Mars 2050

This is my second attempt at creating an image using compositing. There has been a lot of "news" about possible manned-Mars missions recently, nothing - of course - to do with the success of the film "The Martian"!

Mars 2050-thumb

The background image is from one of the NASA Mars Rovers. These images are great in many ways - especially as NASA has learnt that the public love to see the Rover's tracks in them. However, they are often built from images taken by the Rovers panoramic camera - and that does present an issue with regard to shadows. I tried to minimise the issue of shadow direction by selecting a chunk of the original image near the centre. In the original, the Rover had obviously done some manoeuvring and I didn't want those tracks in my image. That meant a bit of Photoshop work (the shallow gully/dry river bed-style terrain in front of the vehicle is not there in the original). However I did shoot myself in the foot, as you can see the shadows are a little different.

My Mars Crawler is based on a mesh by Kenny Mitchell (I think). I turned it into an open back configuration, added the crane, observation bubble - and also tried to give it some Chris Foss-style wheels. They didn't turn out the way I was hoping, but they look OK. I also gave it an interior, but you can barely see it.

The base in the distance is actually one I built for a moon base image - I may get around to it at some point. The ship is based on a super retro magazine or book cover I snipped from somewhere - I think from Dark Roasted Blend.

Again, I put a deformer under the plane object to give more realistic shadows.

My biggest issue with this image has been the sky; it's quite featureless and after some processing (rendered in C4D then into Photoshop) it began to show some banding. I have done all the usual things to reduce the banding, but it's also why the imitation vignette effect is a bit heavier than I would normally do.

Again - like Solar Observatory - this was lit with a single sun and HDR sky. The HDR image was coloured to get it as close to the Mars sky colour as possible.

Solar Observatory

I decided to learn about compositing; I have been trying to create a number of images with mesh terrains, and they have basically killed my computer when trying to render. Compositing seemed offer me an optional way of crating some of the images in my head with fewer polys!

Solar Observatory-Thumb

This is a follow-up to this image, and takes place on a mostly terraformed Venus. This is an early outpost, a scientific community established to study the sun, particularly the solar wind (Venus has  little or no geo-magnetic field)

The main issue I ran into was building colour; the logical choice - white or off white - simply made it look like Mos Eisley!

The dome building was a simple half sphere; with my first thoughts for the image I did start modelling the interior and there are still remnants of that - a floor and lift shafts. The tower isn't mine at all - it's by Serg Sobolev and is part of the DCCGI Buildings collection, available over at

The solar wind detectors (the top) also started life as simple sphere objects.

The radio telescope is a NASA model, hacked a little bit, and sat on a version of the base used for the solar wind detectors.

The vehicles were actually built for another image - a Mars colony idea. They are essentially a single decker bus-sized vehicle on balloon tyres. They didn't turn out very interesting, but are fine for distance shots like this.

The background image is the Yelan desert in Iran - I came across it on the interwebs and it was pretty much exactly what I was looking for. You'll get an idea of its real scale when I tell you that the tracks my vehicles are following are actually the single set of tyre marks left by a 4x4!

To get some irregularities in the shadows of buildings and vehicles, I added a deformer object to each of the plane objects. This also enabled me to create an irregular terrain around the base of the buildings.

I kept the texturing pretty minimal; the concrete texture on the buildings is from Total Textures "Aged & Stressed", the Solar Wind Detector top is from Total Textures SciFi. The texture on the base of the SWD is by Philip K. The windows and the telescope whitish paint texture are mine.

The scene was lit with a single sun and HDR sky.


I mentioned in my post a month or so ago for Progress that I have several robot/mecha style projects on the go. So here is another of them: Prototype.


Some time in 2013, when I still bothered to subscribe to Daz3D stuff I got a freebie model of some sort of hanger for Mecha's which looked interesting. I thought that it could be useful for something and so filed it away. By chance, later the same year, I came across an mecha with a cool design and so filed that away with the Daz freebie. Then forgot about them for 3 years (I am fairly certain it came from Turbosquid - but after a few searches can't find it there now. However, I wasn't searching for mecha or similar when I found it… Usually I'm looking for background scene elements that I can't be bothered to make myself. So, it must be up with an odd description).

Watching the recent Ghost In The Shell (animated) movie made me think about doing something with a mecha in it. Ghost In The Shell movies always have great hardware, including armoured vehicles and mecha and I was interested in doing something along those lines.

Hunting through my snippets folder for ideas, I found the Mecha bay/hanger/workshop thing and mech walker thing. I could see the image straight away - which wasn't what I ended up with!

The original idea was an shot looking up at the mecha from low down, so that it towers over the viewer, the hanger around it. So, firstly I built out the hanger - gave it walls, ceiling, fluorescent fittings around each floor and the main ceiling. I put in an open lift/elevator at the back and then started fleshing out mainframe computers and so on, on each level. There are ceiling air ducts… You name it.

The mecha model was good but too spindly. Also, I wanted to give the impression that it was being assembled as a prototype with parts being supplied from different manufacturers. So, the first thing I did was add a new rotator for the legs and body, as the original was too spindly/lightweight. I Also added more armour around the top of the leg joints and replaced the feet. I then altered the cockpit a little so that I could get the pilot seat in there, put a hinge mechanism on the cockpit cover and so on.

I played with various weapon combinations, including some rotating turrets and a Gatling gun, but eventually chose a classic combo of missile launchers, "hand" cannons and some front facing machine guns.

