Photoshop

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 http://www.foundation3d.com

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.

Prototype

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.

prototype-final-thumb

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.

Progress

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.

Progress-thumb

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 (http://www.welter-4d.de/fplugs/freeplugins_en.html). 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 Foundation3d.com 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.

Pulp Horror Magazine Cover PSD Template

A couple of years ago I released a Photoshop template for creating faux1930’s-style pulp sci-fi magazine covers (available in my Resources gallery here: ). At the time, someone asked if I would do a horror version, so quietly, and very sloowwwwly I have been chipping away at one on the background! So, finally, here it is; my Do-It-Yourself 1930’s Pulp Horror Magazine Cover Creator ☺ Download link on DeviantArt, see the ilnk below.

montage

The point of the template is a simple means for you to create your own pulp horror covers in the style of the classic 1930-40’s pulp magazines. The template provides (editable) magazine titles, story headings and lots of hyperbole! I also include various style FX for adding dirt (like an old, used magazine) and colour layers to give your cover mood and atmosphere. There are also some villains, creatures and monsters - but really these are just to get you started, as are the backdrops.

Horror is not really my thing - I enjoy the old Bela Lugosi and Lon Chaney movies, the Hammer horrors and so on, but I quit watching horror films with the rise of slasher movies in the 80’s. I don’t have a natural feel for this, therefore, so did plenty of research - this site was especially helpful: pulpcovers.com/tag/horror/ All the same, I found getting the ‘look and feel’ right quite difficult.

From my research, a couple of things…
• The pulp horror magazines were not as sophisticated in their design and layout as the pulp scifi magazines. If you’re going for accuracy, you will probably want to make a number of changes to the layout options my template.
• Few of the pulp horror magazines lasted more than a handful of editions
• We think of torture porn as a recent invention - don’t believe a word of it! These magazines are chock-full of torture porn stories. In fact, I willing to bet that much of Hostel was lifted from these magazines.
• …and what is with with bad guys wearing cowls?

There is lots more information, as well as a download link, here on DeviantArt

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 jek2004.com/new_page_18.htm 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.

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

Hey,
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

Starfield_thumb

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

Scifi Warning Signs and Semiotics

Waiting for inspiration to strike, I have been cleaning-up my hard drive. Trawling through my C4D project files I kept coming across signs, insignia and logos I had made. I decided to pull them together into a family of Photoshop templates so that I stopped reinventing the wheel each time I needed a sign or logo and could work faster.

The Warning signs were designed to broadly fit into the same universe as my Moon/Silent Running-inspired signs.
Symbols

Colours
The base colours are always:
Yellow: eaac04/R234-G172-B4
Grey: 3f3e40/R63-G62-B64

You can download them, in .PSD form, from my DeviantArt Resources Gallery

A word about fonts
I have adjusted these templates so that the text layers use Arial Black, as both Windows and Mac machines should have this font as standard. The signs look more effective with any of the following fonts available from dafont

Capture_it
Coalition
Defused
Jacinto Sans
Bitsumishi
Dodger
SF Automaton

Groups & Layers
To minimise the file sizes, wherever possible I have removed rasterised layers and left the original PS Shape layer - this also allows you to easily change the colours. However, occasionally you will find the original shape layer missing - this is where I forgot to duplicate the Shape layer before rasterising or merging the layer.

Base Shape Layer (Diamond, rectangle, square, pill, etc)
Scratches & Dirt
Masks (alpha masks for clean and damaged)
Techy symbols (eg: Medical, Stop Hand Sign, Radiation, No Access Logo, Biohazard
Text (eg: Level, Security, Warning/No Access/Stop)

The PS Brushes used to create the Dirt and Scratches layers include, but are not limited to:
Scratches by Katrina Rempel
Grunge_Brushed_by_misstaraleexo
Grunge Notion by Blazter
GrungeBrushes3 by KeReN-R

For the Biohazard sign I used Hazard Brushes 1 by AscendedArts

Use
Personal Use
Have a ball - do whatever you want with it!

Commercial Use
No restrictions beyond checking those of the font you use.

Whatever you do with the template, I would love to see it - I had loads of fun making images with it and I hope you do to! Drop me a note on DeviantArt

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 garryts.deviantart.com/gallery… 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 kennyscrap.com

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.

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

merged

Pulp Scifi Covers For March

So, here’s another faux pulp scifi magazine cover… I’m accidentally creating a Photoshop template for creating these, which I think I’ll post soon over on my DeviantArt page. I’ll let you know when I do. These are just so much fun do to. Happy

Nemean-web Science Mar2013-1024x768

More Pulp Scifi Covers!

Having started developing my own pulp covers, I can’t stop! Here is the latest… Laugh

Nemean-web rocket feb2013-1024x768

Pulp Scifi Covers And Guilty Pleasures!

One of my guilty little pleasures is spending far too much time playing with Bradley W. Schenck’s brilliant ‘Pulp-O-Mizer’ on his site Thrilling Tales.

The Pulp-O-Mizer allows you to build your own faux 1930’s pulp scifi covers… The only problem - for me - is that you can’t use your own content or save them… So, I’ve started to make my own!

Here is the first...

