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10 October 2004, 11:54 AM
Jesse Speak has entered the Grand Space Opera 2D.

Challenge Page (

Latest Update: Final Image: Ambassador to the Galaxy - The Historic Launch Approaches (

Well, there we go! Thanks again to everyone who took time to support me, it was my absolute pleasure to take part in this challenge. The amount, and diversity, of sheer talent participating has been a great inspiration to me.

Good luck to you all!

10 October 2004, 12:47 PM
yea Speaky !

Nice to have you in the contest ! Good luck and have fun !

10 October 2004, 04:16 PM (

I just needed to make a start somewhere! Here are three quickie thumbnails drawn by hand and fleshed out in photoshop.

I always tend to do landscape format pics, so this time I'm going for a portrait format just to try a different approach.

For the first thumbnail I was imagining some kind of epic plantetary evacuation, perhaps the home planet of some grand empire, which has become unstable and will self destruct in the near future.

The second thumbnail shows a scene where the emperor has been assassinated (sp?) by the enemy's elite assassin (sp?), and as he slowly dies, the assassin (sp?) forces him to watch as the attack ships come to plunder and loot his beloved city planet.

The third thumbnail is an action type scene where the hero is escorting his special lady friend to the escape craft, and just needs to get past that hulking kill-bot. With a massive space frigate in the sky!

I love this challenge already, and have high expectations for all of your entries! Good luck!

10 October 2004, 05:43 PM
I like the one on the far right a lot.

10 October 2004, 07:34 PM
My fav has to be the far left one, It shows what its like on the planet, I like that alot!

10 October 2004, 08:02 PM
:) :thumbsup: I love the middle sketch...I prefer the composition to the other two....The archway works really well..and lots of depth..great start!!

Good luck and I look forward to seeing how your ideas develop :) :thumbsup:

10 October 2004, 08:42 PM
Cool concept man!
like most the one on the right. :applause:

10 October 2004, 09:16 PM
Nice sketches!!

All three evoke elements of a 'Grand Space Opera' straight away... and from such small sketches... can't decide on a favourite... they've all got bags of potential. And they've all been picked as favourites already so i don't want to add to the confusion!! :)

10 October 2004, 09:32 PM (

More quick ideas, this time with a focus on epic structures.

The first one, I imagined some kind of spacefaring imperial palace which tours the core planets in the empire keeping them all well and truly under the thumb. This would bestow honour and probably also a massive headache for the provincial rulers of the planet. Those are supposed to people cheering and celebrating on balconies, though I wonder if it's for the arrival or the departure of the palace-ship?

The second one shows some kind of massive weapon turret which has been developed in secret and is capable of taking out enemy ships in low orbit. Not overly keen on it myself.

The third one I quite like because of the perspective. I imagined this little buglike shuttle flying down toward this huge structure that sits on a base at the foot of a huge waterfall. The sunset would pick out the left hand side of the building where it rose higher than the plateau around it, and I think this could look quite compelling. Perhaps it's the core imperial headquarters?

10 October 2004, 09:52 PM
Oh wow, lots of feedback! :bounce:

I'm glad that each of the first three thumbnails had something in them that was liked. My own preference is the middle one because it works even at a small size, and I'm learning that this is very important to get right. I think the assassin(sp?) idea is quite dramatic too. Though I do actually like the right hand one because it's quite daring and action packed, and the one on the left does have a certain melancholy about it. Erm.

For this challenge I've set out to do a lot of ideas work early on, which makes a lot of sense but I find difficult because I just want to get straight on in there. The Game Icon challenge I just leapt on in and painted from start to finish. Machineflesh I think I did two preliminary sketches, but this time I want to calm down and plan it out a bit more in the hope that I find an idea that really grabs me!

Thanks for your comments, it's very much appreciated. :thumbsup:

10 October 2004, 10:29 PM
I love the first sketch on the new series... but there´s something I really like on the second one. Maybe, it´s the spacecraft partially at the shadow of the building - it gives the piece a nice contrast between warm/cold colors.
Anyway , great ideas so far ! I´ll keep an eye on this thread. Good luck!:thumbsup:

10 October 2004, 11:39 PM
very nice sketches, I personally like the middle one of the first three and the first of the second set, they are all nice but those are my favs.

10 October 2004, 12:14 AM
and Speaky takes the lead!

first set: first one, second set: middle one
nice work, keep 'em coming :)

10 October 2004, 12:16 AM
Out of the first set I really like the middle (assasin one), I think this could bring out a lot of emotion. From the second set I like the last one, I dont know if the shuttle quite fits, but the nature/technology combo could be interesting. Keep at it!

10 October 2004, 12:18 AM
Well someone is off to an awesome start, Good to see youve join in this great new challenge, i look forward to following your work buddy, and i wish you all the best. Goodluck:thumbsup:

10 October 2004, 12:45 AM
I'm a 3d guy just checking out what peeps are doing in 2d.
Man, So obvious on what you are doing.
My personal favorite is the one with people cheering in the streets with the floaty building.
The ones where a planet is evacuateing is really cool. Nice ominous tone.
I think that fits the description of epic event that holds empire together really really really well.

Man u are gonna make some dope shit. Looking forward to it.

10 October 2004, 01:12 AM
Reminds me of the trasformers city lol :D

10 October 2004, 04:01 AM
Thos sketches are great! They all look interesting, but my favourites are the 2 first the second serie.

El Toro
10 October 2004, 05:10 AM
Wow, looking good. Really nice concepts, I feel like changing mine now.:)

10 October 2004, 05:34 AM
That's a great idea with the quick thumbnail sketches and the focus on grand epic structures. I first saw this technique used on the Feng Zhu DVD from Gnomon. I think the second series of sketches is starting to show some refinement. I'm looking forward to seeing your work develop.

10 October 2004, 06:47 AM
whell some did started....looks good till now...good luck,cheers

10 October 2004, 08:01 AM
that's just great stuff you got there , dude !!
this is gonna be one of my favourite threads, i know it already,
really good work

10 October 2004, 08:31 AM
I'm impressed on your sketches... love it !

10 October 2004, 08:58 AM
Gorgeous ideas so far - you certainly have the right idea of "space opera" :thumbsup:

10 October 2004, 09:40 AM
Hello, Of the ideas are sympas I waits to see the continuation.....

10 October 2004, 12:01 PM (

...and some more! My wacom is glowing.

For these three, I chose to depict three different ways that an empire could exist in: peace, dominion and struggle.

My idea for the first one is a tranquil scene depicting the unveiling of the brand new space elevator which promises to usher in a new age of environmentally friendly trade by getting rid of the need for goods to be boosted to and from low earth orbit. A couple sit on a bench watching etc etc. I thought it might make for a good image, but I'm not convinced it's operatic enough.

The second one depicts the dominion by another race, with these massive structures plunged into all the major capitals of the world to crush all hope of rebellion. In the foreground, an alien droid is hovering and checking these two guys out. One of them is flipping it the finger - rebellion, man - and his friend is saying, "careful, it'll have your head off". This image could work quite nicely, but I'd probably remove the cheesy beams shooting out from the structures because it's been overdone.

The last one shows the first wave of ultra high-tech fighters about to break free from the mothership and engage the enemy. If I were to develop this a bit further, I'd try to make the enemy ship look enormous, even bigger, and possibly have a few fighters already accelerating toward the target.

That's it!

10 October 2004, 12:19 PM
Hi everyone, it was a real pleasure to see the level of responses I'm getting, I'm very flattered. Luckily for me the challenge is something that really gets my juices flowing, I've always loved epic scale SF art, Syd Mead, Chris Foss, Jim Burns etc etc and this really floats my boat!

One of the best purchases I made this year was a book on perspective - "Perspective for Artists" by Rex Vicat Cole. I devoured it because the basics of perspective are easy to grasp, and it's like lifting the veil on something that always daunted me. I found it amazing how all angles of surfaces etc can be 'worked out' once you understand vanishing points. Recommended reading.

That, and I'm trying to look into how to use colour and value effectively, these are key to producing convincing art and something that I found quite frustrating for long time. I'm not there yet, but seem to be improving gradually! Now, ask me to draw figures and anatomy... maybe next year...

Thanks everyone :thumbsup:

10 October 2004, 12:27 PM
I love where you are going with your concepts. Especially your latest three, I like the idea of a space elevator for trade reasons. I had a similar idea regarding trade but a completely different concept and composition. I should have my concepts up soon.

Look forward to seeing your progress in this challenge. :)

10 October 2004, 12:30 PM
Wow, excellent concepts. Really looking forward your finished picture!

10 October 2004, 12:42 PM
...and some more! My wacom is glowing.

wow wacom sketches... impressive works... sorry for curiosity, waht is the resolution that you use on this sketches ? Did you use Photoshop (please don't go to show mine :blush: )


10 October 2004, 12:45 PM
Gorgeous ideas so far - you certainly have the right idea of "space opera" :thumbsup:
Exactly!!! Great Start...

10 October 2004, 12:56 PM
Ciao Jdd, each thumbnail sketched in black biro on paper, about 2x3 inches. Scanned into Photoshop at 200dpi, made them about 450 x 550 pixels I think, contrast boosted and layer mode 'multiply'. Coloured underneath this layer with an ancient and tiny wacom penpartner, with another layer above the line art for highlights if needed. Saved for web at about 66% size... baddabing. Hope that helps.

10 October 2004, 01:01 PM
Ciao Speaky... England or Italy ? lol ... thanks for the tipp... I will try to follow what you tell...

amazing works man :thumbsup:

10 October 2004, 02:06 PM
Speaky your a genius. Quit now while your ahead, I need a chance in this competition.

10 October 2004, 03:39 PM
oh man, you are gorgeous!!!

im blooding out of both eyes - your concepts are all cool. you can make out of every thumbnailscetch a great work. every scene has something cool and special....dont know, which one is better.....please show us all your stuff and thoughts, so we can learn from it.

10 October 2004, 03:55 PM
Great scatches!:eek: Very impressive!!!:eek: :thumbsup:

10 October 2004, 06:41 PM
Great start Speaky!

All off them have so much potential. This competition really looks like your cup of tea.

Cant wait for more advanced sketches. Bet im gonna learn a lot just by watching these sketches:)

10 October 2004, 08:09 PM
So... are you going to start auctioning off your unused ideas to us poor souls? :deal:

10 October 2004, 08:45 PM
Wow! these thumbnails look great.

can't wait to see more of your ideas.

10 October 2004, 08:55 PM
those are beautiful sketches, you've a fantastic feel for perspective and depth :thumbsup:

10 October 2004, 09:01 PM
Slow down man ... you're making this more difficult than it is. :D
Impressive sketches. I particularly like the 3rd one of the second set the best. Nice sense of scale and excellent color values. The only thing it has going against it is that it doesn't make me think of "space".

Keep up the good work. Looking forward to see which one you go with.

10 October 2004, 09:50 PM (

Ok, ok, last ones for a while I reckon! I just realised I hadn't tried any ideas that were set in space, they were all planet-bound, so....

First pic shows the intrepid hero jetting toward the grand Frangulan Stealth Death Attack Fleet to take them on single-handedly. The rationale? Hopefully they won't be able to detect his miniscule thrust emissions and he'll be able to use his Vorpal Rifle to deliver a lethal shot against their mothership, leading to an inevitable and fatal disruption of their command grid and ultimately, human victory. Huzzah!

