Artwork bits & pieces


#1

So I’ve mentioned once or twice here that I’ve been working on my own sci-fi setting for a while now (world-building really, though I keep intending to write a book or nine…), and have been messing around in SketchUp (a VERY simple & intuitive 3D modelling program - 3D Studio Max this ain’t!) a bit as well… and in short, I thought I’d post a few odds & ends and see what people think.

Spitfire interceptor

Standing almost 23 metres tall (or wide or whatever :stuck_out_tongue: ), this is, I think, a fairly logical end point for a realistic space fighter. It’s “piloted” by an AI instead of a person, meaning those (rotating) nozzles on the ends of its arms can be used to pull absurd high-g manoeuvres. Its four-barrelled, continuous-beam rotating ball turrets (god that’s a mouthful…) give it complete coverage, and (though being lazy, I didn’t model it :stuck_out_tongue: ) are designed such that the barrels can be angled slightly, allowing it to either focus on one point or spray all of circumambient space with cones of death.

On a separate note, I recall getting the angles right on this to be a real pain in the posterior :smiley: .

Sheridan Transport

The Sheridan Transport is actually attached to army units in spite of the fact that it’s a hyperspace-capable transport. Lightly armed (those double-barrelled guns are smaller versions of the Spitfire’s ones, only not ball-mounted), it’s designed to transport Sheridan mechs onto hostile worlds (think Exo-Squad mechs, slightly bigger though), although it can also be used for other vehicles & infantry. Instead of the Spitfire’s nozzles, it has two massive main engine nacelles, plus various circular retro thrusters scattered across the body to enable it to manoeuvre in space (the pale blue circles, basically). It’s about 55 metres long, considerably bigger than most real-life landing craft (it’s nearest equivalent I guess).

Asgard Missile Bomber

One of my earliest models, the Asgard is basically a flying box of missiles, with some impressive defensive firepower in the form of its 9 double-barrelled beam turrets. Unlike aerodynamic fighters or the Spitfire, it’s a ungainly thing, designed to hide beyond visual range (or obstacles, in space combat) and lob absurdly powerful missiles at enemies. More specialised versions, featuring two heavy forward-firing beams or multiple anti-tank beams also exist, but they are much rarer.

Sentinel Drone

Sentinel drones are a quick and dirty way of establishing a perimeter on a newly-invaded world. Dropped in their angular drop pods from space, they unfold and the Sentinel deploys with a pair of what we’d consider heavy infantry weapons. Another early model of mine.

Sirius class Cruiser (Mod B)

A more recent model of mine, Sirius class cruisers are the go-to warship for the Commonwealth Navy. This rear view shows off the stern hangar entrance, and you can just make out the battlecruiser-grade ball turret on the prow (larger than the regular turrets BTW, and the cause of the “Mod B” in the name). The “spines” along the ship mount the Spitfire’s ball turrets plus manoeuvring thrusters, but the main ones are like the Sheridan Transport’s nacelles, just buried in the hull with only their ends pointing out fore and aft. At about 750 metres long it’s noticeably bigger (and nastier) than the cruisers of almost any other galactic power. For those interested, the turrets can rotate up to 67 degrees, meaning a ship like this can always focus half its broadside turrets on an enemy.

Sirius class Light Carrier

Based on the cruiser model above, but with most of the ball turrets replaced with big hangars, mainly for Spitfires & Asgards (probably 5 parasite craft per hangar, for 30 total). Like the cruiser model above, the bulk of the hull is taken up with equipment - if the hangars were set into the hull you’d have to either drastically slash the number of parasite craft or the shields. To give you an idea of the scale, those hangar bay doors are about 60x45 metres.


That’ll do for now I think - might post some more pics later on if there’s interest :slight_smile: .


#2

Those are coming along very nicely! Maybe a little more detail on the front end of the transport and on the missile pods.

The Sirius ships have a unique look to them. Curious as to where the command deck is on those bad boys,

Keep it up!

Edit: I also like the design on the Sentinel Drones… kinda reminds me of a mini 40k drop pod that turns into a turret.


#3

new. favorite. thread. evar :smile:

can’t wait to see more!


#4

Glad you like it ^^ .

Yeah. The front of the Sheridan is basically a big box with sliding doors on the sides & a big old ramp at the front, so it’s hard to get in much detail there without it being unnecessary.

