Jim Martin - Drop ship design

SSTGD: Of course we love the drop ship. We use it in our fan movie. Jim gave us his private model, which he made some years later, after the original movie was done. See also Jim's Website. We took this model, created some extended textures for it and realized some animated parts on it, like openable cargo door or the engine fire. The 3d extension and animation work is done by our swedish 3d modeller Trolle Lundberg. But listen first to the history of the one and only Starship Troopers drop ship design ...

JIM MARTIN: When I started to generate ship design ideas for the Director and Production Designer, we talked about our inspiration being a WW2 era utility/boxy look in space. I did a first pass of a drop ship and imagined it as a D-Day landing craft. A flying crate that drops from orbit full of troops. I did a first pass on the loading bay with the same theme in mind. My production designer liked the idea but wanted to move it in a different direction. That’s usually the case with your first pass.

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As I recall, the character Zander needed a landing ship in an early version of the script. That was the origin of this first concept. The Production Designer referred to this design and asked me to try making this one the drop ship. For story needs, there were some things that were removed and added, as well as changing the proportions. The satelite disc was removed and replaced with a missle bank, the under-crate was condensed and the middle door was removed. And in general, the length of the ship was shortened so the “set build” could fit better on the sound-stage.


Re-draw of the loading bay, new landing ships. Still the early design before it becomes re-scaled and re-designed for the notes of the Production Designer and script.


These two elevation drawings were done to help the set designers and the model makers explore the proportions and scale of the ship. Decisions were made about height and length, ramp and door needs. The rear fin was shortened, and in the final design the landing legs are wider.

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FINAL THOUGHTS: I was really pleased with the final result for the landing ship. The on-set build and the model shop miniature really completed the journey and made an interesting design. It ends up being a troop crate slung under heavy landing arms with a forward cockpit. The artwork below is something I did a few years ago. I wanted to revisit the designs with my current skill-set. Back in 1996, we did everything with pencils, colored markers, and paint. I had some fun re-imagining the set with 3D modeling and digital paint.

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Jim Martin, Jan. 2020

SSTGD: How we use the dropship model from Jim, including the changed textures here is shown one example rendered image.

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Find out more about Jim's work at "Starship Troopers" on his website: www.jimmartindesign.co