The second pic shows a bit more promise I feel, it's quite a tranquil scene in which I was imagining some kind of ark-ship travelling among the stars seeking suitable planets for human habitation and seeding them with automated atmosphere processors, base constructors and the like. Possibly a bit of a cliche, and it's mainly the lighting I like really.

I started off with four pics btw, but only really thought these two had any promise. I think I'll spend a while considering what I've done and maybe polishing up a couple of existing pics to gauge their potential.

10 October 2004, 10:00 PM
both of those are cool, but I really do like the first...... Huzzah! :D :applause:

10 October 2004, 10:02 PM
I just wanted to thank you all again for the feedback, I'm overwhelmed!

Really, it's the fault of CGTalk for setting a challenge with such a tempting theme. Here's one 29 year old who gets way too excited by this subject matter :scream:

10 October 2004, 10:05 PM
FlyingP, I kind of like the first, but I'd have to develop the hero's flying posture a bit. He does look like he's mincing into battle. Huzzah!

10 October 2004, 11:22 PM
Great sketches by the way great compasitions, but i guss u need to give the feeling of "Grand"ness u know? this amazingliness to the eyes of the viewer, that will help u alot!
Good luck

10 October 2004, 03:19 AM
I liked the epic structures set of thumbnails. All in all a great beginning.

10 October 2004, 06:01 AM
Hiya Speaky,

Just a quick note to say your work....looking forward to your updates :thumbsup:


10 October 2004, 07:06 AM
These are all fantastic, Speaky.... how are youg gonna decide?? Maybe you should auction off your unused ideas once you've made your mind up!!?

The planet based images have such a sense of scale with their perspective and lighting that the space images almost seem 'little' besides them. This is probably just a lack of fine detail (caused they're speed paints!!) and that there's no people as an indicator of scale. I'd go with FlyingP and plump for the first one of the space images... or one of your planet based images (i liked the one with the cheering crowds and the huge city-like ship landing/taking off).

You've produced a set of incredible concepts... i can squint a bit, imagine the detail and see any of them amongst the winners in January.

Good luck making the decision... can't wait to see them develop!!

10 October 2004, 01:20 PM
you sketches are looking more promising every post you make. I'll be keeping an eye on this thread :)

10 October 2004, 01:24 PM
Thanks you lot.

Keem - yes, the grandness is something that needs to be a big part of the final pic. I'll have to find ways of showing scale through detail and repeated elements. The space pics are difficult because without an atmosphere to narrow contrast range it's a lot more challenging to show relative size.

Gamoron - hey, I haven't seen you since the Game Icon challenge! You entering this one? :applause:

Duddlebug - Thanks, man. I've complicated things through choice here haven't I? I guess I'll spend a while exploring some of the better ones and hopefully one will stand out from the rest. That's the plan.

10 October 2004, 08:00 PM
i gotta watch this great scetches

10 October 2004, 08:30 PM
FlyingP, I kind of like the first, but I'd have to develop the hero's flying posture a bit. He does look like he's mincing into battle. Huzzah!

looking at what you've drawn so far I can't see you having too many problems developing it further. It has an interesting mix, one side fitting perfectly with with the Heroic theme, and the other it has humour.

ah what ever just keep drawing, I love your work :thumbsup:

10 October 2004, 10:44 PM
excellent work, i don't know if i'll check your thead again, perhaps the fear to use your ideas subconsciously :p . I really like the second sketch of the two first sets and the third one of the third set but it is really to choose the best! Great sketches!!

10 October 2004, 01:55 AM
I look forward to seeing what direction you decide to head in.

D pi
10 October 2004, 03:41 AM
I like the scale of the second group... I think a strong foreground or human scale element will really push it and make them even more dynamic... the sense of light even from the start is great.

10 October 2004, 06:08 AM
wow, nice sketches, you've got plenty to choose from. You maybe could strive for sense of vastness or something (or then it's just small images that ruins it). But those are really good sketches.

Good luck to you

10 October 2004, 08:41 AM
Wow, those sketches are terrific! They all have different moods and themes. Looks like a great start!

10 October 2004, 10:06 AM
For now, im just signing up to ur great thread, to make sure i dont miss a single sketch from u.. later i'll post some comments and suggestions if i'll have some :)

Good luck!

10 October 2004, 10:28 AM (

This is a pretty quick rendering of a combination between my last two images. I liked the idea of Captain Frapp taking on the mothership with his Vorpal Rifle, but thought the stealth ships were a bit too stealthy and hard to read properly. I actually liked the colour scheme in the second pic more. So here is a combination of the two. I had to introduce a bit of atmospheric haze just to make the foreground pop out more, and I had Captain Frapp on his side looking at one of the sensor nodes as he moves toward the mothership. I'm not too keen on those green arcology type stubs on the upper shell of the mothership. Maybe if they were drawn a bit more accurately?

10 October 2004, 10:40 AM
Looks good. Only thing I would prefer is for the station in the background to appear larger. I dont know if its the guy in the forground, or the lack of something else readily recognisable as large to compare to the station, but to me it doesn't seem big. You probably weren't aiming for it anyway but just my opinion :D

Very good otherwise


10 October 2004, 11:11 AM
Very good start ! Good sketches and nice ideas !

10 October 2004, 11:14 AM
Hi Lockwyn, I was trying to make the station look very large by showing those sensor 'nodes' which look to be at least as large as the hero, dissappearing into a tiny stream of dots and vanishing altogether before it reaches the station. Admittedly in this rough sketch it's not too clear! Another couple of things I thought of after posting this is that I could maybe put the station into a wide-angle perspective and have an angle such that the base joins the planet (space elevator!) with clouds lapping at it's base. That might help make it look a bit bigger!


10 October 2004, 01:04 PM
Very Intriguing on all your designs and concepts!!
The 2nd picture in the first set has the best composition, by far!!
You seem that have a pretty good grasp on the whole space opera idea. I'm eager to see which design you choose to go with.

~~Well Done~~ (
A Site by a good friend of mine we're collaborating on

10 October 2004, 02:01 PM
wow I do like that one :)

10 October 2004, 03:35 PM
... I could maybe put the station into a wide-angle perspective and have an angle such that the base joins the planet (space elevator!) with clouds lapping at it's base...
That would look amazing. Might I also suggest also giving the station a bit of a tilt to make the composition a bit more dynamic?

10 October 2004, 03:40 PM
Nice work speaky. the composition is reading very well - i like the figure in the foreground - it helps draw the viewer's eye in nicely. I would have to say its not my favourite of your thumbs but nonetheless its still mightily impressive. Keep it up!


10 October 2004, 04:57 PM
I like it, although I kinda feel that the mother ship is either 2 big or too close, the others had a bit more depth :shrug:

EDIT: or then again maybe not, not too sure myself :hmm:

10 October 2004, 05:12 PM
Wow, some amazing sketches in here! I'm so glad you're not taking part in the 3d challenge :D

I think all your ideas have potential with more detail added but I actually really like the first space sketch. The underlit ships look ominous and would look great if scaled up to almost fill the space. All the porthole lights will give the ship shape so I think it's just fine if it's not too visible.

The guy in the foreground gives it all scale too. I actually like this one better than the last pic you uploaded (the hybrid), including his pose. He looks better when looking towards the ships (it kinda directs your attention on them instead of on him) and the way his legs are posed makes it look like he just floated into the pic. I think it all works better compositionwise.

I'd say go for the red planet version :)


10 October 2004, 08:08 PM (

From the first set, second one with the emperor being assassinated. Some might say the composition isn't as good as the thumbnail, and they may be right, I just wanted to try out a two point perspective rather than just the one point.

I placed the setting sun behind the pair of figures to create a dramatic outline. I thought the shaded area on the right hand side would seem extra dark as the 'viewer' looks into the sun almost.

If I were to develop this one further, I'm thinking adding some more height to the buildings and perhaps some dirty vapour trails as the enemy disperses their intitial wave of fighters. Maybe one damn dirty fighter screaming past the window too.

10 October 2004, 08:54 PM
Its incredible how many entrys you have in so little time lol very nice work :D

10 October 2004, 09:12 PM
you know......I have yet to see a sketch here I that don't actually like :eek:

10 October 2004, 11:16 PM
I like the perspectives you use. The light is really good too. Seeing your work is very motivating.:thumbsup:

10 October 2004, 05:02 AM
Your last sketch is gorgeous! As usual... :thumbsup:

The only thing I think you should improve is the silhouette of the two characters in the foreground. Maybe, you could show a little more sttruggle from the dying emperor, or a more dramatic pose of the killer... you know? Try to make them more readable.

Otherwise, beautiful image. The sense of grand Space Opera is already on it! Looks like something out of Frank Herbert books, or from the Foundation saga.

Shadow Seraph
10 October 2004, 05:08 AM
Wow, every piece is like an incredibly well done underpainting, I can't wait to see what happens as they progress. So many incredible works of art.... keep up the great work!

10 October 2004, 07:49 AM
lookxs great

10 October 2004, 08:12 AM
CGTalk Member - it's a product of work being thin on the ground and the girlfriend having gone away for a week. Too much time for SF related mischief! It won't last.

FlyingP - Nice, I'm glad you like 'em.

Pentagramma - I totally agree with you, I do find drawing the human form convincingly pretty difficult so this is an area I'll work on later. The point of these refined sketches (and they are actually pretty rough and ready) is just to throw up new ideas and solve basic problems that reveal themselves. Dune, Frank Herbert - still my all time fave single SF book. Never read beyond that one though because it just seeemed perfect. As a series, how about Alistair Reynolds four book series ... stunning.

Shadow Seraph, Fahrija - Thank ye!

10 October 2004, 08:24 AM
Dang! Truly inspiring stuff Speaky. I must say, I've been visiting these forums for a long long time, yet, I've unfortunately never contributed anything to them.

I thoroughly enjoyed following the Machineflesh challenge, yet somehow delayed submitting anything until the challenge was over.

However, as there's a new challenge up, and already there's a whole plethora of awesome work popping up, I might have to pull myself out of the painful lazy rut I've been in these last few years and get back into artwork.

Keep up the good work, I'll most certainly be following this thread over the coming months.

10 October 2004, 10:01 AM
Fab work Speaky!!

These are so well worked for early concepts!!

I'd agree with Lockwyn that the perspective doesn't really give a sens of scale on the iamge with the floating Captain Frapp. I'm sure it'd be more obvious with more detail and atmospheric effects in a finished piece though. The floating cannisters help... but you aren't immediately hit by the scale. Maybe tilting the mothership would help too...? Or lowering the view point...?

The second sketch has a better sense of scale, and i love the lighting in the background, but i think the figures are too big and prominent... if they were much smaller it would give a sense of grandeur to the interior but they could still be a focal point as the only figures. I'd aslo give the exterior more space and move the dark arch across to the right a bit... maybe meeting the left of the picture things that i think would make them even better than they already are...

Absolutely fantastic work!! You're steamin'!! Hope you can keep up the pace when the girlfriend gets back!! :)

10 October 2004, 11:41 AM
great work on that most recent one, I wish there was more light on characters, not much but a bit. Composition of that one works particularly well.

10 October 2004, 12:17 PM
Great work and great maner!
From all your concept images, I think the far left one from the second batch,on post #9- is closer to the Space Opera theme, where you have a nice perspective, a bold space ship in the centre, imposing an as it lands/takes off, this white channel of energy is perfect!,and then, positioning the comp from a low angle frame of the city, works great.
I much prefer this than your latest space war scenes, which don't have this Grande feeling.
Keep up the great work :thumbsup: :applause:

10 October 2004, 01:29 PM
Love the colouring in your latest piece....:applause:

10 October 2004, 02:38 PM (

From the second set of thumbnails, the epic structures ones, here is a refinement of the third of those with the bug-like craft descending into the waterfall canyon which houses the imperial council.

