2012

More Gallery Updates & New Images - Oct 2012

Yes I know, it’s been a while! I have been fighting something of a creative block of late - I’m sure brought on by the realisation that (the dismal) summer is over and that is as good as the weather is going to get this year!

Anyway, I have a new image for you - an idea I have been kicking around for a while. It’s called ‘Preparing For Take Off’ - yes I know, very original - the background is an image I took on a flight from Paris to Ajaccio.

Preparing For Take Off

I have added this book cover design as a faux covers to the Spacecraft gallery - so please take a look. Happy

Do let me know - via Facebook - what you think!

New Images & Gallery Updates - Sept 2012

I have been working on a few new book cover designs over the last month or so - both featuring spacecraft that I designed some time ago.

The first features my freighter; I built this model just over a year ago, the design is inspired by various craft from Gerry Anderson series - including Thunderbird 2, the moon shuttle (and its mother craft) from UFO and the superb Eagle from Space 1999. The Sikorsky Sky Crane was also an influence. The distinctive blue-and-white striped pain job is a direct steal from Chris Foss’s excellent cover from ‘The Early Asimov, Vol 1’.

Asteroid Mining - Special Delivery-thumb

The second image features the flyer that previously made a guest appearance in my September 2011 free wallpaper ‘preparing For Take Off’. In this new image you can see it’s slightly bizarre design much more clearly... The design of the flyer comes from two main sources; firstly, the space pod from series 3 of the 1960’s TV show ‘Lost In Space’ and secondly this piece of concept art for Homeworld.

Low Orbit Thumb

I have added both of these book cover designs as faux covers to the Spacecraft gallery - so please take a look. Happy

Do let me know - via Facebook - what you think!

September Wallpapers & Calendars Now Available!

Whooopps! I’m very late with my September wallpapers!

For my September wallpaper and calendar collection I wanted to do a big planet with a really gnarly texture - I ended up doing three! Imaginatively, the illustration is called ‘Trinity’ and is 100% Photoshop.
Trinity-thumb

The planet textures came from all sorts of places, and each of the planets comprises multiple textures in layers - textures include slate, granite, moss covered rocks and so on.

As usual, you will find English and French calendar versions, the packs for each language contain a choice of widescreen sizes up to 3200x2000 (2560x1440 for the calendars). The standard iPad/tablet sized wallpaper looks great on my phone. I have also added an iPad retina hi-res version.

Get it from the Downloads & Links section

Gallery Update & More Resources @ DeviantArt

I have added some additional book cover designs to each of the galleries - so please take a look. Happy

I have also added some additional resources (textures) to my DeviantArt Gallery

Do let me know - via Facebook - what you think!

August Wallpapers & Calendars Now Available!

Hey all,
this months wallpaper is a draft image I produced for the “Sol” competition by #Inner Space Group over at Deviantart . You can find my final image and competition entry in my DeviantArt gallery. The Sun, planet and starfield were created in Photoshop.

Out of the fire-Aug2012-thumb

As usual, you will find English and French calendar versions, the packs for each language contain a choice of widescreen sizes up to 3200x2000 (2560x1440 for the calendars). I have also added an iPad retina hi-res version. The standard iPad/tablet sized wallpaper looks great on my phone.

Get it from the Downloads & Links section

Enjoy!

Latest works: Starship Arrival

I have been in a Chris Foss mood over the past few days and this image is the result!

So here we go - totally produced in Cinema 4D; the large planet was created using Michael Welters ‘Atmosphere’ plug in. Not that you can really tell, but I used my own textures with Atmosphere for the Earth-like planet. The small moons were produced with PXG Planet, with NASA textures from the moons of Saturn and Jupiter.

Starship-arrival

The ship hull texture is my own (the specular layer is available from my DeviantArt page) as are the stripes and star decals. Other textures are by Total Textures and Marlin Studios.

