View Full Version : Uplift Universe - Image Entry: Niko Mäkelä

04 April 2008, 10:26 PM
Niko Mäkelä is entered in the "Uplift Universe Challenge" update: View Challenge Page (

Latest Update: Final Image: Jovian Host (

04 April 2008, 10:40 PM
Hello all!
First time in a challenge.. Great works around, am priviledged to browse, enjoy the creativity and take part. Don't know if I have time to finish but would certainly like to. Will have fun regardless and wish the same to all !

"Jovian host"

Humans are just beginning exploring the universe. They encounter an avian race, lords of thousands jovian(gas-giant) worlds, who welcome humans to their enviroment. One of the first human guests is guided by a jovian host to one-person craft, something custom made for extrajovian races to better experience the gas world. Alongside other humans watch in rough-looking dropship. Below great depths, gigantic towers of clouds, hurricane winds, storms, presessure and perhaps floating cities await.

- Metal based human low-tech meets advanced alien bio-tech
- Avian alien resembles a big-brained and sturdy manta ray. It controls vastly larger but simple jovian life-forms (resembling mollusks, medusa and whatever) via telepathy. The race may have started as a parasite to the larger creatures, then uplifted or evolved futher. This old powerful race finds humans entertaining.
- The module/capsule for the human is a clear simple shape, almost like a gel sack with visible luminous nerves that rise and connect to the pilot. The capsule leaches nutrients and all the pilot needs from the gaseous enviroment.

Lots and lots may change but I reckon I'll stick with the main idea.

Ideas/inspiration found in "Rise of Endymion" by Dan Simmons (description of gas-world with oxygen and capacity to support life, some ideas about life-forms).
Also some inspiration found in Iain Bank's "Albegraist" - deals with a gas-giant world. Actually I have to read the latter again, right now.

The gas-giant might also have Earth like gravity, which perhaps would give life more changes. Just ideas..

04 April 2008, 10:53 PM (

Moving things around, looking for the composition.

04 April 2008, 11:51 PM
I"m actually reading the Algebraist right now! Cool! They've actually just gotten inside the gas giant and we're meeting the Dwellers. Looking forward to seeing how this one turns out! :)

04 April 2008, 12:20 PM
Thanks Aglucas. Yes, Algebraist is good, not Banks's greatest imho(from what I remember), but definitely good. Going to pick it up at library today.

I'm thinking changing the concept and composition. Idea stays the same but the 'module' could change to one of the big creatures - visitors would travel to depths inside one of these creatures and would have the mantas riding along as guides. Concepts coming when I find some time..

04 April 2008, 12:32 PM (

Playing with the scuttlefish-like creatures. Will probably take them more towards scuttlefish-medusa-combo, if at all possible. I'd like them like medusas, as in lots of eyes and no brains, and still a lot like scuttlefish.

The telepathic manta-people control these big ones and ride them. And perhaps before they went telepathic, they interfaced directly with the big creatures nerve-systems. Former parasite/symbiote becoming the master.. sort of thing. This would go with the visitors, humans, given the big creatures as a 'ship' - visitor would control them directly via the nerves.

04 April 2008, 12:41 PM (

Looks a lot like manta ray with just big brains and tentacles added. Needs work but may do rest of this playing around in 3D.

Read The Algebraist by Iain Banks a few days ago. It was even better than I remembered - can recommend to all. Certainly helped getting into the mind space for my entry but did not help much in concepting.

04 April 2008, 12:29 AM (

Looking for the general shape before moving to 3D..

04 April 2008, 12:34 AM (

Making shapes for the dropship. Still low-poly here. Needs some airelions/wings and of course details.

04 April 2008, 10:12 AM (

Changed the big creatures to cloud wyrms, yes 'wyrms'(and not worms) for the cool sound of it ;) Also added to the dropship and changed composition of it all. Please excuse the bad lighting.