I notice I'm getting a bit carried away (amongst other things!) on the old saturation front of late, need to remind myself to reign that back in. I probably get away with it here because the values are in the right ballpark - squint and all the shadow detail falls away like it should.

I chose a more severe angle for the perspective, I really wanted the tower structure to loom out of the mist as it were. I had one *hell* of a time trying to work the bug craft into perpective. Gave up in the end. Spherical shapes in perspective: problematic.

10 October 2004, 03:07 PM
crrazycool stuff , all of it !

Agree with flyinP , haven't seen a single sketch
of yours that I haven't liked yet !

10 October 2004, 03:11 PM
If you continue like this you will finish and enire cosmic book ... wondeful works !

10 October 2004, 03:11 PM
crrazycool stuff , all of it !

Agree with flyinP , haven't seen a single sketch
of yours that I haven't liked yet !

Yeah the sod just doesn't seem to want to stop :D

in other words flamen cool......again :buttrock:

10 October 2004, 03:41 PM
Looks like you dont need alot too create a goed atmosfere, very nice combined with a cartonie way of design. I love those colored shetches with the wild lines, to bad they will not be in the finiched version.

10 October 2004, 03:42 PM
Damn, you've been busy :D I better get cracking. That last piace, based on one of my favourite of your roughs, has translated well. The contrast between the areas bathed in light and the shadows is a wonder to behold...

nice work indeed

10 October 2004, 03:42 PM
Thanks Squibbit, Jddog, FlyingP, element5. This sod will run out of steam and need a break from it pretty soon I reckon! :)

DelArin ... "painful lazy rut" - sounds like someone's got a talent gathering dust. Enter the challenge, you know you want to!

Duddlebug - The Captain Frapp picture, been having some more thoughts on that, like maybe have him clutching onto the side of one of the pods as he picks his way closer to the mothership. Playing with the angle of the shot sounds good too, but I'll let this one ferment for a while I reckon. Cheers!

Ranath - Those characters are nice and dark to hide the shoddy job I did of drawing them. Your suggestion would certainly give the pic some needed drama, something I'll look into that in the next iteration. Ta!

Evanfotis - I may well refine that concept at some point. As it stands I think the composition is a bit dull, perhaps I could find some more drastic camera angle from which to view it while keeping the essential look and feel as is. Thanks for your feedback!

Laters :thumbsup:

10 October 2004, 03:54 PM
And a few more slipped in while I was replying!

De Vlaming - Wild lines - my doddery old wacom penpartner will do it's best to ensure some wildness to any lines I draw, probably even in the final version! Thanks for stopping by.

Unitstudio - I'm glad you like it, I wasn't too sure about it until I added some haze behind the structure and then noodled a bunch of struts and antennae onto it in true Chris Foss style. Also, the form wasn't reading at all well until I added the stripes. Hey ho. Cheers.

10 October 2004, 04:01 PM
It's very Chris Foss, which is a good thing.

Since I was a kid I've been a fan of his work (I used to get the calendars and novels with this work :) )- I'm surprised he wasn't put forward as a source of inspiriation in the challenge. Really, a bold confident palette and composition. It would be good to know a little bit more about the context.


10 October 2004, 04:11 PM
Unitstudio - me too, absolutely. I remember we had a couple of scifi books on the bookshelf when I was like 4 or 5 and Foss had done the covers. I just used to stare at them in awe. Seems he's dropped off the scene completely unless someone knows differently, maybe the industry changed and he didn't want a part of it anymore. Still, totally inspirational, and yet very rarely does his name crop up these days. Conspiracy theory!

Mr. Glass
10 October 2004, 04:48 AM
Great designs, very colorful. Love your angles too.

Frank Lake
10 October 2004, 07:17 AM
Lots of wholesome imagery in here Speaky. From the dry to the dramatic and from the cold to the emotional. :applause:

10 October 2004, 07:44 AM
I like the scenes with characters more, but the ones of only the spaceships are awesome as well. I think if you can somehow keep the dynamic feeling of the spaceship scenes, but incorporate characters into them, you'd get the perfect image.

10 October 2004, 10:31 AM
Man what ever direction you go I am sure it will be amazing....your latest is great :applause:

10 October 2004, 09:22 AM (

This is from the first set of thumbnails, the left hand one. The theme for this concept was departure, a historic foundation world of some vast galactic culture has finally become so unstable as to demand the evacuation of its people, cultural artifacts and history.

Originally the thumbnail depicted a man and a woman about to board their own craft, but I thought it might be good to show a family (with kid, see) about to board a shuttle (looks quite a bit like a massive train unfortunately) which will carry them up to the enormous transport ships which are hanging in the sky.

I aim to give a sense of nostalgic and grudging departure from a home which has been good to the family. Theirs is a story mirroring that of billions of others at this pivotal juncture in this empire's history.

10 October 2004, 09:33 AM
Mr. Glass, Frank - I thank you, very encouraging words.

Element5 - thanks man, you're being very supportive, it's appreciated. :thumbsup:

Lunatique - I agree, it is very important to have a human element to the pic. This is an area I always find difficult, especially now with these soaring and epic SF vistas which need to be created for this challenge. This most recent pic works for me because the people are more of a placeholder for the emotions being felt planetwide, this is supposed to be more of a poignant moment which sums the whole situation up, and hopefully some relatively anonymous characters will work best here.

If only that shuttle wasn't so train-like. Something for the next revision if I decide to pursue this one further. Crits and comments most welcome!

10 October 2004, 09:34 AM
I'd show some of the cultural pieces being loaded
into a transport ship , that would make the pic more
special , give it more of a unique feel , u know

also you could make one of the family members look longinly
back at the world ,almost like not wanting to leave,
maybe there's a pyramid or some other
significant monument of the people in the background

how about adding luggage and a conveyor belt in the pic ?

add signs of some disaster in the background ? huge cloud
of locusts maybe ? failing sun ? flood and earthquakes ?
dark clouds ? :)

and make the transportship's doors open with shuttles coming
and going , delivering passengers and cargo

oh yea and long long lines of people in the background waiting
to board a shuttle

10 October 2004, 10:01 AM
another fabulous concept :thumbsup:

10 October 2004, 02:19 PM
nice pics my man.....see that you have lots of ideas...good ones too......I'm courious wich one of them you're going to choose to start from.........great storys your ideas...I like much the last two of designs.....cheers.. tech

10 October 2004, 04:52 PM
Nicely developed ideas , hoping to see more : ).

10 October 2004, 05:06 PM
wow, nice strong atmosphere, a bit too reddish in my taste. I don't exactly understand what's going on but you'll refine it, won't you?

10 October 2004, 05:31 PM
My favorite at the moment is probably Thumnail sketch refined 3, I really like the perspective and the effect of the light hitting the tower.

Bishoppess of Death
10 October 2004, 05:44 PM
I like the color scheme here, very nice.The basic compostion is also good, but there's one thing I'd change. The woman's pose is off a bit. Both legs are bent, and she's facing off out of the picture. I'm not sure if this is just an enlarged view of the concept peice or if parts of it are re-worked, but she is a bit of discord in an otherwise very beautiful peice.

I'm now going to stalk you. *stalk stalk* heheheheh.

10 October 2004, 06:11 PM
stopp this man before he did a complete concept book :) damn nice concepts - i have an eye on this thread

10 October 2004, 06:15 PM
awsome perspective shot, ilike it!!
the next shot of the family looking out, is very warm, comforting even. I'll have to look again, but is the planet dying, sorry, i might not have read all your posts, but like i said having a family myself this has to be my favorite yet!!
I try to incorporate the whole family thing, into my stuff as, when i get the chance anyway

keep it comin, looks fantastic!

10 October 2004, 06:17 PM
great use of colour btw!

10 October 2004, 08:48 PM
Just my 2 cents.... give more blue color sheme to the world to make it more interesting to the eye, otherwise is a great pic! As always... :)

10 October 2004, 09:00 PM
Amazing sketch, you've got a lot of good ideas here. I can't wait to see you final result...

10 October 2004, 07:03 AM
I still can't quite believ how much work you're managing to churn out. ANd it's all top quality!!

I love the image before last (refined sketch 3 i think?). I love the high angle and the lighting across the towers. It's probably not as close to the brief as some of your other concepts though... the last one is also beautifully lit.

Isn't your girlfriend back yet?? How do you find the time!!?

10 October 2004, 06:54 PM
Of all the concepts I've seen, I'd say this one might turn out to be the best. It really does have a grand feel to it, and it gives off the sense you're trying to depict (the one in the description).
Honestly, I think you should make the final based on this. I agree about the shuttle though- it does kind of look like a train.

10 October 2004, 07:32 PM
My god, your sketches are just amazing. Its work like this that really motivates me to work even harder.

10 October 2004, 04:35 AM
love that sketch of the family, it feels like they are being evacuted. strong work!

10 October 2004, 04:56 AM
those are some amazing sketches ive seen so far

good work.

10 October 2004, 08:59 PM (

From the second thumbnail set, first image. The idea of an Imperial palace which tours the core planets of the empire keeping the local governments under the thumb and making sure all is well. I could imagine that the logistics of this would be mindboggling, so that maybe the palace has to hang around for a good five years while maintenance and repairs are carried out. This image shows its departure in progress, and the citizens watching the once-in-a-lifetime spectacle of a million tonne spacecraft taking off and the immense power required to do this.

Overall I think this idea has some promise, but maybe from a different angle. I wanted to try something different from the thumbnail as I found the composition to be a bit straightforward. So this is the result of some pretty odd perspective work and did take more effort than normal to salvage something I liked from it. Sometimes it's an easy birth, sometimes it requires a bit of sweat and pain. This one was definitely in the sweat and pain category. That palatial spacecraft was supposed to be catching the golden sunset but I couldn't seem to get the hang of how the light would look hitting it, and I was constantly battling to maintain the focus on the blinding white energy beam. Oh well!

10 October 2004, 09:19 PM
Speaky I am really lovin' your sketches man. Beautiful work. All stellar images, most recent 2 being the best. I don't know if you've read the SciFi novel the Snow Queen but in that book there is a "Preseidential" space craft sorta along the lines of what you are working on. Maybe it'll give you some more inspiration. Keep it up man.

10 October 2004, 10:21 PM
that one beautiful !!

10 October 2004, 10:59 PM
I think that the last one of your sketches is the best until now for its sense of greatness, perspective and color, but if you keep developing your thumbnail sketches, for sure that you'll do one even better, cause the ideas that you depict in them have more potential.

10 October 2004, 11:02 PM
I really like this pic speaky, the people in the foreground their body language shows just how big of a spectacle this is.

I think you should try and fight with it some more to get it the way you want it. You'll be happier in the end, even if you choose not to use this particular peice.

10 October 2004, 11:07 PM
That last one is the best so far. Simple as that :)

10 October 2004, 11:20 PM
yep, the last one has a real sense of drama and grandeur to it. Perhaps more people on the ground to make it more of a spectacle, I'm not sure..
Nice work mate.

Bishoppess of Death
10 October 2004, 11:59 PM
Intersting. I like the contrast of these colors alot, and the yellow/blue/white is very nice as well. I agree with the different angle part, and the idea (ninjaASSN) of having more people on the ground.

10 October 2004, 05:33 AM
SOMEBODY has either a LOT of free time, or is just damn good with his pens. or god forbid, both! ure latest idea is very solid, but so are a lot of your other ones. looking forward to seeing the end result.

