BATTLESTAR:  GALACTICA   [Original-1978]

Back in 1978, I was brought into John Dykstra’s Effects group to sketch up some robot concepts for a television pilot called “Star World”.  I was thrilled to be there because I’d been reading about all these guys and their revolutionary work on “Star Wars”, which was still in theaters.

Being an industrial design student at the time, I was especially excited about working with Joe Johnston, a key designer on “Star Wars” whose design sketching was admired by all of us at school; and now I was working with him.  

The show’s name was eventually changed to “Battlestar: Galactica” and the robots became Cylons. Joe & I were both sketching Cylon concepts and, while his was leaning toward a Samurai soldier influence, my sketches were a cross between Ralph McQuarrie’s early initial concepts and ancient Greek soldiers.  Eventually, Glen Larson and his son reviewed the sketches and preferred the direction in which I was headed, establishing the Cylons’ look.

Over thirty years now, and I still receive complements from people over those robotic villains and I thank everyone for such nice remembrances.  I’m honored to have had a part in Science Fiction history, especially starting with such a fantastic and well-loved production.

Final Cylon Design Sketch

When I first started designing the Cylons, I looked at their fighters to see if there was anything I could use to provide a visual continuity between the two.  The fighters already had a green double-nested pentagon insignia on their wings so I incorporated that into my suit sketches as a nested pentagon with a stripe underneath for an indication of rank.  I also changed the color to red as a tie-in to the red eye. 

When I was asked to produce sketches of the basestar(s), I started with a pentagon shaped plan-view to tie it all together, trying to suggest that the ships  assigned to a pentagon-shaped mothership would be indicated in that manner.