04 April 2008, 07:41 PM
The above is the main concept, pretty much, that I will go for. Look of things will certainly change but I as far as the idea goes that ought to be it. There may be object/character concepts along the way.

04 April 2008, 07:48 PM (

Looking for the 'look' for her.
I'd like her either without a spacesuit, trusting the aliens and their unique transport, or in a light suit and handing/haven given her helmet to the alien to hold.

04 April 2008, 07:51 PM (

So it begins..

04 April 2008, 02:56 AM
looking cool Niko! and modeling coming along nicely
some point i notice from layout composition is distance
you can add fog or blur optical effect to seperate object distance,
or maybe I think you plan to use it in later stage already ,
so wait for more progress, good luck!

04 April 2008, 04:37 PM
Thank you Monsitj, your words are much appriciated!
Yes, the scene will certainly get lots of fog, cloud and vapor to show the distance. It is a very stormy and windy place, the gas giant.

04 April 2008, 05:07 AM (

Shaping the lady, sub-d modeling-style. Trying to keep the polycount down and edgeflow decent.

05 May 2008, 05:36 PM (

Body modeling and UVs done for the lady in foreground. Plan is to do most of her suit by sculpting. Partly for that reason the she will use two big textures, two displacement maps too. Accessories will be separate elements, of course.

05 May 2008, 05:40 PM (

Had many ides for the helmet. Might stick with what I have now.. don't have time for experimenting.

05 May 2008, 06:48 PM (

Might go for this point of view of the main character. She is stepping on a giant beast and interacting with another alien. Got a little rush with those, eh.

05 May 2008, 06:52 PM (

Closeup to show some detail.. and issues she has.. for example image based scult braking up at UV-seams. Something odd happening with the hand too. I have no Zbrush, the quick rigging and posing(in LW) gave lots of issues to fix and some are still present.

05 May 2008, 07:02 PM
Now she is modeled, rigged, posed and clothed(sculpted). The suit is not final in coloring.. more like a base. Details and more incoming. Also missing some little accessories.

I still have lots and lots to do. Life stepped in, I missed weeks of productive time. Now reducing details, content and so on where I can, but still it is very likely I might not finish in time. Trying, trying.

C&C is always appriciated even though I don't much time to fix things. Would love read comments anyway. Oh and best of luck to all who are struggling with the deadline!

05 May 2008, 06:08 PM
glad to see you continue your entry! and wish you finish it in time,
i suggest that maybe you lock down the camera and add some element in form of 2d work
maybe it can save time , from your latest WIP ,
i feel that deformation of elbow and leg need more work, but maybe its about
focal length of camera that make it look distort ,
I like your model and color , hope you can finish it
good luck !:buttrock:

05 May 2008, 06:18 PM
Hey Niko, really nice image. Like a lot the model design, cool!. The colors are great, put a very nice feeling on the image. Good luck mate! Cheers ! :beer:

05 May 2008, 08:46 PM (

Fixed some issues, added things.

05 May 2008, 09:01 PM
Monsit, thank you again for your support and advice. Yes, I definitely have to do (a big) part of my work in 2D due to time constraints and even then I'm in trouble with the deadline. Indeed, I'm certain my model has some deformation issues. Tried fixing some but didn't get them all, I'm sure. I'll get on scrubbing those away if I find the time.

Fernando, thanks mate! I'm glad you like the colours. Colour-play is something I enjoy.

05 May 2008, 04:42 PM (

One of the two aliens in the scene. This is a docile beast, a pet.

05 May 2008, 04:44 PM (

wyrm again

05 May 2008, 04:47 PM (

second alien

05 May 2008, 04:50 PM (

Manta of the jovian manta people. Next great rush of getting the scene together, modeling some little bits, painting most.. little change of making it but will certainly try.

05 May 2008, 02:13 AM (

Foreground elements are close being done, or as ready as I can do in a rush. FG-tuning and fixing continues, lots and lots of work left in mid and background. Uuuh..