10 October 2004, 05:59 AM

I like your two last seek I perhaps prefer sketch 4 for
environment, but you will still make other search, it is the good
method, good continuation.

10 October 2004, 06:16 AM
yea this last one is cool . that touring palace is a great idea !

10 October 2004, 08:24 AM
Thank you all for your comments! :beer:

Well, these last two images of mine seem to have drawn the best response so far, I guess because they are the two which look the most epic. The 'evacuation' pic was a lot of fun to draw, it all seemed to come together pretty quickly and easily. I just had a thought, that I could maybe look online to see some posters or images from the evacuation of London during WWII. There might just be some really memorable or famous one which I could make reference to in the stance of the characters or layout of the pic. Could be interesting.

The last one is the one I had to spend most time on, about 2.5 - 3 hours work, and I consider this to be too much work for what should be a quick sketch, after all. As I said, I really had to struggle with the lighting on this one, and most of the time was spent flailing around trying to get the picture to 'read' properly. Generally this kind of problem is due to poor planning, and I guess that's what happened here. I imagined the scene to be bathed in the last light of the day from behind and to the left of the viewer. I knew I wanted structures in the foreground to show relative size, and I definitely wanted some kind of foreground bridge or strut cutting across the body of the ship as the viewer sees it. I thought this would really give the feeling of something massive rising up in the distance and simply dwarfing everything around it. It seems to have worked, but I think the angle of light was problematic because it was making the foreground dominate the subject so I had to find ways of putting implicit building shadows over the foreground to damp down its brightness and saturation. If I'd done another 5 minute mini thumbnail of this version I could have avoided all that!

Right, not sure what thumbnail to tackle next really. I notice I haven't done one from the third set of thumbnails, the peace / dominion / struggle ones. Also, I do quite like the right hand one of the first, with Captain Frapp needing to get past one of the huge enemy kill-bots to save his lady friend.

Probably one of those then! :wavey:

10 October 2004, 09:01 AM
I'm imprest by all the products in this thread !!! Go on ! :thumbsup:

10 October 2004, 09:17 AM (

From the second thumbnail set, first image. The idea of an Imperial palace which tours the core planets of the empire keeping the local governments under the thumb and making sure all is well. I could imagine that the logistics of this would be mindboggling, so that maybe the palace has to hang around for a good five years while maintenance and repairs are carried out. This image shows its departure in progress, and the citizens watching the once-in-a-lifetime spectacle of a million tonne spacecraft taking off and the immense power required to do this.

Overall I think this idea has some promise, but maybe from a different angle. I wanted to try something different from the thumbnail as I found the composition to be a bit straightforward. So this is the result of some pretty odd perspective work and did take more effort than normal to salvage something I liked from it. Sometimes it's an easy birth, sometimes it requires a bit of sweat and pain. This one was definitely in the sweat and pain category. That palatial spacecraft was supposed to be catching the golden sunset but I couldn't seem to get the hang of how the light would look hitting it, and I was constantly battling to maintain the focus on the blinding white energy beam. Oh well!

man i'd love to do that in 3d it has such a grand feeling to it also the point of view is verry well chosen i think might want to put it up just a tad higher [ more on the eye level although if i was a midget alien this would be fine :)]
i'll keep on tracking :)

10 October 2004, 10:54 AM
i love that last one... it feels so epic....

The figures shielding their eyes are a great touch too.

Definitely my favourite so far!!

10 October 2004, 11:19 AM
wow man...nice one the design of the big ship........original too.. she is destroying things overthere or what? see some rocks independence day ones?


10 October 2004, 11:41 AM
Latest image is awesome and the story is cool aswell.... :thumbsup:

10 October 2004, 10:28 PM (

Hello there. Just thought I'd share a bit of my process. After the last one, which I didn't particularly enjoy doing because the colour scheme was poorly planned, I thought I'd try a better approach this time.

Started off with a sketch, actually the only one so far that hasn't involved much perspective work. Size, I'd say a fair bit smaller than A5, done in the middle of an A4 sheet. Scanned into Photoshop. I went for a long while trying to originate all work on the computer - my Game Icon and Machineflesh challenge entries were done completely onscreen, perspective work and all. Nightmare... what was I thinking? There's something just essential about working in reality in the early stages ... biro and cheap paper.

I then made a copy, sized it down until it was tiny and then used this to play around with the colour scheme. Started off with blues, tried reds, then decided a green theme. I knew I wanted some red elements, as the complementary colour they would balance each other perfectly. A complementary colour is the one which you would add to the dominant colour to achieve a middle grey I believe - only found that out the other day. The human eye likes the way this balances out a picture.

I wanted the sun to be the lightest thing in the pic, with kick lights being the only bits of comparable value. I then sketched in some big darks, trying to get a nice silhouette going which already defines the forms and begins to read well, i.e. the eye starts wandering around nicely but staying focussed in areas of interest.

Once I was happy with the thumbnail colours, I ink droppered them into the bigger scanned version. Might as well stay true to the little one - if it works small it'll work better big! I immdediately started to dislike the massively green background so I opted to have the sunlight reflecting off of a hidden mars like planet casting a subtle(ish) red light from the other. I drew a gradient across from the upper right to the middle left, changed the layer to color and adjusted the transparency until happy. It seemed to start working from this point in. I filled in areas where the red light would strike. I also darkened the tip of the mushroom like vast city thing where it intersected the sun. I made it darker than it should be because if you looked at the sun, you'd squint and the view around it would appear to get darker. This is a case where a bit of artistic license comes in handy to make a picture work better. I think it makes the sun look brighter.

The rest of the stages are just filling in where the light sources would strike, hot highlights and other cheats and bits to ensure that form isn't obscured and spatial relationships are revealed. For instance, Captain Frapp's (I know he's a bit indistinct! If I develop this further I'll know to sort him out... doh) spacecraft was hard to see so I put a bit of white haze 'behind' it and made the dark areas darker than the dark areas on the kill bot. Just pops it out a bit more, still not right, but works ok for a sketch.

Well, I've waffled on for ages. Total time spent on this pic was about 2.5 hours from sketch through to finish. I've described my process in this one not because I think the picture is of particular merit, but because I actually remembered to save the individual stages! I've been meaning to do this but so far have failed, and over the years I've learned the most useful stuff from seeing how people arrive at the end result so I thought I'd give it a go myself.

Final big version to follow....

10 October 2004, 10:31 PM (

E voila. This is the third of the initial thumbnails I did. Different colour scheme etc, but quite similar. Wanted to try something greeny.

As ever, I am delighted to hear back from you lot! Cheers!

10 October 2004, 10:45 PM
this is very good ! Thank u for the sketch process.. its interesting to see the different stages and i for myself can learn a lot from that :D

10 October 2004, 11:04 PM
This is looking really nice.

10 October 2004, 11:05 PM
It is so amazing...

10 October 2004, 12:34 AM
The last sketch was really well done, but for this contest, i dont think it'd do. The sense of scale just isnt big enough like your previous concepts are.

10 October 2004, 02:27 AM
Some really amazing concept work on these pages. Thanks heaps for sharing your process. Do you use a wacom? I'm finding it really hard going getting smooth flowing lines, even writing my signature on the new tablet doesn't look right, a jerky mess. Any tips in this area?

10 October 2004, 02:46 AM
Dude , Big thanks for sharing all the creation process stuff ,
that's really helpful. Your color and lighting work is truly
excellent , every pic just so easy on the eyes and awesome
to behold

10 October 2004, 08:11 AM
very nice breakdown Speaky :thumbsup:

still hope you go with the concept with that massive ship taking off though.

10 October 2004, 08:26 AM
Your concept sketches are amazing and very very inspiring for me....:)

10 October 2004, 08:57 AM
First let me simply say wow.I thing that every sketches of basic sets are excelent and could serve as sketches for good space opera entry.But two of em i find best.First one is in middle of first set(assasination of emperor).It has drama and it's epic.I also like kind of strain includet in picture.If i can even dare to have to have suggestion,i suggest that you put bodies to more artistic pose (look at antient roman and greece statues if you want to know what mean).I mean:include some kind of "art of death".But i have to say that pose you,ve included in your sketch is also very gives very raw maybe even brutal sense to action on picture.Second sketch i like is that you've refined on Refined sketch 6. I like sense of space included here.But i must say that i like assasination piece most.(I thing that this picture went under in following chat a little).

10 October 2004, 10:03 AM're the MAN! Your concepts and whole process is mindblowing! Thanks for taking the time to explain everything in such detail.
This last concept is really good...however, I prefer refined sketch 3, because of the great vertical perspective.
What I like most about this one, is Capt. Frapp. He integrates really well into the whole picture...hiding, small, scary little guy, holding just a gun, almost looking at us crying for help. His scale and positioning in the image look perfect to me, however, I think he is a bit humorous character, which, perhaps, doesn't integrate so well in the Grand Space Opera theme...just a thought.
Really looking forward to more great works from you. Congrats!

10 October 2004, 12:55 PM
This is awesom man! Not only the pic, but the description as well. I really like that u used such a contrast as green-red color and put a great dynamic in a picture with those diagonal shapes and flying robots. The composition of elements and light is very well balanced, so... the pic simply works. I really like it from this point of view, but i've got to say that it lost its power. Maybe its just coz of sketch, maybe because of small objects... doesnt reach the Grand level in my opinion... But hey! Thats just me :)

10 October 2004, 03:31 PM
Great work, and productivity!
I still prefer your intial concept from the second batch, which you elaborated by tilting the camera angle and addding the yellow bridge.
The first scetch had more depth of field and synthetically was inho more striking.
As for the last image, where the invaders land and attack, although I like the idea, I think the bg needs some depth.
And the terrified soldier/ man, could turn away from camera, or stand differently, cause as he is now, his facial expression reminds of a cartoon with comic aspect, rather than a dramatic illustration of a terrible invasion.
Just my thoughts :)

10 October 2004, 08:42 PM
God ! Your sketch concepts are amazing. It seems your skills could make any of them a winner one !

10 October 2004, 03:00 PM
Outstanding Speaky!!
I like this peice for geat use of perspective and light. Thank You for the rundown on your creation process, beleive me i 'm takin notes. I have everything to gain and nothing to lose from entering this challenge, with the help of very talented artists such as yourself, if nothing else i hope i learn to alot about colouring techniques.

gotta go breakfast

10 October 2004, 03:57 PM (

Hello all, thought I'd try and develop the character of Captain Frapp a bit more. A few people pointed out that he looked a bit funny and out of place in a serious grand space opera, and they were right! Unfortunately he looked funny because I'm a bit shoddy at drawing the human figure not because I meant him to look funny, more's the pity. This is an area I'm desperate to improve in, and it's a doozy.

So... Captain Frapp and his Vorpal Rifle, a rare and incredible weapon bequeathed to the empire by a sympathetic race of aliens with near god-like powers and technology. It has the ability to change the tide of battle, able to operate in all conditions and temperatures from the vacuum of space to the searing heat of the inner planets. Captain Frapp: hero of countless military campaigns, he resists any kind of promotion which takes him away from the frontline and would risk himself in any situation for the good of the empire or a noble cause. He's a man's man, a hero's hero, all round good guy and incredible pastry chef. He's the obvious choice to wield the Vorpal Rifle.

