From prosthetic masks to future costumes, giant starships to alien worlds, the world of science fiction movies offers a unique opportunity to the designer to create something new and mindblowing. The sky’s no longer the limit: the boundless landscapes of time and space offered by fiction's final frontier mean creatives can really let their imagination run wild. And in doing so, they've created some unforgettable designs with popular appeal far beyond the hardcore sci-fi niche.
Here we've selected our 30 favourites from the history of movie sci-fi designs. Plus we've enlisted some leading designers to help us pinpoint exactly why they've become so iconic. Have we included your favourite designs? If not, let us know in the comments below!
Bike - Akira
Hailed as one of the best animes of all time (and rightly so) Akira was based on the comic book series by Japanese artist Katsuhiro Otomo. The film was released in America on July 16th 1988 and this is often thought of as the date that the anime genre was firmly put on the map.
A never-aging tale, the story and characters are timeless creations. However, it's the electric bike ridden by the character of Kaneda that really strikes us as the stand-out design of the film. Created by Katsuhiro Otomo, it is stated in the film that the bike features "ceramic, double-rotor two-wheel drive, computer-controlled anti-lock brakes, and 12,000 rpms", and that you can "lower the rev below 5000 while changing gears".
The colour, stickers and slick design have made it a stand-out vehicle for decades. Many have tried to replicate the bike, with some claiming that there are three 'real' bikes still in existence. However, it will cost you around $120,000!
Aardman Digital's senior designer, Gavin Strange: "What's not to love about Kaneda's bike from Akira!? It's red, it's big and it's fast. Brought to life in Neo-Tokyo it just oozes coolness, especially in the opening scene of the film with the light trails (which is a feat in animation itself, especially considering it was made in 1988!). The bike is just a much a character as Kaneda or Tetsuo and I always wince a bit at the end of the film when the bike is battered and broken, it's a thing of awesomeness for sure!"
Founder of Pariah Studios and 3D artist, Rob Redman: "Motorbikes have always been a symbol of freedom, with a hint of rebelliousness. Akira took that feeling and combined it with Syd Mead style design and forged something newer and cooler but with a nod to nostalgia."
Animator, Illustrator and Digital Designer, Gareth Axford: "I first saw the anime version of Akira when I was about 12, and Kaneda's bike blew my mind. It's just so unbelievably cool, yet looks like it would actually work in the real world (as has since been proven, with various real life replicas in existence)."
Visual Effects Artist and designer of Moon, Gavin Rothery: "This is surely a classic bit of sci-fi design. It looked brilliant on-screen in that way that only Anime designs really can. It crosses the sweet spot of sci-fi with one foot in the present; one in the future. Nobody actually manufactures a vehicle like this, but it's not a huge leap to imagine them doing so."
Production Lead for Erskine Design, Wil Linssen: "The first thing you think seeing that bike, is how much you want one. When you think of cool Japanese engineering, your mind instantly goes to sports bikes, and it was right when the world was falling out of love with Triumphs, Harleys and BMWs. It's still looks futuristic 14 years later. Also looks like it would ride pretty well!"
USS Enterprise - Star Trek
To boldly go where no man has gone before, you need a pretty good ship. And that's exactly what millions of viewers got with the Enterprise. Although the ship first appeared in the television series of Star Trek, we felt that the design itself needed to be included in the list. After all, a refit of the original NCC-1701 Enterprise did feature in both the 1979 and 2009 Star Trek films.
Walter Matt Jefferies was the man behind the legendary Enterprise design. The appearance of the ship in 1964 was a revelation, as his original design went on the influence hordes of TV and movie spacecrafts. Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry didn't tell Jefferies what he wanted to ship to look like, instead he told him what he didn't want. According to Jefferies, Roddenberry was also absolutely clear to avoid any resemblance to a 1960s rocket ship.
Speaking to Star Trek Magazine, Jefferies said that: "Gene described the 100-150 man crew, outer space, fantastic, unheard-of speed, and that we didn't have to worry about gravity. He had emphasised that there were to be no fins, no wings, no smoke trails, no flames, no rocket." And we think Walter Jefferies did a mighty fine job.
You can check out an awesome 360-degree view of the latest Enterprise design for JJ Abrams Star Trek movie on the official Star Trek movie web site.
Founder of Pariah Studios and 3D artist, Rob Redman: "Depending on your age you probably hate some Enterprises and love others. I'm an Enterprise D man myself and its smoother, flowing lines were very much of the period, with 90s sci fi being quite clean. Throwbacks to 2001 and lots of clean white panelling were the thing. The Enterprise D was also one of the earlier proponents of flat touchscreen interfaces. In fact there were hardly any buttons anywhere. On top of that the space docks had fixed the sliding door mechanisms too."
