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ISSUE 51 JUNE 2015






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Credits for backgrounds, from top left: Mark Rademaker; Mark Rademaker; Adrian Mann; Adrian Mann.

Dave Haden

Paul Bussey

Assistant Editor and Layout

Editor, Conference Director

Boris Pichotka Section Editor Copyright Š 2015 3D Art Direct. Published in the United Kingdom. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior written permission of the publisher. No copyright claim is made by the publisher regarding any artworks made by the artists featured in this magazine.


Front Cover: Detail from “IXS Enterprise” by Mark Rademaker.



3D ART LIVE! ―― 07

INTRO ―― 32




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3d Art Direct interviews

3d Art Direct talks with a

3d Art Direct interviews

an acclaimed spaceship designer based in the Netherlands, Europe.

science magazine illustration professional, on spaceships and more!

this experienced Blender artist about his elegant 3D spaceship designs.




“So, Mark, how did you feel when NASA's Advanced Propulsion Lead Scientist, Dr. Harold White, called and asked you to design their first starship?”

“Daedalus was a project from the British Interplanetary Society … I'd like to think I've produced the most accurate representation of the spacecraft to date.”

“Blender is just like a real good friend. Kind of hard to get used to in the beginning, yet it has become a lifelong friend.”




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The tension of function versus form is present in spaceship design! From an artistic perspective, the form, look and feel of spaceship design takes priority, with the functionality thought about afterwards. In this issue we talk to artists who have made a point of balancing form and function to the point where they have grabbed the attention of institutions such as NASA. Early design of motor vehicles were firmly centred around function. Think of the Ford Model T in comparison to a nineteen eighties DeLorean. The gull wing doors and stainless steel body was more of a statement of form than function. Designs may be more limited now where being superfluous can't be afforded, especially if a project is government funded. But if we were to project spaceship design into the future, where essential functional design aspects were taken care of, more thought will be centred on the artistic look of the ship instead.

well; is he going to get it by designing a functional and ugly spaceship? If they were a scientist and engineer as well as artist, they would need all their buddies at DeviantArt to be equally trained up as well, just to provide the feedback in the first place! Fictional spacecraft can have some odd sources of inspiration. According to Star Wars creator George Lucas, the Falcon's design was inspired by a hamburger, with the cockpit being an olive on the side. So next time you are in a fast food restaurant, take a look at what you are eating—it may just be the design your looking for! PAUL BUSSEY Editor and Conference Director

Is it asking too much for artists to be scientists AND engineers as well? Well yes, it’s hard enough to learn all the knobs and buttons to create a model in the first place. The artist is craving feedback as





“IXS Enterprise”, a main press release image, by Mark Rademaker. 3DS Max, Arion GPU renderer.

How would you feel if NASA's Advanced Propulsion Lead Scientist called and asked you to design their first starship? That’s what happened to 3d spaceship designer Mark Rademaker, interviewed in this special Spaceship Designers issue of 3D Art Direct magazine.




3DAD: Mark, welcome. Could you begin, please, by telling our readers a little about your background? Mark Rademaker: I was born in 1980 in a small town called Silvolde, in the Netherlands, northern Europe. I still live there. I studied to become a baker — but I later switched to studying I.T. I became an I.T. systems administrator at a school, and that is still my daily work. I like the interaction with people and the diversity of challenges. My 3D work started out as a hobby, and slowly became my second job. 3DAD: As a youngster how did you first get into space and science fiction? Who or what were your formative influences, shaping both your taste and your ambitions? MR: I think that it was Lego that got me into science fiction. Long before I ever heard of Star Trek or Star Wars, I was playing with red and yellow astronauts that had far-out space vehicles to zip over the Moon’s surface. In retrospect, I was not really aware of sciencefiction during my childhood, probably because in the Netherlands at that time science-fiction

seemed to be less popular than in the U.S. It wasn’t so mainstream. We did have re-runs of the British TV series Thunderbirds, and I know for sure those programmes shaped me, in terms of the entire modularity of design that I like. That is directly linked to Thunderbird 2. 3DAD: Yes, Thunderbird 2 was always my favourite. I had a large die-cast metal toy model of it when I was a child. So you got into stronger sci-fi later on? MR: I really got into sci-fi when I was able to watch Star Trek TNG on a German channel in 1995. With German audio, too! The bridge design, the utopian feel, the engine hum — it felt like a really good environment to spent time in. 3DAD: Is there any family influence on your creative abilities? Are your parents or siblings also artistic, for instance? It’s often the case. MR: Artistic is a broad term, if you count folding teabags or making cards, then yes, mine is a very artistic family. This may sound strange, but I had very limited encouragement, certainly at the beginning. My family thought that I spent way too much time IXS Enterprise concept art for NASA, by Mark Rademaker.


staring at computer screens, I recall when I was age 10 or 11 and they had to go places, they took the power cable of the computer away with them. Luckily for me the toaster had a similar cable!

with Eric Davis at IAS Texas. As I understand it, NASA currently studies tiny natural ‘warp bubble’ effects, and has some maths suggesting it may eventually be possible to scale up and harness these effects in a ship.

3DAD: Aha! So how did you get to the point of fiddling with the toaster cable, to being known worldwide as a spaceship designer for NASA. Was that a long journey?

MR: This event was quite cool indeed. All Dr. White asked for, at first, was modification of the XCV-330 to make it conform to the theory. The XCV-330 was a Ringship that I previously did for Star Trek. This entire project started out as images for a Discovery magazine article about ‘life imitating art’, but it went a bit viral later on. After making crude changes on the design for 20 minutes, I started to realize that it would be better to start from scratch for NASA. What their Eagleworks lab is trying to do is to detect if they actually are warping space on a microscopic level, so it’s still a long way from there to a starship. Within the same lab they are also looking at Q-thruster or EM Drive, that more or less works on the same principle. I’m currently converting the IXS Enterprise for Q-thruster configuration.

MR: The journey started in 1996 with discovering the software Truespace (Caligari). In 2003 I moved from Truespace to 3DS Max, and since 2007 do most — if not all — of my modelling in PowerNURBS. That’s a parametric/solids plug-in for 3DS Max. I’m a slow learner, but I do enjoy every single minute of working in 3D. 3DAD: Interesting. So, Mark, how did you feel when NASA's Advanced Propulsion Lead Scientist, Dr. Harold White, called and asked you to design their first starship? Or more accurately, warpship. NASA doesn't yet have warp engines, I should quickly tell our readers, but it does have a warp research program at Houston, working on the science


3DAD: So they had initially seen the XCV-330 starship design work you had done

previously. Tell us about your earlier work on the XCV-330, please. MR: Andrew Probert suggested that I do a 3D version of Matt Jefferies’s “Ringship”. Matt sketched the design in the 1960’s as one of many concepts for the NCC-1701 Enterprise. Star Trek’s Gene Roddenberry did not pick it up, but decided to use it later on in a show called Starship. But then Starship never came to fruition. Still, the Ringship made it into two Star Trek cinema movies: The Motion Picture, where it hangs on the wall as an earlier Enterprise and in the latest Star Trek movie Into Darkness, as a physical scale model located in the Admiral’s office. That version was based on my 3D model. I had seen the blueprints, sketches and depictions by Rick Sternbach, but the design itself is difficult in an age where everything is lean and mean. The base shape was not desirable, so the details should make it ‘work’. I spent a lot of time emailing back and forth with Andrew