Sketched out in biro on paper first. Pretty boring pose because the more dynamic the pose, the worse the result tends to be. Started off okay... 8 heads tall, I'm kind of happy I know the topology of the chest / shoulder / head area. Arms seem to be getting there, stomach region ... okay ... legs / hips damn... he has a woman's hips... how do thighs work again? Feet? Calves? etc, etc etc. More practice needed.

Anyway, here he is, a solo mission in a jungle world, buried in as much foliage / texture / shadow as possible to distract from the bad sketch.

10 October 2004, 04:07 PM
"feet, calves? " heh , fun stuff :) :thumbsup:

10 October 2004, 04:41 PM
You shouldn't be so hard on yourself speaky, the proprtions are all there, and he doesn't have woman's hips~~lol~~ It's really pretty good. Just keep practicing if you're not happy with it. it'll all turn out in the end, use references, comic books, magazines, whatever you got. It works.

keep it comin!!

10 October 2004, 04:43 PM
check out Burne Hogarth's drawing the human figure, and don't think i've seen a better guide.:thumbsup:

10 October 2004, 04:44 PM
A big thankyou to all and sundry for taking the time to reply!

I'm glad the process explanation was well received, I'll see if I can come up with another one in a future sketch. I meant to say that I always found the most useful stuff about others' work processes to be the thinking and reasoning behind each stage, rather than simply watching someone start from a sketch, lay down value, add colour, highlights and see something miraculously take shape, that's why I wrote quite a bit.

Some specific answers:

Riki - Yes, I use a wacom. It's a tiny Penpartner which is about 6 years old now, the nib is really worn down now. I really can't draw predictable and smooth lines with it. I found moving it away from the subwoofer sorted out some of the jitter (I believe). Other than that, if I need to draw a curve I'll try it, CTRL-Z undo, try again, CTRL-Z undo etc until I get it as near as I can. If an edge needs to be curved and accurate, I'll use the pen tool and draw the curve and a shape, and then paint inside it, invert the selection and crisp up the edge outside too.

Newcenturydsn - that's a good attitude, it will get carry you far. The CG challenges were the first time I'd ever really worked through a piece, put in so many hours work and so much effort. I learned a lot about patience, a structured approach and various aspects of art and the software I'm using. This time I'm setting out to learn more about dynamic figure drawing, character development and telling a story. Oh, and to enjoy myself!

10 October 2004, 04:49 PM
Newcenturydsn - ha, you snuck in there and posted another couple of times! Believe me, in the original sketch, Captain Frapp had some rather ladylike curves. I have Burne Hogarth's book, it is very good, but.... it's just not working for me yet. I think I just need to go practice. A lot. Thanks for the feedback!

10 October 2004, 10:29 PM
like the character sketch a lot, nice mood and sense of depth going on. He reminds me of Riddick with those goggles and the bald head, maybe try some things to set him apart and give him a uniqe identity.

strong work!

11 November 2004, 01:52 AM
Some great stuff here. I think I prefer "Refined sketch 6" as it is the most interesting one.
Love the little nervous man. :D
Would be nice to see some more drawings in that direction.

11 November 2004, 09:47 PM
The palace lift off, definitely the best so far IMHO… the grandeur of the moment makes for a good backdrop to the painting… I would try the widen the view and make it more open though… larger scale.


11 November 2004, 10:33 PM
i especially like first set,second, very dramatic and the composition is solid(a problem of the 3rd on the set)

second set? i can't really say, i am doing something quite the same, and i am counting on mood and camera for something good to come out, the theme of the citadel metropolis is done over and over and over:shrug:

11 November 2004, 10:10 AM (

Been a bit busy of late and haven't been able to spend near enough time on the CGChallenge. In spare moments I've been looking through Hogarth's Dynamic Figure Drawing and doing lots of quick little figure sketches to try and grapple with the ideas. I kind of know the basics, but it's just getting it all to gel.

Here's a sketch of Captain Frapp displaying his signature style of laid back yet unquestionable command in a battle situation. Vorpal Rifle at the ready so he can suit up and sort those damn aliens out if need be. Not sure I really like it... I wanted to get away from the Riddick comparison made earlier, but I seem to have stepped straight into a Flash Gordon stereotype! Also the bg isn't very 'correct', I just threw in something in order to put him in context.

I prefer architecture!

11 November 2004, 10:35 AM
Blackarts - useful feedback, thanks! I've not seen the chronicles of Riddick, I've heard it's pretty average though?

Olve - Lol, that nervous little man is supposed to be Captain Frapp taking a moment before attacking the kill-bots. Old Frapp doesn't get nervous, he just gets calmer. Thanks for dropping by!

Bakbek - yes, I need to squeeze more of an epic cityscape into the frame, I thought that too. Despite it being quite a wide angle perspective it is a bit narrow of scope, if you know what I mean. The palace-ship idea seems to be working for a lot of people so I may well develop the idea a bit better. I can't see Captain Frapp being involved though, and I do want to get some kind of wider story or character angle into the pic.

Giza-di - Thanks, I appreciate your thoughts on the thumbnails. Thematically, I reckon it's hard to be truly original when talking about a grand space opera. It's been done so many times in fiction, movies and art that there's always some kind of overlap and falling into stereotype. Generally speaking I am of the opinion that slavishly trying to be unique is as disappointing to watch as someone blatantly copying something - they are two extremes of intellectual approach which, for me, don't produce something I like. What impresses me is an imaginative take on a theme, a strong emotional reaction to a pic, subtle humour, drama, artistic skill and vision, well... the list goes on thankfully! I'll just say that I'm enjoying your entry develop, I like it on a number of levels.

Ok, back to work. I hope to have some free time toward the weekend to indulge in SF joy.


11 November 2004, 02:08 PM
It looks good but i think the mustache has to go it just doesnt fit him, maybe a goat tee would be better and add some smoke to the cuban cigar :D very nice shadowing keep it up.

11 November 2004, 02:29 PM
I agree about the moustache, besides not really fitting the personality of this character, it doesn't really look like a moustache, seems like a simple black band... but that seems to be appropriate to the technique you were using when painting this picture. I like the overall color scheme, the variety is interesting and the choices are very atmospheric. :)

11 November 2004, 03:03 PM
Squibbit and yourself seem to have an endless amount of ideas.............It's all looking rather tasty.

What process do you employ when it comes to you saying to yourself...."that's it, that's the one I'm going to develop!"

I'm curious, because I work in the opposite way....once my mind gets a big image in there...that's it-i'm stuck with it. It's not a bad thing..........but It's probably saying i'm a bit obsessive when I give in to an image.

Nearly all of your concepts are absolute winners.........what i'm trying to say must be very hard to pick just one.

I hope you know what I mean.

Good luck


11 November 2004, 03:42 PM
CgTM and Shadowstarre - Yes, that damn moustache isn't too great. He didn't have one at first, he had a bit of a grin going on, but it made him look manic. I scrubbed it out and tried a bunch of stuff, and somehow the moustache just snuck in. I thought it might just work because the colours, tone and bg is all vaguely retro. It's when I have to do characters than I envy people like the venerable Duddlebug who can infuse more character in a few pencil marks than I can after hours of frustrated scribbling.

Paul - Thanks for that, I really liked your Machineflesh entry, it was a great concept well executed. I admit that when you leapt straight into the ultra detail I was worried you'd not be able to sustain it across the whole pic, or you'd encounter a problem with the lighting and have to start over. But you knew what you were doing, fair play to you! In the last two challenges I pretty much stuck with the first idea I landed, but this time I wanted to explore a bunch of ideas, to settle on one or combine the best of a few, who knows? I'm hoping that the end result will be somehow deeper for it.

11 November 2004, 08:24 PM
Me fave is you image on post 134# as the machinery design is very distinctive and memorable. lovely colors too.

11 November 2004, 01:53 AM
Another fabulous piece, great imagery :thumbsup:

11 November 2004, 10:14 AM
Hi Speaky,

thanks for giving me an insight into your thinking. In typical fashion, as soon as I wrote that comment I went back to my concept and realised I wasn't happy with it, so it looks like I'm going along your lines and playing around with various situations before I commit.

Comsidering we spend a lot of time producing this artwork, we'd better be happy and really believe in the concept..............for spending hours painting the artwork, the last thing we want is to get sick of it half way through.

Good luck


11 November 2004, 10:25 AM
Considering we spend a lot of time producing this artwork, we'd better be happy and really believe in the concept..............for spending hours painting the artwork, the last thing we want is to get sick of it half way through.

Well , said , Paul . That's one of the reasons I constantly keep exploring new concepts ,
I want to find the one that I really want to do and not get bored with

11 November 2004, 10:30 AM (

Thinking about the ship that old Frappy is trying to get to in the last refined sketch I did, with the kill-bots in it. I just wanted to develop it a bit more and maybe move away from the cartoonyness (not sure if that's a word) that was evident there. So here it is in Hanger 13, unlucky for some, mainly Captain Frapp's enemies!

I did this image in greyscales to get the values how I wanted them, then put an overlay layer above it and slopped some basic colour on. I could have continued adding layers of colour and texture to make it look more 'finished' but I didn't think it was worth it for a sketch. Time taken, about an hour and a quarter.

11 November 2004, 02:48 PM
Well Speaky and certainly have give yourselves the choice and opportunity to find something special...............all good!


11 November 2004, 03:46 PM
Great lighting transition on the last sketch speaky.

11 November 2004, 09:16 PM
You know, I wish I had the kind of time you have to draw. ... No, scratch that. I wish I had a Wacom and Photoshop on my computer at work for on those slow days. *sigh*

Everything is looking great. My vote's still for that downward shot of the tower in the setting sun. Nice work.

11 November 2004, 02:16 AM
Loving the amount of posted work so far... Keep 'em comming!

11 November 2004, 02:57 AM
excellent colors and textures! my only crit is the anatomy of the character and proportional comparison to the character and the spaceship. but my God!! the color is so beautiful!

11 November 2004, 03:33 AM
great work speaky!!

Good to hear you're taking some time for character study, it's always a good thing!

I've been out of touch for a while our main comp at work fried out on us and the exterior hd backup we thought was saveing all our files apparently wasn't working so we lost everything, it's been a little hectic.

once again your colour and lighting effects are outstanding!!

can't wait for you to settle down on an idea you're happy with, it's gonna be great!

11 November 2004, 04:42 AM
You have a lot of great concepts coming out. Hard to choose which one I like the most :shrug:

11 November 2004, 01:23 PM
Very nice concepts. :)

The floor looks very convincing. How did you make it look so grainy? Is the number 13 a transformed shape you placed on an layer with multiply?

11 November 2004, 09:07 PM (

Well then, I've been reading the challenge faq and the topic of using basic 3D to sort out the perspective for a paintover came up. The point was made by Leo, that it is an absolutely valid technique that is used routinely by concept artists as a tool in 2D work. I guess it's a bit like using a ruler to draw straight lines, scaled up conceptually.

Now I don't have much experience with 3D, I did use Cinema 4D when it was given away on a CU Amiga coverdisk (guessing here!) way back when it would take all night to render a torus. So I downloaded a copy of Wings 3D and Blender to give 'em a go. A couple of v. quick tutorials and I had enough to go on in Wings. I'll say now that I love Wings already, it seems very speedy and intuitive. I used extrude, connect and scale, that's about it. Just played around until I'd made a vague copy of the building and the surrounding cliffs / waterfall bit (might not be clear from the pic but that's what the bg is supposed to be).

