ron cobb my hero

Ron Cobb himself!!

Ron Cobb himself!!

Ron's awesome drawing of the DS.

Ron's awesome drawing of the DS.

from Dark Star

from Dark Star

close up of the DS. from Dark Star

the Nostromo Bridge

the Nostromo Bridge

medical lab aboard the Nostromo

medical lab aboard the Nostromo

interiors from the escape craft

interiors from the escape craft

This is one that was heavily influenced By Ron Cobb

This is one that was heavily influenced By Ron Cobb

This too was Cobb Inspired

This too was Cobb Inspired

Ron always outlined his designs in heavy black ink and I picked that detail up from using his work as a guide.

Ron always outlined his designs in heavy black ink and I picked that detail up from using his work as a guide.

Today starts the first of many entries regarding the artist Ron Cobb. Why back in the seventies, before Star Wars had come out there was a magazine called Starlog (this is where I was first intruduced to my Hero Ron Cobb) that was all about Science fiction films, monsters & Alien motion pictures, Space oriented Television series, space artists, behind the scenes VFX guys, and everything else related. I read this mag as soon as it came out on the stands and back then the topics were far and few between, mostly because Sci fi back then was old stuff from the 50’s and sixties mixed with a scattering of now and then 70’s films. One issue came out that talked about a student film by a new director named John Carpenter. The movie was called Dark Star and was written by John C. and Dan O’Bannon. Along with John, Dan had his hands full of on this film being co-writer, the FX guy, one of the stars and many other duties including finding the talent. Dan had seen Ron Cobb’s album cover for Jefferson Starships album, Deep Space/ Virgin Sky featuring a beautiful spacecraft flying towards an unknown planet. Dan tracked Ron Down and Ron drew a rough on a napkin at a restaurant in Westood CA. The sketch later turned into some more precise drawings, that later became the model project of the Legendary Greg Jein. The Dark Star drawing and model showed up in Starlog and it was the first spaceship that I next to the Trek ships that really caught my fancy. I read all about Cobb, that was only a sentence or two, and when Alien came out a few years later the book of Alien came out with so many unbelievable drawings by Ron. I looked at those illustrations by the hours, examining every detail and angle. I would try and draw my space craft pictures using Ron’s work as my guide. His books were my art school, followed by the styles of Joe Johnston and Ralph McQuarrie after Star Wars came out But I owe it all to Ron. There were many fine and talented people that inspired my paths to Hollywood but Ron Cobb was the one that was the most inspirational to me. With that, here’s some of Ron’s early works and also Greg Jein’s model of the Dark Star. More to come Tomorrow!

All illustrations are from Ron’s book Colorvision

for more on Cobb go to Darens blog at


If you have never been to this page your missing a world of fun!!! We ironically both did posts about Ron today … How fun!

53 Responses to “ron cobb my hero”

  1. April 21, 2009 at 6:39 am

    Ok, now that is freaky John… I had NO IDEA you were gonna do a Cobb posting this morning… and here it is… I also did a Cobb posting this morning… is the universe in sync or what?

  2. 4 Freak
    April 21, 2009 at 6:49 am

    Ron done some very cool stuff.
    The first Concept Art I had seen was Ron’s Alien stuff. Ever since then I can’t get enough of Cocncept Art. I love seeing one desgin being change to the final product.

    I wish I could draw like you guys, but alas I’ll just have to stick with 3d. which still not very good! LoL.

  3. 6 Lee
    April 21, 2009 at 6:52 am

    I love Ghosts of Mars, for me it’s one of those “guilty pleasures” films because, let’s be honest here, it’s a bit schlocky! I didn’t know you’d worked on it.