Probert to create a very precise version with new details to match. It really opened my eyes on how to use details and features in a more subtle manner. 3DAD: So how did you plan for taking the XCV -330 to the IXS Enterprise — what was the working order, the tools, the challenges that were overcome? MR: After we established that it would be better to start from scratch I wanted to execute it as flawlessly as possible. The science from NASA was broken down into bits that I could actually understand, and it was not difficult to translate it into (simplified) design rules. The ring size and especially thickness were absolute, which made it a bit of a challenge to make the design appealing. Mike Okuda at Star Trek had a quite realistic plan when it came to the shielding, module build up etc. So we had to cross that with something appealing to the eye, as we decided


this would be a public Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) motivating effort as well. The space within the rings had to be used as much as possible, since it’s expensive space if it isn’t used. Dr. White thought a saucer would be a good way to fill up extra space. At first I imagined an actual bridge module on top of that, but I realized that a cockpit would make it easier for people to judge scale and give the ship a face. I used very little Star Trek influence, because it had so much already: we brought over some insignia, it has warp-drive, and it even features a particle collector on one module that could be seen as an early Bussard collector. Also it had a one-on-one unscaled transfer of the XCV-330 plasma engine, or the sub-light engine so-to-speak. I personally am extremely happy that Mike Okuda made the ship’s insignia, that really was a highlight. 3DAD: What was then the ongoing design

"Ringship: XCV-330 Enterprise" by Mark Rademaker, from a 2D concept ship design by Matt Jeffries.

process, once the IXS Enterprise design was up and running? MR: We made a couple of versions, slowly moving away from the XCV-330 shape to a more efficient package. We went through different module layouts and saucer sizes. When the overall layout was pinned, I started on the rings and used them to get a general sense of detailing and scale. I then tackled the other parts, dividing them into modules, each one in its own layer for management. 3DAD: So is IXS Enterprise the first sciencebased spaceship design for a warp drive spaceship? So, for the benefit of the STEM kids in schools who may be reading this, what percentage of the hard science are we looking at in your final renders? MR: I would say it’s 50%, if the current theory holds. The big main shape would be the same, the rings would be that beefy, but a lot of romantic features would disappear.

“...the IXS Enterprise had a one-on-one unscaled transfer of the XCV-330 plasma engine, or the sub-light engine so-to-speak.” 13


The XCV-330 ship was originally sketched by Star Trek’s art design veteran Matt Jeffries (1921-2003). His design was intended to become the lead starship in Gene Roddenberry's new Starship TV series, which went into pre-production after the ending of the original Star Trek series. But the XCV-330 ship design was left to gather dust after Roddenberry was able to return to his Star Trek projects. Many of Starship’s other


concepts later reached the screen through Roddenberry's posthumous Andromeda TV series (2000-05). Starship would apparently have featured a young purebred human serving among a radically post-human crew, and in the early 2000s it was mooted to be an animated CG movie funded from Japan and produced by Stan Lee. That incarnation of Starship also failed to reach the screen, after key creatives left Stan Lee Media.

3DAD: So, to talk more about the IXS Enterprise 3D model itself — I think you wrote in a forum comment somewhere that it you took… 1,600 hours for the design work and the rendering? That sounds like a fairly intense render! How wild a ride was it, technically in 3d terms, in getting to the finished output that everyone was happy with? MR: I could, without doubt, fill four of your pages just with the details what looks like a classic ‘cascade failure’. I already knew it would become a detailed ship, in fact I opted to do at least 70% of the ship ‘physical’. So a little antenna sticking out of the hull would have a hole with a bevel in the hull. These are micro details that are probably washed away in

post-processing, but will more-or-less work on a subconscious level. When the entire spacecraft was done and rendered for Star Trek’s famous Ships of the Line calendar I got some feedback from Andrew. He loved it, but thought that more nomenclature — meaning the tiny little decals all over the hull — would increase realism. I totally agreed, so I got to work. The final image on the calendar is still in NURBS format, I wanted to convert it to mesh to reduce file size and be able to unwrap some UV’s for texturing. The mesh conversion worked out fine, in the end. So when I started with the new textures, things went somewhat wrong. I made a lot of large maps and used blend materials to blend


matte details with the glossy hull, and blended that with a dirt material. I was careful to instance what I could. It went OK until… about 90% of the texturing was complete. My machine had trouble with the data. There was a file size of 3GB. A 90 million polygon mesh, and over 200 texture maps at an average 3000px by 3000px. It started clogging up the system. 3DAD: Wow. So… time for a new PC? MR: Yes, I had to build a stronger PC. And to make things worse we were in a ‘transition’ time, I already was involved in alpha testing FR4GPU (moskitoRender). I found that the benefits of unbiased GPU rendering were so

big, that I could not move back to traditional CPU rendering in terms of investment. However that mesh with textures would not fit the 6GB Titan graphics card, so I found a hybrid solution in Arion for 3DS from Random Control. I’ve been rendering ever since with it, it’s natural and exactly what I want. The downside was that I had to convert all my materials to Arion materials, and had to apply new UV maps on the more complicated parts because there is currently no channel support in Arion. After seeing the results of that, though, it was more than worth it. 3DAD: Looks great to me. Overall, what was the most satisfying aspect of your working with NASA and all the others on this project? NASA Eagleworks Laboratory and warp: How hard is interstellar flight? Consider this: our Voyager 1 spacecraft is the highest energy spacecraft that mankind has yet launched. But Voyager 1 will take ~75,000 years before it reaches the star Proxima Centauri. To explore and expand, another way must be found. NASA's Eagleworks Laboratory is seeking new ways to help us reach the stars. A warpship would have a drive engine that stretches spacetime in a wave, causing the fabric of space ahead of the spacecraft to contract, and the space behind to expand. The ship can ride the wave to accelerate to very high speeds.

VIDEO: Dr. Harold G. White, NASA's

Advanced Propulsion Lead Scientist, talks “IXS Enterprise” for NASA, press release image, by Mark Rademaker. 3DS Max, Arion GPU renderer.

about the warpship science and design: 17


“IXS Enterprise�, details and schematic renders, by Mark Rademaker. 3DS Max, Arion GPU renderer.