Buried inside the hull somewhere where it’s (marginally) safer.


#5

Love it! Makes me want to get back into making Google sketchup stuff!

I wonder if I can dredge up that ol’ spaceship and landing pad of mine…


#6

If it helps, I actually kind of like it that way.


#7

One thing I’ve also consciously tried to avoid is unnecessary frills (and totally not because I’m also kinda new to this stuff cough-cough…). I prefer a design where you can imagine they sat down and designed a machine (or whatever) to fulfil a role, based on whatever physical constraints they had.

Take the big cruiser / carrier design above:

  1. You want to maximise firepower on the target.
  2. You want to minimise your target profile.
  3. Realistic movement in space (ie, not like x-wings or TIE fighters) is required.

One possibility is a spherical starship, but that tends to result in a big target profile, and no way to minimise it. So we’ll go for a longer ship - that means a combination of age of sail broadsides plus WW1/2 dorsal turrets are wanted for weapons. Engines at front and back mean you can spin in place (think tanks on caterpillar tracks). There must be compromises - the stern hangar means no big guns facing that way - but at least you can fly backwards as easily as you can forwards, and god knows you need to be able to take on shuttles & supplies somehow. Meanwhile, broadsides mean you must be perpendicular to your target - it increases your target profile compared to a head-on fight, but at least whilst advancing (or retreating) you’re a smaller target. The fact that the result looks rather nice (in a sort of militaristic, menacing star destroyer way - I hope!) is in a way* just an added bonus.


*Hey, I like cool-looking starships as much as the next guy :smiley: .

Edit: And yes, I did think my way through all those points whilst doing the starship designs :slight_smile: . Less so the others - more rule of cool in their designs.


#8

Top-down galactic map for ~4500AD (5.4k x 5.4k pixels BTW):


Colours are by dominant species for multi-nation dominant species, gridlines are United Commonwealth sectors, background milky way is shamelessly stolen from online somewhere years ago :stuck_out_tongue: .

Note that leaves off a lot of information - for example, the United Commonwealth is pretty damn big on a map, but it’s only the 11th largest nation in terms of population. On the other hand, it’s got the largest economy in the galaxy (although as a % of the global economy the modern USA is bigger)… point is, it’d be a mistake to say “biggest = strongest”. Most of the major powers have had their history, politics etc mapped out, although since this is a thread for artwork and not fictional history stuff I’ll spare you :wink: .


Knight 3 class Battleship

A pretty standard Core Empire warship, although by Commonwealth standards it’s cruiser sized (the Sirius class above is longer than any of the Knight 3’s dimensions). Optimised to go after numerous smaller enemies (hence the multiplicity of small turrets), it also has a pair of big missile tubes, plus a single-squadron hangar deck on top for support craft. You’d expect to see this in combat with the Allider Swarm (see map) rather than the Commonwealth, which requires ships with much bigger individual guns and more manoeuvrability, whereas forming a wall in space covered in guns does very nicely for fighting Allider cyborg monsters.


Hope to get a few Union of Free Systems ships up later, though they need some updates first :slight_smile: .


#9

Unfortunately, that map won’t enlarge for me, even though my browser does offer the magnifying glass cursor when I mouse over it. Shame, it looks very interesting already.

I would be interested in the history and politics etc., by the way. Space ships, while cool, are less my thing :smiley:


#10

Tried saving the image / target link etc, @Phagocytosis? Anyway, a couple more. Older models, and I’m definitely less satisfied with their looks; on the other hand I (a) am lazy and (b) have lots of other things to do, so not sure when anything will happen.

Liberator class cruiser

The most common class of ship in the UFS’ Federal Navy prior to the Conglomerate War, the Liberator is designed around its under-slung grav-focused beam cannon, and the stern engines (unseen in pic) designed to get said beam into position. Unlike United Commonwealth or Core Empire warships, it’s intended for long range “sniping”, and not the brutal close-quarters combat that heavy broadside armaments are more suited to. In terms of size, it’s a little over 500m long. This one is in the colours of the Conglomerate, the rebel faction in the UFS civil war that became known as the Conglomerate War.