  4. 9 Lou
    April 21, 2009 at 6:55 am

    Cobb is the Man!

    back in art school we would just dissect his drawings! what was stunning (apart from the imagination he put into them) was the technical perfection in his perspective work.

    and his cartooning is a whole ‘nother subject

    too much talent for one man to have

    • 10 johneaves
      April 21, 2009 at 7:34 am

      Every time I see his work I just have to dwell a while!!! I was going to put some of those up today but,,,, SSSSHHHHH the boss came in early and I had to post only what I had up so far!!!

  5. 11 Jay
    April 21, 2009 at 7:02 am

    And I was just gushing about my love of Ron’s work on “Conan the Barbarian” over on Daren’s blog! HOW serendipitous.

    John! Thanks so much for posting this, especially those great pieces of Alien concept art. One thing about Ron’s work that always stood out to me, in whatever genre of film he was designing for, was how believable everything is. There’s not a corner or a cranny that you look at and think “Hmmm … I don’t know about that …”. Everything is very naturalistic and functional.

    This was such a great post, seeing so many of the names I learned to admire from when I was a kid all in one post – Ron Cobb, John Carpenter, Dan O’Bannon, Greg Jein. I’m never gonna get any work done today!

    And just to put a bug in your ear, Mr. Eaves – if you’re included to talk about your experience working on a John Carpenter film, I’m all ears. He’s done some great work over the years. His career has had some ups and downs but no one can deny that when he was on, he was *on*. “The Fog” is still my favorite horror movie of all time (the original one, of course).

    • 12 johneaves
      April 21, 2009 at 7:33 am

      Hey there Jay, John Carpenter week will be coming soon and I can’t wait to get those posts up!!!! AHHHH I want more time, I think I’ll die before I can get everything out my head,,,,, HAAAA! If I do you can have all my stuff and carry on!

  6. April 21, 2009 at 7:08 am

    Ah yes, a true American Master. Dark Star. Oh man, I chuckle just thinking of that film. I own it of course, and have watched it a million times. Pinback, the bomb, surfing the atmo, the ship, and of course “the alien.” Time to the feed the alien Pinback. The alien, aka a painted beach-ball w/ The Creature from the Black Lagoon hands! Ah yes, a true classic. I think I’ll throw it on again now. I wanna build the Dark Star at some point, eh.

    And Starlog. I collected and still have them all, since issue #1. Matter of fact, they JUST shut down. Sad really. I collected all the sci-fi mags (it helped I ran a comic-book store), Fantastic Films, Famous Monsters of Filmland, Cinefantastique, Preview, Cinescape, Cinefex, etc., you name it, I read it cover-to-cover every month.

    Yeah, Cobb’s the man. His hard-surface lines are exquisite. And I easily see his influence in your work dude. Big reason I love your style so much.

    That mining-ship, for that ENT 2-parter, a guy who used to sorta loosely mentor me years ago when I started out doing 3D, he built it. Nice mesh, eh. Nice design first though.

    Thanks for the post dude, great stuff, eh. 🙂


  7. 16 johneaves
    April 21, 2009 at 7:30 am

    Thanks Deg, You should be here!!! Why aren’t you a Hollywood mad man???? I hope it’s in your future plans! Come on over and geek with us!

  8. 17 NeoRacer
    April 21, 2009 at 7:44 am

    I love ROns work too I remember seeing it in a making of Alien book and it inspired me to get into art school among other influences (Star wars) but I loved his gritty realism I hope he will work on more movies at some point.

  9. April 21, 2009 at 7:56 am

    I’m workin’ on it bud, as that’s my goal. Have to try remote freelancing for now (thank God for the Internet these days that makes that now possible, i.e., the guy that built your mining ship is in East Canada).

    Gearin’ up to send my reel out soon and see where that takes me. As far as movin’ out there and being with you guys, yeah, dream come true brother. Tough to even think about that at this point though with the housing-market not moving and the economy and all. But it’s still kept in my mind, eh. And in my experience, God moves in strange ways and opens doors you’d never think were there.

    Heck, who knew I’d know you guys two months ago, eh? Amazing.

