Futurism logo

Best Sci-Fi Art Books

Beyond words, the best sci-fi art books can ignite the imagination.

By Futurism StaffPublished 8 years ago 9 min read

Sci-fi art doesn't just tell a story. It takes you into a story, often of your own making. Science fiction art inspires a creative process in the mind. Your intellect is forced to wrap a tale of other worlds and dimensions around the visual your eyes are locked on. From the erotic sci-fi art of greats like Hajimi Sorayama to the sweeping landscapes of sci-fi artist Vincent Di Fate, the works of sci-fi artists can be found in the best sci-fi art books, which provide countless hours of imagination and storytelling.

Sexy Robot cemented Hajime Sorayama's legacy as an artist and brought him worldwide attention. In the book, he painted organic robotic forms based on pin-up art. The feminoid robots appear as a chrome-plated gynoids in suggestive poses. His next sci-fi art book, titled Pin-up, followed the same formula. A number of his other works similarly revolve around figures in suggestive poses, including highly realistic depictions in latex and leather. Sorayama's art is highly explicit and is suitable for adults only. His erotic, futuristic, hyperrealistic illustrations create a visual landscape that would be impossible to achieve in photography alone.

In a career spanning some four decades, Vincent Di Fate has painted countless color-drenched scenes of space monsters, sea creatures, alien landscapes, and futuristic technologies. In The Science Fiction Art of Vincent Di Fate, he reproduces over a hundred of his paintings in a slick coffee-table volume for any fan of the fantastical, dividing them into categories (Gadget Man, Future Real, Fantasy and Horror, and Fantasy Imagined) and accompanying them with highly readable essays on UFOs, the Golden Age of science fiction movies, and more. Besides displaying some 100 of his pen-and-ink scratchboard drawings and marvelously colorful acrylics, this album includes three well-written, congenial, and absorbing essays.

The first collection by Chris Moore, internationally renowned science fiction illustrator, includes a dazzling array of paintings completed for book covers, posters, and albums. From life-like to fantastical, dramatically colorful to simple sketches, the versatility of sci-fi artist Chris Moore’s illustrative universe is a feast for the eye and can all be seen in his sci-fi art book, Journeyman: The Art of Chris Moore. Through a series of conversations, acclaimed thriller writer Stephen Gallagher tells the story of the modern-day journeyman and along the way reveals fascinating insights into the process of creating art.

Necronomicon was the first major published compendium of images by Swiss artist H. R. Giger. Originally published in 1977, the book was given to director Ridley Scott during the pre-production of the film Alien, who then hired Giger to produce artwork and conceptual designs for the film. The book was originally published by Sphinx Verlag and was republished in 1993 by Morpheus International with additional artwork from Giger's Alien designs. A subsequent collection of his images followed as H. R. Giger’s Necronomicon 2, printed in 1985 by Edition C of Switzerland. In fact, Giger's art was published in enough sci-fi art books that the best H.R. Giger art books can encompass their own separate list. Giger's Necronomicon is named for H. P. Lovecraft's Necronomicon, a fictional grimoire Lovecraft invented and used as a plot device in his stories. Lovecraft's Necronomicon was a compendium of pre-human lore compiled by the fictional mad Arab Abdul Alhazred, circa 700.

The Art of Chesley Bonestell by Ron Miller and Frederick C. Durante, with a foreword by Sir Arthur C. Clarke, showcases more than 300 drawings by the renowned architect and space artist, from illustrations of the chief engineer's plans for the Golden Gate Bridge (for the benefit of funders); to his favorite among his paintings, The Engulfed Cathedral A Fantasy; to his pre-space-travel lunar and Martian landscapes for magazines like Galaxy and Astounding. Unless you are an experienced astronaut, your conception of outer space has probably been influenced by Chesley Bonestell's superrealist paintings of other-planetary scenes, which caused a sensation when Life first published some of them in 1944.

World-renowned visionary artist John Harris' unique concept paintings capture the universe on a massive scale, featuring everything from epic landscapes and towering cities to out-of-this-world science fiction vistas. John Harris is a British painter and illustrator, best known for working in the science fiction genre. His extraordinary paintings have been used on book covers for many science fiction authors, including Isaac Asimov, Frederik Pohl, Ben Bova, Orson Scott Card, and Jack Vance. This collection, The Art Of John Harris: Beyond The Horizon, focuses on his wide variety of futuristic art, as well as his striking covers for a variety of esteemed SF authors, including Arthur C. Clarke, John Scalzi, Ben Bova, Hal Clement, Jack McDevitt, Frederik Pohl, Orson Scott Card's Enders books, and many more.

Many believe Frank Kelly Freas was the best sci-fi artist who ever lived. The art of Kelly Freas represented—indeed defined—an entire era of science fiction. Moreover, he lived and breathed science fiction. This love for sci-fi is well represented in his sci-fi art book, Frank Kelly Freas: The Art of Science Fiction. Freas' work is unique in the humanity and emotion he was able to bring to the characters—human and otherwise—he illustrated. This quality is epitomized by some of the very first sci-fi covers he ever created, such as the art for Algis Budrys' Who? and the astonishing art he did for Tom Godwin's The Gulf Between.

