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Interview: BC9 Plane Designer Chi-Chun Liu

This post continues a series of interviews with the people who helped me publish Beyond Cloud Nine. Next up is Chi-Chun Liu (pvtskwerl), the designer who created the amazing Starthroat (star fighter plane) found on the book cover and website. I asked Liu a few questions about working on BC9, being a designer, and life in general.

What was your favorite aspect of working on the fighter plane design for the cover of Beyond Cloud Nine?

I would say, the most enjoyable element was the challenge of trying to combine identifiable features of fifth generation fighter jets with elements of space flight technology in a visually coherent and functional manner.

What design programs do you use?

Mostly Adobe Photoshop. However, depending on the situation, I may also use Clip Paint Studios and Maya.

Do you draw by hand at all, or do you work exclusively on the computer?

I use a bit of both. I prefer doing rough pen sketches during early thumbnailing phase for designs.

What advice do you have for beginning designers?

Personally, I think the most important concept is that instead of blindly copying/drawing down an object you see, it is better to take some time and analyze the object you are seeing. Think about what makes it look cool/interesting, how it is assembled, and how does it function. Doing so will allow you to have a far more flexible mental library and idea pool for the future.

What other projects are you working on now, if any?

I am currently enrolled in a graduate program for medical illustrations. I am focused on my academic projects at the moment.

What motivated you to design fighter planes?

I think it is more or less to be closer to my industrial idols. I am a huge fan of Ace Combat series and other anime mech designs. I think my core motivation for the design is pretty much "I want to be like one of these guys, and at the same time, I want to put my own spin on it as well."

Have you always been artistic from a young age? At what age did you get serious about design?

I have always been tinkering with drawing since I was a kid. However, I never really got into the design theories or fundamental training until I was about 23.

Do you have an engineering, architectural drafting, or any other type of technical background that aids you in creating mechanical designs?

I do not have any engineering or mechanical background. However, since I am being trained as a medical illustrator, I often use my experience with dissections as design guideline for mechanical design works. Human anatomy is largely functional design. Cavities and organs are shaped in their unique ways for functional reasons instead of just "being cool". I am a firm believer that mechanical design should also follow this concept. For example, instead of just drawing a random gun barrel sticking out of a plane's body, I would think about how does the rest of the gun's ammunition and structure fit into the plane's body. To me, these elements are the key to believable and functional designs.

What type of music do you enjoy, and do you listen while you work?

I have been a huge fan of Keiki Kobayashi, Go Shiina, Sawano Hiroyuki, and Kalafina's songs. These are usually the default songs on my playlist when I work.

What do you when you're not working (hobbies)?

These days it mostly consists of video gaming, drawing practices and anime watching.

Where can we see more of your work?

Deviant Art (pvtskwerl) or Tumblr (pvtskwerl)

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Beyond Saga

Beyond Cloud Nine

BUY NOW! AVAIL NOW. Ace star fighter pilot Brooke Davis dreams of becoming the first human being to fly faster than light.
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Beyond the Horizon

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Beyond Yesterday

BUY NOW! AVAIL NOW. Captain Maya Davis travels back in time to learn how a piece of modern tech ended up in the past.
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Beyond Existence

COMIN SOON. With the Earth conquered, Admiral Maya Davis must travel through space, time, and alternate universes to prevent mankind from being wiped out of existence.
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Future Works


Lyana, an orphaned martial artist with bio-augmented abilities, embarks on a quest to liberate her home world and prevent the fabric of the universe from unraveling.
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Bears in Space

Boz and his goofball crew must save the galaxy from cliche alien invasions, trite zombie apocalypses, and bad rom-coms.
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Goodbye, Mars

Ryssa Nilsson must avoid the deadly stings of heat-loving bugs known as thermophiles and escape Mars before the Sun's expansion sterilizes the planet.
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