    All in good time brother, all in God time. 😉


  10. April 21, 2009 at 8:15 am

    Thanks my friend, I appreciate that, a lot! Rightbackatcha, same here eh. 😉


  11. 21 evil_genius_180
    April 21, 2009 at 8:23 am

    Wow, I’m ashamed to say that I’d seen the name Ron Cobb in credits but I didn’t know the man from the art. (see, you do learn cool stuff on the internet ;))

    That’s some great stuff. I absolutely love Alien and his set art is da bomb. Those illustrations are beautiful and wonderfully detailed and the set crew did a great job making the sets look like his drawings. 🙂

  12. April 21, 2009 at 9:23 am

    johneaves: All so true,,, if I can help you don’t hesitate to let me know how!

    Well come to think of it John, if you so happen to ever come across someone in need of a model-monkey, I’m not sayin’ recommend me per se, as I’m unproven at this point (that’s the scary part for me TBT) and I don’t want you stickin’ your head out on my account, as “recommending” someone carries a certain perceived responsibility by association.

    Not sayin’ I’d drop the ball or anything (to be honest, I don’t know what to expect, I just always do my best, it’s all I can do, and I do whatever it takes), but I don’t want you at professional risk or peril by association of recommending me, with me being out on the unproven newbie limb. Like I said, not saying I’m gonna choke, but say if I did, I would not want it to impact anyone else. Even talkin’ about this makes me nervous. Who cares though, feelings aren’t facts, so onward and upward, eh! 🙂

    But, if you wanted to say, give a person in need my website, and “suggest” to them takin’ a look at my work/reel, and tell them you at least know I’m a nice, laid-back, easy-going, no-ego, service-oriented, kind of guy, that would be much much appreciated, eh. 😀


  13. April 21, 2009 at 9:24 am

    Great history lesson, John. I still have those early issues of Starlog with all that stuff that looked like nothing I’d ever seen before. You learned from Ron Cobb and a whole new generation will be learning from you. It’s the circle of life!

  14. 25 johneaves
    April 21, 2009 at 9:30 am

    That’s an extremely kind compliment Don and don’t know quite what to say,,, Thanks

  15. 26 DeanneM
    April 21, 2009 at 10:00 am

    Just wanted to take a sec and say thanks, John. I’m not an artist, but you’ve introduced new things to me.

    I now don’t look at any production the same way! Ron Cobb’s work, with all the creative details, is a pleasure to see. I agree with Don. I was thinking how you’ve brought it full circe…Ron would be a fan, I’m sure.


    “feelings aren’t facts, so onward and upward, eh!”

    I have to tell myself that a lot, but not in so many words…I like it, my friend! Reach for the stars!

    • 27 johneaves
      April 21, 2009 at 10:07 am

      We all learn from each other that is true!! thanks for the note and I have learned a lot from here as well. Hey go to facebook,, I finally got Lori R. on one of her outrageous stories!!

  16. April 21, 2009 at 10:13 am

    Thanks John! 😀

    I have a laundry-list of shops, but Stan’s was not on it. Basically I’m a credit-watcher, and I jot down every VFX house I see listed at the end of films. That is what I said in regard to gearing up to send my reel out.

    I get the house names from films, and then, in this wonderful Internet day-and-age everyone has a website, so I am compiling a list of recruiting email address to send out to.

    So thanks again for Stan’s, eh 😀

    May he RIP.


  17. 30 Matt Boardman
    April 21, 2009 at 10:14 am

    I’m ashamed to admit that this is my first exposure to Ron Cobb. I’ve seen movies where his designs have become realities, but never the artwork.

    At times, I feel like I was robbed of greatness like this. I grew up in a very small town where I didn’t have access to it. Often, I’ve felt like Luke just discovering his Jedi abilities only later in life.

    I’m so thankful that you and Doug have started blogs that have exposed me to such great artists so I can catch up on these things that I missed!