MR: That all the work and the struggle for that ‘last bit of paint’ were totally worth it. We created a craft that balanced between utopian sci-fi and realism. I had a feeling that it gave people a positive outlook on interstellar travel. 3DAD: And one of the renders of IXS Enterprise even made it into the prestigious Star Trek: Ships of the Line print calendar. Tell us about your ongoing 3d work for Star Trek:

Ships of the Line, from 2008 to date. MR: Yes, Doug Drexler, who has a long career in sci-fi VFX and is a Star Trek “behind the scenes” celebrity, is also involved in the calendars. In 2006 I mailed one of my first spaceship designs to Andrew Probert and asked if he knew a way to get it into the calendar. I expected an automated reply but within ten minutes I had a written reply, saying he would

“U.S.S. Aventine”, by Mark Rademaker, for the Star Trek: Ships of the Line print calendar series. 3DS Max.


mail Doug! I was over the Moon! I just had to change about eighty things on my ‘Runabout’ design, but then it was ready for the calendar. In 2009 I designed the Spirit class, a small Quantum Slipstream test ship. In 2010 I designed the U.S.S. Aventine, a Vesta slass ship. The Vesta class is a mix between Spirit, Enterprise E and Voyager. It’s the only ship from a ‘private’ shipyard to be in


the videogame Star Trek Online. In 2011 the XCV-330 Ringship got in, and in 2012 the U.S.S. Planck, a Merian class ship could be seen. The Merian class was designed to be an easy to construct Miranda class replacement. For 2013 I put the XCV-330 and the Aventine together, in 2014 it was the IXS Enterprise. I had to skip both 2015 and 2016 because of other work, but want to return for 2017.

3DAD: So do you create ‘back stories’ for your renders? I guess with a Star Trek setting, there’s an especially strong temptation to do that? Or do you ever work up a ship from a tiny reference somewhere in the Star Trek universe, perhaps? MR: Yes, I do sometimes create a tiny thin story to further explain an image. But I actually never get to the point where an image is so finished or complete that you see the full story visualized. That is something I really want to work on, engage the viewer a bit more — right now it’s a picture of a spaceship, but it really could use more activity. 3DAD: You mentioned the mesh conversion

earlier. And one of your recent posts at your website states that "Mesh conversion is tricky". For artists who are not conversant with the finer ins-and-outs of 3D modelling, could you explain the tools and techniques involved there? Perhaps, if you’re willing, you might even give our more advanced readers an insight into that process, in terms of what to do and what not to do? MR: I model with PowerNURBS, a plug-in for 3DS Max. Create a cylinder with polygons and you will have vertexes (points) to make it round, the more vertexes/edges you add the rounder it will get. A NURBS cylinder has no edges the curve is infinitely round, so a


viewport can’t display that, so what you see in the viewport is still a mesh, an approximation of the underlying structure. There is control over that approximation so you don’t end up with an enormous polygon count. In general the count is higher anyway. Converting to mesh is now part of my workflow, when I’m done with the model, I will go over each part and check if it’s watertight, check the polygon count, optimize it for its purpose and convert it to mesh. You have to be pretty sure the part is done, because editing the generated mesh is not really going to work out. The modelling is probably slower than traditional polygons if

you don’t plan ahead, but the output can be more precise. There is an added bonus: in theory everything you create can withstand an STL check, making it 3D printable, and in practice this is true in 90% of the cases. This form of NURBS is best used in hard surface modelling. I could, for example, create 600 windows at once without having to worry about mesh deformation or strange triangle errors, if I think the windows are not wide enough, I can change the width from 40cm to 50cm and it will change all 600 windows on the fly, so that is super handy if my line of hobby. 3DAD: I presume that you know about the

Star Trek ship “U.S.S. Aventine”, by Mark Rademaker: “Superexposed”, “Side View”, “Beauty”. 3DS Max.


various other big projects going on today, in big can-do long-term thinking — such as the 100 Year Starship; Mars One; the Long Now Foundation and others? There’s also a fledgling movement within literary sci-fi to return to a

more optimistic outward vision, to ambitious explorations and ideas, such as Neal Stephenson’s Project Hieroglyph for instance. Do you feel that your own work is part of an emerging positive vision of humanity’s future?

“IXS Enterprise” for NASA, by Mark Rademaker. 3DS Max, Arion GPU renderer. 24

MR: I certainly hope so, somewhere in the 1980’s we moved from positive dreams to a more realistic view. “Rockets is all we know.” That is just stalling — everything expands after a while, and so will humanity. As a


member of Icarus Interstellar — that’s the international organization dedicated to starship research and development — I’m happy to see people that are willing to look further than what we are currently able to do.

I’m just here to add illustrations to some of these ideas. My purpose in this all: to get people excited about our own future, not just that of some fictional universe.

romantic, but basically a glossy black streak over the hull would tell us that there are people inside. I really want to address this in upcoming designs.

3DAD: Bravo to that. Ok, provocative question now — do you think that commercial sci-fi has a future, visually? There’s a sort-of feeling around that the bulk of it has become rather too formula, maybe even somewhat stale, and actually rather de-coupled from what is really a very vigorous and roaring-ahead science.

3DAD: In your galleries I noticed that there was a very nice little solar-powered two-man catamaran that you’d designed, for a college with a large lake. Do you ever think you might like to design real-world working water craft at some point?

MR: It’s the commercialization that puts pressure on taking the risks of a new direction. The ‘blockbuster formula’ so-tospeak. I think the recent movie Interstellar has proven, up to a point, that the public is ready for a more scientific approach. Some movies are kind of dumbing us down, easy script + big explosions = easy money. 3DAD: Yes, Disney’s new Tomorrowland looks interesting in maybe breaking that mould. Perhaps only Disney could meld together rational optimism for the future with explosions and cinematic rollercoaster rides. We’ll see. MR: I love big explosions, but I also like to feed my brain a little. As for future design: we are hopelessly lost in our current time, with transparent blue interfaces and wild edge-onedge rugged frameworks. I believe the next step is: no screen, no manual input, it will all happen in the human cortex. As a designer for the future, your job is easy: design nothing or almost nothing and you will be correct. 3DAD: Sounds easy enough... MR: But it isn’t really exciting for any movie to put on the screen, so we hold on to what we know. This is also my greatest concern with Star Trek. It was so extremely futuristic in the 1960s, but over time it got a bit behind. Every time I place one of those rounded windows in a hull from the year 2380 or beyond, I feel a little resistance. We will not have these windows at all, it would be a design choice, something that can be turned on and off. It’s

“IXS Enterprise” for NASA, by Mark Rademaker. 3DS Max, Arion GPU renderer.

MR: I love nautical stuff and sea life, it’s a big inspiration for me. I actually just teamed up with an Italian designer to do a 426ft boat. I lack any profound knowledge of hydrodynamics, but I will help out with the design. 3DAD: That sounds great, seeing your craft in the real world, in use. Now, in January 2015 you announced that you were working on... "a new project, it's movie-related but not Star Trek or Star Wars. I'm afraid that's all I can say, it also means that there will be very little to show up to April because of the NDA." 26

MR: Sorry! Still working on this. It’s a South African production and it is not Alien! 3DAD: Ah, oh well. Worth asking. So... what steps would you advise a hot new sci-fi modeller to take, if they wanted to become a professional? MR: That’s difficult to answer, as my path is different from most and I believe I have beaten the odds a little. I have almost no desire to be commercial, I’m in this purely for

perfecting my ships and design skills. I also only do projects that I think are important or that are fun to do in general. I have rejected several gigs, as well as an invitation from TEDx to talk about designing the IXS Enterprise. I’m not much of a talker, I only do an interview every now and then. It takes a lot of energy and time that I rather spent modeling. If I can pay for my hard/ software and my bicycle I’m happy. 3DAD: Sounds like a great life. Mark, thank you for the interview.