Animator, Illustrator and Digital Designer, Gareth Axford: "A true classic, everyone recognises the Star Trek spaceship, even if they've never seen an episode or film in their lives. About as iconic as it gets, and pretty much timeless."
Visual Effects Artist and designer of Moon, Gavin Rothery: "One of the surest signs of the integrity of this ship design is the amount of iterations it has been through over the years and always looked classy on-screen. It's unique amongst fictional space vehicles as it's progressed through every decade from the 1960s to the present day and has remained as relevant as it ever was."
Prawns - District 9
Telling the tale of an alien invasion with a twist, District 9 went on to become a huge success when it was released in 2009. The film provided an allegory for the political and social struggles faced in South Africa, and around the world. Director Neill Blomkamp wanted the feel of the movie to be as 'real' as possible, hence the clever cinematography and documentary style film-making.
Renowned design company Weta Workshop (who are also part owned by producer Peter Jackson) were hired to create the most important element of the film - the aliens nicknamed 'prawns.' Neill was very clear that he wanted the aliens to have a strong insect feel, with varying colours and contrasts while being non-reptilian.
The final alien was created by whittling down a number of illustrations, before using programmes such as Maya to create the finished 3D version. Lead concept designer Greg Broadmocare had already worked on the likes of Avatar and King Kong, proving that the prawns were created by some of the best artists of our time.
Founder of Pariah Studios and 3D artist, Rob Redman: "Alien yet so recognisable as beings with personality, the Prawns are some of the best alien designs in recent times. Weta did a fantastic job of making them completely odd yet letting the viewers empathise. Credit has to go to the animators as well as the creature designers, of doing fantastic work on portraying emotions believably."
Animator, Illustrator and Digital Designer, Gareth Axford: "The prawns are so disgusting to look at, I'd say they were definitely inspired by 'Brundlefly' in Cronenburg's version of The Fly, yet are imbued with such personality. Kudos to the animators for making these guys characters we can empathise with."
Visual Effects Artist and designer of Moon, Gavin Rothery: "Designing an alien species that you can empathise with is no easy task, especially when they look like insects. This shows very clearly how good the team on District 9 are because they pulled it off beautifully."
Loosely based on a large green robot called Gnut, from Harry Bates' 1940 short story Farewell to the Master, Gort is the robot accomplice of the humanoid alien Klaatu. It is perceived that Gort is the servant of Klaatu throughout the film but it is revealed at the end of the film that Gort has been the leader the entire time.
On screen, Gort appears to be around 7ft 7in (the height of actor Lock Martin) and made entirely from 'flexible metal'. Two suits which were designed and built by art director Addison Hehr were attached to the actor front to back so that the robot could appear seamless. Lifted boots were also used, whilst air holes were placed in the chin of the robot helmet.
What makes this design so worthy is the subtle scariness achieved with minimal effects. Gort's 'eye beam' is terrifying, whilst still adding a slight human aspect by actually giving the robot an 'eye'. It's clear that Gort's design has gone on to influence other sci-fi baddies, such as 2001: A Space Odyssey's HAL, with his one red eye and monosyllabic tone. As for the remake? We won't go into that.
Founder of Pariah Studios and 3D artist, Rob Redman: "Gort is an icon, pure and simple. Many many designs owe their look to it - Cylons and even Hal's glowing red eye harks back to it. Who can argue that a giant metal robot forged from millions of tiny nanobots isn't cool?"
Visual Effects Artist and designer of Moon, Gavin Rothery: "Again, a design classic. Perhaps a little dated by today's design standards, but pure vintage class. The glowing robotic slit-eye opening is one of the most perfect images of robotic menace I've ever seen on-screen."
Wall-E - Wall-E
After a huge string of hits including cowboys, lost fish and big, blue monsters, it was certainly time for animation kings Pixar to dive into the world of space. The only hurdle however, was that the main character couldn't talk. Fear not film lovers, for Pixar went on to create one of their best characters to date.
For a robot that couldn't talk, the design had to kick ass. He needed to be able to capture the hearts of the audience (and make them cry, obviously) so what were the designers to do? Thankfully, director Andrew Stanton and his team were able to turn Wall-E into a wonderfully expressive and highly emotional mechanism. His eyes, modelled on a pair of binoculars and his Charlie Chaplin inspired clumsiness makes him the child-like star of the show.
Credit also has to be given to legendary sound designer Ben Burtt for creating the amazing noises throughout the entire film. Without him, we wouldn't have Wall-E's adorable 'Eve' exclamation. You can even check out a 'real-life' Wall-E at Disneyland now!
Animator, Illustrator and Digital Designer, Gareth Axford: "Aaaah, Wall-E, loveable, shambolic Wall-E. He's a metallic Charlie Chaplin! Again, the designers and animators did an amazing job in making it so easy for the audience to connect with a little rusty yellow rubbish collector. Sublime."