Blender was a bit more difficult. I simply wanted 1 light source playing across the geometry, and a wide angle camera to give the drastic verticals. Took me a while. Once I'd got the viewports going like cinema 4D on the Amiga, I could move and rotate it all in to place. Finding out how to do a wireframe was a bit tricky. Got there in the end. I rendered one flat shaded pic and one wireframe pic and plonked them together in Photoshop. Resolution was 1280x1024. I don't have a printer so I just went in, darkened the pic down a bit, used an overlay layer to slop some colour on, and then spent about an hour and a half sorting it out.

Initially I felt a bit constrained by using a 3D sketch. Even though the lighting was basic I felt a bit loathe to get stuck in and chop and change it around. You know, can't really argue with the machine, it seems so damn untouchable. The lower pic here is when I just started working over the closest ship to break up the simple geometry into something more interesting. Once I'd started on that I began to appreciate how useful it is and presumably quick to set up (barring learning enough to get by in two progs). I've said before that I really admire skilled 3D work, it's amazing how much work can go into it. But give me 2D any day of the week, it feels much more responsive and controllable.

A quick word about layers. I normally work with the barest minimum of layers. One. If I have line art, then I colour 'underneath it'. If it's messy lineart I sometimes have another layer on top to put highlights etc on. I'm always eager to get to the point where I can forget about the lines, I've got the values close enough and I can flatten the image and work on one layer. I try to save often, especially when I'm about to alter something big.

With only one layer I can best use my favourite technique, which is to copy an area to the same spot on a new layer, protect the transparent pixels, do the change, unprotect the transparency and erase through revealing the untouched orginal where I don't want the change to affect. Ok, that's pretty theoretical but I find myself using this more than anything else in the mid to end stages of every pic. In the end sketch (I'll post next)look at the nearest craft, I added the light haze behind it very late in the pic. So, I copied the whole area, pasted it into the same place, swabbed a big soft airbrush over the area and built up the haze. Then, unprotect the transparency, use the eraser and it magically (to my mind!) reinstates the ship. When I'm happy, I just merge the layer down. It's easy to build up complex textures like this, I always use it to make objects 'pop', you could add a big gradated shine to the side of an armour-plated vehicle and then 'erase' through where the gaps in the panelling / portholes are etc, revealing detail underneath. Honestly, there are too many applications to mention, I must stop going on about it. It's just that it's my number one technique!

11 November 2004, 09:10 PM (

This is the refined sketch 3 with a 3D perspective helping base. See previous post for more info.

I notice a few questions that I'll answer when I check back in a couple of hours.


11 November 2004, 09:24 PM
your light and color displays and just about everything else is just wonderful to behold ,
bet u couldn't make a bad pic if u wanted :P

11 November 2004, 09:25 PM
Thanks for sharing this interesting information about your technique Jesse. Though I'm not entirely sure whether I understood your workflow ...

The picture looks good. But "Refined thumbnail sketch 5" is still my favourite.
I also like the last concept a lot, but rather in terms of color and light than the actual concept. It looks very much like watercolor to me.

Can't wait for your next post.


Bishoppess of Death
11 November 2004, 09:30 PM
Nice. I wish I could figure out 3D well enough to use it as reference. But my stuff tends to end up all curvey and swooped and looking like a futuristic Notre Dame. Ah well. I like the captain's ship concept. (It look like a frog! The citry idea here is really nice too. You do great CG work.

11 November 2004, 09:48 PM
excellent use of 3D to flush out your concept, that last sketch looks killer. I really like the blue lights, and you can really push that to sell the scale of your scene. Add a few more ships flying around, and you've got the makings of truly epic shot. nice!

Tommy Lee
11 November 2004, 10:19 PM

Looks awesome... I have nothing to crit.
And also like the 3D use. Maybe I'll help myself out a lil' too. I am not that trained in Perspective and tend to loose patients..:shrug:

Anyway,... like the images.



11 November 2004, 10:28 PM
I've been through this thread since the beggining, its just awesome :applause:
But what I definitely love the most about your sketches is the lighting, which always conveys so much... Amazing!


11 November 2004, 11:49 PM
Everyone: thanks! I really enjoy reading through your responses, they are a constant motivation for me to push myself and do the best I can.

Christhatguy - here you go! I thought I'd try the old 3D perspective base on something that would warrant the effort to create. The 'camera' was very wide angle giving some crazy verticals which work nicely I feel. It was pretty difficult to set up actually, just trying to approximate the scene I had in mind involved a lot of frustrated angle spinning.

Teknotek83 - I know, anatomy lets it down. I thought the proportional sizes were about right... it is Captain Frapp's personal attack craft... small, compact and bijou. With a deadly arsenal. On a more interesting note, my girlfriend's comments on seeing this pic was 'That spaceship has breasts', which oddly enough it does. Must have been some kind of subliminal thing. :blush:

Fahrija - Grain is courtesy of a monochromatic noise filter on a white multiply layer, at about 50% opacity. I just tried it because it helps break up flat areas of colour. The '13'... I made a very quick (3 mins) new pic, long and narrow to represent the texture of the ground in the hangar. Stuck a 13 on in a text layer, copied and pasted this into the Frapp pic as an Overlay layer I think. CTRL-T transform on the pasted 'floor' lets you CTRL-Drag each of the four handles, and you can fit such a texture onto a 3D plane, in this case the floor. Then I erased areas where Captain Frapp and the ship were, adjusted the opacity a bit and merged down. The bigger grain on the floor is a result of this process - I put a similar noise filtered layer on the floor texture, it's just a bit enlarged at the bottom of the pic. A bit overkill on the answer there, but you did ask!

Igino - I did bang on a bit about the old workflow didn't I. It's what I love so much about this, everyone has a different way of working, everyone has little tricks and things they've discovered which makes it a bit easier. As for 'concept sketch 5' ... I'm tending to swing toward that one, this latest one, and still liking the death fleet one and ... hmmm, got to make up my mind soon. Concept sketch 5 is one which would definitely work well with a 3D perspective base, I may try revising that one next. Wider perspective. More buildings.

Tommy Lee - Hey, thanks! I'm looking forward to seeing what you come up with in this challenge!

11 November 2004, 12:55 AM
damn, i can't coment à lot, i'll lost computer and internet for one week..but your work is really great! Your sketches are beautiful and really clean. There is a very good atmosphere with 'Captain frapp's private spaceship' :applause: And your last concept is really beautiful. If i was unitstudio, i'll be able to give you some nice crits and advice but i don't, i can only say congratulation :)

11 November 2004, 03:04 AM
i love the last one. youve used the 3d prop well. good sense of depth. infact, better than good.
and dont worry about the use of 3d elements, if nothing else, itll help you test out different camera angles with ease, and let you see the solid forms from different angles, which should essentially make it easier to paint their forms realisitically.

11 November 2004, 12:58 PM
Even if it's painted on boxes I really dont like the perspective shortcut on lower right corner of the picture. It just look quite a bit strange to me.
Anyway I really like this entry, colors are pretty well chosen for me :)
Keep it up.


11 November 2004, 01:05 PM
I love a real grand feel.

You could help the illusion by bringing your ship in slightly......and give it the feeling of space. Move it away from your border because it helps give the illusion that it's above everything else.

Great stuff


11 November 2004, 08:18 PM
your latest one looks very majestic and grand. serene, as well. :D

11 November 2004, 08:51 PM
Wow, check out that angle, very dramatic, very "Grand" Keep up the grea progress.

11 November 2004, 11:50 PM (

This is a similar developent as the last one. I used Wings and Blender to create some simple geometry to give me a foundation on which to build. I chose the other one of my sketches with difficult perspective, the Refined Sketch 5 with the palace-ship blasting off into space.

I didn't like a few things about the last version of this, namely it was a bit bare when I had envisioned some criss-crossing of city in front of the massive vessel taking to the sky. I don't know, it just wasn't looking grand or involved enough for me. So I wanted to shoehorn a bunch more buildings into it.

I'd say setting up the 3D took about an hour. About 15 minutes to model the city blocks, about the same for the palace ship. Imported into Blender, set up, rendered out and composited in Photoshop. This is the upper left image.

Forgetting the problems that the sunlight streaming in from the left caused me last time, I began to dodge the surfaces facing the settin sun. This is the second picture. Remembering that they caused me no end of hassle, I started to cast the buildings into shadow, and started to break up the blocks and add detail. Already alarm bells are going off - I realised that I'd have problems getting the focus of the piece right. The buildings and the ship were kind of merging visually, so I employed some atmospheric fogging and introduced a green glow in the bottom hoping to differentiate the foreground from the background. Still not working and the palace ship looks almost unreadable now. Much swearing ensued. Had a break for dinner. Time in photoshop so far, almost two hours of noodling and frustration.

Thought of a two tier method of solving the readability of the pic. I decided I really wanted this incredibly bright exhaust plume to be one of the main focus points, so I decided to radically damp down the brightness and contrast of the surrounding buildings. I used multiply layer with a grey on it, about 70% opacity, then used a soft eraser to remove the multiply layer around the exhaust, it seemed to improve matters.

The second bit was to bring out the silhouette of the top of the palace ship, and I thought placing a planet behind it in the sky would sort it out. At least it was beginning to read ok. Not great, but better. I'd say I was quite happy with the results given I almost gave up at stage number 4 thinking that there was no way of rescuing the pic. What would help matters a lot would be to print out the basic 3D version and take a pen and detail it out there. That way I could chop and change a lot more of the geometry, adding stuff more confidently etc. I have no printer and did all the detailing with my wacom, not something I enjoy because I tend to CTRL-Z about 5 times per stroke just to get it right, the wobbly old thing. Yes, the anatomy of the figures suck absolutely, no effort possible without pen/paper I'm afraid.

Oh, I just realised that it's got the same greeny red thing going on as Refined sketch 6. It would have been nice to have it turn out a bit different, say a bluey green maybe. Final sketch to follow.

11 November 2004, 11:52 PM (

Here's the finished concept sketch. See the previous post for a bit more about it. Thanks for looking!

11 November 2004, 03:33 AM
erhm... great as usual , but now there still seems to be the thing
you mentioned earlier, which is: to me it seems there's just a huge
building there and not a ship; seems the building is shedding light downward.

This might be because the building blends in with the blue background.
Also, that bright beam from the ship seems like one from Independent Day,
not saying it shouldn't look like that ,it's just unusual a phenomenon without
any smoke or sumthin

11 November 2004, 05:00 AM
this is so gunna work. lighting, composition, use of silhouettes, all awesome. congrats!

11 November 2004, 10:06 AM
Squibbit - Hello, yeah I must say I agree with you. You've always given me honest and useful criticism in the past and it's always really helped me before, so it's appreciated!

Peddy - I'm glad you see potential in this one. I'd be interested in what you think of my thoughts for developing this pic further. Cheers!

I'm looking at the whole thing with a fresher eye this morning. Basically, I'd approach this pic a bit differently if I did it again. The main problem was getting the pic to read easily and I think what needs to be done is to have the architectural style of the city completely different to that of the palace ship. I've used my standard struts and spikes approach for detailing out the box model on both. Maybe if the ship was very fussy and ornate and the buildings were all organic and smooth it would appear more separate. I'd redo the lighting again, with some new colours.

I was happy enough with the beam, though. I didn't want smoke or anything because that would imply some kind of chemical propulsion and no way would this thing be allowed to simply launch itself from within a city, too much collateral damage! Also I kind of like the idea of some kind of beam propulsion which would allow this whole thing to slowly but smoothly rise into the heavens, perhaps accompanied with some kind of awesome continuous tone which dopplered into nothing as it left the atmosphere. I'm beginning to think of this event as perhaps the departure or retraction of some old despotic governing power ushering in a new age of freedom and expansion. I imagine a throng of partying, dancing people cramming the foreground celebrating in style with the feeling that this is happening all across the planet.

