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"I can envision no more perfect visual representation of my Dune world than John Schoenherr's careful and accurate illustrations."
Frank Herbert[src]

John Carl Schoenheer (July 5, 1935 – April 8, 2010) was an American illustrator with a decades long career, working mainly in book illustrations between 1958 and 2007, nearly half a century.

In 1964, he created black-and-white sketch illustrations for the serialization of Dune by Frank Herbert in Analog magazine.

When Dune was published in 1965, he created the book's dust jacket, the very first book cover of any edition of Dune. In the following decades, his efforts in illustrating the book series continued every few years.

In the 1970s, Schoenherr created new accompanying illustrations for the serialization of Children of Dune, revisiting the collaborative effort with Herbert from a decade ago.

1978 saw the publication of The Illustrated Dune, an illustrated edition of Dune, for which Schoenherr created 33 new black-and-white sketch illustrations, 8 full-colour painting illustrations, and a full-color book cover (depicting a sandworm emerging from under the surface of Arrakis).

Frank Herbert commented in 1980 that throughout the 1960s and 1970s, John Schoenherr was able to recreate his mental image of characters and setting elements from the Dune universe - particularly the sandworms, baron Harkonnen, or the imperial Sardaukar - with amazing accuracy. Herbert found this all the more impressive, since he hadn't provided personal feedback to the illustrator, Schoenherr only having the text of the novel(s) to use as a source of inspiration.

In many ways, John Schoenherr wrote the book - or, rather, drew and painted the book - on the appearance, feel and atmosphere of Herbert's imagined far future.


For his art contributed to the original serialization of Dune in Analog, Schoenherr was nominated for and won the 1965 Hugo Award for "Best Professional Artist".


Serialization in Analog magazine (1963-1964, 1965)[]

Dune World (December 1963 - February 1964)[]

The Prophet of Dune (January-May 1965)[]

First edition of Dune (1965)[]

The Illustrated Dune (1978)[]

First edition of Heretics of Dune (1984)[]

First edition of Chapterhouse Dune (1985)[]


Schoenherr's illustrations and artworks of Dune, its characters and the Dune universe were influential on several generations of later artists illustrating the Dune series, as well as on various adaptations of the series in other media. Schoenherr's artworks, particularly his colour illustrations, have influenced the appearance of various elements in later screen adaptations: A slight influence on the design of the sardaukar used in the 1984 theatrical film, on the appearance of the Fremen, their stillsuits and the rocky areas of the Arrakis deserts in the two Sci-Fi Channel miniseries, as well as on the appearance of baron Harkonnen and other elements in the 2020s theatrical adaptations.

Comparisons between Schoenherr's illustrations and depictions of characters, landscapes and technology in various adaptations.

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