MR: My pleasure! Thank you too!

Mark Rademaker is online at: Facebook: neohammer Twitter: @yard2380


“IXS Enterprise�, a main press release image, by Mark Rademaker. 3DS Max, Arion GPU renderer.


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1. Ascent capsule and propellant unit arrives on Mars, with tanker.

2. Human habitat modules arrive on Mars surface, with rovers.

3. Human habitat modules are positioned, solar rovers deployed.

Credits: Main, NASA/Dennis Davidson; inset rockets graphic, showing NASA’s nuclear NERVA rockets departing for Mars, NASA/Boeing; 1980s manned Mars landing storyboard, John Frassanito and Associates/NASA. 32

4. Human explora commences, from

ation of Mars m the outpost.

5. Ascent vehicle is prepared, rock samples and fuel are loaded.

6. The crew leaves Mars, after the first ever human exploration.

NASA produced some fascinating and inspiring space art in the 1970s and 80s, before the advent of 3D techniques. In this short gallery we show a small sample of NASA’s publicdomain concept art, including this fabulous Moon base painting. Above is a storyboard for a low-budget manned Mars mission planned for


7. The crew dock with their Earth Return Vehicle and return home.

the early 1980s, where a 3D model is used at the end. Some of the most tantalising and difficult-to-find NASA art comes from the 1970s, especially the earlier Project Nerva mission to Mars — which would have used nuclear rockets to reach Mars, a mission we discuss and illustrate in 3D in our following interview.

Space illustrator Pat Rawlings (pages 34-39) visually documented the future of space exploration for all of the NASA Space Centers on more than a quarter century of space exploration plans, ensuring scientific and technical accuracy in all his compositions. He has produced artwork for a wide range of publishers and filmmakers. From his studio in Texas he currently makes large format murals for commercial and government clients, on themes ranging from technically accurate space art to imaginative literary themes for public libraries. He is a Charter Fellow, and Trustee of the International Association of Astronomical Artists.

This page: Mars exporation, by artist Pat Rawlings/NASA. Opposite, top: Mars geological and meteorological survey, by artist Pat Rawlings/NASA. Bottom, left: Possible alien creatures on the surface of Mars, visualised in the 1970s for NASA. Unknown artist. Bottom, right: Mars hydroponics garden base architectural visualisation of the 1970s, NASA. Unknown artist. Note that the artwork is speculative and may not represent a planned mission.

His website is online at:



Picture: “Solar System Express”. Next-generation nuclear NERVA rocket Copernicus seen refuelling and refitting in Mars orbit, on route to the moons of Jupiter. Artist Pat Rawlings, for NASA. Circa 1970s.



Picture: "Vie Luminae". A laser beam station orbits above Io, a moon of Jupiter, and draws power from the intense magnetic fields. Its laser beam is then used to help propel a spacecraft away from the giant planet’s gravitational pull. Artist: Pat Rawlings for NASA.



Interested in seeing boots on Mars, in our lifetime? So is NASA! NASA is developing the capabilities needed to send humans to Mars by the 2030s or thereabouts. You can learn all about the plans at the official Journey to Mars website. NASA currently also has a $15,000 prize for the best public ideas for colonising the planet, saying: "NASA is embarking on an ambitious journey to Mars and invites the public to write down their ideas, in detail, for developing the elements of space pioneering necessary to establish a continuous human presence on the Red Planet".


Posters: NASA, 2015 3D art for Orion spacecraft: NASA/ Lockheed Martin. Orion is in testing now.


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Picture: “LG 223 Starraker”, Adrian Mann’s authorised 3D recreation of Terran Trade Authority book art, originally painted by Peter Elson for Sphere Books. Modelled and rendered in Strata Design 3D.

3DAD: Adrian, welcome, and thanks for giving us this interview.

influences in Britain during the 1970s. What particularly sparked your imagination? Perhaps the unique popular culture of comics and TV, our literary science fiction, the Airfix kit box art, the continuing race into space?

Adrian Mann: My pleasure. 3DAD: Let’s start with your formative 44



AM: Yes, you're quite right about the timeframe — some of my earliest memories are of sitting at my Granny’s house watching the NASA Moon landings live on her black and white TV. Nothing since then has quite had the 45

same sense of excitement and wonder. Of course, I made copious amounts of the Airfix models and so the box art was a major part of the experience — I recently bought a book by Roy Cross who did a lot of Airfix box art and

it's fascinating to read more about his career, his process and techniques. I was also greatly influenced by a book by Phillip Bono and Kenneth Gatland called Frontiers of Space, which again had great art of all manner of spacecraft concepts, such as SSTO vehicles like Rombus. There was also a TV series called Spaceships of the Mind by Nigel Calder which was the first time I saw the Daedalus starship, as a physical model by Matt Irvine. Add to that Chris Foss’s science fiction art book 21st Century Foss, and the Terran Trade Authority books… 3DAD: Terran Trade Authority? AM: Ah, you must have missed those, back then. I’ll be saying more on TTA later, since they spawned my own follow-on 3D art. Also back then, there was the music of the bands Hawkwind, Tangerine Dream and early Pink Floyd. The literary science fiction of Clarke, Asimov and Blish. My Uncle John, a Canadian aerospace engineer told wild and unbelievable tales — which later turned out to be 100% true — of working on the F-111 and the Woomera rocket range in Australia. He'd appear out of nowhere once in a blue moon, and he and my dad, who was ex-RAF Coastal Command, would sit and tell stories till all hours and I'd listen in, utterly fascinated. Add to that mix a few sheds full of British motorbikes and Land Rover cars in various states of dismantlement, and a couple of inspirational school teachers — thank you Mrs. Gisborne and Mr. Maxwell! 3DAD: Wow. So were there also some family traditions of engineering and design? AM: No real professional engineering tradition in the family, but flying always seemed to be a ‘thing’, and there was always some engine to be taken apart or put back together. Steam engines too — my Uncle Tom used to take me to the local power station to see the little steam shunter trains they used. I thought they were fabulous! Many years later I worked at the Railway Museum in Tyseley, Birmingham, and even got as far as being a proper railway fireman, travelling all over the country on the

most majestic and gorgeous examples of engineering I've ever known. A huge amount of back-breaking toil, but immensely rewarding and such a privilege. 3DAD: That’s fascinating. Do you remember the “Race into Space” card set, which I think just about every brainy imaginative kid had back then, or else they found it later in second-hand shops / thrift stores in the 1980s. Our grandmas and nanas must have drunk so much tea to get those cards for us! That set was really formative for many, in laying out the timelines of space exploration. ‘We are going to Mars! Erm… maybe…’. I was able to get a nice full copy off eBay about a decade ago, to replace the one that got lost in the 1980s.