Latest works: Artifact

I have always liked producing images of alien terrains; I started (in what now feels like a million years ago) with Bryce, then Cararra. However, as each successive build of Carrara becomes ever more unreliable on the Mac I have attempted to do more terrain work within Cinema 4D.

I don't have V13, which has additional terrain features, but it's still possible to produce some passable terrains for 'tight' scenes. My main problem has been the terrain materials having too much specular reflection, which I just haven't been able to kill.

Artifact-final

Anyway, overall I think this came out pretty well; it depicts a scene where two astronauts discover an abandoned alien installation. Having recently seen Prometheus, this image is very influenced by the look and feel of Ridley Scott’s film. The artifact is intended to suggest both the Engineers (iconic) ship and the domed structures they are buried beneath. I almost made the spacesuits blue, too, but settled for blue detailing - white gives a much more satisfying glow in post production.

There is also a faux book cover version in the gallery.

July Wallpapers & Calendars Now Available!

Hey,
I have just uploaded my July wallpaper - it’s called ‘New World Reconnoitre’

New World Reconnoiter-Thumb
For my July wallpapers I wanted to produce an image that was totally 3d and also featured a realistically lit spaceship - I haven’t been happy with my space scene lighting at all.

So here we go - totally produced in Cinema 4D; the planet was created using Michael Welters ‘Atmosphere’ plug in. I used my own textures with Atmosphere to produce ‘New Terra’ (including a 16k cloud texture).

As usual, you will find English and French calendar versions, the packs for each language contain a choice of widescreen sizes up to 3200x2000 (2560x1440 for the calendars). I have also added an iPad retina hi-res version. The standard iPad/tablet sized wallpaper looks great on my phone.

Get it from the Downloads & Links section

Enjoy!

More Gallery Additions

I have added some additional faux covers to the ‘Spacewrecks’ gallery..

Do let me know - via Facebook - what you think!

Gallery Additions

I have added some additional faux covers to the ‘Spacecraft’ and “Other Worlds’ galleries...

Do let me know - via Facebook - what you think!

June Wallpapers & Calendars Now Available!

It’s wallpaper time!

For my June wallpaper and calendar collection I thought I would create a space scene that celebrated Ridley Scott’s new Sci-Fi film ‘Prometheus’ which opened in Paris yesterday. In his original ‘Alien’ as well as ‘Prometheus’, the planet visited by humans is a moon around a ringed gas giant.
Gas Giant-Thumb
No 3d work in this months image - everything was created in Photoshop. The planet textures came from all sorts of places; for instance, the moon in the foreground is created from a montage of satellite pictures of Moroccan desert. Because of the angle, I had dreadful problems with the gas giant rings - it was very difficult to get the perspective right and to ensure they were recognisable as rings. I’m still not convinced they look right.

As usual, you will find English and French calendar versions, the packs for each language contain a choice of widescreen sizes up to 2560x1440. The standard iPad/tablet sized wallpaper looks great on my phone. I have also added an iPad retina hi-res version.

Get it from the Downloads & Links section

Enjoy!

Back From Hols, Added Resources Over At DeviantArt

So, back from sunny, beautiful Corsica to beautiful but incredibly wet Paris - it really is horrible!

Corsica is just a brilliant island; rugged inland with the most incredible mountains and a coast of lovely sandy coves. Whenever possible, my wife and I spend our May holiday there; early May is perfect as the island is still quiet. We returned to the area around Olmeto and Propriano for this visit. As ever, we took thousands of photos - and, I’m not sure why, but something triggered memories from my youth... As a teenager I was a big fan of Roger Dean and the granite rock textures as well as the shapes of the rocks themselves reminded my strongly of his work.
Campomoro - Roger Dean carved rocks - 6

...and this one also reminds of the derelict from the film ‘Alien’!! Happy

Anyway, you can judge for yourselves! I have added a selection of pictures and texture resources to my portfolio over at DeviantArt.

May Wallpapers & Calendars Now Available!