Stalwart class battlecruiser

At the better part of 700m long, prior to the Conglomerate War the Stalwart was considered something of a failure as a ship design: a compromise between the long-range combat model of the Liberator and the classic battlecruiser (ie, a fast raider chasing down & killing anything smaller than it), it ultimately found itself a role as a mainstay of both UFS and Conglomerate fleets as the demand for tougher and more powerful warships - and ones with better broadside armaments - demoted the Liberator to a secondary role. This one is in the colours of the Federal Navy, although given that it was a civil war, both sides made extensive use of the same designs.

Okay, that’s the end of the pretty (?) pictures in this post :slight_smile: . Wall o’ text incoming…



The Union of Free Systems
(For @Phagocytosis :slight_smile: )

The UFS is one of the most densely populated nations in the milky way, and until the Conglomerate War of 4430-4456 (the duration and savagery of which comprehensively wrecked two third’s of the galaxy’s major economies) one of the wealthiest. A highly centralised unicameral federal republic, every major world elects a single Senator to the (rather grandiosely named) Galactic Senate, currently home to four major parties (it was just three, but the Conglomerate-backing Liberal Union Party is no more, and so others have risen to fight for third place). though much of the practical work of government is done through committees and the bureaucracy.

The UFS started life as an alliance between the people of the Garamor and Theronia systems following the collapse of the old Koroll Empire and the breakup of the Schaol Empire in 1884AD. The area being home to a great number of small, independent species and easy prey for the nastier splinter groups of the Koroll Empire, the UFS grew rapidly, becoming arguably the most successful of that long war’s successor states. Although the difference between a few thousand and a few million senators made government increasingly difficult, the new member worlds refused to vote for regional senators instead, resulting in very strong party ties and increasing centralisation to cope with the sheer numbers.

In spite of its size, the Galactic Senate began to live up to its name, inviting representatives from all the major powers to join it in a second chamber that functioned as a cross between an international court of law and the UN. This state of affairs lasted until the United Commonwealth, the young new human-dominated power in the Galactic East, withdrew, seizing the rest of the East and launching a stunning blitzkrieg attack on the supposedly impenetrable defences of the Core Empire. National self-interest and a desire to gobble up some of the Core Empire’s border sectors resulted in other nations withdrawing (even the UFS participated in the many-fronted invasion of the Core Empire, although it did so ostensibly to liberate conquered peoples), and the Galactic Senate has never recovered its international stature.

Life in the UFS today is generally very good - most people live in ultra-dense cities separated by wide areas of wilderness (although artificial habitats like dyson rings tend to be considerably more urbanised than planets). Unlike the United Commonwealth there’s a sizeable taxpayer-funded welfare state to help those at the bottom of the heap (or not, if you buy into the UC’s classical liberal arguments) - in general, someone from Western Europe or parts of the USA would feel very much at home. Minority and human (well, sapient-species) rights are a big deal too.


#11

This looks great! I’m loving the original designs and can’t wait for any more lore and information!


#12

Wow! It may be that I’ve not looked into science fiction enough thus far, going by how interesting this all is to me. You know what, I should look for science fictions written by scientists; I’m almost certain to like that.

More specifically, I did like this lore as well. How much of this background have you come up with so far? Have you come up with backgrounds and histories for all the galactic “nations”, as you called them? How detailed is it?


#13

It’s not so much “by scientists” as “by people who understand science” I think. One of my favourite authors is “Doc” Smith, who wrote in the golden age of sci-fi (you know, when men were Men and women were damsels in distress etc - though he was pretty progressive for the era)… now he has FTL inertialess drives and all sorts like that, but reading him, you know he at least understood the physics he was breaking :slight_smile: .


Regarding my stuff, about a dozen of the biggest (or oldest) have their government, army/(space) navy and basic histories mapped out. The rest are pretty vague though - the Crown of Fanattor is mostly just a blob on the map at the moment, for example.

Anyway, I’ve got some WoW raiding to do at the moment, but I expect I’ll write up a bit more later this evening :slight_smile: .


#14

Well, it’s just that I think scientists are typically the people who understand science best. But yes, you’re right, that’s kind of a superset (one would hope) that would probably suffice.

I don’t mind FTL inertialess drives and things like that, mind you. I don’t think a scientist science-fiction writer would necessarily shy away from those, though.

Looking forward to reading/seeing more from your lore.