To make the mecha look like it was being assembled from different sources, I textured them in various colours. I went through dozens of iterations of this. For example, the mecha shown on the screen on the ground level, comes from a period when I had some parts of the mecha in jungle camo, others in flat grey paintwork.

I could never get this idea to work though and gave up, settling on digital camo - though even that went through several iterations.

After all of that, I could not get the image to work with the camera looking upwards. I tried every possible angle, I tried all sort of focal lengths… But it simply never worked. Then one day when I had all but given up, I was whizzing around with the default camera and stopped pretty much as the render image.

Lights. The scene has LOTS of lights. There are 20 lights over the ground and first floor, each for the fluorescent tubes I put there. Then a load more for the upper level. All of the lights are tinted the colour of a cool fluorescent tube.

Textures: the mecha's digital camo is mine and in the Downloads section for you. A lot of the textures used for the hanger are Philip K and available from his ace website.

The mainframes are all simple shapes, again sporting textures by Philip K. A lot of the desktop computers and screens are supplied with C4D. Other scene elements are by Dex or freebies from TF3DM. The mecha control screen and one computer screen use textures from Total Texture Scifi pack.

Way Station

Way Station is an attempt to do 70's -ish space station image; now the interesting thing about that statement is that you don't actually see that many space stations in the art of that period. Look through the work of Foss, Hey, Elson, etc, etc and weirdly, space stations are strangely rare (especially given that they are a staple of the genre).

Way Station-thumb

Anyway, I had the image in my head - more Elson than Foss…. So off I went. In fact I was extremely lazy about things. The wheel part of the station I stole from my Tennhauser Gate image, so most of my effort went into the central section.

For some reason, I really struggled with the windows on this mage - I tried dozens of window textures: made from real, totally Photoshop, hybrid, different scales, colours…. You name it. However great they looked when I was making them, they didn't really work for this image. I remain deeply unhappy with the final effect.

I'm also unhappy with the visiting starship; this looks really interesting in any other image - but just looks like a butt plug here.

You have probably formed the impression that I'm unhappy with this image - and I am. It just isn't working for me at all. I have tried different lighting (it started off with lighting taking their colours from my background nebula image), angles, etc. Nothing has really brought the image alive for me.

So… Station textures are mostly Dosch. The windows are obviously mine the docking bay are Philip K. The starship textures are mine.

There were three lights for the scene (one backlighting, the sun and a fill for the shadows), plus an extra light in the docking bay.


I'm not sure why, but I have become a little bit fixated with robots recently…. I have 3-4 projects that I have been tinkering around with that feature a robot or mecha of some description.


This project, actually, wasn't ever intended to see the light day - it was a personal project for exploring volumetric lighting. Following the problems had had with volumetric lights in both Gold Rush and Wreck Of The Shuttle Peredur, I have continued to look for answers/solutions. This project was just a plaything for fiddling round with volumetric lights. I did discover some Sample Distance tricks which I need to try in both of those old projects.

Anyway, as this was about playing, I modelled absolutely nothing in this image. The robot is a freebie from PIxelLab (I did give him different hands). The pallet comes with C4D, the barrel, tools, cat and soft drink tin are all from TF3DM. The grass is by Nobiax on DeviantArt.

Part of the trick with this image was dirt; everything - including the cat - has dirt added in to the diffuse layer of the material. The yellow door material and red/white chevron are mine… The concrete is from Total Textures. The textures on the robot are built from images I found around the interwebs and created the additional layers in Photoshop and CrazyBump.

So eventually I ended up with this image and thought it actually worth sharing… In the end, it became as much about telling a story as it did learning about volumetric lights.

Sub Orbital Manoeuvres Sub Orbital Manoeuvres- 7-April-2016

Long time no posts, once again! :-/

This one has had quite a long gestation… I started the project last summer (2015), influenced by some articles on ESA's future shuttle project and the film Gravity.

Sub-Orbital Manoeuvers-thumb
Anyway, I decided to design my own shuttle, which didn't end up especially radicle, save for the outboard engines (and of course, they are recycled from other projects!). I did try to spice up the design by giving it a Syd Mead style cockpit design, though that didn't work out exactly… Trying to do that on a cylindrical mesh did my head in for some reason!

As the shuttle is intended to be an ESA vehicle, I wanted to show it in orbit over western Europe - as usual using Michael Welter's Atmosphere plug-in to create the Earth ( However, I just couldn't get that to look right… After 3-4 months of playing around with it when I could I gave up and tried some other ideas.

The one I settled on was this - the shuttle sliding into the night side of Earth as it adjusts its orbit for re-entry. That big cockpit allows some human drama to be created by revealing the crew. For me the major shame of this version is that you don't get to see the nice ESA mission decals I created for the shuttle.

Lighting was simple - the sun (from that direction obviously, but not the one you can see) and a little bit of gentle blue fill to give the shadows that touch of earth light.

What you see is pretty much what came out of C4D, though - of course - I did add the sun and I did adjust the colours just a little bit. I always find C4D renders a little flat.

Explorers Of The New Frontier

So… Full retro scifi mode here! I’m attempting full-on 1970’s - 80’s book cover, so including every trope I can:

• Futuristic spaceship/vehicle, centre stage - check!
• Yellow, orange or red sky - check!
• Lots of planets, one of which is a gas giant - check!
• Wispy atmosphere - check!

Explorers of the new frontier-thumb

The inspiration for this one is principally artist Peter Jones excellent cover for Heinlein’s ‘Orphans of the Sky’, but mixed with a big dose of Peter Elson (variously this one, this one, and this one)

The basis of the ship mesh comes from (I’m fairly certain) an unfinished project available on Kenny Mitchell’s (now defunct) website. I really liked the cockpit on that, but stripped away the wings and engines rebuilt the bottom, top and sides. 70’s, scifi was definitely about ducts and vents!

