Uplift Universe - Image Entry: Vikram Mulligan


Vikram Mulligan is entered in the “Uplift Universe Challenge” update: View Challenge Page

Latest Update: Final Image: Uplift


This is a quick concept sketch done as I taught myself to use the free version of XSI that Softimage is providing for the contest. I was pretty impressed with the software: it’s quite a bit easier to use than I thought it would be, and very responsive, too.

The background was an old image made with Apophysis some time ago. I blurred it and stuck it behind the whatever-it-is in the foreground.


The whatever-it-is actually looks kinda cool… Could it be some sort of mushroomy-alien? A “neomushroom”? :rolleyes:


I looks like a whale tail in a way. Nice start!


Ah, good ol’ Apophysis. I swear I’ve spent way to many hours dinking around in that program…


Thanks for the encouragement. Yes, even though it was just a random doodle to teach myself Softimage XSI, I do kind of like the look of the whatever-it-is. I might use a similar texture in the finished piece.

As for Apophysis, I just picked it up a month or two ago, but I’ve come to like it quite a bit. For those who don’t know, it’s a freeware fractal flame generator that’s quite nifty. Defnitely worth checking out.


Just considering my options, here, and teaching myself a few XSI techniques in the process… I’m wondering whether I want to do a furry alien or a fleshy alien…


What ever you decide to do you have great lighting skills. Bravo!


Thanks, but I wasn’t really trying for much with the lighting in the last two posts. In both cases, I’m using just a single distant light. Still, I’ll take compliments where I can get 'em :smiley: . So – thanks!


Furry! Furry! Furry! Well seriously, why don’t you do both?


There’s a thought. I was considering that, but the trouble is that it would be hard to make that look natural. Imagine a salamander with tufts of hair – it just doesn’t seem right. Still, the object is to make something alien-looking, so maybe the strangeness of it would work in my favour.


A few ideas for my piece:

 --An alien creature with a strange body but expressive, mournful eyes in a human zoo.  Rowdy kids are pressed against the glass of its enclosure, gawking and making noise.  I'd go for the sad, noble expression of gorillas in zoos.  If we can't recognize sentience on our own planet, it's hard to imagine how we'll treat sentient extraterrestrials...  The downside of this would be the complexity of the scene -- especially the kids.  I'm not sure I could pull it off.

 --A simple scene showing a human hand clasping an alien appendage in friendship.  If at least one of our species had the technology to bridge the stars, the consequences of [i]not[/i] meeting in friendship would be too devastating to contemplate...  I like the simplicity of this idea; I could focus on modelling, texturing, and lighting two objects (the hand and the alien appendage).

 --An alien creature kneeling or bowing in chains, submitting to a human conquerer.  Considering our species' long history of enslaving its own members, I don't trust us to treat aliens as equals.

 I'll do some sketches soon and post whatever I produce.


Whoops – duplicate post.


I really like all three of your ideas, the zoo, the hands and the slave ideas. The slavery one sounds like a good unique twist - usually the aliens enslave the humans! The zoo one does sound complex, especially if in 3d but would be a strong image. The hand one would probably be my favourite - I can imagine a close up of just the hands, I think that would be a really simple and effective way of showing interaction, and could be a very powerful image!

Your experiments are looking great, looking forward to seeing what you come up with :smiley:

Best of luck to you


Thanks a lot, Kenneth. I’m thinking I like the hand idea the best, too. It’s also the most achievable in the time I have, and I’ve found with these contests that it’s important not to be too ambitious. I’ll post some sketches soon.


I tend to doodle in lectures, and this is what I had at the end of the grad student seminar today…


Hmm… I just had another idea… Has anyone considered doing a Fremen astride a sandworm from Dune? If I’d thought of it earlier, I might have attempted it, but as it is, I think I’ll stick with my “hands” idea. It’s a little closer to the species-helping-species “uplift” idea in David Brin’s novel, in any case.

 Incidentally, I've checked a copy of the novel out of U of T's Robarts library, and I'm about halfway through it.  It's worth the read -- and not just because one should always do one's homework for illustration work.  It's quite an enjoyable story set in an interesting universe.


I tend to doodle in lectures

I did that throughout my whole carreer and it really works. As for the sketches, they remind me of the Sistine Chapel ceiling by Michelangelo. Great source of inspiration.


Hey, thanks. Yes, though I wasn’t consciously thinking of Michelangelo, the Sistine Chapel ceiling probably was an image that was influencing my thoughts for this piece. It’s similar to the feel of the piece I want to produce, though I want to give it a feel that suggests that the two species are closer to being on equal footing (i.e. one isn’t like a god to the other).


i did like the furry alien, but the “helping hand” idea is very interesting, i´d like to see more of that!