05 May 2008, 11:58 AM (

Jovian Host

Humanity is finally exploring deep space, traveling to other solar systems. One of such early voyages reveals a gas giant with relatively low gravitational pull and gaseous mix with oxygen, breathable even in many altitudes. This jovian planet harbors life a plenty and even intelligence. The dominant life-form, a highly telepathic manta-like avian race has no trouble understanding humans. They are lords of thousands of gas giants and an old race on galactic scale. Time, however, hasn't numbed their playful attitude to clouds, winds, life and amusing stumbling little fledling races. The jovian host welcomes humans and offers a tour around in grand local style, on giant pet beasts.

- Fear not young one, she's bred to carry you safely and can project a weather shield. Yes, my pet she wants to dive. I promise you it will be, like you so aptly say, "a joyride".

Ideas/inspiration found in "Rise of Endymion" by Dan Simmons (description of gas-world with oxygen and capacity to support life, some ideas about life-forms).

Also some inspiration found in Iain Bank's "Albegraist" - deals with a gas-giant world.

On lower gravity gas giants..

05 May 2008, 12:42 PM

The challenge was great deal of fun and a learning experience more than anything else. I've never attempted anything like this, had not for example made a proper female character before (male form is the usual), but now I wonder what on earth was I waiting for. So many things done for the first time with this entry. Makes me so happy :D Learning alone made this a success for me.

Certainly the image isn't what I had planned. It was a mad rush job for most of the way and just 15 minutes until closing I was still drawing hair. So the image is not 'complete' but I am pleased regardless and I hope you like it also :)

Thank you few but dear people for the comments and feedback during the WIP process. And thanks go to CGsociety for hosting this awesome competition. I'm humbled by the works of so many talented artist here. It was a pleasure taking part.

Most work was done in Modo, two character poses in Lightwave. Funnily enough I had a days worth of trouble getting the image rendered out, even when building layer-style, to a proper size.
(edit: Trouble was that Modo kept running out of memory. A big detail render does it.)

Finally got it ought but either my image based sculpts(vector displacement) were on done with too small size an image(usually 2048x2048 each) or I optimized the render too much. It came out a with small geometry gone 'blotchy'. So I did a cleaning/painting job to fix it and got this semi-painterly style... which I quite like :cool: Background, hair, final tweaks and such were the final bits in Photoshop. I had a lot more tweaks planned, like for instance colour work, towering clouds, glows from the tiny lights in the suit, details to the dropship... but ran out of time.

Final render is 3115x4400.

Now I really need some sleep. Will add some detail shots from the full-res image later. Anybody interested? Good day(or night) to all. And good luck, people!

05 May 2008, 08:29 AM
VERY VERY NICE ILLUSTRATION! i like a lot the style u put in it...very "soft paper" like. BRAVO'

05 May 2008, 10:19 AM
Thanks OZ, I am glad you like it :) The style, I hope, is one of the little things that make it work. Thanks again, much appriciated.

05 May 2008, 04:25 PM
another cool entry ive missed along the way...
your alien looks similar to

good stuff

05 May 2008, 03:15 PM
Thank you Simon, glad you like it. Yes, our aliens have some similarities. I'm just glad mine are alive ;)

05 May 2008, 07:22 PM
Hey Niko, great image!! And awesome alien designs , simply love it! Great atmosphere on the image, with a cool "vertigo" feeling , like that sensation on your image, great achived! :D Congratulations for this great artwork!! Best of luck And time for a well deserved cold beers and a lot of tequila shots!! Cheers mate! :beer:

05 May 2008, 11:11 AM
Hi Fernando,
and thank you. You make me blush :blush: Very happy to see you notice the things I was going for. I, on the other hand, seem to only see the problems and tons of things missing, those that didn't make the deadline. Thanks and congratulations to you too! We finished in time :)

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