#15

As long as the writer gets across the feeling that he has done the research and knows what he is going on about, I am happy. Now let’s get back on topic so I can read more awesome lore and pictures of spaceships! (And who knows? We might get to see a space station or something else soon…)


#16

A detour (or two) before we get to the United Commonwealth I think…

Emperor MBT

This model’s not quite finished yet (forward track guards missing, plus a few other minor details), and also an example of my limitations as a modeller - those tracks aren’t mine, and indeed, a shudder to think of having to model those tracks. Still, say hello to the aptly-named Emperor. Some clever grav-lensing has allowed the Commonwealth Guard to squeeze a lot of firepower out of that main beam cannon: although the main body is only about 8.5m long, there aren’t many planetside vehicles able to go toe-to-toe with an Emperor and survive. Not shown is are the single-shot grenade launchers & the missile launcher, which would appear on the side of the turret and atop the turret respectively. Note that by relying on low-tech caterpillar tracks, the Emperor trades manoeuvrability for survivability, as it can now use its various forcefields for defensive purposes, instead of having to use them to hover about.



Batteries, Computers & Forcefields

One of the things that occurred to me early on was how to actually power all the high-tech, high-energy goodies in the setting. In the end, I settled on “accumulator cells” - that is, batteries. Unlike real ones though, the physical part of the accumulator cell merely acts as a kind of anchor for a pocket of hyperspace charged to the brim with energy (and which cannot be made to release its energy explosively, to the relief of electrical engineers everywhere). The rate of energy output of an accumulator cell depends on its active surface area, whilst its “internal” storage can be - in principle - unlimited, although it does take time to charge one up. As an accumulator cell only masses as much as its physical components, and as they are typically charged to as to remain in continuous use for years (at their intended output level, at least) they are used everywhere. Imagine popping something the size of a coke can (albeit a solid metal one) in your sports car, and never having to replace it for several decades of continuous use - the idealised electric car, in other words.

Moving on, computers in the setting have long since moved on from quantum computers etc, and instead exploit the natural FTL mechanics of subspace to do their computing. Combined with subspace sensors that combine the best aspects of radar and x-ray vision, you have machines that can acquire and analyse a colossal amount of data in no time at all. The vast majority are run by Restricted Artificial Intelligences, or RAIs, which though ferociously intelligent, lack anything approximating emotions, survival instincts, or anything else that might result in them disobeying their programming. In contrast to these are AIs, which in most nations are considered citizens with all the rights and duties of physical citizens.

The importance of these computers cannot be understated - with them, the various major nations of the milky way have reached the fabled technological singularity. Indeed, scientific research is practically a dead field in most areas: most of the questions have been answered long ago. Esoteric physics is where the last research holdouts exist - for those with the know-how and resources to construct the machinery, there is plenty of interesting knowledge to unlock when it comes to things like wormholes, hyperspace and the like. Most closely watched over is what’s called Locally Altered Physics - attempts to adjust the very laws of physics within a region - a field which promises enormous possibilities, both good and bad. But for the biologists, chemists and the like out there - I’m afraid computers have rendered your jobs obsolete a long time ago.

Allied to these computers are a variety of forcefields - essentially a means of manipulating things at a distance, or of projecting holograms. The two most common forms are holographic projectors and what are still called meteorite shields - so named after their first use by humans, in the years before humanity expanded beyond Sol (technically, they provide an impermeable barrier to anything with rest mass). Meteorite shields let machines pick up and manipulate objects, slice them in two and so on, and are the main form of defence against physical attacks, from relativistic missiles to a well-aimed punch. They can be scaled up or down to an almost limitless extent: whilst the most powerful large-scale forcefields are quite capable on cracking open planets, the smallest can manipulate the smallest subatomic particles known to science.

Forcefields have revolutionised vast swathes of life - everything from construction to advertising to healthcare. Most people manufacture a considerable amount of goods at home by buying raw materials and having forcefields put the item together, weather control… there’s very little you can’t accomplish with a battery of forcefields at your fingertips.


#17

What is your ‘idea’ of beam weaponry? You seem to use it a lot and I was wondering how beam weapons work in your mind. For example, is your idea the common video game logic where beam weapons never miss, do continual damage but do less damage than a missile or is it a weapon that could be aimed anywhere and cut through it easily (Like a very, very long lightsaber)?