Visual Effects Artist and designer of Moon, Gavin Rothery: "Gorgeous design. The texturing of this character is so carefully handled; he's essentially a scrappy pile of old rubbish himself but he comes across so well on-screen. He has everything he needs to emote to the audience without over-complicating his design. There are many similarities between Wall-E and Johnny 5, which I find strange as I never really bought into the Short Circuit robot (despite him being designed by the legendary Syd Mead), but Wall-E had me from the start. Perfectly handled."
Designer and web developer, Simon Jobling: "The sleek lines and shapes, the shiny materials, the smooth motions - Eva was the ideal contrast to Wall-E's rigid, clunky, clumsy appearance - but it was captured in the most adorable robot ever created. The hat-tip towards Apple in his startup chime was a lovely touch too (also a nice reminder of the Pixar history and connection)."
The Excessive Machine - Barbarella
Who can forget the super-sexy first lady of sci-fi, Barbarella? So the actual film may not be Oscar-worthy but it's a rip-roaring ride of big hair, space travel and some very skimpy outfits. The movie solidified Jane Fonda as a forerunner in Hollywood and spurred a number of sexy sci-fi flicks.
The Orgasmatron - or as it's referred to in 1968's Barbarella 'The Excessive Machine' - is as over-the-top as it gets. But you know what, we relish a bit of excessive design when it comes to sci-fi and why not? It's 1968, so the time calls for a machine that pleasures you to the point of death right? Right?
The Excessive Machine is operated by the film's antagonist Dr. Durand-Durand. Resembling a clamshell, the machine grasps the entire body below the neck and massages the passenger by flexing its upper half with a wave-like motion from right to left. The lid is made of long, rigid rod-like paddles that lie in a row, side by side. It is operated from a keyboard resembling that used to control a large organ.
Visual Effects Artist and designer of Moon, Gavin Rothery: "To be honest, whenever I watch Barbarella, I find it hard to look at anything other than Jane Fonda. I know there are some other shapes and colours in that film and perhaps some noises..."
You can read a Barbarella post on Gavin's blog.
WOPR Computer - WarGames
WarGames was released at a point in the 1980s when films became obsessed with video games. This story, starring Matthew Broderick, takes the video game boom to the extreme when reality is confused with game-play and Broderick's character almost starts World War III.
The computer at the helm of all this is called 'WOPR', which stands for War Operation Plan Response. Some claim that director John Badham initially called the machine NORAD SIOP (Single Integrated Operational Plan) but eventually decided against it. The computer itself was created by production designer Geoffrey Kirkland, with influences from Tabulating machines, consoles and metal furniture. The images he created were then adapted by art director Angelo Graham.
Although some reckon that the entire design of the film has aged badly, it's important to remember that at the time of release, it worked impeccably well and WOPR is often hailed as one of film's most-beloved computers. The vocal design for the machine only adds to its charm - and the name it responds to, 'Joshua', is a perfect heart string tugger.
Creative Director at 2Advanced and designer, Shane Mielke: "There are several awesome 80s design qualities about the WarGames super computer. The first is the fact that the acronym WOPR and its word origins of “War Operation Plan Response" are ominously stenciled on the side of the mainframe. The next classic 80s sci-fi manoeuvre is the randomly blinking LED lights grouped into the shape of a face that flash, blink and oscillate with no real meaning but require white coated technicians walking around it scribbling notes to monitor its activity."
Creative Director of Northern Lights, Paul Kelsey "I'm old enough to remember War Games the first time around, a time when homes (certainly not in estates in south Manchester!) just didn't have computers. At the time the WOPR computer was mindblowingly exciting in it's scale and complexity and made us in awe of this thing, with all it's buttons and flashing lights and endless banks of monitors - I also was struck by the WOPR's pretty distinctive type on the main hub, that seemed perfectly at home in the context of this awesome machine."
Tripods - War of the Worlds
Surprisingly, the original Mike Trim illustrated versions of the tripods have never actually appeared on film. That iconic Jeff Wayne album cover went on to become one of the most recognised images in science fiction and it's sad to see that they've never been fully reincarnated in physical form.
In 2005, Steven Speilberg attempted a remake of the original 1953 version. Although the film itself was somewhat panned, you have to give credit to the design and special effects team. The trusted professionals at ILM were hired to give their spin on the iconic tripods, with Ryan Church head of the creature design.
Speilberg was adamant that he wanted the audience to be terrified of the machines themselves and not just what was inside them. Concept designer Doug Chiang heavily researched previous versions of the tripods but also, intentionally steered away from the obvious as they wanted to create something entirely unique but still play homage to the original illustrations. We think they did just that and that's why the 2005 tripods deserve some recognition.
