Happy New Year!


Inerviewed By Your Cavern Art Blog

I was interviewed recently by Guillaume from Your Cavern, a really great Digital Art blog. If you don’t already know it, Your Cavern is a really great site for discovering digital artists of all genres and styles - well worth a visit!

You can read my interview here

Site Update

as hopefully you have noticed, I have updated the site - it’s the main reason that I haven’t posted too much recently.

As well as a new look, the site features improved galleries - with a move to non-Flash image animations. Do let me know how it looks for you.

I have also resurrected the ‘Downloads & Links’ page, adding a selection of resource links that I find useful. These are principally for C4D/modelling resources.

Any feedback you have can be sent to me using the ‘contact’ link at the foot of the page or the Contact Form.

Latest Work: The Tannhauser Gate

The origins of this image… A month or so ago, I re-watched the original Cowboy Bebop TV series, and I was reminded how much I liked the concept used for hyperspace travel - particularly the design of the hyperspace gates. The design reminds me of an old fashioned monocle… That got me thinking about doing an image that involved a hyperspace gate and the gate as some sort of lens (as in focusing energy).

Anyway, fast forward a few weeks and I watched Blade Runner for the zillionth time…Roy Batty’s speech, uttered just before he dies, contains the lines “I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate” - and I knew the gate that I had to show in my image.

Tannhauser Gate - Thumb

As I set out modelling the gate, I still had the concept of a lens in my mind… When I was a young teen, my parents bought me a Russian Zenit E SLR one Christmas. The funny little lens that that camera came with is essentially the model for my gate design. In terms of modelling, it is very, very simple - so simple in fact, that I felt compelled to dress it up a little with the “field generator” thingies sticking out the front!

The worm hole effect in the centre of the hyperspace gate went through a lot of iterations before I got to something that didn’t look too cartoony, but still gave the type of effect I was looking for. The texture for the worm hole is on a funnel-shaped mesh to give a feeling of depth appropriate to a vortex effect producing a tunnel.

Now. To get very arty on you: The composition of the image is very deliberate and a homage to the British scifi illustrator Tony Roberts. If you are a fan of 70’s scifi book covers or the Terran Trade Authority books, then you know Tony’s work. In his images set in space, Tony played visual games with the arrangement of the planets (and sometimes spherical spaceships) - I’m (trying to) do the same here; I set out principle spherical shapes of the main planet, the principle body of the gate, the “mouth” of the gate and the multiple shadows created by it. Then, there are the counterpoint spheres of the two moons and the centre of the wormhole(!!!) Happy

That’s about it.

Rendered in one take in C4D, post production in Photoshop with Nik Filters.

The main planet was (as ever) created using Michael Welters ‘Atmosphere’ plug in. This is the first outing for my own (16k px) “Star Trek planet” textures - an attempt to create a planet similar to those from ST-TOS and the first few seasons of ST-TNG. I’m not sure I succeeded - but the planet does look OK. The star ship is actually an unfinished ship from another image I’m working on, so you’ll see that again at some point!

As with most of my recent work, I’m still in “realistic” mode - so there is a single point of (distant) light to simulate the system’s star.

In terms of textures, the main planet textures are mine, the moon textures are (I think) from Marlin Studios, as are the principle textures of the hyperspace gate. The gate also uses a few textures by Philip K. The starship textures are mine, not that you can see them! The star field is one the 3 that I recently added to my DevianArt Resources gallery for people to download.

Riveted Hull Plates Texture - PSD Template

Hot on the heels of the starfield resources, I have been making some more hull textures...

You can find the PSD template over at DeviantArt, in my Resources gallery

I wanted an irregular riveted hull look for an image and most of the existing textures I had were rubbish - including the Total Textures scifi pack (which I have paid for twice now, and many of the textures still don’t have Normal, Specular or (where necessary) Luminance maps - more fool me!)