I added new wings (gull-wings, which I’m so proud of I will find another excuse to show this ship) and engines (which are from the ship I built here)

The alien language used in all the ship icons and logos is Marain, from Iain M Banks ‘Culture” books, care of the MarainScript font by Daniel Solis.

The ‘hexagon flower’ logo is a little tribute/nod to Peter Elson - he used it in this brilliant image.

Lighting was a Dosch HDR sky (I bought the pack over a decade ago and use them all the time, well worth the money). No 43 in the pack is a lovely golden cloud-filled sky, which provided a nicely tinted light for this image. I augmented the HDR with a fill light to create shadows at the angle I needed. The background I built in Photoshop, using a cloud stock image and planets I created years ago and have used many times in images you’ll see here in my gallery.

Texturing I kept very simple - the main texture is just a really pale grey in the colour channel with dirt in the diff layer. I did try a sort of Jonathan Ive look first - glossy and clean - but that did’t work.

My only niggle with this is image is the pilot(s) figure; my own astronauts aren’t ready - still rigging them - and so I dropped in a low-poly pilot figure by Christopher Schell. I really, really need to find time to sort the rigging on my figures!

Space Elevator, Kepler-22

Finished off another abandoned project - this one I originally started (so the Finder tells me) in July 2014.

As I have discussed elsewhere here and on dA, I grew up on the works of Arthur C Clarke, and so first encountered Space Elevators in The Fountains of Paradise (still have my copy!). Of course the concept was not even remotely new when ACC wrote about it; Konstantin Tsiolkovsky had beaten him to it by over 80 years. Space Elevators have become a common plot device - Iain M Banks ‘Feersum Endjinn’ is set in a crumbling, enormous State-sized city structure that includes a space elevator (referred to as the Tower or Fass(t) Tower). Ken Macleod’s ‘The Night Sessions’ has climactic scenes that take place on a space elevator (trying to avoid plot spoilers!).
Space Elevator-thumb
At the end of Banks’ Feersum Edjinn there are descriptions of the top of space elevator - it features hotels, museums, sports facilities just like a modern airport… And that was the picture I had in my mind when I came design the space elevator. In particular, how like today’s airports, do you manage thousands of travellers? So, here are hotels, parks and so on. My design has an internal dock for small (inter-system?) ships, but larger interstellar ships dock at one of the four arms at the top of the elevator.

My space elevator - like Bank’s - is a compression structure; that is, a structure but from the ground up (as opposed to the cables-plus-counterweight structure generally now proposed). Why did I put it on Kepler-22? Kepler-22 is larger than Earth and therefore a greater gravitational mass, requiring a greater escape velocity (and therefore fuel) to get in to space. Using space elevators therefore makes sense.

The mesh is a bit of a kit-bash; the central components are the base mesh I used in Cities in The Sky and Colony Station. The “environmental supply & control systems” on some the arms were also used in Colony Station.

The living quarters - the discs around the central column - are a little in-joke… They started off looking a lot more like one of the famous 1950 UFO pictures that you find around the Internet… .

I borrowed quite a lot from other people for this too: the large circular frame is from “Low Earth Depot S1” by Ignus Fast, available at Foundation3D. The girdered arms and also “power generators” (the rectangular boxes) are from a sort of spaceship building kit called “Truss Pack” which is (I think) by Kenny Mitchell.

…and, of course, everything is greebled to death!

Texturing is extremely simple, being basically the hull and the girder textures, which are both mine - the hull colour is available in my resources gallery here on dA. The textures used in the hanger entrance at the top of the space elevator are by Dosch. FYI, the texture under the dome at the top of the space elevator is actually the architects impression of the recently cancelled Japanese Olympic Stadium ☺

The planet - Kepler-22 - was created using Michael Welters Atmosphere plug-in for C4D. It uses my own “Water World” texture (I know, there is a big continent there - in fact the texture has 3 Australia sized continents and lots of island chains). I used this mask from my DeviantArt Resources gallery here to create it.

The Gold Rush, circa 2050

OK.. Firstly, I promise this is the last image with the giant glarey sun-thing going in…

The image I wanted to make here had shadows fanning out from each of the objects in the scene. I tried every type of light object, CSTools Fog, you name it… No cool shadows; if anyone has any idea how I would do that in C4D, I would definitely like to know!
asteroid mining ship-thumb

So… Asteroid Mining; regular watchers will know I have touched on this subject before, here. It’s a subject I’m interested in and it’s in the news - we’re burning through the Earth’s resources at an accelerating rate and based on known reserves, key elements such as phosphorus, antimony, zinc, tin, lead, indium, silver, gold and copper will be exhausted in 50–60 years.

The mining of asteroids for these elements has been suggested as our ‘Get Out Of Jail’ card. The idea is that platinum, cobalt and other valuable elements are mined from asteroids and sent back to Earth. That’s despite that fact that we have yet to design a spacesuit glove that doesn’t tear astronauts finger nails out, have no method to protect against the effects of long terms weightlessness, nor exposure to solar radiation. Hacking back on NASA’s budget for the last 40 years might not have been such a good idea after all.

The ship in the image: the core of it - the containers and frame - I stole from someone else’s model… I’m fairly sure it was by avalon3d. I added detail to the frame (and I’m slightly annoyed with myself for putting the ship in shadow, having lovingly textured each of the containers… Oh well!). I stole the front-end of one of my own ships and (imaginatively) gave it a long skinny fuselage, ending in a Discovery-like propulsion unit.