Animator, Illustrator and Digital Designer, Gareth Axford: "The Speilberg versions managed to convey a really good mixture of organic vs machine that was truly menacing, however I have more of a soft spot for 'The Masters' from the 80s TV series 'The Tripods', they're the ones that made me hide behind my sofa!"
Scorpion Ship - Avatar
One of the most successful films of all time and a James Cameron classic, Avatar had all the budget and scope to really get stuck into the design elements. The battle scenes needed some serious ship weaponry and we think the Scorpion ship is the best of the bunch.
The AT-99 'Scorpion' Gunship is a VTOL ducted fan rotor, Mosquito class targeting and missile launch platform. It was designed to work within the Earth's atmosphere and that of Pandora's. It has two forward-mounted stub pylons that are armed with four gimbal-mounted .50 calibre guns with 700 rounds per minute cyclic rate of fire as close-range primary weapons. It carries two gun-type weapons, two dual 50 cal. machine guns and two triple 20mm Gatling guns. With two pairs of huge stub-wing pylons to carry its armament of 150 TK-411 WAFAR (Wrap-Around Fin Aerial Rocket) in ten 15-tube rocket launchers, all-in-all it's a pretty badass ship.
Animator, Illustrator and Digital Designer, Gareth Axford: "The best thing about the film, in my opinion!"
T800 Endoskeleton - Terminator
Another James Cameron creation makes it into the list. Well, it'd be rude not to have some Arnie present and what a scary creature he is! The original concept for Terminator was created by James Cameron who some claim got the idea after falling ill and dreaming about a deadly cyborg chasing him (pretty cool, huh?). The 1984 film was a revolution in sci-fi and still to this day, remains an absolute must-see.
The T-800 Endoskeleton - and all the other Terminator models for that matter – was created by Stan Winston and his team. The T800 was fully armoured in a hyper alloy sheath around vital areas, with critical components being housed in case-hardened constructions. Its nuclear plant was heavily armoured and in the event of critical damage, a secondary power source was installed to allow the unit a margin of time to continue/complete its mission. It was covered in living human flesh, which meant that it could easily disguise itself to carry out the killing.
The Terminator launched the career of Stan Winston, who went on to win an Oscar for his work on Aliens and a further two Oscars for Terminator 2. A brilliant and timeless design, the Endoskeleton remains terrifying to this day.
Animator, Illustrator and Digital Designer, Gareth Axford: "A piece of nightmarish genius. Stan Winston's Studio did such an amazing, iconic job with the T800. The moment when it's first revealed in all its unstoppable glory, clambering from the wreckage of a burning juggernaut is still so powerful, plus it was all done with stop motion miniatures which makes its impact all the more impressive."
Visual Effects Artist and designer of Moon, Gavin Rothery: "A design classic. It's really the skull that does it for me, as the feet always annoyed me a bit. The big ball-bearing on the heel just looks awful for any practical mobility. The chrome skull though, with the glowing red eyes: perfecto."
Production Lead for Erskine Design, Wil Linssen: "New breed of sci-fi/horror (aliens too) with Cameron at the helm. Technology was a thing to be feared and marvelled at in equal dose. Grunge/metal, and there's loads of leather and rebellious themes. The first thing you see are the eyes, like a mix of demon and machine."
Creative Director at 2Advanced and designer, Shane Mielke: "It has beautiful lines, a shiny Coltan and Titanium alloy structure (no plastic on this bad boy), ominous glowing red eyes and a structure actuated by a powerful network of hydraulic servomechanisms. All of those features combine to make the Terminator endoskeleton design super awesome, super strong and completely unstoppable (except by molten metal and liquid nitrogen)."
Nike Air 2015 Kicks - Back to the Future II
1988 saw Tinker Hatfield create the most iconic pair of sneakers the movie world has ever known - the Nike Air 2015 Kicks. The automatic lacing system and glowing light technology had nerds in a flurry and they've been campaigning to get them made ever since.
The day finally arrived in 2011, with 1500 pairs of the legendary trainers auctioned on eBay for up to $37,500. Despite no automatic lacing system, the Nike creations sold out instantly with all proceeds going to Michael J Fox's Parkinson's Disease Foundation.
Only time will tell if the exact sneakers will be made in 2015, in all their automatic lacing glory.
Internationally renowned illustrator and typographer, Steven Bonner: "I remember watching Back to the Future 2 and the second those shoes tightened up with those satisfying little whirring sounds I wanted a pair. The way the little NIKE logotype lit up was a genius touch, driving home the brand in a cool way."
Design Director for Erskine Design, Phil Swan: "Basketball boots were big at the time and the design of Marty's futuristic footwear took the '80s over-the-top style to the next level, lights and all."