Nemean-web Saucersjan2013-1024x768

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

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

My Tweeted Photoshop Space Art 2011 Hints & Tips

Here are my 2011 Photoshop space art hints & tips:
  • Still the best Photoshop starfield tutorial there is - by Greg Martin http://t.co/L9A71Tu
  • Create planets in Photoshop without using textures or satellite images: http://www.solarvoyager.com/images/tutorials/splanet.jpg
  • Create scifi textures using your 3d package and PS - great tutorial from PhilipK http://www.philipk.net/tutorials/materials/metalmatte/metalmatte.html
  • Create a supernova for your space scenes in 6 steps http://keepwalking07.deviantart.com/gallery/?catpath=/resources/tutorials/digiart/dpadigi/photoshop/#/d1p6bfo
  • Create beautiful planets with just brushes using Greg Norton's excellent tutorial http://gallery.artofgregmartin.com/tuts_arts/making_a_planet.html
  • Tutorial on creating Nebulas with cloud stock and brushing: http://cchomikk.deviantart.com/art/Nebula-Tutorial-133832795
  • How to create gas giant planets in Photoshop http://www.solarvoyager.com/images/tutorials/gasgiant.jpg
  • How to create spaceship hull textures in Photoshop http://www.psionic3d.co.uk/tutorials/shiphull.html
  • How to create an impact shockwave in Photoshop http://browse.deviantart.com/?qh=§ion=&q=shockwave+tutorial#/d39vtw
  • How to paint an asteroid in Photoshop http://scifisrc.deviantart.com/art/Asteroid-Tut-By-Coldflame1987-5645137
  • Video walkthrough/tutorial of the creation of a piece of space art in Photoshop http://superiorgamer.deviantart.com/#/d2y49i4
  • Complete PS planet creation tutorial/walkthrough in Flash http://browse.deviantart.com/?qh=§ion=&global=1&q=grand+planet#/d1m32nq
  • Nebular creation walkthrough http://archang3lzz.deviantart.com/art/Pyres-Of-Atonement-Walkthrough-156045241

My Tweeted Photoshop 2011 Hints & Tips

Here are my 2011 Photoshop 101 hints & tips:

  • Use the Option key to toggle between the Blur and Sharpen tools as well as the Dodge and Burn tools
  • Sharpen 101 Duplicate flattened image, select High Pass Filter. Default ok. Set blend to Overlay. Tweak sharpness with Opacity.
  • With any painting tool selected, right-mouse-button-click to see the Brushes menu wherever you click. After selecting a brush size, press Enter to make the palette disappear.
  • Quickly cycle through screen modes using the ‘F’ key.
  • Using Adjustment Layers is a great way to make non-destructively adjustments to layers at once without permanently altering the individual layers themselves.http://www.photoshopessentials.com/photo-editing/adjustment-layers/
  • To crop to an aspect ratio use Marquee tool and Fixed Ratio from the menu in the Options bar - this lets you type values in the Height and Width fields.
  • When using the eyedropper tool on a very high-resolution image, switch to 5 by 5 Average to avoid picking up noisy pixels
  • Press X to swap foreground and background colours. Press D to reset foreground and background colours to black and white
  • Use the arrow keys plus Move tool without pixels selected to move the entire layer by 1 pixel. Add the Shift key to move by 10 pixels instead.
  • With the Marquee tool use the shift key to constrain selection shapes to equal proportions and the spacebar to move your selection.
  • With the Marquee tool use the shift key to grow selections by dragging additional marquees across it and Alt key to subtract from the original selection.
  • With the Marquee tool use the Alt key to subtract from the original selection by dragging additional marquees across it
  • Use Ctrl + Alt + Shift + K to display the help dialog for keyboard shortcuts.

January 2012 Wallpapers & Calendars Are Available

All ready for the New Year!

Absolutely the final freebie of 2011, I have opted for a the cold-toned image, “Red Dwarf”...

Red Dwarf-Thumb
As usual, you will find English and French calendar versions, as well as a plain wallpaper pack that also includes an iPads/tablets size (works for most smartphones too). All the packs contain a choice of 3 widescreen monitor sizes.

As ever, you can find them in the downloads section. Enjoy!

December Wallpapers & Calendars Now Available!


Emerald Thumb
I can’t believe how quickly this year has flown by! December already! OMG! I have just uploaded the December calendars - thinking of traditionalChristmas colours, I have opted for a green-themed image, “Emerald”... 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

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

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!

October Wallpaper and Calendar Packs Now Available

Hey all,
I have just uploaded the October wallpapers and calendars... You will find English and French versions of the calendars, the packs for each language contain a choice of widescreen sizes up to 2560*1440. Having left it out from the September pack, the iPad (or other tablet) portrait wallpaper makes a welcome return to the plain wallpaper pack .

Nemean-Oct2011-1680x1050
As ever, you’ll find them on the ‘Downloads & Links’ page... Enjoy!

September Wallpapers & Calendars Now Available!

Nemean-Sept2011-1680x1050

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!

New Image - Planetary Orbit

Orbit Front Cover Single Page
Hey,
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!

More Photoshop Nebulas

Flame Nebula BookCover

More Photoshop nebulas: this one is named after the Flame Nebula

More Photoshop Space Art


Voila_Capture41
I have been working on some dramatic new space art pics in Photoshop... Above is an example called “Nova”. You can find a larger version in the Illustrations section.

Photoshop Nebulas


Voila_Capture40
I have been really, really struggling to produce realistic/effective looking (not the same thing!) nebulas in Photoshop... I have worked through dozens of tutorials which have explored all sort of techniques, to the point of exhaustion... Ultimately, wether you go for blending clouds, brushes, painting, a mix of all approaches, the key is Layers - lots of them... Build your nebula through many, many layers.

More Photoshop Planets


Voila_Capture38
More Photoshop planet tutorials - as you can see from the screen shot, I’m trying for the photorealistic look...

I discovered a very useful video tutorial on Deviant Art for creating planets
here:

Photoshop Planets


Blue planet
I have been working my way through loads of Photoshop tutorials - creating star fields, planets, gas giant planets, nebulas, etc, etc...

Deviant Art is a great resource for these; the screen grab is my progress through Greg Martin’s “Make A Planet” Tutorial... Well worth the effort, as is Greg’s Star Field Tut.... Get them
here.