#18

They’re fairly realistic, although I’ve cheated in two ways…

Firstly, I wanted visible beams (rule of cool basically). Lasers being by nature invisible when viewed perpendicularly to the beam (scattering excepted) were out, so I created a made-up type of energy that does glow (technically, the, ahem, not-photons interfere with one another slightly, emitting and absorbing photons, resulting in beams that glow, at the expense of a fraction of their total energy).

Secondly, I wanted long-ranged beam combat… which is actually hard with lasers, because of the way light diffracts. So happily enough, these beams just happen to diffract at a fraction of the rate that light (or any kind of electromagnetic radiation) does, meaning you can now shoot Pluto from Earth without merely warming up the entire hemisphere by a fraction of a degree.

Third, I then had to come up with a reason as to why people would willingly use glowing beams (which after all practically scream “HERE I AM! SHOOT ME!” to the other side…) instead of lasers. Answer: shields that are exceedingly effective against EM radiation, but not this made-up variety, to the extent that a laser (or x-ray laser or graser or w/e) big enough to kill a frigate could only be mounted on a much bigger ship, etc.

As for the way they work (and look!) in combat… they’re continuous, bright green beams. Accuracy is determined by a whole host of factors, with range, sensors and gravitational fields being the top three. As these “pulse beams” (so named after their initial firing mode - the name stuck :stuck_out_tongue: ) propagate at the velocity of light, a target that’s sitting 1 light-minute away has a full minute to dodge - and with FTL sensors, they can precisely track the progress of your beam. In the event that they cannot (or will not) dodge, gravitational forcefields can be employed to try and bend a beam off-target (and indeed, bend it back on target).

In terms of firepower, that depends entirely on the power supply - however, they totally dominate space combat, relegating missiles to picking off fighters, taking out hulked ships, or for planetary bombardments. When you’re dealing with very high energy levels, physical matter tends to explode when hit: no neat, clinical cutting beam, but rather a brutal, ragged hole, lethal splinters and droplets of molten metal*, and of course a rapidly-expanding cloud of vaporised metal - to say nothing of the energy of the beam itself as it cuts into the target.

*Or flesh and bone, if you’re shooting a person. Infantry beam weapons are quite capable of leaving really nasty, bloody wounds in people - none of this “self-cauterising” nonsense. Lots of interesting stuff on this here, for those who like a bit of real science.


Well, hadn’t intended on writing all that, but hey :slight_smile: . 2:30am here, but I’ve got some more stuff for tomorrow later today :slight_smile: .


#19

Same here! I got construction work in the morning as well…So, Anyone want to calculate the survival rates?

I prefer the FTL: Faster Than Light’s idea of beam weapons where if your shields are down, you are basically screwed. I also came up with some logic at some point in my life where lasers and beam weapons etc. can be stopped by shields (I think it was something to do with the fact that you cannot create a solid object with light (That is what a forcefield is isn’t it?) but you could probably stop light with light (Thereby negating lasers and Beams but still meaning missiles/torpedoes and bullets (Or whatever space gun you use) could rip you to shreds.)


#20

You’re screwed if your shields are down in this too, because most weapons are powerful enough to make short work of any physical material (note: I don’t use any kind of periodic-table-breaking unobtainium in this setting). That applies equally to missiles etc though: if a couple of metric tonnes of mass hits your ship at 90% lightspeed and you’ve no shields… yeah. Been nice knowing you.

Speaking of which…



New World Interstellar Colony Ship

When the United Commonwealth first ventured beyond our own solar system in the early 2500s, it had an impressive industrial base, but lacked the super-science of later years. Without modern means of dealing with waste heat and the like, enormous radiators and the like were necessary for starships. The New World colony ship design started life as a standard Solar Express interplanetary freighter, manufactured by Starship Industries. The freighter’s crew section was massively expanded into the rotating (so as to simulate gravity) ring at the front, and its big fuel tanks (necessary for manoeuvring around the bustling solar system) replaced with much smaller ones that fed both the original fusion-powered torch drive and the experimental new hyperdrive. Instead of the usual cargo pallets lining the long, spindly main hull, vast quantities of machinery were stored aboard - the United Commonwealth had no intention of creating colonies that would struggle to survive, and was determined to establish new centres of industry beyond Sol. Most of the thousands of colonists were put into cryogenic suspension for the trip (the hyperdrives of the era being pitifully slow things, although their endurance was very impressive), with a small crew standing watch. The design is a fusion of both old and new technology - it had primitive meteorite shields, a hyperdrive and subspace communications to enable continuous contact with Terra, but even simple things like artificial gravity or forcefields were unheard of. It was also an impressive size, at nearly 1.9km long. The habitat ring was also capable of rotating up to 2.5 times a minute (resulting in 1-1.19 gravities), although this was usually kept lower for safety and acclimatisation purposes.