Stormtrooper helmet - Star Wars
Released in 1977, Stars Wars Episode IV: A New Hope began a legacy of sci-fi unlike any other. Whilst many of the design aspects throughout the films are iconic in their own right, the storm trooper helmet reigns supreme as the stand out creation.
Inspired by original Star Wars artist Ralph McQuarrie, clay mock ups of the helmet were created by sculptors Liz Moore and Nick Pemberworth. Once George Lucas had chosen Nick's sculpture, the designer then recruited Andrew Ainsworth.
Ainsworth used this mock-up to create the finalised Stormtrooper helmet which appeared in the original films. In 2011, Lucasfilms unsuccessfully sued Ainsworth for selling replicas of the helmets, with the court ruling them out as works of art.
Pixelsurgeon founder and director of Wyld Stallyons, Jason Arber: "Inspiration appears to be German army uniforms from the Second World War, mixed with a dash of human skull. The net result was something stunning and iconic, and possibly something the world had never seen before: bad guys wearing white."
Internationally renowned illustrator and typographer, Steven Bonner: "Iconic. The stormtrooper helmet IS Star Wars. It's just such a cool design and is so effective, selling the idea of the Empire's army as a never-ending supply of clones before that fact is even revealed in later movies. The shapes are so smooth and mix up the idea of the practical helmet with a sinister, faceless devotion to the cause. So cool."
HAL - 2001: A Space Odyssey
A simple design and carefully crafted script, HAL was a villain unlike any other.
HAL, which stands for Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic computer, was created by science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke and voiced by Douglas Rain.
The HAL 9000 faceplate less lens was purchased for 5 shillings in a junk shop in Paddington, London, in the early seventies by Chris Randall.
This was found along with the key to HAL's Brain Room, which also sold for a mere 5 shillings. The HAL collection was sold at a Christies auction in 2010 for Â£17,500.
Pixelsurgeon founder and director of Wyld Stallyons, Jason Arber: "With his unblinking red eye and monotone voice, HAL is utterly terrifying. His lack of empathy tips HAL into Uncanny Valley, that bizarre place where something appears to be human, but there an unsettling element that is not quite right and it makes us feel uncomfortable."
Costume design - The Fifth Element
An often controversial choice, the costume design in Luc Besson's The Fifth Element solidified Jean-Paul Gautier as a fore-runner in the fashion world.
In total, the Frenchman created 954 designs and was on set every day to thoroughly inspect each cast member and extra before they stepped in front of the camera.
The mixture of rubber, military silhouettes and boudoir-inspired clobber gave the film the distinctive comic book feel it needed.
The stand-out costume collection has to be that of Leelo, played by model Milla Jovovich. Just take a look at those white 'heating bandages!'
Daleks - Doctor Who
Daleks seem to fall into the uncool category but have somehow stood the test of time. These space creatures designed to take over the world, with their egg whisk arms and terrifying screeches, were originally designed by Shawcraft Engineering for the BBC.
Subsequent versions have been made for each series. However, many fans cite the original 1963 villains as their ultimate favourite.
The latest series of Doctor Who faced a predicament when Daleks were needed on set. Many had been auctioned off around the world but former Doctor Who screenwriter, Russel T. Davies came to rescue by lending his very own Dalek to the series.
Co-founder of web design agency Headscape, Paul Boag: "Despite being ridiculed for being unable to mount stairs and looking like dustbins, the Daleks have become an enduring sci-fi classic. The reason for this longevity I believe is down to their lack of humanity."
For more on the Daleks, see The 5 greatest Dalek designs of all time
The X-Wing - Star Wars
Although many see the Millenium Falcon as the stand out ship in the Star Wars series, the Incom T-65 X-wing starfighter inspired a generation of ships. Thus, making far more of an impact on the sci-fi world.
It was the primary all-purpose starfighter of the Rebel Alliance and its successor governments, known for its versatility and combat performance. It also defeated the Death Star which must count for something.
If you take a look at Battlestar Galactica's Viper ship, the influence of ILM's Star Wars creation is clear to see.
Industrial Light & Magic's (ILM) Joe Johnston sketched out the original design, whilst Colin Cantwell built the models that would eventually become the final X-wing fighter in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.
Pixelsurgeon founder and director of Wyld Stallyons, Jason Arber: "The design, sketched by ILM concept artist Joe Johnston and modelled by Colin Cantwell, was the Spitfire of the Star Wars universe. The look has been aped several times, notably the Vipers in Battlestar Galactica, but has never been bettered."
H.R. Giger's alien - Alien
Designer H.R. Giger's alien won him an Academy Award for "Best Achievement for Visual Effects" in 1980 and rightly so.
Arber feels that "science fiction has been plagued by man-in-a-suit aliens since the dawn of moving images, but none of them can beat the xenomorph design based on HR Giger's surreal, nightmarishly erotic lithograph Necronom IV.