However, I did like the pattern of one of the textures in the Total Textures scifi, so using that as inspiration, I created this set of textures. I used a number of base source metal textures, dirt maps and so on, to get a variety of different hull finishes. I have added a choice of bump maps and Normal maps (strength, level of detail) as well as a Specular map

Size: 1024x1024 px
Colour Mode : RGB

Riveted Hull Plates

The layers in the PSD download are as follows:

Riveted Hull Dirty Grey Metal
Riveted Hull Dirty Silver
Riveted Hull Dirty White
Riveted Hull Green (was going for a sort of beat-up dropship look)
Riveted Hull Mottled Metal (this is the texture used in the sample image)
Riveted Hull Silver-Blue

Riveted Hull Bump 1
Riveted Hull Bump 2 (Strong)

Riveted Hull Normal 1
Riveted Hull Normal 2 (very strong - it’s at 30% in the sample image)

Riveted Hull Specular

For those non-Photoshop users out there, you can download the textures as a zipped pack of PNG’s here.

Use : other than claiming that these textures are your work, knock yourself out with them - I hope you find the textures useful and It would be great to see how you use them in your art.

Starfield resources

I have posted three Starfield images in jpeg form over at Deviantart

The three starfields feature various densities of stars, from sparse (ish) to busy. All are as follows:

Size: 5400x3600 px
Colour Mode : RGB


If you use them, let me know over at DeviantArt.

Spacewreck Revisited

A space wreck image - this is how I started out! Also, this particular image - more accurately, this particular space wreck - I have done before too… A loooong time ago I built the space wreck carcass in Carrara and made this illustration.

I was never entirely happy with that version, so exported the space wreck and updated it in C4D, fleshed it out a little, greebled it a little more and re-textured. Some 2-3 of the larger pieces of flotsam floating around the hull are from Jedilaw’s greeble pack.

Ringed Gas Giant Spacewreck-Thumb

I have to say that I’m still not happy with the resulting image; to a large degree that’s because I’ve tried to have my cake and eat it. I have tried to make the image as real as possible in an attempt to convey the cold, empty vastness of space - hence the hard sunlight. At the same time, I have tried to keep the image interesting with the fantastical nebula and so on. The lighting and camera angle meant I had to cheat very slightly with some infill on the spacewreck hull.

The ringed gas giant texture is mine and I’m quite pleased with it… The planet is actually two spheres, the outer having a translucent cloud texture derived from the principle texture. It hasn’t given the sense of depth I was hoping for, but still looks ok. The texture for the rings came from Deviantart, but I can’t remember who the artist was - if it’s you, let me know and I’ll add a link.

The textures for the moons came from Marlin Studios. The asteroids I made by combining ESO stock and running them through Crazybump for the Normals and Specular maps. All the textures for the space wreck hull are mine, some downloadable here in my DeviantArt Resources gallery.

The nebula I made using a new (for me) technique in Photoshop - I blended a fractal nebula I made in JWildfire with my usual technique for Nebula creation (starting with cloud stock). The technique has promise I think, but needs more work.

Modelled and rendered in C4D. Post work in Photoshop

Cargo Vessel Design

I’ve had a little bit more time recently, so went back to a book cover project I was approached to do by an author to do at the beginning of this year.

The author approached me because he had seen this image, the ship design being similar to a ship he imagined in his latest book. We swapped several emails, but I eventually turned down the project for several reasons, not least that I wouldn’t have been able to get to it until April at the earliest.

I recently came across the emails again and they contained a basic illustration of the protagonists ship, as well paragraph’s from the book describing the ship. For the hell of it, I decided to have a crack at the ship. The key thing about the ship (and why the author liked my other illustration) is that the ship is a cargo vessel, with an external/visible bay that holds 3 containers.

Looking at the authors basic sketch again, it reminded me of something and so I dived into my folder of images of designs I like - as I looked through them I came across this. I knew that was basically the overall shape I wanted - more of a wedge than the authors sketch. The other thing on my mind was Gerry Anderson; I knew I couldn’t do a cargo vessel with an exterior container bay without referencing his work. The man that brought us Thunderbird 2 and the Space 1999 Eagle just had to be honoured in this somewhere. I was wandering through the Space 1999 catacombs when I saw a reference to this and this ...

Chris Foss AND an Eagle. That was it!

The key elements of design specified by the author were the location of the ships main windows, tractor beam device, cargo pods/containers, internal hold and access door, as well as main engines. My design honours these whilst stealing liberally taking inspiration from the Homeworld ship design, Foss’s early Eagle design and the Eagle design we know and love.