Cover of the Race Into Space card album, showing NASA’s Nerva nuclear rockets approaching Mars. Cover art was by Airfix box-art artist Roy Cross.

AM: I'm amazed by how many people remember that particular album of tea cards. Thanks to the Web, I've been able to find the illustrations from it, and they're still inspiring. That was the way the future was going to be. Nuclear rockets to Mars, launched by Saturn V's and assembled in space, space stations — it all seemed so logical and obvious back then. Personally, I think that tea card album should have been a legally binding contract! I wonder how many people reading it, and being inspired by it, would have thought that in the 2010s NASA could only get into space using 1960's era Russian Soyuz rockets — seriously guys, something's gone very, very wrong. 46

“My Uncle John, a Canadian aerospace engineer told wild and unbelievable tales — which later turned out to be 100% true — of working on the F-111 and Woomera rocket range in Australia.” Picture: Adrian Mann’s 3D recreation and interpretation of the “SSF 21D Cutlass” illustration made by Bob Layzell for Futura Books and re-used in the Terran Trade Authority series. Made with permission of series originator Stewart Cowley. Modelled and rendered in Strata Design 3D. 47

3DAD: Thankfully, though, NASA is now moving rapidly ahead with its new Orion super heavy-lift rockets. They’ve really swung around on dime — possibly their total budget for some missions at this point — and pointed NASA toward a coherent and even commercial plan for Mars and the outer planets. But tell us about your interest in NASA’s fascinating stalled 1970s Mars manned mission, usually known as Project Nerva. A mission for which you’ve done some fine and accurate 3d renderings. AM: Nerva… such a shame it never progressed. I was able to do more research on it and found out about the experimental Kiwi and Phoebus

reactors which were tested, successfully, at the Nevada Test Site, and the plans to uprate the Saturn V booster to launch Nerva upper stages. Just imagine, a Saturn V rocket with four monstrous solid rockets strapped to it, and a nuclear upper stage! 3DAD: Yes, and sadly Nerva was apparently scrapped partly for geopolitical reasons — to try to bankrupt the tottering Soviet economy we chose the Space Shuttle instead, knowing that the Soviets would follow us into that with a pirated copy of the Space Shuttle. And so they did. It was the first case of Internet cybercrime, when the Russians stole the Shuttle plans and

Main picture: NASA’s 1970s Project Nerva nuclear shuttles in earth orbit, set to launch twin manned craft to land on Mars. Modelled and rendered in Strata Design 3D by Adrian Mann. Side, from top: the core Nerva craft arrives in Mars orbit. Original NASA concept art sheets, for the NERVA mission to Mars.


specifications off the early Internet. Little did they know they were drinking from a poisoned well, which was apparently why the Soviet shuttle only ever flew two orbits and came back cooked by the re-entry heat. We knew they were spying and fed them rejected plans. AM: I actually have a lot of the original documents related to Nerva, though nothing classified of course! So as time allows, I'll be going back and updating the 3D models, especially with regard to the internal layout of the crew quarters. And hopefully, we'll be seeing some updated Nerva-type concept illustrations soon.


3DAD: That would be great. So could you talk us through your process you went through in digging up the old NASA plans, making the 3d models, and then the renders, to illustrating the potential Mars missions? AM: Mostly I had to eyeball it! I couldn't get hold of anything technical for love nor money, so I started out with the basic Saturn V rocket dimensions — that’s the classic Apollo Moon landing missions launch rocket — and gave it my best ‘guesstimate’. However, I did get hold of a pair of good books Space Exploration and Space Technology by Kenneth Gatland, which

Picture: NASA’s 1970s Project Nerva nuclear shuttles being assembled in earth orbit, set to launch twin manned craft to land men on Mars. Early Space Shuttle design shown approaching the craft. Modelled and rendered in Strata Design 3D by Adrian Mann. 50


had a fair amount of technical details in them and some jolly good drawings and illustrations. As a side note, I think that the work of Gatland and Charles Vick, who did a lot of research and illustrations when information was very hard to come by, is underrated and they deserve a lot more recognition for what they accomplished. As to my process — I start out with a rough guess, make some shapes, refine, adjust, throw out and start again. Then Mk II slightly better, I add, adjust, refine, and so on. That's the beauty of 3D modelling — nothing is ever truly lost, and can always be adjusted and updated. There's quite a difference in doing commercial work, which has to be done to a

budget and a deadline, and personal projects that can go on indefinitely.

3DAD: Thanks. So, talking of commercial work... as a fellow Brummie and West Midlander, I’m curious about how you went from the English Midlands to being based in Hungary in eastern Europe. Was it to find work, or escaping from the pressures of taking certain types of work? AM: Actually I was born and raised outside of Brum — known as Birmingham to everyone other than its Brummie residents — in the nearby countryside of Warwickshire. I only moved into the city when I was 17, so I

Pictures, right and centre: Adrian Mann’s 3D recreation and interpretation of 2D illustrations used for the Terran Trade Authority books, with permission of series originator Stewart Cowley. “TTA Barracudas” (aka “355B Striker”, original 2d artist Bob Layzell), and “CA 1992 Ferryman” (original 2d artist Angus McKie).

Inset: covers of the Terran Trade Authority series. They collected art that had been used as sci-fi paperback covers, and devised a future history around them. 52

suppose I just about qualify as a Brummie! I’m still very fond of the old place, though it seems most of the bits I remember have now been torn down and replaced with shoe shops! 3DAD: Yes, it’s so sad. All the character of the interestingly seedy bits of the city centre, like the old Rag Market and Needless Alley, have been erased. It’s dull now, animated only by some bland municipal street entertainment. AM: So... how do I go from Birmingham to Hungary in three easy steps — I'll give you the edited highlights: I worked for a management consultancy which sent me to a project in Hamburg, which is where I met Katinka, my

wife. Turned out we were double-booked and only one of us should have been there. I subsequently moved to Munich for a year to live with Katinka, and then we both came back to Birmingham, where we lived for about ten years. A series of seemingly unrelated and unpredictable events meant our only available, sensible option was to sell up and leave the UK. Why Hungary? Well, my wife's parents were Hungarian; at the end of the Second World War the Germans deported them from Hungary to a camp in Germany for helping Jewish families evade capture, but with the end of the war and the Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe, the Iron Curtain came down and they were

Picture: “Cam-216 Vulcan” (a new TTA fan design inspired by a passing mention in TTA’s ‘Piranha’ entry). All made in Strata Design 3D.