Writer Dan O'Bannon recommended Giger to Ridley Scott when he signed on to direct the film, who immediately saw the potential for a completely different creature.
Film critic Ximena Gallardo called the final result, 'a nightmare vision of sex and death' with its mix of mechanical armour, eyeless face, skeletal bones and sexual organs.
Thanks to Scott's vision and Giger's designs, the creature went on to change the face of our extra terrestrial friends forever.
Pixelsurgeon founder and director of Wyld Stallyons, Jason Arber: "Hands down THE best alien design in the history of cinema. Science fiction has been plagued by man-in-a-suit aliens since the dawn of moving images, but none of them can beat the xenomorph design based on HR Giger's surreal, nightmarishly erotic lithograph Necronom IV."
Co-founder of web design agency Headscape, Paul Boag: "The design plays off of themes of rape, while at the same time carrying a sinisterly beautiful organic feel. However, what makes the original alien so terrifying is that it is never fully seen. In later films where the creature is much more visible it loses its power."
Author of 'Sexy Web Design' and editor of 8 Faces, Elliot Jay Stocks: "It's rare that design ever gets to be so intrinsically linked to art. You look at Giger's art and you know straight away that he's the guy that came up with the creatures – and various other elements – for Alien. And it hasn't aged, either: Giger's influence on the forthcoming 'semi-prequel' Prometheus looks as fresh, futuristic, and downright disturbing as it did way back in 1979."
Derelict ship - Alien
The Derelict ship in Alien rebooted the sci-fi genre with a new design aesthetic for spacecraft. It's strange mix of bone structure gives the audience the impression that it couldn't have been built by humans.
Combining all these aesthetic features proves that Giger triumphed once again in the creation of the Alien world.
The ship has been reprised in Ridley Scott's latest film 'Prometheus,' which has been described by some as a prequel to Alien (but you didn't hear it from us!)
Pixelsurgeon founder and director of Wyld Stallyons, Jason Arber: "Although the model makers complained that Giger's 2D painting was almost impossible to realise in three dimensions, eventually a 12-foot version of the craft was built and shot for the film. Like many elements in the movie Alien, the shape of the craft is partially obscured and only hinted at."
Deckard's gun - Blade Runner
Based on the book 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?' by Philip K. Dick, Blade Runner went on to become an instant cult classic.
The gun used by Rick Deckard (and played by Harrison Ford) was designed by futuristic artist Syd Mead, who worked closely with director Ridley Scott to create the perfect weapon.
The initial idea was a 'black hole gun,' which would fire a long black beam. This idea was quickly brushed aside once Scott had noticed the Steyr SL chamber on the prop masters workbench.
The prop was then constructed from parts of a Steyr-Mannlicher Model SL rifle and a Charter Arms Bulldog revolver. Side covers were then added to cover the bulldog's cylinder and different bolt heads and screws were used to offer an illusion of controls.
Although the gun is equipped with 6 LED lights, not all of them worked during production. A similar weapon was used in the film by the character of Holden.
Light Cycle Bike - Tron / Tron Legacy
Who knew what would become of those 1982 computer generated bikes come 2010. Designer Darren Gilford hoped the Light Cycle, the sleek speeder that swirls trails of neon in Tron: Legacy, would be the "sexiest, coolest vehicle you could possibly imagine."
Gilford, along with designer Daniel Simon and a team of conceptual artists tried desperately to stay true to the original design to avoid alienating previous fans.
The result saw the light cycle transformed into a sleek and sexy motorbike, which had fans gasping for more. The lights which blur between human and vehicle top it off as one of the best redesigns in sci-fi history.
You can even buy your own light cycle bike, minus the computer generated world.
Internationally renowned illustrator and typographer, Steven Bonner: "Doesn't everyone wish they had one of these? Sleek, neon, fast, this is everything a teenage boy dreams of riding around town in and by adding the battle sequences, it only added to the appeal. It made computer geekdom seem like a dangerously cool thing."
Pixelsurgeon founder and director of Wyld Stallyons, Jason Arber: "The limitations of the animation techniques informed the aesthetic of the movie, and the Light Cycles are the perfect distillation of this with their cool design, hard, right angle turns, and coloured trails capable of destroying other bikes."
Interior design - 2001: A Space Odyssey
The design of 2001: A Space Odyssey could be said to have overpowered the plot and the characters altogether. The interior design needed to stay true to Arthur Clarke's descriptions - focusing on the crew members shrinking environment and boredom whilst also adhering to Kubrick's unique vision.
The interior design worked, as it was an unfamiliar environment but with aspects that could easily be slipped into our future everyday lives.
For example, the rotating drum used for exercise commented on the deteriorating health of astronauts in orbit for long periods of time much sooner than NASA had confirmed this.
