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"!

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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.

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.

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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.

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!

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‘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!