This is, I think, a reasonably hard sci-fi ship. The fuel storage ought to be a lot bigger for something that can’t cheat by just hopping into hyperspace on a tiny energy budget, but the rotation speed for the habitat section is (purely coincidentally) bearable from what I’ve seen for simulating 1 gravity, the idea of a torch drive has been around a fair bit (although the high-acceleration versions are bit more fantastic, but this would probably struggle to accelerate at more than a handful of gees), and so on. The long distance between engine & habitat section also makes it safer in terms of radiation of course, and the radiators are a must in real life for spaceships. It comes out a few hundred metres longer than the spaceship in Avatar, albeit of a very different design (that one is both anti-matter and solar-powered-laser-propelled, with big storage spheres for the anti-matter fuel etc).



Batteries, Computers & Forcefields

One of the things that occurred to me early on was how to actually power all the high-tech, high-energy goodies in the setting. In the end, I settled on “accumulator cells” - that is, batteries. Unlike real ones though, the physical part of the accumulator cell merely acts as a kind of anchor for a pocket of hyperspace charged to the brim with energy (and which cannot be made to release its energy explosively, to the relief of electrical engineers everywhere). The rate of energy output of an accumulator cell depends on its active surface area, whilst its “internal” storage can be - in principle - unlimited, although it does take time to charge one up. As an accumulator cell only masses as much as its physical components, and as they are typically charged to as to remain in continuous use for years (at their intended output level, at least) they are used everywhere. Imagine popping something the size of a coke can (albeit a solid metal one) in your sports car, and never having to replace it for several decades of continuous use - the idealised electric car, in other words.

Moving on, computers in the setting have long since moved on from quantum computers etc, and instead exploit the natural FTL mechanics of subspace to do their computing. Combined with subspace sensors that combine the best aspects of radar and x-ray vision, you have machines that can acquire and analyse a colossal amount of data in no time at all. The vast majority are run by Restricted Artificial Intelligences, or RAIs, which though ferociously intelligent, lack anything approximating emotions, survival instincts, or anything else that might result in them disobeying their programming. In contrast to these are AIs, which in most nations are considered citizens with all the rights and duties of physical citizens.

The importance of these computers cannot be understated - with them, the various major nations of the milky way have reached the fabled technological singularity. Indeed, scientific research is practically a dead field in most areas: most of the questions have been answered long ago. Esoteric physics is where the last research holdouts exist - for those with the know-how and resources to construct the machinery, there is plenty of interesting knowledge to unlock when it comes to things like wormholes, hyperspace and the like. Most closely watched over is what’s called Locally Altered Physics - attempts to adjust the very laws of physics within a region - a field which promises enormous possibilities, both good and bad. But for the biologists, chemists and the like out there - I’m afraid computers have rendered your jobs obsolete a long time ago.

Allied to these computers are a variety of forcefields - essentially a means of manipulating things at a distance, or of projecting holograms. The two most common forms are holographic projectors and what are still called meteorite shields - so named after their first use by humans, in the years before humanity expanded beyond Sol (technically, they provide an impermeable barrier to anything with rest mass). Meteorite shields let machines pick up and manipulate objects, slice them in two and so on, and are the main form of defence against physical attacks, from relativistic missiles to a well-aimed punch. They can be scaled up or down to an almost limitless extent: whilst the most powerful large-scale forcefields are quite capable on cracking open planets, the smallest can manipulate the smallest subatomic particles known to science.

Forcefields have revolutionised vast swathes of life - everything from construction to advertising to healthcare. Most people manufacture a considerable amount of goods at home by buying raw materials and having forcefields put the item together, weather control… there’s very little you can’t accomplish with a battery of forcefields at your fingertips.