It's no wonder that designers Anthony Masters, Harry Lange and Ernest Archer cleaned up in the Oscar and BAFTA awards for Best Art Direction in 1968.
The mix of the historically familiar, together with the unusual glowing tiled floor and coldly detached feel, creates a jarring, but visually stunning image. Its influence can be seen in countless music videos, but personally I love the design for its unsettling oddness."
Senior Designer at Fi, Claudio Guglieri: "2001 had a strictly functional design approach to the genre. I guess, following Dieter Rams teachings, the interior design done for this movie really set out to not enhance anything superfluous that would have aged badly but to focus on what those objects and that environment was built to perform in the movie."
Maria - Metropolis
Metropolis was one of the first films to ever comment on what the future may hold, which scared it's 1927 audience into walking out of the movie theatre.
The Maria robot of Fritz Lang's Metropolis exposes the problematic nature of men's obsession with the femme fatale as sex object.
Thea von Harbou's original 1927 novel described Maria as a transparent creature with crystal flesh. The Maria android in the 1927 film obviously didn't stay true to this description but designer Walter Schulze-Mittendorff still managed to create the first robot ever seen on-screen.
Schulze-Mittendorff experimented with beaten copper before discovering it would be far too uncomfortable for the actress to wear. He then discovered woody putty, which was rolled flat, applied like armour then spray painted to create the impression of polished metal.
Pixelsurgeon founder and director of Wyld Stallyons, Jason Arber: "Unlike subsequent movie robots, particularly those from the 1940s to the 1960s that look like they were made from cardboard boxes with lengths of air conditioning tubing for arms, False Maria's design has stood the test of time, looking as original, sensual and beguiling now as she did in 1927."
Ed 209 - Robocop
Designed by Craig Hayes, Ed 209 was created using a range of inspirations. He was adamant that he didn't want the robot to look like a man in a suit, hence the distance between the hips that made it look impossible for a person to fit in to it.
All the forms were built up using wood with a lot of plastic forming techniques and fibre glass.
Stop motion was used to film the Ed 209 scenes using a miniature puppet based on the larger scale design. The flashes seen when the robot uses his guns were actually created using cotton wool and camera tricks!
Pixelsurgeon founder and director of Wyld Stallyons, Jason Arber: "As funny as he is menacing, ED 209 is given to violent, blood-soaked malfunctions befitting a witty satirist such as director Paul Verhoeven.
Today, ED 209 would be animated and rendered in 3D, arguably creating a more realistic look, but losing the nave, comedic effect. I love ED 209 simply because he is completely over the top, and wonderfully excessive in every sense."
Cylons - Battlestar Galactica
Initial drawings for the Cylons were originally created by Star Wars designer Ralph McQuarrie. The Cylon Centurians then went on to become one of the most recognisable villains in sci-fi history.
The Cylons were originally thought to be a reptilian race but thanks to the family nature of the show, writer Glen Larson was forced to change them into a robotic family.
Both Ralph McQuarrie and concept artist Joe Johnston started looking at the Cylons by using knight's helmets (or knights in general) as a reference.The influnece can be seen clearly in the Cylon's helmets.
Although somewhat cheesy, the Cylons still hold a special place in many a sci-fi fan.
Pixelsurgeon founder and director of Wyld Stallyons, Jason Arber: "Vaguely cheesy, with their single roving red eye oscillating across their visors, they were sufficiently scary to me as a child, but without the nightmarish qualities of some Doctor Who monsters like Cybermen and Sontarans. The revamped Centurions from the rebooted Battlestar Galactica were an improvement, with more sinister faces, and, thanks to CG, more robotic bodies."
Power Loader - Aliens
Although it looks rather difficult to control, no one can deny the iconic moment of Sigourey Weaver in that Power Loader saying that line.
With no guns and no armour, the Power Loader is essentially just a fork lift on two legs. However, due to its realistic design and impressive pre-CG effects it has gone on the become the inspiriation for future sci-fi exoskeletons such as the APU suit in the Matrix Revolutions and Avatar's AMP suits.
The open-cockpit design, Caterpillar paint scheme and blue-collar mission set are what made the exoskeleton so believable. And believe it or not, an actual Power Loader is currently in the works with a rumoured release in 2015.
Graphic designer and Director of Tahninial, Dan Moat: "It might not be the most original of designs, but by using the every-day machinery elements in a futuristic application it is believable, and for that it works excellently. With all those warning signs, you would think the Alien Queen would have been more cautious when Ripley came knocking!"
Space ship - Le voyage dans la lune
Loosely based on Jules Verne's 'From the Earth to the Moon' and H. G. Wells' 'The First Men in the Moon,' 'A trip to the moon' created one of the most iconic scenes in sci-fi history.