The (really lovely) main asteroid with the tiny astronauts on top is by Starbase1 and can be downloaded from the resources at I retextured it to give a slightly dustier look, based on photographs of asteroids on various sites.

I have made my scene as busy with asteroids as it usual for scifi visualisations of our solar systems asteroid belt; in reality, of course, the average distance between any two asteroids is around a million kilometres and given their generally small size, you simply wouldn’t be able to see another asteroid whilst you busy mining one! This is why we have been able to happily send our probes out to investigate the outer planets without fear of them being trashed during their passage through the asteroid belt.

The scene was modelled and rendered in Cinema 4D. I’m going to skip my usual run through of the textures used as you can’t really see them anyway!

Post production - actually not as much as you might think, mostly blume and sharpening - was done in Photoshop. Most of the colour in the image came form using light objects coloured to match the background.

A Meeting With Medusa

Something of a quicky, this one… Author Alastair Reynolds mentioned on his blog that he and Stephen Baxter have co-authored a follow-up to Arthur C Clarke’s “A Meeting With Medusa”.

ACC’s original “A Meeting With Medusa” is one of my all-time favourite stories; as I have discussed elsewhere on dA, I first read the story serialised in a magazine around 1973, accompanied by excellent quality artwork. The same magazine also printed (in other editions) “Summertime on Icarus” and “Into the Comet” - all with fabulous accompanying artwork. A year or so later, I had moved to Secondary school and the school library ran a book shop - I found there two collections of ACC’s short stories, which between them had all of these stories - I was hooked!

Kon Tiki Portrait-thumb

So, I enjoy both Alastair Reynolds and Stephen Baxter’s work and the prospect of them continuing the original story inspired me to do a piece of art based squarely in the general plot. I have imagined a ‘Kon-Tiki 2’, a larger balloon than the 1-man vehicle of the original - though it has all the features of the original, including a pulsed laser for heating the envelope gases and a nuclear-powered engine for escaping Jupiter at the close of the mission.

The image you see here is a crop; the original has both the creatures that feature in Arthur’s story - the mile long dirigible jellyfish-like creature (Medusa of the title) and the 100m-wide manta Ray-like creatures that feed on them. If you look closely, you can still see a flight of Manta Ray’s in the background. I have exorcised the Medusa because, frankly, it is crap. I followed the original story closely, but mine just doesn’t look believable. I’m going to go back to it, and you may still see a wide-screen version complete with Medusa, but don’t hold your breath!

The Kon-Tiki 2 and Manta’s were modelled and rendered in C4D. The Kon-Tiki’s envelope is supposed to be like the original Montgolfier balloon, but with its little peplum replaced with photo-electric cells. I have modelled almost the entire interior, so I may do something with that too. I put in quite a lot of research on the colour of ambient light in the Jovian atmosphere, including this article In the end, I gave in to what looked about right Happy

The background is a quick and nasty Photoshop job on a montage of clouds; you don’t have to look too hard to see how rough it is… Does the job though!

Starship - in the style of Peter Elson

Another image ‘in the style of…’ and another Peter Elson… If you took a look at his site and the images I linked to for ‘Science Vessel’, you won’t have any trouble recognising the inspiration for this one.

Images drawn looking toward the back of spaceships are common in Elson’s work, but you’ll see clear inspiration for my image here, Galactic Cluster here, Sunburst and here The Best of Isaac Asimov 1954 - 1972
Multi-Engined Frigate-rear view-thumb

The ship used here you have seen before - it’s the ship in The Tannhauser Gate I have made a few mods - but not many - and retextured a la Elson ☺ The fins that I added to the back are a sort of tribute/reference to the Anime film of EE ‘doc’ Smith’s ‘Lensmen’. The ships in the shuttle bay are from this image and the engines I have used before too - here . The engine exhaust trails are created with light objects. The principle textures are available in my Resources gallery here on DeviantArt :Generic - Hull Plate 3 (used with a blocky plates texture in the diff channel) and Red Worn Metal Plate Texture.

I did a version of this image with the ship coming toward the camera, but it looked so much like a screen grab from ‘Homeworld’ that I felt I couldn’t use it.

Created, textured and rendered in C4D as usual - I do love that software! The lighting is a bit of a cheat; given the apparent light source, the ship was pretty much a silhouette, so there is another (warm, weak) light source behind the camera for some infill.

Post-production in Photoshop as usual, too; principally colour adjustment, adding blume and sharpening. I also (surprise!) exaggerated the glow over the engines.

I’m tempted to one now in the style of another artist who did some great covers in the same time period, including images in the Terran Trade Authority books - Colin Hay Though, it will need a lot of texture development!

Science Vessel - in the style of Peter Elson

So: my bachelor students have finished the term, taken their exams and I have marked their papers… The project I have been doing some marketing work on has pretty much drawn to a close with the start of the Paris Air Show… Hooray, some free time!

After the Chris Foss style image, I thought I would do images in the style of some other of my favourite artists. That has actually proven more difficult than I expected!

science vessel-thumb
‘Science Vessel’ is an attempt at capturing Peter Elson’s style. If you take a look at the site his sister maintains as a memorial to his work, you can pretty much see which images I have used as input - ‘A Sense of Wonder’, ‘Oceans of Venus’ and ‘Welcome to Mars’ influenced the spacecraft, and ‘Pebble in the Sky’, ‘Galactic Cluster’ and ‘Sunburst’ determined the colours and perspective. Take a look here

What else can I say about the image: well, the back story is a future ESA science mission to examine the nova ejecta nebulae of a dying star.