marooned on the wrong side. So, Katinka was born in Germany, but raised as a Hungarian. Fast forward to the fall of the Iron Curtain, and Hungary seemed the obvious choice, though we found it had suffered from fifty years of Soviet domination and was entirely unlike anything we were used to. 3DAD: Wow. And apparently you also had to content with some pretty crazy wildlife? AM: You bet! My favourite has to be the hoopoe — an insane bird, black, white and pink with a long curved bill and a magnificent crest. Sits in our acacia trees making its "Ooop oop-oop" call. Then there are the huge dragonflies, lizards, praying mantis, snakes, giant hamsters… I kid you not. Take a regular hamster and blow it up to about 12 inches long. Scary thing when you first see one, though they're usually dead when I find them — thanks to our four fearsome cats. The first one I saw was a dead one, in the garage – I thought it was a discarded hat! There are furry pigs, too — seriously, imagine a cross between a sheep and a pig and you have the mangalica, a Hungarian pig, famed for it's woolly coat and tasty meat. And then there's the long-horned grey cattle, an annual migration of 76,000 cranes in which all the birds usually go right over our house. Storks, owls of various types, the golden oriole — a bird that looks like it's made from yellow plastic with a luminous red eye, that has the most melodious song. And nightingales — stand outside on a spring night, and you can hear four or five, all singing at once, accompanied by a chorus of frogs, a bittern making it's peculiar mooing call, distant thunderstorms lighting up the horizon in purple, blue, yellow and red, and overhead a velvety black starry sky. Magical. Stunningly dark skies too — you can see the Andromeda galaxy with the naked eye, and the Milky Way is stunning. 3DAD: Sounds great for a space artist. And potentially a xeno-biology artist! So, crazy wild animals aside, is Hungary today a good place to be a 3d artist and a “graphical engineer” as you describe yourself? I ask because many of our creative readers may have occasionally

thought: “These days, I could just take the laptop and work from anywhere with a good broadband connection”, but they have never taken the big leap as you seem to have. AM: I think that'd have to be a qualified “yes”: our Internet connection is pretty good these days and certainly on par with anything in the UK, thanks to EU taxpayer funds allowing the infrastructure to skip a couple of stages. You can generally get everything you need, if you know where to look and who to ask, but as for popping down the corner shop for a jar of Bovril and some cheese-and-onion crisps, think again! Cities are fairly well served, but the countryside… I think the best approximation is Britain in the 1930's, but with mobile phones and huge tractors. However, there's a problem for Brits coming out to Hungary, and it's a big one — the language. Hungarian is unlike any other European language, in that it has nothing in common with English, French, German and so on. It's very peculiar and fiendishly difficult to learn. You think Klingon is difficult? Hah! Hungarian laughs in the face of Klingon! I've just about grasped enough to discuss the weather and do basic shopping. However, my wife found that her fluency quickly came back and now she's indistinguishable from a native. I dread to think how we'd have coped otherwise. Very badly, I expect. 3DAD: So tell us about the full range of the graphical and illustrative work that you do from Hungary, so that our readers can see where your spaceship work fits into the full spectrum of your work and abilities. AM: I can pretty much cover anything, from printed material to websites. I suppose that's a function of being a freelance and working for agencies for so long, you have to be adaptable, learn very quickly and willing to do whatever is needed to get the job done. My first love was always illustration though. I initially trained in fine art, and then graphic design, which meant a lot of hands-on, traditional style artwork. Being able to work on a computer to create a page layout was something truly extraordinary for me, and making 3D models even more so. 54

Adrian Mann’s 3D recreation and interpretation of the “Sentinel Major” illustration made by Jim Burns for Sphere Books and re-used in the Terran Trade Authority books. Recreated with permission of the series originator Stewart Cowley. Modelled and rendered in Strata Design 3D.


The Space Elevator was first popularised by British sci-fi author Arthur C. Clarke in his

The Fountains of Paradise (1979). It would lower a cable from an asteroid in geostationary orbit. When the cable is connected to a ground point on the equator, mass is lifted to orbit using an electric hauler instead of rocket fuel. Prices for earth orbit shipment could be 100 times cheaper, and the service more frequent. Pictures: Modelled and rendered in Strata Design 3D and Vue by Adrian Mann.


Imagine doing an illustration, but the client wants the angle or composition changed — the traditional way of working means scrapping what you've done and starting again. With a 3D model you just change a few numbers or settings and re-render, and you always have the model to use again as you need it.

Some of Adrian’s best science work is regularly featured in the pages of commercial space magazines such as All About Space, seen above.

Add to that the ability to work remotely and a world of possibilities opens up. If we're talking about spacecraft, it also means that research can be done quickly and thoroughly so the final illustration is accurate. Many is the time that I've turned up information on a project that has saved the client from publishing something inaccurate or outdated, and that kind of service gets you noticed. Sometimes clients don't even know where I am — just assuming U.K. or U.S. Some years ago I worked on a book for a Canadian publisher, with the writer in the U.S., me doing the illustrations in Hungary and the book eventually being printed in China, and none of us ever met face-to-face. 3DAD: So what were some of your initial challenges in learning to create digital art? AM: Initially the big bottleneck was computing power. Anything 3D used to be seriously, glacially slow. Rendering an image would take literally days, and even building a 3D model was very tricky. Fortunately, I have a background in 'fine art' and do proper paintings, using acrylics, so that's been very 57

useful. Because the techniques of colour and composition still apply and I think that groundwork has paid off hugely over the years. 3DAD: And now a key part of your sci-fi work is on what’s known as the ‘Terran Trade Authority’ space ships and their series of illustrative pictures. I like that series a lot, I can see the influence from those 1970s and 80s British artists such as Chris Foss’s paperback covers. So tell our readers, please — what is the Terran Trade Authority, creatively, and what are your long-term plans for the collected work being done on developing it?

AM: Ah yes. Back in the 1970's, a chap called Stewart Cowley was working for British book publisher Hamlyn, who had a big catalogue of science fiction book covers they wanted to use again and make more from the investment. Cowley was given the task, and hit on the idea of a ‘future history’, laid out something like Jane’s Fighting Ships. Picture of the craft, some specs, story about the craft, and then weave all that together into something coherent. And so the Terran Trade Authority was born. The TTA was the government body overseeing all kinds of space activites, from commercial to military, and that was the hook that all the rest hung on. The first TTA book, Spacecraft 2000-2100 was a success, and he did a further three — Starliners, Spacewreck and Great Space Battles. Needless to say, the art was top-notch, from the best names in the business at the time. Colin Hay, Jim Burns, Peter Elson, Angus McKie, Bob Layzell and many others, though curiously not Chris Foss. Those books stayed with me over the years and once 3D modelling became a serious possibility, it was an obvious move to recreate some of the ships. Over many years I've done almost all the ships in the first book, and later put them together into a short movie. I couldn't believe the response to it — suddenly, loads of other people appeared and they also remembered the old TTA books as fondly as I did, and I still get comments from others who are just discovering that they're not alone in their love for the old TTA universe.

“Daedalus was a project from the British Interplanetary Society … I'd like to think I've produced the most accurate representation of the spacecraft to date.”

