Chris Trevas on the ‘Death Star Owner’s Technical Manual’
Roqoo Depot presents our interview with Chris Trevas who, along with Chris Reiff, brought visual life to the Death Star with their illustrations for the Death Star Owner’s Technical Manual.
How did you and Chris Reiff split up the art duties?
Chris Trevas: Primarily we split it up based on art style. Chris Reiff did all the 3D renders, I did most of the rendered flat diagrams, and we split up the black and white line art to even out the workload. All of the illustrations in the book are from our ideas so it was easy to see the workload from the beginning as we’re designing the overall book.
Was there anything that you learned from working on The Millennium Falcon Owner’s Workshop Manual that you were able to apply to the Death Star Owner’s Technical Manual?
CT: Being the second book in the series had it’s advantages. We had a good idea of how the page layouts would be designed and the range of styles we would use. The main difference was in the scale of things. The Death Star is so much larger that it would be impossible to cover everything in the same size book. We worked out a fair balance of large key pieces (main reactor, superlaser, sublight engines), the mid-size sections (crew section floor plans, barracks, hangar bays), and smaller pieces (Display screens, Holoprojector, MSE droid).
Were there any illustrations that were seriously considered for inclusion but ultimately didn’t make it into the book?
CT: Early on I had an idea to include a display screen from the docking bay control room. It was going to be a scan of the Falcon within docking bay 327 showing no lifeform readings and that several escape pods were jettisoned. The negative results of this scan would have been why they sent a scanning crew aboard as we see in A New Hope. We decided a floor plan of the control room was more important since it was hard to get a sense of the layout in the movie. The Falcon scan screen was then dropped since there wasn’t enough room for both. Looking back, it was probably too much about the Falcon anyway and would have distracted from the main topic.
Were there any illustrations that stood out for the fun factor?
CT: The dianoga lifeform scan was definitely a fun diversion from the more technical works. I enjoy doing the miscellaneous photo retouching and photo realistic illustrations. I created portraits of expanded universe characters Raith Sienar and Bevel Lemelisk. Illustrating some construction vehicles assembling the Death Star was a fun one too.
What was the most difficult illustration in the book?
CT: Besides the cover, the full exterior front view was a bit time consuming – not exactly difficult, just tedious at times. The challenge with these manuals is the quantity of illustrations. There’s a lot of art work to manage between the two of us. Chris Reiff and I also do all the art labels and figure out a lot of the page layouts.
How difficult was the cutaway shot of the Death Star—as seen on the front cover and showed in more detail inside the book—to do? Did that image take a while to complete and was it a group effort?
CT: I think the cover will always be the most complex illustration for any Haynes manual. I did a rough late last year to figure out exactly how we’d cut away the Death Star and find a balance of interior and exterior details. That rough was shown on some early mockups of the book cover seen online. The final line artwork was completed over several months during the spring of 2013. While I was working on the Death Star core and outer shell, Chris Reiff was building a 3D model of the superlaser. He used this model to generate the laser line art for the cover as well as the large full color illustration inside the book.
And last but not least, are there any other projects you have upcoming that you can talk about, and do you have any scheduled event appearances in the next couple months fans can look out for?
CT: Currently, I’m working on some toy packaging illustrations for the next Transformers movie. I can’t reveal any details about the project though because the movie is still so secretive. It’s been a fun little break from my usual work. When I was a kid I used to draw copies of my favorite Transformers box art so it’s been a blast creating art for the new toys.
I will be starting a new Star Wars book this month, but it’s way too early to talk about and I don’t know much about it yet.
I don’t have any scheduled appearances for the near future. One appearance I’m planning on is Celebration Anaheim in 2015!
If you haven’t picked up the Death Star Owner’s Technical Manual yet, you can find all the info you need for participating retailers on Random House’s official product page which also includes an excerpt from the book. You can find out more about Chris Trevas via his official website and you can also check him out on Facebook and Twitter. Don’t forget to check out Chris’ online store for some awesome artwork. Plus you can find our interview with the author of the Death Star Owner’s Technical Manual, Ryder Windham, right here.