Hey all,
the #Inner Space Group over at Deviantart is holding a competition for illustration with the theme of “Sol” and I have used my entry for that competition as this months wallpaper. The image was inspired by an Arthur C Clarke short story called 'Summertime on Icarus' in which a research spaceship gets to within seventeen million miles of the Sun, shielded by the asteroid Icarus.

The Sun and starfield were created in Photoshop, whilst the planetoid and spaceship were created in Cinema 4D. The spaceship is deliberately in the style of the great Peter Elson.

Safety in the shadows-thumb

As usual, you will find English and French calendar versions, the packs for each language contain a choice of widescreen sizes too. The standard iPad/tablet sized wallpaper looks great on my phone. I have also added a ‘new iPad’ retina hi-res version for all of you new iPad users.

Download from on the ‘Downloads & Links’ page... Enjoy!

April Wallpapers & Calendars Now Available!

Hey all,
Spring is here, it’s the end of March and time for a new wallpaper to brighten up your desktop! This month, my image is a Photoshop creation called ’Light Wave’. Following my wife’s request for ‘warmer’ images, I’m still trying to weave as much green in to my images to reflect the arrival of warmer weather.
Light Wave April 2012

As usual, you will find English and French calendar versions, the packs for each language contain a choice of widescreen sizes too. The standard iPad/tablet sized wallpaper looks great on my phone. I have also added a ‘new iPad’ retina hi-res version for all of you new iPad users.

Download from on the ‘Downloads & Links’ page... Enjoy!

The 2nd Drachir Novel - Evolution of the cover: Texturing The Space Dock

Hey all,
in this fourth blog entry on the development of the second Drachir book cover for Daric Books I’m going to talk about the texturing.

So, with the modelling essentially done, the tasks left were lighting and texturing. With regard to texturing, again I took my cues from the cranes in the picture of the dock - yellow.
nouveau_dock

A quick internet search located some good yellow-painted metal textures with general wear and rust. I also stumbled across some futuristic textures that included some with yellow panelling by philipk. Additional textures I made, some I took from Total Texture V7 Sci-Fi pack. To flesh-out the textures, where I didn’t have Normal, Diffuse or Specular maps, I use nDo and Crazy Bump. I personally prefer the normals created by nDo, but Crazy Bump is great for producing some of the other layers.

The textures were then built up within Cinema 4D in the same way, with Colour, Diffuse, Reflection, Bump and/or Normal, Specular, Specular Colour and Illumination layers. Sampling for all texture images was set to Circle. For the metals, the settings were essentially the same - the principle differences being Specular and Illumination. being set to either Phong (bare metals) or Oren Nayar (Painted metals)

Diffuse layers were added in at just 3%, but set to affect Specular and Reflection.
Voila_Capture82

Reflection was set as shown
Voila_Capture83

For bare metals, Specular was set
Voila_Capture85

For painted metals, Specular was set like this
Voila_Capture86

Specular colour was always ‘Add’ed to the metal texture
Voila_Capture87

The illumination layer was set to either Phong (bare metals) or Oren Nayar (Painted metals)

And the finished result:
Asteroid Basev4-for howto-cutaway

The control room you can see through the window is a modified picture of NASA’s mission control. You can see the finished cover at Daric’s Online Book Store.


Book Release - Adventures Of Drachir Vol II from Daric Books

Hey all,
As you know from my ‘walk-through’ posts, I have been working on a couple of covers for Daric Books. The books central character - the eponymous Drachir - is a loveable rogue who wanders the universe in his ship, The Nevis. Daric Books have just released the second novel in the Drachir series. You can see the cover and buy the book at the Daric Online Bookstore

As with the first Drachir novel, to celebrate the release of the book I have created a wallpaper pack featuring Drachir’s ship in all its glory
The-Nevis-in-Orbit-WEB

You can download the pack from the Downloads and Links section. Enjoy!