However, hopefully the result is something original!
cargo lifter thumb

I worked out the ship’s dimensions as carefully as possible to accommodate the internal layout as specified by the author - the one change I have made (had to) is to push a chunk of the main engines outside the hull at the rear.

I am pretty please with the cabin/cockpit area, as it melds the authors original sketches, the Homeworld ship and Chris Foss’s illustration together in a workable design. From the side you can see the Eagle-shaped window design. Again, with the Eagle in mind, the cockpit interior is largely a cream-beige colour scheme.

You can see further Eagle touches with the Airlock door, the red/white chevron around the FCS thrusters and landing thrusters (recalling the command module red/white livery) and the tubular framework in the cargo bay itself.

To save time, I re-used landing legs, engines, RCS thrusters, lights and comms array meshes that I had built for other projects. The cargo containers are by Dex and the landing bay is by Axeman3d, modded and retextured by me.

The other textures are from all over: the landing bay textures are mostly Dosch, the ship textures are mostly mine - many available here in Resources Gallery. The cargo container textures are Dex and Total Textures.

Sorry about the gratuitous use of flare; I have recently watched both the awful JJ-Treks and not yet fully recovered.

Chris Foss Inspired Image

Found some more time for a quickie render… This time, I chose as my inspiration this image from Chris Foss. My intention wasn’t to reproduce the image, but to try and catch the spirit of the image…

In to the Nebula-final

As I’m still pretty busy with other work at the moment I saved time by using a free model as the basis of the floating city (by Avalon3d and available here). I modified this by building cylindrical towers for top and bottom, removing a lot of detail from the edges, adding a comms system and, finally, greebling the crap out of the upper hull plates (using the Greebler plugin).

Foss’s original image has several delta-winged ships of varying design which I melded into a single ship as I wanted a simpler overall image.

The main hull texture for the floating city is from the Dosch Scifi textures collection. All other textures on the floating city, including the windows, are mine. The main hull texture for the delta-winged ship is from the Marlin Studios scifi collection. The decals/markings and windows are, again, mine.

As ever, the image was modelled and rendered in Cinema 4D with Photoshop post-work.

Arthur C Clarke Style Personal Space Pod

I don’t have much spare time at the moment, so in what time I do have I’ve been picking up partially completed projects and trying to finish them off...

A project that I started in 2011 (and which was supposed to be a quick and simple modelling exercise) was to realise the original space pod design from Arthur C Clarke’s short stories of the 1950’s and 60’s. Most people know ACC’s space pod concept as realised in 2001: A Space Odyssey, however the design as described in his short stories such as ‘Who’s There?’ and ‘Summertime on Icarus’ is much more of a stubby cylinder.

Clarke-style Spacesut Pod

I first came across Arthur’s short scifi stories when some were included in a (British) comic I read (and which included some fantastic accompanying illustrations - I would love to know who did them). Later as a young teen, I found two collections of ACC’s short stories in the school book shop. The books included his “The Other Side of the Sky” and “Venture to the Moon” series of stories. ACC imagined that much of the space station building that would occur in the 1970’s (!!!) onwards would essentially require a tiny spaceship with arms - for manoeuvrability and also because spacesuit gloves have many issues for astronauts.

This was the future I expected to grow up in....

Sadly, ACC entirely missed the fact that transistors would quickly replace vacuum tubes and make the need for space stations redundant - they would be replaced by purpose specific satellites. The geostationary orbit that ACC described for space stations and satellites in a 1945 technical paper is still sometimes called the Clarke Orbit.

This image was modelled and rendered entirely in Cinema 4D, the Earth was created (as ever) with using Michael Welters ‘Atmosphere’ plug-in. There was a tiny bit of Photoshop post-production.

In terms of style I have tried to bridge ACC’s description with the production style of 2001: A Space Odyssey, including the lack of background stars. The girder is red, of course, because the bare girders of the under-construction space station we see in 2001 are red. Happy

The pod’s combined camera and lights module, fitted to the top of the “helmet” is a little in-joke: Without the strong sunlight and shadows it looks just like Wall-E Happy