    • 31 johneaves
      April 21, 2009 at 12:10 pm

      Phoenix was that way too,, I found everything in a little hole in the wall comic shop called Darsy’s Discoveries. She would get these obscure books and mags that no one else had even heard of!!! she was the first to get Cinefex as well. With thanks for your comment I am glad your here, and there will be a lot more artists and their brilliant works coming.

  18. 32 the bluesman
    April 21, 2009 at 12:25 pm


    Thanks for posting this. I don’t know of a concept, industrial or graphic designer that hasn’t been influenced or inspired by Ron’s work. It seems when I talk design with colleagues, Ron comes up along with Raymond Lowey and sometimes even that Doug guy!

    (Of course when we talke trek design you, Andrew and Mike always enter the conversation.)

  19. 34 the bluesman
    April 21, 2009 at 12:58 pm


    Raymond Loewy is considered the father of industrial design…you might have seen his work…the Air force One paint livery, the coke bottle, the Shell and BP oil logos, some really cool locomotives, toasters, refrigerators, furniture…this guy did it all.

    Even though I am a graphic designer his book Industrial Design should be required reading for anyone the design field no matter what discipline. Here’s a link to his site.


  20. April 21, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    johneaves: Your doing it the right way!!! keep it up!

    I’d be happy to send you a copy of my compiled VFX house contact info list when I’m done bud. You’ve been in the biz for a long time, working and making contacts and such, so maybe it’s a moot point at this point, but if not, just let me know and I send it to ya when I’m done, eh.


  21. 36 Kevin H. Martin
    April 21, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    The Cobb design that really blew me away was his ‘California Split Level’ bridge for ALIEN, the one that had the big windows and outriggers PLUS the big viewscreen. I built a pretty huge model roughly based on it that took up nearly the entire living space of my studio apartment in the mid 80s, with the idea of beamsplittering in some full-size actors who would be outside on the porch, but depth of field issues kept it from working too well. It is one of those ‘why is the ceiling so high’ things that usually ticks me off in a space-conscious environment, but in this case, it was just too gorgeous to complain about.

    Cobb gets kudos for how he seemed to keep getting Steve Berg gigs early on, too. I think it must have been like the McQuarrie/Probert relationship, where Cobb goes onto a new show and leaves Berg to finish up the old one.

    • 37 johneaves
      April 21, 2009 at 3:12 pm

      I always wished I was Steve Berg!!!! HAAA! That bridge is awesome,,, You’ll have to send over some pics of your model!!!

  22. 38 Kevin H. Martin
    April 21, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    If I had any pics I would, but an old GF shredded a shelf full of writing projects and and a drawer of still and s8 movie reels in 1990, so I alone have escaped to tell thee.

    It did use a ton of microfiche for readout screens (I used to get the old microfiche at WaldenBooks when the new ones came in each week — the pre-computer era — and at one point I had so many hundreds of fiche pieces that I dressed a full scale hexagonal corridor (framed in pvc) that was entirely draped with the fiche taped together. Looked really cool, but was very dark.

    I really miss the 9volt battery display case holders form the 80s as well … Cobb or somebody had used them on Lance Guest’s forearm costume in LAST STARFIGHTER, and I used to use them as plant on console dressing a lot (I think there are a few of those on the wall of the colony in ALIENS too, right after Hicks rigs the bypass to get them inside.)

    Ahh, the joys of dumpsterdiving …

  23. 39 DeanneM
    April 21, 2009 at 3:35 pm

    Boy, you guys ARE geeks!! 😉 I guess this is truly a fitting tribute, since I’m sure Ron Cobb was the original big geek!

    I’ll be watching for some of his work mentioned here in the future. If I can find someone to watch some of this stuff with me, that is.

  24. 40 Kevin H. Martin
    April 21, 2009 at 6:39 pm

    John, on that mining rig of yours and also on some of the Amargosa framework, is there just a lil bit of Space 1999 EAGLE superstructure influence there?

