Happy new year everyone! Yes, I know the greetings are a bit on the late side and it has been a while since my last post. I’ve been occupied with some nice projects and of course the December holidays in which I somehow ended up in a continuos stream of epic diners, with a homemade six-layer rainbow color cake (a rarity here in Holland) at its apex. Also, I needed some time to recuperate from the already infamous ‘Cosmic Sans New Years Party’ that the amazing guys of the SingerSweatShop hosted and which lead to a city-wide shortage of tin foil, neon colored tape and silver make-up.
For those who weren’t there, but who will be in the neighborhood on February 10th: photographer Aad Hoogendoorn will exhibit some of the portraits he made that evening, so do drop by the SingerSweatShop to see what you missed out on!
FYI: My New Years Laika-the-first-dog-in-space-outfit was repeatedly mistaken for that of an Ewok. Which is mildly understandable and kinda cute, but also so much less cool. I mean: Laika was *cooked* to death – in space! Just sayin’.
In between all this fun I did manage to get some work done, like the desktop wallpaper in the above image. It’s available in several formats, so if you like it, grab yourself a copy at this link:
After the jump there’s some behind-the-scenes talk on how this image came to be. And I can tell you, it was a cumbersome delivery!
The initial idea was to make a new version of this picture, which seemed perfect to serve as a desktop wallpaper: plenty of empty space in the image to not scream off the screen and simple enough to make before the end of the year.
Over the holidays I had been paging a lot in the beautiful photography books ‘The Lost Vanguard’ by Richard Pare and ‘Cosmic Communist Constructions Photographed’ by Frédéric Chaubin, which sample the beauty of old communist modernist architecture, so I was quite determined to merge some Soviet-inspired architecture pieces into the image.
But as it happened: sometimes an idea that looks good on paper just won't work out in low-poly. The image was kept empty on purpose, but that should not necessarily mean boring. Well, it was. I felt it lacked a 'punch' and the whole setup seemed unsteady and fleeting. Then I changed the scenery a bit, tried out a nuclear campfire idea and I kept coming back to the architecture. I lost myself in fiddling with the buildings' details, while I hadn't even figured out the complete image yet, so ultimately the image felt a bit lost.
Other ideas that were tried out were: a Sim City-like grid with old Soviet buildings, a wintery scene on top of a huge flat, and a tent & campfire setting that would be published in a day and night version, with different characters populating the two frames.
The above two images were from my next attempt: a short-lived idea for a '2012 Nuclear Winter Animal Catalogue', with critters neatly arranged in a grid. I don't know why this nuclear idea kept resurfacing. Maybe Fukushima made too much of an impact over 2011? Maybe it's something my subconscious automatically links to Soviet architecture? Maybe it's just an excuse to make weird animals? By this time I had given up almost any hope of making anything and started making my Laika costume (yes, *again* with the Russian thing!).
New year/clean slate: I was kinda intrigued by the mutant ape-man from the right bottom corner of the animal catalogue sketch, so I decided to promote him to astronaut. And with the trailer for the upcoming 'Alien' prequel 'Prometheus' fresh in my mind the new idea took shape pretty quickly!
It started out with a whole carcass, but with the ominous Big Giant Head being so present in Prometheus' promotional material the rest of the body was quickly discarded.
The sketch didn't feature a whole convoy of buggies and armored cars, but they were too much fun to make.
I *love* rocks! The tall pointy ones are actually only three distinct objects that were slightly rotated and scaled to look different from one another from this view.
The cone-shaped plants in the above render and the bamboo-like ones below were sampled from other scenes I made before, which saved me some time. And besides, they fit perfectly in this desert moon-like landscape!
A ringed planet with some moons was added as a finishing touch. The background gradient was made in Illustrator with a mesh object which allows for a more accurate gradient manipulation. The star grid was made by tracing the edges of a rendered icosahedron and in the end Photoshop was used to tweak the colors a bit . Voilà: mission accomplished! I hope you enjoy the view :)