I think I need to settle on a finished concept within the next week or week and a half, really. That's the plan. Then I'll work on the final composition, build or reuse the 3D models, get it printed out somehow. I'll print it on A4, take it to a copyshop and get it blown up to A3 to do the detail work. Then I'll either cut this in half (ouch!) and scan the sections into Photoshop or I'll take it back to the copyshop and have it reduced back to A4 so I can scan it in one piece. Then I'll work to max resolution and shovel in as much detail as poss.

11 November 2004, 12:53 PM
wow your pieces are amazing, no crits right now but maybe in the following stages? Good luck!

11 November 2004, 05:38 PM
very cool, Speaky. Those beams silhouetted by the spaceship exhaust fumes, really stand out. I think you can make something really interesting out of them.
Perhaps you could drop those lightbeams on the left, and make that area shadowy, so it does not detract from what is really happening.

Keep 'em comin' !

11 November 2004, 12:19 PM
The lightning of your last conceptsketch is great, but maybe the ship and the background space work best together with different color or tone.

11 November 2004, 12:52 PM
I love your wip, and all the variations of the theme.
My 2cents, although I don't like repeating myself.
Your last comp based on the 1st sketch of your second batch is impressive.
I Do prefer though, the initial sketch for the following reasons:
1_ I think a landscape canvas is more impressive than a portrait one for these epic scenes.
2_ In the initial sketch you kept the spaceship separate from the ground buildings; it had an entity of tits own and its own dynamics. In this last effort, too many things overlap the ship, taking away from its strength.
3_ The bridges, buidings etc. are becoming more impressive than the spacip/civilization. Is that your objective?
4_ The white beam, although powerfull idea has lost its impact comparing to the first attempt.
Yes you have beatifull nuances of light as it interacts with the buildings , but Look at the comp as a Whole!
5_ Last, the people. The guy in the centre, seems to wearing a jockey hat, somewhat out of place for this scene. Also his posture is a bit cramped. Try a more fluid movement.
6_ Keep on the great work!!!

11 November 2004, 02:08 PM
Hillartsympho - Thanks for the boost!

Andreasrocha - I agree about the light beams on the left. I wouldn't drop them but I'd probably tone them down until they didn't detract from the main beam. I wanted the people to have spilled out from a club or something to catch this moment before dashing back in and rescuing their drinks, if I were to develop this particular angle/pic a bit more I'd glitz this area up a bit. Having said that, this pic really does have some more serious problems which need tackling first though!

Evanfotis - Thanks for taking the time to write what you think. I'd encourage anyone to point out things they don't like (or do like!) about anything I do here. It helps me! To answer your points:
1 - Unless I'm mistaken the initial thumbnail was portrait. I chose the portrait aspect because the scene is showing something taking off and rising into the sky. I agree that landscape is most generally suitable for epic scenes, probably because it gives a cinematic feel to the pic, but in this case the inclusion of more buildings either side of it might detract from the focus. I'll think it over though.
2 - I agree that the ship in this latest one is too integrated into the surrounding buildings, but very early on the simplicity of the thumbnail's composition started to bore me. It just wasn't dynamic or challenging enough.
3 - I wanted more of a context for the ship taking off, but in this case it's not really worked. Read the notes with the process and see how I had to struggle with this one!
4 - Probably this is part of the general problem.
5 - Those figures were such a rushed, last minute addition. I was getting fed up with this pic and didn't have much left to make them better. This is a concept sketch stage, though admittedly I've been polishing them up too much. Probably because of the quality of competition out there :D

I'm really caught between the last two refined 3D pieces for my final pic thematically, if not the precise angles and content I've used so far. I've pretty much ditched the idea of the assassination of the emperor one. I don't think the Frapp/killbots one is epic enough... the Frapp/Orbital one likewise.

11 November 2004, 02:26 PM
first- Im Loving this work man! i am really amused!

...I'm beginning to think of this event as perhaps the departure or retraction of some old despotic governing power ushering in a new age of freedom and expansion. I imagine a throng of partying, dancing people cramming the foreground celebrating in style with the feeling that this is happening all across the planet...
a story came to my head when i saw the image, i will feel free to tell u it, becouse its your image :)

It gave me the sensation that this ship thats launching was always a big and old living complex,
that the goverment is going to have to "upgrade" it.

But people never knew that it was really a space ship also.

And ther coming back home when they see ther apartments going to space, and there shoked but also amused at the same time becouse they never imagined that where they lived, a building perhaps 100 ou 80 years old (lots of time for the advanced future and perhaps what kind of old technology this building had?) is launching to space!

=) sorry if i missed the point a litle its just how i interpreted the sceane, and sorry for the bad english!!!

11 November 2004, 02:32 PM
You're right it was Upright-my mistake.
You can keep it that way or add on the sides...
Siimplicity is not necessarily boring. It might be bold and striking as well.
Too much detail if not put appropriately can be messy and confusing.
If one was to choose from the two, it is easier to remeber a more simple image than a confusing one where it takes time to discern what is going on.
You are a very good craftsman and imaginative in the comps.
But don't get carrried away by others that clutter their precious canvas, which is an amateurs characteristic, to fit in as many things as possible.

11 November 2004, 12:35 AM
Man, your sketches are awesome, can't believe you have made so many so soon!

11 November 2004, 02:19 AM
wow.. crushing imagery!!! and great compositions! :thumbsup:

in my opinion 3rd sketch is obviously the best one.. i think you may try to use red color for illumination on the small ships instead of green.. i think red color could add more tension and dramatism to the picture..

anyway i'm very impressed..

cheers and best of luck Speaky!

11 November 2004, 05:18 AM
2_ In the initial sketch you kept the spaceship separate from the ground buildings; it had an entity of its own and its own dynamics. In this last effort, too many things overlap the ship, taking away from its strength.

I agree with this 100% You really need to take the ship into the air seperate from the other buildings to give the feeling of the propulsion your talking about and take advantage of the portrait dimensions you've chosen. Otherwise when I first glanced at it, it looked like a very high tech lit cathedral.

11 November 2004, 05:51 AM
Fantastic image as usual, a very strong idea :applause:

11 November 2004, 06:21 AM
speaky, this is fabulous the sense of depth and....skyscraperness.....uuhh..yeah, is great. I like the colours used as well, the people work, but once the definition is added this will be a peice for the books!

Keep it up!

11 November 2004, 09:08 AM
Hi, very cool tone last sketch I like much this kind of prospect
and the colors...

11 November 2004, 01:51 PM
excellent concept and sketches :) in the latest sketch, I particluary like the colours - the ship taking off, could be at more of an angle (or the POV could be), this would probably make the ship seem more shiplike and more dynamic

11 November 2004, 10:43 PM (

Hello all. Unfortunately the icy hand of work has made itself felt and I'm too busy to spend much time on the challenge. I am grateful for the feedback, and have been thinking of how to combine the wide scale of the thumbnail sketch with some more dynamic elements. Increasingly I'm torn between the palace-ship one and the top-down one. Looks like it'll be one of those two I go with.

This is a quick sketch just as a break from work really, just throwing pixels around and reimagining the scene. Somehow seems a bit less original than the others, but hey, I've enjoyed every brushstroke!

11 November 2004, 08:30 AM
I really like the dramatic feeling in this last sketch. Great potential. You can add some other big ships in the distance to increase the feeling of the story.

Keep up the good work! :thumbsup:

11 November 2004, 10:54 AM
Wow what a powerful image...i do like :applause:

11 November 2004, 02:47 PM
I . . . LOVE . . . YOUR . . . STUFF . . . !

I have been browsing many threads and it is a humbling experience I have to say. I have such a long way to go. I have not started much yet but this is very inspiring stuff. Feels so futuristic and your choice of colours are very nice.

Will keep an eye on this for sure.

11 November 2004, 05:18 PM
very great. that ship seems very dangerus and i feel that it will destroy that planet

i like it ..keep working:thumbsup:

11 November 2004, 05:18 PM
amaizing work!

11 November 2004, 01:53 PM
All great concept. I'm sure you won't have a problem surprising us again which ever concept you decide to go for. Looking forward to your new developments.

11 November 2004, 02:17 PM
oooohhhhhh....AAAAAAAAhhhhhhh! Very nice speaky, this looks good, but is the ship gonna bust through the thick crust of the planet or the roof of whatever the city is enclosed in, you probably didn't mean to but it looks like the city's underground or in a cave or somethin'.
Still looks great though, it must not take you very long to paint these up, i'm terrified to see if i'll be able to figure out photoshop in time!

11 November 2004, 11:17 PM (

Another quickish colour sketch developing the idea of the palace-ship taking off. Blatant disregard for accurate perspective because I did this straight into photoshop, likewise the quality of the linework isn't up to scratch. That flea circus at the front there is supposed to be a bridge with people on it, added at the last minute, not too sure if it works.

Basically I wanted to see how the palace ship taking off might be viewed from a bit higher up, giving more of a view across the city rather than an extreme angle from below. I'm even tempted to try an extreme angle from above, kind of merging the palace-ship concept with the top-down concept. I may go for something in between as I like the idea of showing a lot of city, a couple of close up flying vessels with a horizon and sky too. I may even be able to shoehorn the waterfall in as well, who knows? Looks like captain Frapp is going to be an almost-ran. Tough cookies, Frapp!

11 November 2004, 11:31 PM
you go speaky! i think you're right about changing the angles for that image. you dont get a strong sensation from the view you've chosen there but what you are describing for your future angle could result in something amazing. go for it.

11 November 2004, 11:36 PM
Thank you all for your support in this, it's always very motivating to read through your comments. I think I'm drawing close to settling on a final image, and I'd appreciate any crits and comments on the subject matter, if it's too cliched or not (I don't mind cliche if I'm consciously wallowing in it) or could be more dramatic with something added, if it's too busy, the composition could be better etc etc.

newcenturydsn - Hey, Photoshop is a daunting prospect at first. Two challenges ago I was having to learn from the ground up how to 'do' digital art. I mean, I consider myself to have some natural talent at this, but unless you know how to use the software to translate your ideas into something that does them justice then it can be very frustrating. I'll be glad to try to explain or help you out if you're not sure how to approach something in photoshop. Just ask.

11 November 2004, 12:39 AM
WOW! every piece of work you submit are fantastic. I think going on an angle above as you mention would look very dynamic. It would review more of the story behind the scene and give depth to a grand feel.

11 November 2004, 01:05 PM
bravo, good sense of depth, and nice colors.
May I suggest you to diversify the scale of the objects : the one bigger, the two flying objects much smaller, for ex.

Good luck

My space opera thread (

Tommy Lee
11 November 2004, 05:14 PM
Holy crap...:bowdown:

11 November 2004, 05:49 PM
speaky, everyone of your 'sketches' (i find it hard to label them as such!) are extremely dynamic and the composition, color works, contrast, everything is very well done. Once settled on an idea to work towards I can't even imagine the progress you're going to make.
And I think that you really do have a story, somewhere, netted in between all these sketches. I mean, it's not like you're just creating random spaceship designs or whatever just for the heck of it... all of your images have some sort of story in them, some sort of meaning... maybe it's just taking the time to find it. Maybe there's some connection between all your sketches, what are you thinking when these images pop into your brain... what are they spawned from? All of the images are very dynamic and grand in composition and every element of the visual art... but the thing your lacking is a dynamic and 'grand' story behind the images. Most of the images lack that scrimmed grandness of story that could translate into the visuals of it all. Like, for instance, the one with the orange building and frog-like space-ship hovering above the waterfall city: That looks like it's straight out of a top-budget futuristic movie panning over the city as the main character's ship enters into the scene. However, there's not much going on as to what the main characters are doing there, or what is this city involved in, why that ship there flying above the city, what's it's importance?