Pictures: Modelled and rendered in Strata Design 3D by Adrian Mann. 58

With Cowley’s blessing, myself and a fellow TTA enthusiast in Japan have been working on a fifth TTA book called Capital Ships, though if and when it'll ever see the light of day... 3DAD: Let’s hope so. I do recognise more than a few of the TTA paintings from their use on 1970s and 80s sci-fi paperback covers. But I must admit the fact that they had been collected in the TTA books had completely passed me by until now. Ok, so... back to 3D. Could you also tell our readers more about the technical aspects of the design workflow, the software, the rendering, the post-production?

AM: I usually start with some basic drawings to get the dimensions correct, if it's something from the real world. I create line art that can be imported into whatever 3D programme I'm going to use and that becomes a template to build the model around. If possible, I try to build the model ‘in my head’. Followed by lots of checking, research, tweaking and modifying. It definitely helps to be passionate about what you're doing, or it'd become a chore very rapidly. I mostly use a little-known software package called Strata Design 3D, for no better reason that it was the first proper 3D software I came across, many years ago, and I've just stuck with it. It does really great renders without any additional rendering engines. Naturally, Photoshop gets used a lot for compositing and rework, colour balancing and so on, and I'm finding that more and more clients really like having the final piece delivered as a layered Photoshop file so they can tweak it at their end, which I think is a great way to work and gives maximum flexibility. Vue Xstream I use for scenes that need an atmosphere or landscape, and it's easy to import models created in Strata or something else into Vue. 3DAD: What do those applications do especially well, and what would you like to see in future versions? AM: Strata is not well known, and many other 3D packages are now streets ahead of it in terms of features, but when I've got a deadline 59

and I need to just get on with it and get the job done, I use the tool I know best, the one that will give me the best results, and for me that's Strata. I'm actually using Cinema 4D more and more these days, as the Vue software functions as a plugin within C4D, and it seems to be more stable that way than as a standalone program. C4D is mind-bogglingly complex and I suspect that you could spend years just going through all the options, which is tempting, but then when you think you've learned something they go and bring out the next version, which is even more complex! I'll probably be sticking with Strata for modelling, but more and more I send the models over to C4D for more complex operations and texturing. 3DAD: Ok, thanks. So now we come to the big one, quite literally. Your ongoing series for the Daedalus Starship giant concept ship. Could you tell our readers about that, the work on it so far, the science that underlies it, and where you plan to take it in the future. AM: Daedalus was a project from the British Interplanetary Society, which aimed to produce the first credible design for a vehicle capable of travelling to a nearby star within a human lifetime. After several years, they produced a final report which described a huge two-stage ship, powered by nuclear fusion, which would reach speeds of 12% the speed of light, to allow it to reach the chosen target star within a human lifetime. It was the first credible research into the subject of interstellar travel and has since become the benchmark study. One of the major findings was just how complicated and expensive such a project would be, as it would require the colonisation of the solar system first, just to provide the fuel, by mining it from the atmosphere of Jupiter. My first contact with it was again through the work of Gatland and Vick, which really inspired me. Again, it was an obvious candidate for 3D modelling, and I've been continually working at it for years. By one of those great strokes of luck, I do a lot of work for Reaction Engines, who are working on the

Skylon spaceplane and SABRE engine — the chief there just happens to be Alan Bond, who was part of the original BIS Daedalus team, so I've been able to get quite a bit of detailed information, and have my work checked thoroughly. So I'd like to think I've produced the most accurate representation of the spacecraft to date. Amazing bloke, Alan — designs rocket engines in his head and is one of the nicest people you could ever wish to meet. Why he doesn't have a knighthood is beyond me!

engine needs to be a long way from the payload, shielded, or both. Prodigious amounts of heat are produced as a by-product, which needs to be got rid of, so they need big radiators. The fuel has to be stored in tanks or pods, usually at cryogenic temperatures, and empty tanks need to be disposed of, and the whole thing needs to be as light as possible to keep the dry mass fraction down. As for a faster-than-light ship, we have no serious idea! There's a lot of work going on now into warp drives on a purely mathematical level

3DAD: So generally, how tightly is the design aesthetic of a ship tied to its method of propulsion? For instance, what would be the science constraints on the design of a shorthaul interstellar craft — to Barnard’s Star, say — or a faster-than-light ship?

3DAD: Yes, our preceeding interview in this spaceships issue is with the designer of NASA’s new warpship concept.

AM: The design is totally driven by physics — if ever there was a case of ‘form follows function’, this is it. The kind of engines needed to reach the necessary speeds are nuclear fusion of one type or another, which produce radiation and particles as a by-product, so the

AM: That design is impressive, but is rather like being in the 18th century trying to guess what a supersonic aircraft might look like. My reading says that the problems with a warpship are huge, and may be insurmountable. It's very early days and a breakthrough might occur, but at present, it looks like we're stuck with slower-than-light travel for the foreseeable future.

Pictures: The Skylon orbital spaceplane, designed by the British private space company Reaction Engines Ltd. The Skylon would use the company’s innovative SABRE engine, recently confirmed as feasible by the United States Air Force Research Laboratory. Modelled and rendered in Strata Design 3D by Adrian Mann.


3DAD: What’s your opinion of the commercial design values on show in current visual sci-fi? AM: I'm afraid that in a straight fight between scientific accuracy and entertainment, the science always loses out. Every time a new movie is announced I get excited when I see they've consulted scientists and engineers and it'll all be credible and accurate, and then the movie actually comes out and sacrifices were made in the interests of storytelling and action. Every time I see a starship design, my first thought is ‘where are the radiators’? Sounds odd, but if there's one thing I've learned that's critically important for any spacecraft, it's heat management. The one ship I've seen that what based on sound principles was the Venture Star seen at the beginning of Avatar for about 18 seconds. Looked pretty good, backed up by some solid engineering and physics, and had huge radiators! So hats off to the team on that one. 3DAD: Who do you admire today, in terms of feasible transportation design for space, air, water, land?

AM: Reaction Engines obviously — I think Skylon is such a majestic and beautiful vehicle that it'd be a crime not to build it. And yet, it's purely a function of physics, aerodynamics and engineering. I remember the first time I saw their very early depictions of it — that was how the future was supposed to look! Sleek and menacing, and just ‘right’. Mutt Summers, a test pilot for Avro during the Second World War, used to say “If it looks right, it is right”, and Skylon just looked so right, which is what inspired me to contact them.

3DAD: Any interest in designing water craft, where you might actually get to see the craft built and used? AM: I have recently been looking at luxury yachts, just interested to see what's happening in a design field I know nothing about. Some of the designs are utterly gorgeous, especially the interiors. 3DAD: What’s your own personal favourite image from your portfolio and why?


“I do a lot of work for Reaction Engines, who are working on the Skylon spaceplane and SABRE engine ... I think Reaction Engines's Skylon is such a majestic and beautiful vehicle that it'd be a crime not to build it.”