The ship is one I started about 4 years ago - it’s a companion to the ship that appears in Asteroid Base: Final Approach : I gave them exactly the same cabin/bridge design - particularly the windows. I was imagining a sort of common design criteria for various spaceships.

I used a lot of other people’s greebles on the back of the ship - especially from Jedilaw’s greeble pack. Also, the things on the side of the ship with the bluey-purple glow are by 3D-CG, available at Foundation3D (here, they're supposed to be heat dissipators for the engines)

The 3 main textures used on the ship are all available in my DeviantArt resources - riveted hull plates, generic hull plate 1 and blue worn metal plate. The patterned ‘sensor array’ texture is from Total Textures Scifi pack. The side window textures are mine - one day I will post them - and the main bridge is all modelled. There is even a little figure at the helm. The glowy things at the front came from someone’s Star Trek model - if they’re yours let me know and I’ll credit you.

Modelled in C4D, rendered using C4D’s Physical renderer, post work in Photoshop. Recently I have moved from using hard to Area shadows and throwing in AO. I don’t think it’s as realistic, but it’s definitely more cinematic!

Chris Foss Style Starship

I actually found myself with 5-6 hours time - enough for a quick render… The first time I have been able to create an image since October 2014!

It certainly wasn’t enough time to do any modelling, so I looked in my unfinished projects folder and found an old tutorial I did in 2007 - you can see here at this blog entry.

The ship is based on a tutorial by Adam Benton, creating a Chris Foss-style spaceship with some basic box-modelling and C4D’s hypernurbs.

I created a new background in Photoshop - I wanted colour in the traditional Chris Foss style. The ship textures were mostly mine; the hull texture is from my “riveted hull textures” you can find in my Deviantart resources.

Hypernurbs generally create some issues when texturing, though you can reduce these by clicking on the hybernurbs object and selecting ‘Current State To object’. This creates a new object with the shape of the hypernurbs object, but which behaves like a normal, editable object. I would normally clean up the mesh at this point, but didn’t have time - perhaps for a V2 at some point.

chris foss style ship-thumb

Anyway, some quick texturing, render and away.

Post-render touch-ups were in Photoshop.

The mesh defiantly could have done with a clean-up - but I think the image captures the spirit of Chris Foss! Happy

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.

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

Latest work: Cities In The Sky

A little while back I saw an image in my RSS stream which had a really brilliant perspective… The illustration featured 3 floating cities and a stream of craft going to-and-fro.. The perspective was brilliant. Sadly, I don’t know where the illustration came from…

I have tried to reproduce the perspective here - everything in the image I have used before; the towers here, the craft here.

Cities In The Sky-small

Modelled and rendered in Cinema 4D, hipster colour wash in Photoshop Happy Textures for the towers are by Marlin Studios, except the windows/window lights, which are mine. The craft uses all my textures, including some from my resources gallery on DeviantArt The sky is from Dosch HDRI skies.

Recent Images - August 2013

Here are a few of the images I have been working on over the past month or so: Colony Station and Asteroid Base: Final Approach

Colony Station was inspired by re-reading Bryson’s “Short History of Everything” (as I do pretty regularly - my copy is falling to pieces…..) and the section discussing the development of our understanding of the forces that shaped Earth, particularly plate tectonics, got me thinking…. I began to wonder about the fate of a colony ship that sets off to a distant world, only to find that it’s surface is still being ravaged by tectonic and volcanic activity - as Bryson points out, our own world has typically been much more active than now. We have evolved during a relatively quiet period.

Colony Station - thumb

So, the image shows the way in which the colonists choose to survive; the redesign and rebuilding of their ship (I imagined a Helios-style ship) - hacked using the materials with which they were to build their new towns and villages. The habitat ring filled in and expanded, the solar panels which would have provided the power for their homes unfurled below the station…

The basis of the ship-cum-station is a mesh I built a long time ago (here: 2008,
my blog tells me) and I have just fleshed it out. It now has lots of little homages to other sci-fi space stations! Textures are a mixture of my own and a few by Marlin Studios.

The planet was built - as usual - with the aid of
Michael Welters ‘Atmosphere’ plug in. I used my own (16k px) textures with Atmosphere to produce the planets tortured, twisted surface. I found a great texture (I thought on DeviantArt, but I couldn’t find it again to link to) which I built out in Photoshop to the appropriate size. Then used one of my Spherical Ocean/Land Maps (see my Resources here for examples… to produce the land form shapes.

The station and planet were rendered together in C4D as I wanted the same sunlight that created the right planet view to also illuminate the colonist station. A little colour correction and 'bloom' added in Photoshop.

An old cover by the (late great) Peter Elson was the trigger for Asteroid Base: Final Approach.

Asteroid Base shuttle-small
The ship is an
old one of mine, modded slightly (well… I never actually finished it!) and re-textured. Textures are from Dosch, Total Textures and myself. The asteroid is by Axeman3d - I have modded the mesh slightly and re-textured. Yep, the inside of the asteroid base is NASA Hanger 1 !! Happy

I didn’t notice - and am perplexed by - the shadows of the rear Comms Tower on the hull; there isn’t a light source to generate those shadows! I’m wondering if it’s a side effect of opening the old ship model (a C4D 10 file) in C4D R13?

Rendered in one go in C4D, then processed to death in Photoshop...