You've pumped out all these sketches in this amount of time, I don't think you've got anything to worry about for while, because once that spark ignites, all of us will be in for a ride as to the speed you'll get things done. And if you have all these ideas about seperate images, imagine how many ideas you'll have for one focused idea and how perfected it will be once it's done.

Just start narrating your sketches and see if you find a narration you like and go from there... focus on that narration
take care

11 November 2004, 05:51 PM
btw, all of your concepts I believe have enormous potential, some more than others, but all have a good bit! And a hint of grandeur lies within each of them... but I believe once you focus on one is when the the 'grandess' will start to blossom and become very apparant to you and the viewer

One of my professors has been ragging on me all year, because I do the same thing and come up with a million potentials trying to find which one will be the best. She always just tells me, pick a direction and go with it. So yea, I think you're mind, heart and skill will be apparant within whatever piece you make. And if you don't like the direction it starts to go in, modify it or choose another direction.

You seem to write with the paint, while I write words and very roughly/amateurly sketch those words. But no matter how we 'write,' I believe that you understand your idea just as much as I understand my own. So I really do believe you have an underlying story going on it just might not be as apparant to the viewer as a written word might

11 November 2004, 11:23 AM
Wow you are an image machine :applause:

11 November 2004, 12:07 PM
Steve Newport said it all... and opened my eyes and eyes of some others too probably.

11 November 2004, 12:21 PM (

Had some time last night (and an hour before lunch today) to work on a third, higher angle, with the palace-ship quite a bit higher up, lifting its billion tonnes of mass into the night sky. I included the process this time because I kind of stumbled upon the initial shape by accident.

One thing that I really find helps, especially in a sketch like this, is to utterly decimate the blank white canvas first. I find nothing so demoralising as trying to 'come up' with something when staring at a white screen. I took the 3D render from the refined palace ship sketch a while back, and made about 6 copies of it on different layers. I rotated them at will, changed layer modes to multiply, screen or overlay just in order to get some foundation texture on which to work. I try to get a darkish, not black though, base on which to start pushing pixels. Ideally it looks very random. This time I could just see some kind of shape appearing that was the product solely of the way the layers were interacting. I grabbed a light grey and a dark grey and swabbed around the pic until I had defined a basic form. This is the upper left pic.

I extended the canvas off to the left and down a bit, roughly blocking in the 'wing' extensions and the basic shape of the main thruster. Then, I extended the canvas yet again, blocked in a dark sky, horizon and the suggestion of some building and a city canyon thing too. Doing it this way means I had to guess the perspective, that's why it looks odd. This technique doesn't really let you come up with predictable results, it's more of a conceptual tool. I noodled the details until happy enough, made some adjustments until the values were working for me, slapped on a color mode layer and ladled on the colour. Generally, if it looks 'right' in black and white, then it means the values are correct.

11 November 2004, 12:23 PM (

Here's the third concept sketch exploring the idea of a palace-ship. For more info, I put together a quick process in the last post.


11 November 2004, 12:44 PM
if it's a palace ship , there would then be in the final pic like a multitude of
smaller ships in the pic, carrying all sorts of officials , guests , supplies and
personnel in and out of the big ship , yes ?

that looks like Thames or sumthin on the ground... sweet pic again :)

I might be terribly mistaken but the ground seems very close while lookin at
the horizon the ship seems very high up ... never mind me , u got way better
grasp of perspective than i do , heh

I'd like to see a huge crowd of people down on the ground but u probably
couldn't make them visible at this height , could u ?

11 November 2004, 12:56 PM
Steve - hey, you've made some very perceptive comments there. I thank you for taking the time to write them, and for having such kind words for me. It's also good to keep each other on our toes! I really think you've hit the nail on the head when you say that when I write, I do it with paint. I take this as a compliment of the highest order and at the same time recognise what you and others are saying about the need for an expanded written component to flesh out what I present here. It got me to thinking about my own response to SF art, something I have always had a deep and seemingly inexhaustible passion for.

What occurred to me was that I have always had an intensely visual imagination. When I read SF, and believe me I have read a lot, these worlds come to life in my head, it's hard to describe really. Often I would look at a book cover and think, "that's not the way it is for me", or I'd see a film or television adaptation and marvel at how differently the story was interpreted. Incidentally this is one reason why I love the LOTR trilogy - it exceeded, expanded and blew away my experience of reading the book. On the flip side of the coin, whenever I looked at SF artwork as a kid, I would begin to subconsciously build a story into it, getting a feel of what was going on, why it was happening, what it was like to live there and so forth. Often this would just be so much more satisfying than the real story! What I'm trying to say here is that, for me, it has always been more about the personal interpretation of evocative images, hence I always preferred the more enigmatic, neutral, mysterious or deep imagery where meanings could be teased out over imagery where it's very obvious what's going on. Perhaps now is the time for me to try and organise my personal interpretations a bit more and write them down, and try to incorporate more of a definite story to my pics.

11 November 2004, 01:05 PM
Squibbit - I kind of see, in this image, the palace-ship on full burn to leave the planet once and for all. I'd like to think that all ambassadors, officials, guests and supplies would have been sorted by this point! Yeah, the perspective is shot to hell, all guesswork. The ship is supposed to be very high up, I guess I didn't quite pull that off. Now, in terms of having some human presence there, in this image it'll be difficult. What I'm starting to think now is that the huge building from the other sketch could be a kind of palace dock, I could incorporate a massive waterfall and have a two tier effect in the lanscape behind. The palace ship could be being loaded up and prepped for launch, lots of little support vessels surrounding it like flies, or maybe just having been launched, with a set of high ranking planetary officials drinking champagne and watching the proceedings. This would tie together some of the disparate elements into more of a whole. More thinking required. Thanks Squibbit!

11 November 2004, 01:28 PM
I just like such images so much , all kind of bustle and activity , new
details for the eye to find each time you look at the pic . Not very
easy to do though , trying to get everything there is to one pic :)

11 November 2004, 04:13 PM
The most recent one looks extremely nice, although I think the composition is cropped in a bit too tightly on the ship; it makes it hard to judge the scale.

11 November 2004, 04:19 PM
Just dropping you a post to say that your sketches & ideas are awesome :eek:

Great work :thumbsup: Can`t wait to see which one you`ll choose for the final.

11 November 2004, 04:44 PM
Yap,great sketches and great ideas you got there!!!

Indeed I think too that the last one is a little to cropped and so it is difficult to see the hugeness of the palaceship.

I'll watch this one,:)

My grant Spacepra:

11 November 2004, 06:17 PM
I think Steve has said it right. I think it is time you to choose betwen your great images and take one in wish you could place some history. Enrich it. The last one with the palace ship need much more of what I am saying. When I saw it it reminds me more a giant battleship than a palace. Take a look at Juan Gimenez, "Cast of Metabarons", the first book. There are some images that illustrate what I am saying. Good luck and focus! You have lots of great ways to go!

11 November 2004, 09:44 PM
nice progression through the different images, they're great!

11 November 2004, 10:03 PM
just dropping by to tell you that I envy your ability to render (apparently) quick great concept have so many ways to go now...your probably will have some difficulty making up your mind.


11 November 2004, 10:37 AM

Nice feeling of levitation : these ships really fly !
Nice to see the inside of the mother ship : maybe you could shade a little more the outside hull, to reinforce the contrast between outside and inside.
Good luck

My space opera (

11 November 2004, 11:21 AM
I have not much to say except wow, no crits from me yet ...hehe :thumbsup:

Jake G
11 November 2004, 12:48 PM
I wish I could draw like you, I’m really slow heh. The one where you used 3D to help with perspective (on page 12) is my favourite. Very dynamic perspective and catchy colours. Easily the best thing I’ve seen so far in this contest, although I haven’t seen much yet.

Bishoppess of Death
11 November 2004, 06:13 PM
Wow. You work interesting. And yes, I want that sentance to look that way. I like this ship to. The design is very nice. And I'm sounding redundant. Ouy.

11 November 2004, 10:51 PM
:applause: :thumbsup: Fantastic work.....and to think I've hardly started.....

Really great drawings...I'm a big fan of wide angles and unusual perspectives, so I love this stuff....keep them coming.... :applause:

11 November 2004, 11:27 PM (

Well, it certainly is about time I was settling on a final composition! I set out to approach this challenge in a new way. Previously I settled on the image incredibly quickly, like after two or three days for the MF challenge and actually bypassing every preliminary in the Game Icon challenge and simply painting the final image from the word go. Now I feel I have really (over)explored the topic at hand and as I mentioned before, have combined my favourite bits and pieces and, shock! horror! ...I've even considered the background story too:

This image is from the pivotal moment when this civilisation is about to succeed in launching their System-class embassy ship to join the galactic council on the planet GalCon Prime orbiting a distant star. The journey, of 20 parsecs in this instance, is a kind of rite of passage for upwardly mobile locally civilised species wishing to join the greater scheme of things. Once they arrive at GalCon Prime, the embassy-ship will land, and become a kind of representative civilisation in miniature. The embassy ship will bring samples of art, flora and fauna for public display, and a complete library of knowledge and literature which will be merged into the central data nexus.

The reward for such an incredible feat of engineering, production and duration is commensurably grand. The civilisation here will have proved themselves capable of working in harmony toward a common goal, of dedicating the hundreds of years of resource gathering, energy storage and preparation necessary to succeed in their task. The Galactic Council will then construct a wormhole and data link which effectively gives this civilisation the biggest evolutionary boost in its history. The council will also place an embassy on this planet as a gesture of goodwill and to act as guardian of the wormhole. Intergalactic trade, longevity treatment, the accumulated knowledge of thousands of entire alien cultures, the abolition of pollution, the start of the golden age. Sounds good to me!

And why not simply build this craft in space and launch from there? It's part of the rules. The ship must be made from, powered from and launched from the species' home planet. No atomic power or pollutive chemical process may be used, it has to be all natural. This is why the ship is being constructed at the base of a waterfall - this waterfall has been charging up the launch laser for over a century now, and the ship carries it's own power storage, huge hyper-advanced batteries. Of course, a representative from the Galactic Council presides over the affair, but it's all very goodwilled, encouraging, and gently prodding us in the right direction!

There we are, this is my thinking behind the image. Specific image details need to be developed a bit further, namely the embassy ship (quite palatial too!) needs to look better, perhaps bigger. In fact, it all needs a bit of work. I decided to set this in a high set of values as if it's a brilliant sunset. I find I tend towards the dark and wanted to work towards something lighter and brighter, without war, strife, conflict. A future we can hope for!

11 November 2004, 11:32 PM
Everyone - thanks as always. It's so late and I'm nearly nodding off here. Will write a better reply in the morning. Night.

11 November 2004, 11:41 PM
After seeing many entries it is very pleasing and almost like a relief to read and view your entry. A Wonderful original idea!

11 November 2004, 11:44 PM
GREAT PIC BLAH BLAH , hehe , yea it's on the shore , this scene ? cool ! nice to
have many elements . The background story is very good , too , always gotta
have these peaceful ones , too !

That connection bridge .. u gonna put some high up officials there ?
would be cool...

Now we start watching the progress of this :)