Produced in 1902, 'A trip to the moon' tells the story of six men on a voyage to the moon. The moment it's space ship plummets into the eye of the moon is still referenced today. Just take a look at this Smashing Pumpkins video.
Looking like a large artillery shell, it may not be the most original design but back in 1902, it was something audiences' had never witnessed before.
User Interface - Minority Report
Based on Philip K. Dick's short story, 'Minority Report' features many designs that some may find a bit too close to home.
The computer interface is used by the character of John Anderton (played by Tom Cruise) to unveil potential murderers and arrest them before they commit the crime.
The user interface showcased in the film was designed by John Underkoffler and in February 2010, he recreated it for everyday use.
Although it's use is far from its crime fighting aspects in the film, Microsoft's Kinect is similar in its user abilities. Philip K. Dick envisioned the User Interface in 2054, but it looks set to arrive far earlier than expected.
Web designer and co-founder of The Multipack, Simon Jobling: "The user interface from Minority Report was scarily close to what is now possible, hence why it's been such an iconic design in film. The motion gestures on a projected screen seemed so far-fetched in 2002 but, less than ten years later, Microsoft had mass-produced the Xbox Kinect device simulating exactly the same concept. Who knew?"
Senior Designer at Fi, Claudio Guglieri: "Personally I liked this interface because it almost didn't present any visual UI . There was no physical medium between the actor and the screen, other than the gloves I suppose, and everything was basically gesture driven. Normally we designers are enslaved to UI standardized elements like a navigation, a menu, a breadcrumb component or a simple button. But in this movie none of those were present and it actually appeared more efficient."
Predator - Predator
The original design is credited to special effects artist Stan Winston who, along with Alien director James Cameron came up with the finished creature.
It was actually Arnold Schwarzenegger who recommended the artist after working with him during The Terminator. Combining insect and human aspects, the Predator is a mixture of body suit and mechanical facial effects.
Originally, Predator was to be played by Jean-Claude Van Damme thanks to his martial arts skills. However, the team decided the creature needed to be larger and more endearing, by which time 7ft 2in Kevin Peter Hall had been hired.
After being introduced in 1987, Predator has gone on to feature in Predator 2, Predators and the cross-over franchise of Alien vs. Predator.
The Moon Base - Moon
Released in 2009, 'Moon' quickly became a cult classic. Lone astronaut Sam is living on the moon, completing a three-year contract with Lunar Industries to mine Earth's primary source of energy, Helium-3.
We are introduced to his environment almost immediately, which also takes up around 80% of the film's content. Sam is extremely lonely and this is mirrored in the interior of his clinical and soulless moon base.
The base itself was a full 360-degree set, and was measured at 90ft long, 70ft wide. Director Duncan Jones made reference to the photography book 'Full Moon' by Michael Light when designing the entire look of the film.
Graphic designer and Director of Tahninial, Dan Moat: "I love the way the shape of the bay walls/doors all echoed each other, down to small details on each frame; the same door shape then appears on the floor tiles too. Because repetition is a massive theme of the film, from the mundane routine Sam's life on the moon entails, to the whole multiple-Sam plot, this design was definitely well thought out.
Such similar looking white and grey rooms made the whole base quite disorienting and clinical, which along with those padded walls (especially in the hallways) reflects Sam's psychological trauma perfectly. The line between sci-fi minimalism and asylum is well and truly blurred!"
Animator, illustrator and digital designer, Gareth Axford: "The set design from 'Moon' really stands out for me as being both highly influenced by previous films and having a flavour all of its own. What Duncan Jones, Gavin Rothery and the rest of the team achieved with their meagre budget is astounding."
Flying submarine - Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea
Often lovingly referred to as 'The Stingray', the flying sub in 'Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea' was originally developed between 1964 and 1965 by the Reynolds Metal Company in Richmond, Virginia, in conjunction with General Dynamics.
Powered by two massive solid-fuel turbine engines, the flying sub was designed originally as a test bed for hybrid air/sea vehicle technology by both the US Air Force and Navy.
Able to fly or power through the waves, the FS-1 (as it was originally named) had sci-fi fans in a flurry. It has now retired and enjoys travelling to conventions to meet and greet with fans.
Graphic designer and Director of Tahninial, Dan Moat: "The design of the flying sub really is a classic with a wonderful contrast of the sharp points and round curves. The form of the ship takes the best bits of '60s style, flying saucers and marine fauna to give a retro-futuristic look that could viably function in the air or the ocean. Basically if a stingray and a yellow '60s Camaro could have a baby that could somehow fly, this would be it."
Ajaz Ahmed, founder and chairman of AKQA: "Each of the designs is iconic, distinctive and famous. It's a winning combination."
This is an updated version of an article that previously appeared on Cretive Bloq. Do you agree with our picks? What did we miss out? What design is your favourite? Let us know in the comments box below!