I enjoy thinking about the future and being inspired by the words written and images created by others about the future. While I enjoy all sorts of future-oriented objects, my favorite is the spaceship crewed by humans. For a number of decades I have been drawing spaceships and to some extent writing about them. I take the most satisfaction in creating designs inspired by others rather than copying them directly. The three main goals of my spaceship work are:
1) To explore interesting forms for spaceships
2) To present spaceships serving in a variety of roles at a variety of technology levels in a variety of fictional background settings
3) To promote a positive view of our future
VARIETY OF FORMS, FUNCTIONS, AND TECHNOLOGY
I attempt to employ a variety of shapes in my spaceship designs. I usually see my vessels more as sculptural exercises rather than serious proposals of what future spaceships will look like. While I find myself attracted hulls shapes that are long and tubular or slab-like and faceted, I also include more curvaceous forms in my designs. The handful of exotic looking spaceships I have been able to concoct are used for the generic sentient alien species mentioned below.
I enjoy the challenge of creating spaceship designs for the whole gamut of missions and roles such ships could have. I have a particular fondness for large exploration vessels and gigantic space battleships. The speculative designs I have put the most effort into are in these two categories. Over the years I have come up with lots of designs for exploration and military spaceships of all sizes, numerous designs of cargo-carrying vessels and traveling space-resource processing facilities, and a small collection of hospital ships and star liners. While I have done my share of shuttlecraft, space fighters, and other small spacecraft, the primary focus of my work has been on starships in the 100 meters long to 1000 meters long range. Finally, I have made some forays into designing large space stations and traveling space habitats.
My first thoughts on the concept of star-faring habitats, advanced space habitats equipped with faster-than-light propulsion, began back in the 1980’s. I was influenced by a number of science fiction stories that included this concept, especially those of Olaf Stapledon and Everett B. Cole. One of the best depictions of the star-faring habitat concept is the “General Systems Vehicle” presented in the science fiction novel Consider Phlebas by Iain M. Banks. Some quotes from this novel are presented in my article, Some Spectacular Spaceships of Science Fiction. Another major influence on my conception of star-faring habitats is an advanced alien space station called The Node described in the “Rama” series of science fiction novels by Arthur C. Clarke and Gentry Lee.
In addition to creating ships serving a variety of functions, I also like to present vessels from many different levels of star-faring technology. I do not focus much on the mechanics that would be required to make my spaceship designs work. Rather, I employ various families of pseudo-technological terms that suggest the function of devices used by my ships as they perform their fictional missions.
For a listing of and definitions for the various terms I use, see my article Guide to Speculative Star-Faring Technology.
For a brief exploration of what star-technologies might be employed to achieve these technological abilities, see my article So You Want to Be a Speculative Spaceship Designer?
In general, most of my work falls into what I consider to be the middle levels of star-faring technology with only a handful of designs set in the levels where faster-than-light travel does not yet exist. I have a somewhat larger collection of vessels set at the other end of the technological spectrum with abilities bordering on the fantastic.
CONTRIBUTIONS BY OTHER ARTISTS
A number of fellow science fiction artists have contributed to my speculative spaceships design work over the years. The most frequent contributor has been Jeff D. Robb. He has done numerous evocative illustrations for me of advanced starships and sentient aliens species. Jeff’s imaginative star vessel designs make a wonderful counterpoint to my own rather industrial looking vehicles. He created the background material for the Ventasians and all of that for the Nyoshahl. I have modeled his Ventasian starship and Nyoshahl starship designs as a tribute to all the help he has given me. Jeff was particularly helpful in coming up with the appearance for the Cybernethi, the Nyoshahl and the Ventasians.
In addition to Jeff, a handful of other artists have furnished material for me. Sean Kennedy has graciously allowed me to use many of his custom-made textures in my own 3D CGI designs. Michael Mobes created a font once used for the T’lar. Steve Wilson and Richard Jeferies created much of the 3D geometry I have used for detailing parts and various small spacecraft for projects set in a number of my science fiction universes. Tiago Fidalgo created a number of alien fonts and many textures employed in my science fiction art.