The 2nd Drachir Novel - Evolution of the cover: Adding Detail

The next stage was to flesh out the detailing. Having started this process with the entrance lights, I continued on with the ceiling lights. I first I was going to go for a small number of large lights, a bit like the Station V lighting... Then looking at the hangers, they all seemed to have multiple lights. I also figured that a small number of large lights might give me a scale issue too... So, in the end a Star Wars dock style lighting look won the day. I just used simple polygon strips, which I could texture appropriately later on.

Having finished the dock itself, it was then time to flesh out the interior with ‘fixtures and fittings’! The first elements were pipes along the side walls; I was originally going o make this sagging cable ducting - but then decided that I wanted to fix other elements to it and also that the effect would be lost at the book cover size anyway.

For the pipe clamps, I was extremely lazy and just edited the Capsule primitive. Insert Capsule > Make Editable > Delete half > Close Polygon Hole > Delete other half > Extrude > Fill Polygon Hole.
Voila_Capture77

From the pipes, I wanted to hang information screens - again these were a collection of primitives pushed-and-pulled into shape. Similarly, crates that were to be littered around the dock were just cubes. I also wanted some sort of computer terminals for ground staff to use... Luckily, I found a low poly ‘industrial console’ model that was perfect with a tiny bit of hacking.

The key piece was to be some sort of crane - remember the picture that I found of the modern dock:
nouveau_dock

I wanted something that suggested that big yellow cranes... However, I also didn’t want to model the crane - again, as the detail would be lost at the book cover size. So, reducing it to the key elements seemed to be about the uprights and horizontal girders....

The uprights were super easy: cube primitive, made editable and pulled into a an upright rectangle. At the same height as the cut in the dock wall, I made a cut through the cube. I then pulled the top of the cube to get an angled shape to follow the dock wall shape. This was Immediately followed by a ‘Doh!’ moment, when I realised the wall pipes would be there - so increase the angle!. When I was satisfied with the angle, I duplicated the cube object and the put the original plus copies in a group. The group itself I places under a symmetry object and viola! The uprights done...

Voila_Capture78

On to the girders... I started with a cube primitive which I shaped into a rectangle and made editable. I then applied a bevel to the long edges. This I then duplicated twice, resulting in three objects which I then arranged into a triangle. Next, I introduced a cylinder primitive which a shaped long and thin. Positioning this first cylinder, I then duplicated it, changing the rotation ‘P’ and ‘B’ values until the four cylinders were arranged as necessary. When all were in position, I placed these objects in a group and duplicated the group to form the crane girder system.

Voila_Capture80

I was going to fashion a crude hook and pulley system (I know... but we know what it is!) but I found one on the interwebs which was just fine.

That’s it... Next, onto the texturing and soon, the big reveal!

Best...

The 2nd Drachir Novel - Evolution of the cover: Dock Basic Layout

Hey all,
this is the second in my series on the book cover development for the upcoming follow-up Drachir novel, from publisher Daric Books. In this entry I’m going to talk about creating the basic Dock structure. As ever, I’m modelling in Cinema 4D.

In terms of modelling, the hanger was largely extremely simple; I started with a cube, shaped it to be more rectangular and put a cut about a quarter of a way up the height of object. I then narrowed the top to give me a more interesting profile. Once I had the overall shape, I then got rid of one end.

Voila_Capture72


I then did some extruding around the front lip; I hadn’t yet decided on my strategy for showing more of the Space Station and so wanted to hedge my bets. A proud lip/edge around the dock entrance would allow me to easily blend the port into any other structure I needed to build. Using Loop Select in Edge mode, I selected the front edge. Then switching to Extrude with the edge angle set to 90 degrees, I extruded as shown.
Voila_Capture73

Taking my cue from the 2001’s Station V and the Death Star docks, I gave myself some “power bulges” to the back and one side - I would use these to hint at other rooms/decks.
Voila_Capture75

Voila_Capture74

I also decided that some sort quay would be visually interesting; something that visually identified the particular dock you were arriving at, guiding lights like a runway and so on. So, I pulled out a section of the lip I had built around the entrance and extended it. To make it look solid and robust, I used Inner Extrude and Extrude to create some crude panelling. That was the basic dock shape done. Taking another look at 2001’s station V and Star Wars Death Star docks, both used lights strips if various kinds to indicate the position of the dock entrance. So, I cut myself an area just inside the hanger entrance and also used Inner Extrude to provide a channel within the lip I had created around the entrance.
Voila_Capture76

At each point I also gave defined selections of polygons a Texture Tag, which saves loads of time come the texturing process.

