Exclusive: The Making of the Shada Steelbook (With Never-Before-Seen Art!)

My involvement with Shada began earlier this year when I met with producer/director, Charles Norton at BBC Leicester and spent the day reading through his animation script doing sketches before I started storyboarding the scenes.

6 weeks later, I moved onto my main job as lead colourist on the animation. This involved making colour decisions on all aspects of the production from set lighting to character shots. I created character colour kits for the animators using character designer, Martin Geraghty’s drawings as well as shading individual frames of numerous shots.

For those unfamiliar with animation, the breakdown is as follows: A scene is made up of a number of different shots. Each shot can comprise of hundreds of frames. Each frame needs individual shading or ‘key shots’ are shaded; the animator uses these to build up the sequence by filling in the in-between frames.

Whilst I was involved in this work, Charles suggested to BBC Worldwide that I might be a good artist to illustrate the steelbook cover.

The first thing I needed to do was come up with a layout. I understood the DVD cover was to feature the iconic punting scene which appeared in The Five Doctors, so I needed something different. Charles had specifically suggested me because he loved my Time Team illustrations for Doctor Who Magazine. He was hoping for something similar and dramatic for Shada. I thought immediately that it must feature the Doctor and K9 running towards us from some ‘threat’. Maybe a Krarg? It then occurred that a huge silhouette of a Krarg might make a suitably menacing background.

BBC Worldwide loved this idea and I created a colour rough. After some thought, they decided that perhaps something extra in the centre of the image was needed and after some Photoshop work, I added Skagra to the image in semi silhouette. This was approved and I moved onto a finished pencil drawing. I scanned this and digitally inked the drawing before adding colour.

The back cover was then created in the same way and, using the ‘crackle’ from Skagra’s sphere, I was able to bind the images together into one wraparound composition.

Next, I created the back cover artwork for the steel book ‘taco’. This is the trade name for the card cover that the steelbook fits snuggly inside. Because the back cover requires plenty of space for the type, the image needs to be either an amorphous background design or a drawing that sits in the middle. I opted for the latter.

I wanted to show the Doctor and Romana punting past King’s College with a beautiful idyllic sunset behind. BBC Worldwide loved this idea too and I sent them a mock-up before pencilling and inking the drawing on paper and scanning into Photoshop to add colour.

The deadline from start to finish was around 3 weeks.

Shada is out now in numerous formats, including a special three-disc Blu-ray steelbook featuring Adrian’s designs.

All images copyright BBC WORLDWIDE.

  • ColeBox

    I’m getting the DVD for Christmas, but now I’m going to have to get the steelbook myself.