Luke Skywalker vs Darth Vader (Empire Strikes Back Cloud City) LEGOIZED Time lapse Watercolor Star Wars

In this time lapse video, we take Star Wars Empire Strikes Back iconic Luke Skywalker vs Darth Vader Empire Strikes Back Lightsaber Duel at Cloud City climatic scene and LEGOize it into LEGO Star Wars Watercolor. We talk about the process to do so and offer a commentary on the timelapse.

Transcript from the Show:

G’day Everyone, Matt Elder of Family Bricks and in today’s video we are going to have a look at this LEGO Mini figure Empire Strikes Back watercolor illustration that I did. This artwork is of the climactic scene of Luke Skywalker vs Dark Vader duel at Cloud City. This time lapse will show you from thumbnail through to finish piece with commentary.

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The process for this Star Wars piece is to start off with a small thumbnail, about the size of a credit card. It’s a minute or 2 sketch just trying to get a general sense of composition, guesture and how the characters are going to work together.

From here I do a slightly larger drawing about the size of a postcode. I’m really trying to get the LEGO  proportions and the overall feel working, while maintaining the energy that was in the credit card sized thumbnail.

Once I’ve done that, I then redraw a rough of the illustration on the final watercolor paper – in this case A3 (which is roughly 11×17 inches). From here I’m just refining the pencil lines and really working through all the little details. Nothing is really set in stone so will be constantly erasing til I get something I’m happy with.

As you can see, I’m always spinning the page. Just helps to see better and hit the lines in away that is comfortable. Onto Darth Vader’s head and really want to get LEGO proportions for the helmet. This is an earlier LEGO helmet version so the fact it always looks up, doesn’t matter too much in this perspective up shot.

I’m happier with how Darth Vader’s lightsaber turned out and will go back and refine Luke’s later to be consistent.

It might seem like a lot to have redrawn it 4 or 5 times but if the drawing is solid, can really just have fun with the painting. If the drawing is wonky, the expression I always think of is that you are just polishing a turd. No matter how good the rendering/painting is, it just won’t save the piece if the underlying structure is rubbish. To me, this will always stand out in the final piece. Its like building the ideal house… on the wrong side of the street.

Once the pencils are done, I’ll go through and ink it. I remember not feeling great about inking Darth Vaders mask. It’s a really complex shape with lots of different directions. But if going to mess it up, might as well do it early and go from there.

I have a print out of some turn arounds for the LEGO characters just so I can make sure the costumes are pretty accurate. I’ve just realized now I’ve forgotten Lukes Firearm … oh well, it all gets hidden anyhow.

With hindsight I shouldn’t have inked the lightsaber blades as they are just pure light. It helps to define the form but a problem I don’t really deal with til the end of the piece, and throws out how the lightsaber blades feel until then.

I’m always careful using a ruler with architectural elements. To me it feels like the uncanny valley of illustration. It they aren’t dead perfect, the drawing just feels strange. But if they are a little consistently wonky, somehow it just works much better. That’s why a lot of the circle and ellipse elements are freehand and not done with an ellipse template.

Now onto the painting part. I start off by squirting the paper with water just to moisten it up and helps the colours to blend on the page. I’ll apply color in many washes, slowly building up the colour and variety each time.

The key focal element is the light coming from the lightsaber blades so just conscious to try to get this to work first and halo out from it.  I haven’t been using watercolor for long so still approach it like I do oils … which is admittedly backwards.

I can go for dark, moody and atmospheric lighting. Where as water colour is better suited for bright, light and airy scenes. One day I’ll play to its strength.

The platform I’ll start out with rich reds and browns, knowing it will get pushed mostly to black. This helps give the black a warmth, rather than a dead coldness which can make the image seem a bit off.

I think Empire Strikes Back is my favorite Star Wars film. Star Wars was a trilogy I saw in reverse order but didn’t connect the dots til later on. I didn’t understand how the ending could have a cliff hanger with Han in the Slave 1 taking off … how could the film end there?! Ah what fun it is to be young and naïve.

I think that is most of the background and environment elements dealt with. Now onto the characters.

Again like the background, just build the characters up in layers of wash. Pretty much knew they where going into full silhouette which is going to obliterate any of the detail. That can be hard to put that much work into the detail but Its just a safety blanket to know the structure is solid.

It also gives some flexibility in how I want to render the characters and have them finished. So if you look at the finished original, you’ll be able to see all that detail, and not just a suggestion of it.  

This piece was done to be a prize to be given away to a donator on LEGOLAMANIC’s 24 hours charity stream, raising money for the Snow Leopard Trust (see links around the video as did some painting during that stream). He built a 7,000 odd piece Executor Star Dreadnought MOC, so a Star Wars image seemed to be fitting for the 24 hour live stream.

Very rare I don’t want to let go of a piece. As an artist, you see the mistakes within the artwork, and happy to move on. That said, I work off deadlines and had I not be in the 24 hour stream, I would never have painted this anyhow and put in as much time.

Finally got around to addressing those lightsaber blade inks and now they really feel like they are glowing.

Now just a lot of noddling and tweaking details. The paper is now pretty rough with so many wash layers and can’t physically take much more paint or water. A quick signature and date in the bottom right corner, and think time to call it done.

Some quick looks at the final image – a LEGOised version of Luke Skywalker vs Darth Vader at Cloud City, from the Empire Strikes Back Star Was film for charity.

I like to have a pretty raw color blending style that isn’t too delicate – just feel like it keeps the energy of the artwork.

I’ve had a number of people ask me about getting a print of this. If you are interested, drop me a line at or comment around this video

There are some wonky things and less than perfect blending. Always like it to have a rawness and an energy about it.

Works great as a gift for your significant other, friend or even just yourself (as we AFOLs have been known to buy LEGO for ourselves anyhow).

This is a Family Bricks video. Be sure to hit that like button, share or if you want to be super awesome,  subscribe! Click the bell and select “All”, to be notified of new videos as they are uploaded.

Would you like to see this classic Frank Miller Dark Knight Returns Batman LEGOised? If so check out this video here for a quick time lapse.

Otherwise here are some other videos you might be interested in. That’s it from us here at Family Bricks, until next time when we talk about all things LEGO.

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