  25. 41 Razor
    April 21, 2009 at 6:46 pm

    If memory serves me didn’t Ron do designs for “The Thing” as well? Gret designer though.

  26. 42 Kevin H. Martin
    April 21, 2009 at 6:57 pm

    I never heard about him working on THE THING, but to show you how stupid some ungrateful producer-types can be, I talked to Todd Moyer about the WING COMMANDER movie, and when I brought up the fact that Cobb had been on the show early in prep and how I was disappointed they weren’t letting me interview him, Moyer dismissed him with, ‘oh him! There was nothing he did we could use.’

    Sure Todd … you got vision and the rest of us are just squinting through bi-focals. Keep thinking that, and wonder why your VFX company’s biggest credit (while it lasted) was FORTRESS 2, while a decade later, all of us are still drooling over Ron Cobb’s work.

    • 43 AD
      March 5, 2012 at 6:00 pm

      While I don’t think the film is good in its existing form (The film ran out of money and was butchered in the editing room),I think I can clarify this a little bit. I guess you could say I’ve had a morbid curiosity about the Wing Cmmander film for years ( a big fan of the games).

      What I’ve unearthed over time, is that Ron was contracted to take the designs from the games themselves and update them and make them look functional and cool and whatever. The production team though in the end decided to make a visual break from the designs in the games altogether, and hence why Ron’s designs weren’t used. I’d still love to see his concepts but I can understand the decision as some of the games designs were clearly inspired or ripped from Firefox, and The Last Starfighter.

  27. April 22, 2009 at 2:53 am

    It’s great to see how everyone is being inspired by everyone else.

    Dark Star. It has been ages since I saw that movie. A tough little ship, perhaps the most simplistic design ever to appear prominently in a sci-fi movie but a true design classic.

  28. 45 kevin h. martin
    April 22, 2009 at 3:52 am

    Just cut off the dome, then add engineering and warp nacelles to the DARK STAR and you’ve got VOYAGER, at least from the profile shot above.

  29. 46 Mark A-C
    April 22, 2009 at 4:07 am

    Yes, yes, yes.
    Ron Cobb, one of my favourite conceptual artists.
    thanks john for the excellent post…keep it coming mate.


  30. April 22, 2009 at 4:44 am

    Is this the same Ron Cobb that “Roron Corobb” (an Ithorian Jedi) was named after, in the 2003 Clone Wars cartoon?

  31. 48 Simon Matthew Coles
    April 22, 2009 at 5:20 am

    ^Ron Cobb actually designed the original Ithorian in Star Wars in 1977, as well as several other cantina aliens, though the Ithorian is the only one I can think of that made it into the film. It was in turn based on an “Alien astronomer” character that Cobb invented several years before that.

    • 49 Simon Matthew Coles
      April 22, 2009 at 5:23 am

      in fact, his design for the Duro alien also appeared in the finished film, which in turn formed the basis for the Neimodians in the Prequel Trilogy. So seems Cobb had a substantial impact on the Star Wars universe as well. There’s very little in our popular sci fi culture that has escaped his influence.

  32. April 23, 2009 at 10:40 am

    Ron Cobb’s work is awesome. I am loving every bit of this!

  33. 51 Peter Briggs
    July 9, 2010 at 4:48 am

    Kevin: if you get this, please drop me a line.

  34. November 22, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    late hero worship…yes… Cobb. thick lines and cartooning…. cant ask for anything more.

    As to the ID /Lowey thing. I was trained as ID-ironincally not becuase of the illiustrators but due to “dyskstra/trumbulls bios i read in 78-80” .. IM)- Cobb was the BEST NON ID trained DESIGNER of them all.. Most illustrators who did scifi had a certain “fakery” to their designs as “art”.. Cobbs illustrations always felt like Designs… not drawings/paintings etc…

    mcquarrie was the only other i thought reached that level…as we know, the others, Mead, etc were all ID backgrounds back then..

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April 2009

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