Latest work: Helium 3 Transport

This image can truly be said to have had a gestation period of around 35 years… When I first came across Chris Foss’s cover for Asimov’s Early Years I became fascinated by the odd ship in the background. Then the Foss cover for Voyage of the Space Beagle reinforced this obsession with asymmetrical designs.

So recently I decided to have a go at creating a ship along these lines… My first mistake was brute forcing the design - not working it out ahead to time. I usually work this way (brute force), but this time around I found myself constantly fighting against the objective of creating an asymmetrical design. My brain’s normal desire for symmetry won out.

There are also some scifi visuals that you can’t win against; I experimented with tubular engines but it always looked like something from the Trek universe. Also, blocky engines on supporting struts in a symmetrical design makes any ship look like it’s from Starship Troopers - mine looked like an anorexic ‘Roger Young’ for ages. Anyway, I kept at it; the result isn’t remotely Chris Foss-like - from the front, in fact, it now looks like it could be from a Gerry Anderson production!

Helium 3 Transport-1024x768

Other elements of my design were driven by a preoccupation with Freighters and Transports… No idea why. So, I gave it slide-loading doors for freight and rear-access doors for people/robot crew/passengers. The ungainly sensor strut towards the front of the ship is straight out of Peter Elson’s style.

Textures are mostly mine, though there are a few by Philip K, AsileFX, and Total Texture SciFi pack. The main hull textures you can find in my
DeviantArt Resources collection.

The engine glow was created partly in C4D - using textures in the Luminosity channel - and in Photoshop

Practicing: Terraforming Venus

This is just a sketch, an excuse really, to create a planet in Photoshop… It came to me recently that I hadn’t created any planets in Photoshop for over 8 months - all had been made in C4D.

I also recently read an article on terraforming, part of which had a bizarre argument that we should terraform Mars and/or Venus because we’re breaking Earth - as if it’s easier to terraform another planet than stop destroying the one we’re on already! Anyway, that got me thinking about Venus and Carl Sagan’s old idea about using modified blue algae to alter the existing carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere. I know he later rubbished it himself, but it still sounds cool.

Terraforming Venus
Anyway, so here we are: 100 years into the future and a terraforming station in orbit around a changed Venus… the carbon dioxide atmosphere has been greatly reduced and the oxygen levels increased. Thin clouds already exist and the clear skies reveal continent-wide solidified lava flows and enormous caldera of extinct volcanos.

The texture for Venus was created using an image of pealing paint or plaster as a bump layer and over the top layering an image I made from ESA satellite photos of the Moroccan desert.

The space station includes bits downloaded from the forum discussion on Greebles at Foundation 3d as well as the spheres at the bottom from

I know the windows are in the wrong place for a station creating artificial gravity from centrifugal force, but they looked pants in the right place.

The space station was finished and textured in Cinema 4D and the final image was composited and rendered in Cinema 4D. The finished render was sent back to Photoshop for additional color correction and FX.

Latest works: Freighter - April 2013

Having see ‘Moon’ finally, as well as reading quite a few articles on asteroid mining, the concept of the ‘space freighter’ has been playing on my mind and this image is the result!

So here we go - totally produced in Cinema 4D; the Earth was created using Michael Welters ‘Atmosphere’ plug in. Freighter was also modelled and textures in Cinema 4D. For a while I strongly played with following the scifi trope of the battered, weathered freighter look. Thankfully, common sense prevailed! However, at least one of the textures I created for that has made it to my DeviantArt Resources - just follow the link, below.
Freighter Front Page

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

1930s Pulp Scifi Magazine Cover PSD Template

If you check out my gallery here or on DeviantArt regularly, you know that I have been having a little fun with some faux 1930’s-style pulp sci-fi magazine covers. Having done quite a few of these, I realized I had ended-up with quite a set of resources in Photoshop - ideal for a template.

So, I’ve done just that - pulled the resources together to create my Do-It-Yourself 1930’s Pulp Scifi Magazine Cover Creator. You can get it over in my DeviantArt Resources Gallery


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.


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.


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.

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.

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.

Reflection was set as shown

For bare metals, Specular was set

For painted metals, Specular was set like this

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

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.

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.

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:

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...


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.


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!


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.


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.

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.


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.

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.


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

NASA’s Shuttle hanger


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.


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


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.


My Tweeted Cinema 4D 2011 Sci-Fi Modelling Hints & Tips

Here are my 2011 Cinema 4D sci fi modelling & tips:
  • Asteroid belt: Rob Hitzer’s rockgen plugin, retexture with asteroid tex, duplicate along spine
  • Use Michael’s excellent plug-ins for realistic planets an better starfields
  • Model a light saber at cineversity part 1 part 2
  • Ember in the Rain has a nice free planet generator plugin
  • Extremely detailed tutorial for creating a Transformer Triple Changer at Cinema4D Net
  • How to add city lights to a planet render. Tutorial:
  • For space scenes where the lightsource would be the nearest star or planet set AO to 0.0%, and GI strength to 7-10%. This kind of lighting is probably the most accurate simulation of lighting in space, where the main lightsource would be the nearest star, and there would be no other light source.
  • Adam Bentons workshop on creating a Chris Foss-style spaceship
  • Create a futuristic airship scene in C4D
  • 3DWorld mega project shows how to model and texture a spaceship and landing pad, create an animation as it blasts off.
  • Tutorial/walkthrough on the creation of a robot-powered junk yard
  • Create greebles in C4D without any plugs whatsoever
  • Nice for C4d beginners - a simple UFO