Sci-fi Art Now brings together for the first time the finest, freshest, and most exciting talents in the world of sci-fi illustration. Science Fiction authority John Freeman presents a treasure trove of modern sci-fi’s most cutting-edge talents in art and illustration. A former editor at the official magazines for Babylon 5, Star Trek, Doctor Who, and Star Wars, Freeman turns his encyclopedic understanding of all things sci-fi to the latest trends in science fiction art. This lavishly illustrated anthology shows the creative processes of speculative fiction’s hottest up-and-coming stars and showcases some established creators who are breaking new ground to expand the genre’s already vivid visual landscape.

The Art Of John Berkey showcase perhaps the most widely respected of all living space artists and one of the giants in the history of science fiction art, John Berkey. He has had a long and exceptionally distinguished career. He started as a professional artist in the 1950s, working for various studios before spending eight formative years at Brown & Bigelow, the major calendar-publishing company of the day; there he developed his amazing landscape skills in depicting scenes of Americana and the like. On turning freelance he soon brought those skills—and his dazzlingly evocative neo-impressionist style—to the field of science fiction. His name is now spoken with reverence and awe by his fellow artists in the field.

OMNI was a jewel among popular science magazines of its era (1978–1998). Science Digest, Science News, Scientific America, and Discover may have all been selling well to armchair scientists, but OMNI masterfully blended cutting edge science news and science fiction, flashy graphic design, a touch of sex, and the images of a generation of artists completely free and unburdened by the disciplines of the masters. Created by the legendary Bob Guccione, better known for founding Penthouse than perhaps any of the other facets of his inspired career in business, art, and literature, Guccione handpicked the artists and illustrators that contributed to the OMNI legacy—they, in turn, created works ignited by passion and intellect, two of Guccione's principal ideals. The Mind's Eye: The Art Of Omni celebrates the stunning work that has appeared throughout the history of the publication.

Ian Miller was born November 11, 1946. Featuring over 300 images of artwork bridging decades of Miller's creations, this beautifully curated art book is a wonder for all lovers of great fantasy art—from H. P. Lovecraft novel covers, J.R.R. Tolkien fantastical bestiaries and Warhammer 40,000 graphic concept art, through a veritable treasure of fantasy battles, gothic humor, beasts, fierce dragons, and a world of nightmarish visuals. In addition to his work on publications, he contributed to the Ralph Bakshi films Wizards and Coolworld. Ian Miller once said "My images are the stuff of dreams and apparitions, the tremors that touch the skirt of day. Unspoken thoughts, stored memories, drawn up to be aired and then twisted by fancy."

With scores of creators from many of the world’s top video game studios and production houses, Substrata: Open World Dark Fantasy is an amazing sci-fi art book collection. Within its pages lies their widely varied and unbridled visions. Including character designs, monsters, items, vast locations, and interface designs, this art book is must have for video game fans. You will never stop discovering things you missed on a previous read, from the facial expressions of character to the spectacular dark fantasy world of Substrata.

A fabulous collection of art from the UK’s Jim Burns. The Art of Jim Burns: Hyperluminal features everything, from his initial sketches through to his final works and numerous published book covers, including novels from science Fiction authors Neil Gaiman, Greg Bear, and Terry Pratchett. The collection features artworks from Burns's extensive career from the 1970s to as recent years as 2014. The artworks are displayed on huge pages of this coffee table book. The size allows for a more clear view of the details that Burns put into his paintings.

J.J. Abrams took a whole new approach to the greatest space adventure of all time. Star Trek rebooted features a younger crew, straight out of the academy. Stylistically, Abrams delivers a whole new Star Trek, while paying respect to past sci-fi storytellers of the most famous spaceship, The U.S.S. Enterprise of the 20th century. The film quickly became a critical and commercial smash hit worldwide. The look of J.J. Abrams' new vision is revealed in this beautiful sci-fi art book. Star Trek: The Art of the Film is an amazing journey, tracing the evolution of the movie’s vibe through a stunning collection of previously never before seen concept art and designs.

Barbarians conjure images of power, survival, and brute force. Seductive imagery from this genre romanticizes what was a ravaging, violent period of human history. Arthur Suydam's work in this genre is stunning for its painting of primal battles, brilliant colors of carnelian, and ochres brutally gnashing swords. One can almost smell the fear, rage, and blood spilled in the images beautifully assembled in The Art of the Barabarian.

"Arthur Suydam explores his own take on the Barbarian character, expertly rendered in the style of the old Dutch Masters." This book depicts evocative sepia and lush colors. Arthur Suydam's work on characters such as Tarzan and Conan is world renowned. It includes an in-depth exploration of the artist's inspiration and creativity.

His beautiful and dark imagery has been admired across the globe for its visually powerful imagery. Jon Foster's works range from Dark Horse Comics, where his Star Wars covers are collectors' favorites, to his work on Dungeons and Dragons and are assembled in Progressions: The Art of Jon Foster. It is provocative and sometimes disturbing. "Foster knows how to grab for the soul with his art."


About the Creator

Futurism Staff

A team of space cadets making the most out of their time trapped on Earth. Help.

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights


There are no comments for this story

Be the first to respond and start the conversation.

Sign in to comment

    Find us on social media

    Miscellaneous links

    • Explore
    • Contact
    • Privacy Policy
    • Terms of Use
    • Support

    © 2023 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.