check the drawing of these parts.
photo of a thrust vectoring nozzle
The first feature is the ‘Thrust vectoring nozzle’(no.3). This technology helps the vehicle when cornering, controlling the direction of the jet engine thrust. In an esthetical intent, I placed complex patterned panels in a radial position to make the nozzle. The nozzle design expresses the beak of a Toucan.
There are also the jet engine nozzles of Anakin’s Podracer that look similar to mine; what it shows is controlling thrusting power by adjusting the diameter of the nozzle, not the thrust vectoring function. But anyway, they resemble, don’t they? That is why I revealed some working structures and patterns as the point of difference. Although it is hard to see from complex 3d line drawings…
photo of a ailerons
photo of a wing of a bird
The second is the ‘Wings and ailerons’(no.7-12). There are six wings for this Podracer. These help the vehicle to corner and brake, and also increase the duration of flight when it makes a jump from the track or makes massive downforce to stick on the sloppy ground.
These parts also express the wings of a Toucan. The feathers of birds are actually working very complexly. I wanted to express those functions and impressions through mechanical wing design.
So I also wanted to show very active animation when it works.
But I didn’t make the animation yet.
Photo of a grid fins
And finally, the third one is the ‘Grid fin’(no.1-2). Grid fins are my favorite parts of my Podracer design because they are the most unique parts. These are layered small wings that help control the vehicle in less space. In my design, it supports other aerodynamic parts in an extreme situation of driving, like tightening the cornering, stabilizing straight-through driving, etc.
As I said before, the grid fins are the most unique part of the design; the straight-formed turbojet engine and V-shaped wings on my Podracer sometimes have a similar impression to the original Anakin and Sebulba’s Podracer. I solved this problem by putting big squared grid fins to pierce through the entire form of the engine. This works well, especially in the top and front views.
front view of Podracer 2022 by Sky
top view of Podracer 2022 by Sky
 For the other parts, you can also check the simple description in annotation numbers on the Sketchfab page above. They mostly share mechanical functions and forms with the original designs.
Wow, that was a lot of stories. It would be so interesting to look through all the sketches in 3d with all these pieces of information.
But why did you only draw in lines?
At that time, I wanted to show my work in 3d sketches so it could show how Feather is started as a ‘3d sketching tool.’ So I wanted to make it look like a moving blueprint and decorate the background of the work in that style too.
Then, are you planning for any further work on this?
I finished this work in lines, but after I saw different artworks, such as rendered works, I felt like adding more details, such as materials, colors, and patterns, into this design and making a finalized 3d model.
I finished this work in lines, but after I saw amazing vehicles and renderings of Ashthorp, I felt like adding more details, such as materials, colors, and patterns, into this design and making a finalized 3d model.
There are a lot of detailed features I need to complete this design. For example, the position of grid fins is not well balanced in air resistance like actual grid fins, so I need to design a better grid fin that reduces the resistance and turbulence. And, the roles of the 3 main features(nozzle, wing, fins) I talked about before need to be well arranged and distributed.
There’s a long way to go.
By the way, I saw the video of you using Feather for drawing. That background also reminded me of one of the scenes in Star Wars.
Check the video of the process of drawing: https://youtu.be/gqLSo70iRD4
photo of the photo booth by Sky
screenshot of AR viewing Podracer 2022 by Sky
It is great that you mention all these details. I made this background by covering the desk with a huge piece of paper with a rough texture and spreading tiny cork pieces on it to make it look like a dessert.
I also had some pieces of plastic models, which I didn’t finish assembling, of Anakin’s Podracer, so I put them in the scene to make it look like a workshop or junkyard.
Ah! I once projected the finished 3d drawing on top of this with AR; it was also really cool!
That is amazing. I can’t imagine how much effort you put into making this. After this interview, I think the design looks more interesting, and I enjoyed observing it following the explanations. It was a nice time to talk about your enthusiasm towards the original design and explanation of the design. Now I feel like watching the first episode of Star Wars!
I hope also our readers enjoyed this interview.
Phantom Menace is sometimes said to have little significance in terms of the storyline of the series, but it is also a movie full of ingenious and beautiful designs. I have great respect for the original film and its creators. It was a pleasure to talk about such things.
May the world be full of fun and amazing things.
And, may the force be with you.
For “Star Wars Day”, we looked into the design of Podracer 2022 by Sky.
This article was written to celebrate “Star Wars Day”, but we hope we can deliver our respect for all kinds of fan art and 2nd creations.
So the upcoming community event will be about fan art. We are preparing it, hoping it will be an exciting time to share all kinds of fan art and share about our favorites.
So please stay tuned, and hope you will all join!
We wish everyone to share their enthusiasm in their own ways.
And, hope Feather can be there at that moment.
Thank you for reading.
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