My Tweeted Cinema 4D 2011 Hints & Tips

Here are my 2011 Cinema 4D 101 hints & tips:
  • Use the space bar to toggle between Selection and your last chosen tool
  • To add thickness to an object or selection of polys, simply use the Extrude Tool with ‘create end caps’ selected. Adjust ‘Max Angle’ to cope with corners.
  • Need to segment a polygon? Don’t reach for the Segment Tool, instead use Edge Cut - far more flexible.
  • Mocca owners can use the Bone Mirror tool to mirror almost anything, including lights, generator objects, etc. The standard Symmetry object only mirrors editable mesh.
  • How to improve how text is bevelled in C4D :
  • Axis indicator arrows getting in the way? Press Alt+D to hide/unhide in the viewport.
  • Use Material Manager Select Texture Tags/Objects command to replace one or more materials in the Attributes Manager with another
  • Use Material>Illumination settings to optimise speed eg turn off "Receive GI" in glass-type materials
  • If you want to move a object without moving its associated children, hold down the Ctrl key
  • Shift Alt Click on an object icon in the Object Palette creates a new object as a child of the currently active object
  • Tips and tricks for texturing in C4D
  • 22 minutes of Cinema 4D Tips and Shortcuts

November Wallpapers & Calendars Now Available!

Flyer Binary Image-merged
I have just uploaded the November wallpaper and calendars (I can’t believe how quickly time goes by!)... This month it’s a composite Cinema 4D render, with Photoshop backdrop. A classic SF image; spacecraft approaching a planet that is partly in darkness. I have named it ‘Binary’, as I have binary suns as well as two ships. As usual, you will find English and French versions, the packs for each language contain a choice of widescreen sizes too. The iPad wallpaper looks great in Photoshop - I have it looks as good on your iPad/tablet device.

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

Evolution of Ship Design For Daric Books: Pt 3 - Nurnies and detailing

Hey all,
I mentioned in the post on designing and creating the engines that I spent some time watching 2001 and Alien to get some ideas to work from. Watching 2001, I was struck (once again) by how massively inspirational the design work in that film has been over subsequent decades. I was looking at the detailing on Discovery, in particular the panelling behind the crew section - you can see it here in this still from the Kubrick’s set:

There are so many things that are marvellous about this - not least that it was really the first visualisation of a realistic, buildable futuristic spaceship.

As I wanted the cabin section of the spaceship for the Daric book cover to look like it could separate from the rest of the ship (I decided that the cabin section could act like a lifeboat if the main section was damaged) I wanted a coupling joint. The type of panelling used on Discovery would, I thought, look great around the joint.

To make the panels I first used Inner Extrude to give me a band of the desired width. I then used Loop Select in Edge mode to select the edges of this band. Then, with the Edge Cut tool, I segmented the band into similar sized polys. Once I had the individual polygons I sunk these into the mesh with the Extrude tool, inner extruded slightly, then pulled them back out of the mesh with extrude once again. This gave me a fine space around each of the polygons - I wasn’t going for the exact Discovery look... I was inspired by it, not trying to reproduce it slavishly!

So, this is was I ended up with around the cabin:
Screen shot 2011-10-21 at 13.11.14

I liked it so much, that I repeated the panelling around the engine bay - it has become a motif, in fact. You can see the panelling here, along with the engines described in my last blog entry:
Screen shot 2011-10-21 at 13.47.18

Evolution of Ship Design For Daric Books: Pt 2 - Engines

Following on from my post about the design and building of the ship for the covers I’m doing for Daric Books, I’ll talk now about the engines. From the brief given by Daric, I knew the ship to be an ex-military dropship, capable of hyperspace travel. Being ex-military, I wanted the engines to look powerful. I tend toward clusters of engines, preferably different sizes - a hang over, I think, from the works of Chris Foss and Peter Elson.

Anyway, one evening, my wife was meeting-up with friends to celebrate a birthday, so I decided to catch-up with 2001: A Space Odyssey (whilst liking many sci-fi films, my wife hates 2001), as well as Alien. I paid attention to the engine designs of the ships in both and noticed a number of similarities specifically:
• Overall design mixes angular and rounded forms
• Large nozzles that tended to flare outward
• within the main engine, some sort of internal arraignment of smaller nozzles or grills

Screen shot 2011-09-26 at 16.38.04

The next day I started with a basic cube primitive and didn’t get anywhere... Then, I decided to use C4D’s n-sided spline, which I then extruded. That gave me an interesting shape. Once I had this, it was then simplicity itself to create the nozzle: on one end of the body, I used Inner Extrude tool, Loop select to select the new polygons and the Outer Extrude Tool to extend the bevel polygons, and the Size tool to shrink these in to the nozzle form.

Following the designs seen in 2001 and Alien, I wanted to populate the interior of the main nozzle with lots of smaller ones... I nearly used the same shape as the overall body, but eventually decided to use cylinders. With these, I again used the extrude tools, this time to create an inner circle where I would put my engine glow. As I created the recess in the cylinder I save the new polygons as a texture tag, so that I could just drop the texture in later.

As I already had an idea what the engine bay would look like, I was fairly sure that not too much of the engine beyond the nozzles would be seen. However, I still decided to add fuel and cooling pipes to dress the (very basic) design up a little. To save time, I used some from a greeble and nurnie pack that I downloaded some time ago. I just made some minor changes to them, so that they would disappear into the bulkhead behind the engine.
Screen shot 2011-10-18 at 11.32.24

For the engine glow, I created a material as follows. Obviously the idea is to create a bright, hot looking core with the material

• Colour - bright, around 250%, I used a pale blue 220, 220, 255
• Luminance - a darker blue, around 100, 100, 255
• Glow - I chose a blue in between those for Colour and Luminance, setting the Inner strength around 250%, outer strength around 350%. The Radius will depend very much on object/polygons you’re wrapping it around.
• Random around 19%
• Frequency around 3%

As you can see, that gives a bright whit glow with a blue hue - very Star Wars!

