Friday, January 6, 2012

Blade Runner Sketchbook

Amongst SF/F art book collectors, the Blade Runner sketchbook is notoriously expensive and hard to find. People pay hundreds of dollars for a copy, and no one ever seems to give them up once they've got one.
Chances are, you'll never get to see it... if it weren't for the brilliant, friggin' internet.

Someone uploaded great scans of the entire book, which is full of Syd Mead's concept sketches for the film.

For more Syd Mead, check out this collection here:
(Be sure to zoom in!)


  1. Thanks so much for posting this!

  2. This movie continues to be such an influence and inspiration to Scifi. The sketchbook is brilliant, it's great to see some of the stuff that didnt make it into the film. Thanks for sharing this!

  3. Just out of curiosity.... If you take someone’s sketch book and scan it in and publish it on a website... is that copyright infringement if they don’t give you permission? And if you promote someone’s infringement, are you an accessory to the infringement? Not being a wise ass… it’s one of those things were clearly an artist created his work to be sold, and now it is available free and open to be copied off the internet.

    I love Syds work, I love that I can see this sketchbook that I didn’t know about…but this is another gray area of looking at someones work for no cost. The artists doesn’t make a dime. In Syds case, maybe not a big deal?, but what if it’s someone else who needs the money so he/she can keep being an artist… What if Justin’s sketch book was scanned in the same way and was available for free…. How would he approach this blog?

    Thanks sharing the sketch book link… again the copyright questions are questions becuase I don't always know if the post like the one above are doing the right thing if an artist doesn't promote it. Maybe Sys Mead could answer the question?

  4. Doesn't the artwork belong to the company that hired and paid the artists for doing the artwork? And what about the book publisher who published the book?

  5. Awesome, I never knew that a book like this existed (though I always hoped it would). Thanks very much Dan.

    It seems the only way of buying a copy of this book now is to get it second hand, which means that none of that money will go to either the publishers or the artists anyway. So, in this case I doubt they would mind the scans being available. For a book still in print though, it would of course be wrong to share it like this.

  6. Yeah, I don't know the laws exactly about scanning books online. But in this case, The sketchbook is so long out of print, that it has no financial impact on the artist whatsoever. Illegal? Maybe. Immoral... I don't think so. The other Syd Mead scans can from a digital magazine interview, so they were already available for viewing online.

    If this book were still in print, and for sale, I would -never- condone sharing it online, even if it were legal.

  7. Reminds me of my Star Wars sketchbook (in a box 'somewhere'), exactly the same style sketches. Not about to spend time scanning it and pubishing it though (despite being out of print) simply because I can't be bothered - better things to do with my time. Don't understand why anyone woud spend the time doing it. Obviously something peculiar to just me though as someone spent the time doing it.

  8. To offer a counterpoint to the above post; why, indeed, would someone take the time to scan in pages from an out of print sketchbook? Surely one should have better things to do with one's time than exposing an artist's body of work to an audience who might not have otherwise known of him. The nerve! The audacity! Why, someone might even get inspired because of his or her actions! Shame on you, you nameless individual, for wasting your time on such a thankless task. It's obvious you aren't the type who believes beauty should locked up in a box somewhere.

  9. An interesting question would be if a library has a copy of this book in electronic format.

  10. Not to be a wet blanket, but...yeah, scanning and posting entire books on-line without the permission of the copyright holder is infringement. An over-the-shoulder video flip-through as a sort of review is perfectly fine and allowed: hi-res scanning of each page isn't. It doesn't matter if the books are out of print, it doesn't matter if there's money to be made or not: this is sort of at the heart of the litigation going on between various writer and artist organizations and the Google scanning project. Copyright owners want to maintain their rights to decide where and how their work appears--which is understandable.

    Now will the Ladd Company/Warner Bros kick up a fuss about the sketchbook? Probably not--unless the announced prequel/sequel by Ridley Scott supposedly scheduled to start filming in 2013 makes this or that legal department scour the web to lock up rights and shut down stuff they consider questionable. If they want to, they can.

  11. Thanks Arnie. That's the answer I was looking for. My Gut feeling was they[the scanner] crossed a line, if they didn't get permission. The google/copyright battle has faded it seems, at least from from my view. It was a hot topic on CGtalk a few years ago. I have not heard much about it lately.

    So what do the Muddycolor artists do now with a link that may or may not be infringing on a copyright?

  12. I can back up Arnie here and confirm that scanning and posting books that are not in the public domain is an infringement. Just because a title is out of print doesn’t mean the copyright is not owned by someone, whether it be the publisher or artist, and does not condone posting it on the internet. I understand that people want to share work that they love with others, and as well-meaning as it sounds, this isn’t a justification.

    Let me offer one point why I feel strongly against illegally posting books online. Syd Mead is still alive and he and his family can benefit from revenue generated by his work. If his previous works and books are posted online without his permission, his art can become too familiar or overexposed making a publisher like myself think twice about publishing a book of his work. An individual could be inadvertently cheapen the value of his art by “sharing.”

    I can come up with more examples, but I’ll leave it at this one for now.

    Personally, I don’t think posts sharing links to books that have been made available in this fashion should be shared.

    My two cents.

    John Fleskes

  13. The multiple lawsuits against the Google project are on-going three years later. Google has filed a motion to dismiss, but any sort of ruling is still a couple of weeks off. You can read about where things stood as of December here:

  14. Thanks John, I agree with you.

    Thanks Arnie for the link. I think Google has a real cool idea to digitize boooks and create a digital library, but not at the expense of the copyright holders.