Sep 4, 2010

Back to the Future is now available!

A few months ago I was asked to create the art for a Back to the Future card game. It was released yesterday. Getting some good reviews and now I'm just waiting to get my samples. Not yet available on amazon, but you can definitely bug your local comic shop. I'm sure That's Entertainment will carry a few copies.

The best thing is, now I can post some of the's some rough sketches and final pics of the cars. First the sketches (show your work!)...

These are mostly just sketches and thumbnails for communicating with the client. The most difficult one was the last one, the lightning-powered Delorean from the end of the first movie. We needed to cram a whole lot of information into a very small space:
  • Car needs to look cool (a little bit in-your-face, never small or far away) 
  • Car needs to be visually distinct from other versions (in this case the only major diff was the fishing pole antenna), 
  • Show the town is still 1950's, not run-down 1980's
  • Show the lightning/streetlight apparatus
  • And what the hell, let's put the clock-tower into it
And it all needs to fit into the efficient little space of a half a playing card. Lotta rounds of discussion on that one.

Here are some of the final Deloreans.

As you can see, not all the sketches were used, which is why it's nice to have a place to post this kind of stuff that would otherwise just end up in the memory hole.

One of the things that I've discovered in my month-long crash course into becoming an expert in BttF was that every home-built car, every illustration, every representation you'll find online is wrong. Almost no reproduction of the car is ever faithful, so I spent about 50% of my time doing research, mainly consisting of watching the films in slo-mo (huge thanks to  Mr Scymszlacks for letting me borrow his BttF dvd set).

Speaking of insane details, here's the train. This was about the toughest part of the whole project. It works very differently than I originally thought (thanks to my dad for pointing out that the rockets that hold it aloft are under the center of the train, and not in the wheels). Every piece on it has a purpose. It is either: a larger version of a piece that was on the Delorean; a clever re-purposing of the train's steam power source; or a reference to the submarine in Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues. It's really kind of amazing.

It was an honor to be able to add to the pantheon of this story. The only thing I wish I could have done was the character likenesses, which for legal purposes just wasn't possible.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful work, found this by accident. You've done a lovely job of conveying a lot of information into clean, efficient and striking pictures. That's skill.

Louie said...

Looks REALLY good, man!

Pete said...

wow, nice to see it again, it just looks so vivid. and Thanks

Anonymous said...

I ordered one. Shhhh, it's for Christmas.

Ron said...

My appreciation for this goes hand in hand with my jealousy. :) Great work!

abnormalbrain said...

Hey, thanks very much everyone!

David said...

Hello Derek. I am from Brazil and I loved your work. I love BTTF since before I could read subtitles (I Whatched it in english for the first time when I had 6).
Could you send me the delorean pic from the card game cover in a wallpaper size? I saw a small sample of the complete art at and it would love to se it at my desktop ;)
My e-mail is evangelinuz @ yahoo . com . br
Thank you!

Alisson Miola said...

Wow! Beautiful work, can i show it on my bttf blog?

abnormalbrain said...


Unknown said...


I work for the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and I am currently working on our next edition of our magazine Pioneer. There will be a feature on EPSRC funded research on a hydrogen powered locomotive (university of Birmingham)and I would like to ask for your permission to use your bttf train image (fully credited of course) in the magazine due to be published in the new year. I look forward to hearing from you.

abnormalbrain said...

Hi Rachael. Sounds cool, though I don't have the ability to authorize that, I'll put you in touch with the folks who can. Please email me at derek ring at gmail dot com.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful dignity you give the time machine. My favorite is the one of it on the tracks, riddled with parts from different eras, waiting for its last assignment, a patient veteran. I even remember the music from the movie that goes with that shot. Fantastic work.