Screen shot 2011-10-18 at 11.31.44

For the ship, I will be duplicating the engine 5 times, in three sizes, to give the sense of power that I want.

Evolution of Ship Design For Daric Books: Pt 1 - Cockpit/Bridge

Hey all,
As I mentioned on Facebook recently, I have accepted a 2-book commission from the guys at Daric Books. If you don’t already know them, they are a specialist science fiction publishers based in Wales. Check out their Amazon ebook range here:

The two books feature the same lead character and spaceship. As there would be two books from the get-go I decided to spend quite a lot of time on the ship, especially with the possibility of additional books to the series later on. Further, as regulars here will know, I like to give away wallpapers and thought that Daric might like some wallpaper downloads to go with the books launch.

With permission from the guys at Daric I’m going to talk a bit about the development of the hero’s ship - without giving too much away!! From the author I received the following summary of the hero’s ship:
• Its overall design is wedge-shaped
• It is an ex-military long range drop ship which at one time carried a crew of ten with capability to transport a platoon of soldiers; having dropped a platoon into the combat zone, the ship was capable of supporting them with fighter/bomber capabilities.
• The nose/bridge area is plexi-glass with seating for five; two in the front (bomb aimer and navigator) and three above and to the rear (pilot, captain and first officer.)
• It is labyrinthian, having undergone a slow, random conversion of its rooms, cabins and holds - there are many secret hidey-holes throughout the vessel.
• Its forward thrusters are located at the rear above the main hyper-drive.
• The hold is below that and has an entry ramp.

For the nose and cockpit area, I looked at a number of existing military vehicles - in particular the Apache attack helicopter.

I also looked at the old British V-bombers, especially the Victor as I felt these had the layout and scale that I needed (and frankly I love their design).
Finally, I cribbed a bit of Syd Meed!

Bringing influences these together I arrived at the following with a bit of trial and error: Following the authors nots, the cockpit/bridge is spread over two floors, with the larger section above and further back.

Screen shot 2011-09-20 at 13.47.00

...and again, with some basic textures added, so that you can see the design more clearly:

Screen shot 2011-09-20 at 13.48.17
I’m fairly happy with this, with one misgiving: it’s very hard to determine scale from this... I am refining and cleaning the design up, and of course much will depend on how it looks as the rest of the ship falls into place. However, conveying the right scale is obviously important. Definitely something I need to keep an eye on.

September Wallpapers & Calendars Now Available!


Little bit late with these; the render took bl**dy ages!! I have just uploaded the September wallpaper and calendars... This month it’s a Cinema 4D render, with Photoshop post work. A classic SF scene, the space hanger!! As usual, you will find English and French versions, the packs for each language contain a choice of widescreen sizes too. No iPad version this time, though, as I just couldn’t get the image to work on that size/ratio screen.

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

Spacecraft Concepts


I have just started a new Album over on my Facebook site for ‘beauty shots’ of the various spacecraft I develop for my illustrations. The ships often end up small in the overall image, I think it’s nice to give them their 15 minutes of fame! I’ll add to this Album over time, so do check it out regularly.

New Image - Planetary Orbit

Orbit Front Cover Single Page
I have been working on several images recently, the most advanced of which is shown above... I have wanted to do a scene with astroids for ages - and now I’m working on two! If truth be told, I have wasted a huge amount of time finding the best way to create a realistic asteroid field. I recently tweeted my advice, but I’ll repeat it here in more detail.

By far and way the easiest way is to create several asteroids using Rob Hitzer’s excellent C4D ‘Rockgen’ plugin, which you can download from here. Use the settings to generate asteroids of varying sizes. Once you have your base asteroids, retexture with your favourite asteroid textures. Then duplicate each of your base asteroids along a (wiggly!!) spine, varying (greatly) the settings for position, size and rotation for each asteroid/spine combination. Experiment with this and you’ll find that you can quickly generate a realistic-looking (well, atmospheric) asteroid field.

The other image I’m working on that includes an asteroid field includes an asteroid close-up. This is proving particularly tough, especially the lighting. I’ll post more when I’m closer to a finished image!

Space Station


New Cinema 4D wrk - a space station... Somehow, the end result reminds me of ‘Thunderbirds’ - despite the fact that it’s not remotely similar to any of the Thunderbird vehicles... I think it’s the bold numbering on the hull.

New Ship

Screen shot 2011-05-04 at 11.16.13

Another ship I have been working on in Cinema 4D...



Shuttle craft I have been working on in C4D...

Lynda Cinema 4D Training 3: Spline Tool

spline leaf

And learning how to use the Spline Tools by modelling a simple leaf... Care of the Lynda Cinema 4D video tutorials...

Lynda Cinema 4D Training 2: Bridge Tool


Screen grab from the Lynda Cinema 4D TRaining; building a “maze” using the bridge tool...

Lynda Cinema 4D Training


I have been working my way through the Lynda Cinema 4D course... I prefer the video format versus book, but I’m not a great fan of Larry Mitchell’s style - and with this sort of thing, the presenters style is ‘make or brake’, really...

Screen shot is an exercise modelling a simple spoon; you are introduced to HyperNURBs, Soft Selection, etc...