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DUNE: Key & Concept Art

AN HOMAGE TO THE BOOKS AND FILMS THAT FORMED ME

It could be said that David Lynch went too far in his 1984 rendering of Dune, but it could just as easily be said that Denis Villeneuve's palatable PG–13 rendering didn't go far enough.  Is there a space in–between Jordowsky's fever-dream, Lynch's magical realism, and Villeneuve's austere pop?  What could an expanded Dune property look like?  And, how can it be bolstered by typography? 

Creative Direction

Concept Art
Key Art
Book Jacket Art
Poster Art
Vinyl Jacket Art
Typography

DUNE title card rework
DUNE novel concept artwork
DUNE novel concept art

The Dune Sketchbook:
Music from the Soundtrack 2XLP

Frank Herbert's Complete Saga

DUNE:                                      1965

DUNE MESSIAH:                         1969

CHILDREN OF DUNE:              1976

GOD EMPEROR OF DUNE:     1981

HERETICS OF DUNE:               1984

CHAPTERHOUSE: DUNE:         1985

HANZ ZIMMER
JAMES PLOTKIN

140G VINYL

Hanz.Zimmer.04.Mondo.jpg
DUNE concept art

Concept Art

5x7-Poster.Worm.1.jpg

Environs and Materials
 

CONCEPT ART BASED ON DUNE'S BIBLIOGRAPHY

The Spice Melange was a naturally-produced awareness spectrum narcotic that formed a fundamental block of commerce and technological development in the known universe for millennia.

 

Elacca wood was a plant native to the planet Ecaz.  It was a blood–grained wood that could be burned to gain the narcotic, the Elacca Drug.

Fogwood is a native plant growth of the planet Ecaz.  It was capable of being shaped by the power of human thought.

Melange.hHarvest.3.tiff
House.Corrino.tiff
Fedaykin.Maker.1.jpg

Dune as Type

MARKETING VS. TYPOGRAPHY

The problem with the new Dune title card is simple: it leans on rendered effects.  This works well for a one–off, but not a franchise that the entire Dune collection could be. 

 

Think of the highly recognizable type treatment for Star Wars — the letter–forms can stretch over any new IP Disney dreams up.  While the uniformity of the 4-repeated, hyper–minimalist "C" shapes is true to Villeneuve's final film, the audiences' design literacy has its limits. 

 

I've tied to honor a similarly minimal sensibility while building out a complete, custom typeface: "Arakeen"— to cover all 6 novels, and any other future deliverables.  The letters are still thin and uniform, but more nuanced, more expressive, a little more "fanatical", as the story demands. 

On  the furthest end of the  spectrum, I've added a second iteration: "Chakobsa" — a modernized Sanskrit / Braille, representative of both the Atreides' silent battle sign language, and the desert world that imposes itself on the entire universe.

DUNE 1920

Arrakeen Light

DUNE Sanskrit 1920

Chakobsa Bold

High Stakes

As goofy as it seems now, David Lynch's Dune had a huge impact on my earliest aesthetics.  The weird movie nobody liked primed my adolescent brain, and brought me to the novels as a teen. 

 

In many ways, I can trace my entire career back to those 6 books.  I imagined far off worlds and their people, millennia in the future – a time long after technology, the body and mind reasserting themselves as instruments to be honed for survival's sake.

37 years after the first awkward attempt at filming the "unfilmable", we got a triumph from a director on a cinematic streak...and that makes me feel weird. 

 

Denis Villeneuve pulled off the impossible by making a rich, idiosyncratic novel into an easy film with mass appeal.  Rattled by Bladerunner 2049's mixed reception, he set out to make Dune into PG–13 pop–art, and this gambit brought more people to the book than ever before. 

 

By proving Dune a success, Villeneuve opened the door to new interpretations of the material: something that isn't just a novel, but a place, an ecosystem, an economy – a feeling
 

Dune is about taking your rightful place in the universe, even among its dwarfing complexities and stunning corruptions: its appetite to consume your body and soul as fuel for machinery beyond your conception.  It's no coincidence that 2021 saw the revival of Dune. 

 

We needed it.  We need high–stakes stories of mortal peril, dear sacrifices, and triumph over overwhelming forces.  I'm grateful for a third phase in my experience with this work, and moved to add my humble voice to whatever is next. 

"I don't separate architecture, design, or culture.  What's more important is a language of creativity that carries meaning."

—Neri Oxman

CREDITS

Frank Herbert
Ash Thorp

Neri Oxman

MIT Labs

ThermoFisher Scientific
J Henry Fair for TIME
NASA
Half Face Blades


 

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