Spacecraft Concept Art

spacecraft concept art

During the space race artists collaborated closely with scientists and engineers to produce concept art. These artists imagined and designed spacecraft according to theoretical considerations and engineering expertise.

Norman Rockwell immortalized Neil Armstrong’s journey to the Moon long before its actual exploration began, while other artists imagined plans for massive space colonies far into the future.


Starship concept art requires both creativity and technical knowledge, with inspiration coming from anywhere, including sci-fi movies or ArtStation masterpieces.

Sketching is an integral component of this process, whether using ballpoint pen, chisel-tip pens or pencils as mediums for sketching. The key is starting with an abstract shape or outline which can serve as the basis of your spaceship design.

Create the features that will set your ship apart. If it’s built for battle, weapons and engines might be essential; for exploration it might be windows, doors and even the shape of its wings that matter most.

Artists were called upon during the Space Race to help visualize our journey beyond Earth. A NASA artist from the 1970s depicting a monolithic space colony is an excellent reminder that human space travel begins with creativity.


No matter if it is the curvature of an interstellar spacecraft or intricate details of an orbital station, sci-fi ship designs that stand out can transport viewers into an exciting interstellar adventure. Success requires originality, intricate details, and storytelling prowess – three key ingredients which help bring sci-fi ship designs alive for viewers.

Concept artists are used to working with many sources as references, but when working on specific visualizations for films or games they need to be even more selective in selecting what materials to draw upon. Starting off with rough sketches they then develop more refined ones with sharper details until finally moving onto tighter sketches that show clearer concepts.

Focusing on details such as thrusters or shaping an alien spaceship body helps students focus their efforts. Once their basic structures are in place, they can add color and detail their cool spaceship designs, helping them stand out while fitting seamlessly into the overall tone of a scene.


An exceptional piece of spacecraft concept art draws you in through its intriguing details, angles and hues; while its narrative ability leads you through space.

Create an original spaceship design requires patience and iteration, but the end result will certainly pay off: when viewers stop and say, “Wow, I want to board that ship”, you know your design has hit its target.

Understanding physics gives you an edge, but it’s okay to bend reality when designing spaceships. Your designs should look cool while passing a science test, while also serving as set pieces that enhance storytelling – for instance Deep Space Nine’s station needed to interact with various alien cultures and technologies, meaning it didn’t have to be perfectly symmetrical like the Apollo and Soyuz docking spacecraft in the cutaway below.


Spaceship concept art can often be rendered using various coloring methods to unify its design, such as colour washes (line drawings with added colours to emphasize form) or full renders that use values and lighting instead of line work to describe shape and structure.

NASA’s Europa Clipper spacecraft will make multiple close approaches to Jupiter’s icy moon Europa over its mission duration, searching for signs of liquid water beneath Europa’s ice that might support life.

Chesley Bonestell was one of many space artists who collaborated closely with scientists developing spaceflight technology to visualize their scientific and technological concepts of space exploration. Other forms of pictorial space art, like this one, pay homage to outer space as a possible new frontier for humanity – its themes often featuring alien worlds or artistic concepts inspired by astronomy.

Scroll to Top