More soon - the next entry will talk about adding detail.

N.

The 2nd Drachir Novel - Evolution of the cover: Concept

Hey all,
I have been working on the cover for the second Drachir novel from Daric Books and - with the release not far away now - I thought I would take you through how I got to the final image, as I did for the first novel. The idea for the cover for the second Drachir novel in fact came from the first cover. For that the author, RW Finlan, had requested the scene include a space station, and a space station - Mad Jacks - appears in the stories.

The scene I had in mind had The Nevis - Drachir’s ship - leaving Mad Jack’s space station... I already had a partly built ‘space hanger’, so I began to look around at images of space stations, aircraft hangers and so on, to settle on the look, the mood of the image I wanted to create.

Probably the two most famous spaceship docks/hangers in sci-fi are from 2001; A Space Odyssey and Star Wars. Looking at these, I realised that I didn’t want either - though the 2001 Station V dock is great and clearly influenced the Star Wars dock with its visible work areas on other levels.
2001 Station V


Aries Docking

kenobi-vadera in hanger

I then looked at military aircraft hangers
hangar-79

NASA’s Shuttle hanger
discovery-in-hangar

hangar-nasa

Ultimately I decided that I didn’t want to follow any of these particularly either - although it was clear I would have to have elements of each of them. What I wanted, though, was an element of current sea-faring docks; the cranes and so on that indicate a busy port, the loading and unloading of freight, of supplies, fuel, etc.

dock_du_port

In my next entry, I’ll talk about modelling the basic hanger design and starting to flesh out the detail.

Ciao

March Wallpapers & Calendars Now Available!

Curiosity on the way to discovery-thumb
I have just uploaded the March wallpaper and calendars - yes, it’s already the end of February! This month it’s a composite Cinema 4D render, with Photoshop backdrop. My wife complained to me bitterly that the previous few images were too cold and that she wanted colours that would remind her of Spring. So, here we go! An interstellar probe sent from Earth approaching a planet deep in the heart of a hydrogen-rich nebula - hence the green! I have named it ‘Curiosity on the way to discovery’, in honour of the Mars mission.

As usual, you will find English and French versions, the packs for each language contain a choice of widescreen sizes too. The iPad/tablet size wallpaper works great on my HTC phone.

As ever, you’ll find them on the ‘Downloads & Links’ page... Enjoy!

Latest Book Cover Design

I have been doing some more work on book cover design, the result being very Peter Elson-like. I have called it ‘Grand Prix’, as it looks very much like a race to me - albeit a futuristic low-orbital one!

The cover currently doesn’t have a home, so if you have a project it would for, do let me know.

Grand-Prix

Dashboard Netnewswire Theme!


Dashboard Thumb

And to prove that my creativity hasn’t completely deserted me, i have made another theme for the excellent Netnewswire RSS Reader. Made with CSSEdit and Textmate, ‘Dashboard’ uses Lucida and Helvetica to blend in with your Mac desktop. As with my previous styles, it is intended to be easy on the eye and also provide ad-blocking.

You can download the Dashboard theme in the Downloads & Links section.

Enjoy!

February Wallpapers & Calendars Now Available!

In a galaxy far away Thumb

Well, that’s January 2012 gone! I have to say, I found January tough-going... Just sapped my motivation and creativity completely! However, I have just uploaded the February calendars - I have created the image, “In a galaxy far away”... You will find English and French versions, the packs for each language contain a choice of widescreen sizes as well as one for iPads/tablets (looks great on my HTC smartphone!)

As ever, you’ll find them on the ‘Downloads & Links’ page... Enjoy!