AM: Now, there's a tough one! I'm very attached to the work I do for Reaction Engines, so I could pick any of those. Daedalus, of course, but I think my favourite at the moment would be the VARIES concept. Not just because I'm proud of the images, but I think the physics behind it is amazing. Here's how VARIES works: build a huge ship, with titanic panels and park it as close to the sun as you dare. The arrays charge up monstrous banks of capacitors for years, which are then used to power peta or exawatt class lasers, all firing on a tiny spot of empty space. All that energy pouring into one spot creates particles and anti -particles out of the vacuum of space, and by using magnetic fields you capture the antiparticles and store them. When you have enough antimatter, retract the solar arrays and

use matter/anti-matter reaction as the engine to travel to another star. Once there, you repeat the process, effectively creating fuel from nothing rather than having to lug it along with you. An extraordinary idea and I'm pleased I was given the job of illustrating it. 3DAD: What three pieces of advice would you give to a 3d modeller starting out, especially for future transportation modelling? AM: I think a good start is to actually build a few real-world models, and by that I mean plastic Airfix-style kits, of a few real aircraft or vehicles. The people who create the tools for those are immensely clever and it'll show you how things can be divided up into manageable chunks, and how to go about things in a logical orderly fashion. Second, always look at how

Pictures: The VARIES engine. Modelled and rendered in Strata Design 3D by Adrian Mann.


things are put together and imagine what processes must have happened along the way. Everything you see that isn't natural must have been designed by someone, somewhere, so figure out why they did it that way. Third, have patience. It's a difficult field to get noticed in, and it's going to take time to learn your craft. You have to be multi-talented and prepared to do a lot of homework and put the hours in. No short cuts, I'm afraid, but if you’re passionate about it then it won't seem like work. 3DAD: What are you working on, now?

shirt and other merchandising work for Project Icarus. Plus the usual crop of magazine illustrations. I've just completed illustrations of a swarm gravimetry space probe, an electric VTOL test aircraft and a virtual autopsy room. All interesting stuff. 3DAD: Quite a range. Adrian, thank you for your time, amid what must be a busy work schedule. AM: It's been great — thanks for the opportunity to chat, and here's to your continuing success.

Adrian Mann is online at

AM: A couple of logo designs, all very hushhush at present. New maintenance and loading halls for Reaction Engines’s Skylon. An animation for Fanwing. Some poster/t-


Daedalus was an interstellar mission designed by a panel of space experts from the British Interplanetary Society, between 1973 and 1978. Their aim was to demonstrate that interstellar travel is feasible, using only the then-current or feasible near-future technologies. The Daedalus would reach its destination within a working human lifetime. Nuclear engines would fire for 3.8 years, boosting the craft to 12% the speed of light. Daedalus would then cruise for 46 years until it reached the Barnard’s Star system 5.9 light years from Earth. The study took full account of the main

vehicle systems including the communications, navigation, structure — as well as known problems such as interstellar dust. The study drew on the 1960s U.S. work on nuclear rockets done by Project Orion, which later fed into NASA's NERVA nuclear mission to Mars. The well-regarded BIS study became a benchmark in spacecraft design. The £18 book Project Daedalus: Demonstrating the Engineering Feasibility of Interstellar Travel (British Interplanetary Society, 2011) republishes the original study documents, together with additional technical studies and new review papers.

Pictures: Daedalus under construction. The Daedalus firing its nuclear propulsion. Daedalus shown to scale with people. All by Adrian Mann, modelled and rendered in Strata Design 3D. 64


Picture: Daedalus shown to scale with the NASA Saturn V rocket that sent the astronauts to the Moon. By Adrian Mann, modelled and rendered in Strata Design 3D.


Another very fine and scientific vision of space exploration is Erik Wernquist's highly acclaimed short film "Wanderers" (2014), narrated by Carl Sagan. The film, available online in full, visualises what our future expansion into the Solar System would look like. Taking a similar approach to the BIS Daedalus mission (left), Erik strove to depict a feasible future by only showing real places and technologies, and by using genuine DEM map data and plans. In some cases Erik used real off-planet high-res photographs from NASA, compositing them with new 3D model CG elements and amazing live-action footage. View “Wanderers� online free at:


From the elegant to the alien, Mehmet Pinarci carefully thinks out every aspect of his spaceship designs. He talks to 3D Art Direct about Blender, his love of propulsion drives, and more.




Picture: Mehmet Pinarci, “Concept Fighter YC1”. Blender.


3DAD: Hello to Mehmet Pinarci, known on DeviantArt as ‘Pinarci’ . Thanks for joining us at 3D Art Direct magazine for our special spaceship design issue, which is of course your specialty skill. Before we get started on talking about the 3D aspects, Mehmet, could you tell us a little bit about yourself, please? Who is the man behind those beautiful models? MEHMET PINARCI: Hello. I was influenced by

attending the Marwen Foundation in Chicago, USA. I was a junior student and my art teacher helped me to get into Marwen. At Marwen I was able to watch a colorful wireframe fly-over of Chicago Downtown. The quality was the best available at that time, in the early 1990's. I saw that, and knew that was all I wanted to do. 3DAD: So you have you had a long term interest in 3D graphics, then?

Pictures: Mehmet Pinarci, “SC 140 Mid-Sized Yacht” and “Eleel Arrow Fast Cruiser”. Blender.


MP: Indeed, you can say long term. It is a bit of sad life, I guess. The 3D artist has an endless list of thing that one can play with and bring to life... and once you learn 3D it can become the only language that you speak. The rest is a wonderland of the human imagination. 3DAD: That’s an interesting way of looking at it. When did you find out that you had a


special talent for designing spaceships and similar craft? MP: Ohh… spaceships … I cannot recall an exact date, but I will say that it was from as far as back I remember, before pre-school. I would ask my Mom what she wanted me to draw — a plane, or a ship. Then I think that there came a point where I started to really mix those two objects up! I did feel special,

when I was able to imagine a whole sea-going ship flying up in the sky. After that event, my childhood self would be handed sheets of A4 paper and a pencil by my classmates, and I would be asked to draw spaceships for them. I’d draw just anything, but always trying to be original, nothing that had been seen before. We are talking about the time when we did not have a television at home. And then my

grandmother bought one, and I met the TV science-fiction series Galactica. 3DAD: I take it that this was a formative moment for you. Many artists say they were inspired by films and books, maybe even audio plays that they heard on the radio. Where does your popular culture inspiration come from? MP: Good question. I find inspiration

Pictures: Mehmet Pinarci, “Advanced Space Shuttle Concepts”. Blender.


everywhere, anything can be a ship in my world. I do admire everyone, I mean everyone who makes a line and a dot on paper and calls it a spaceship. I know I ought to give credit to my elders, masters of the industry. But that would be an endless list. This — I know even to me sounds bit ‘off’ — yet, a flower… a poem… a beautiful individual seen at a bus stop... these are things that get stuck in my


head, and these for can be inspirational. Now of course that approach leads to a bit of an eclectic soup. Every artist has their own recipe. I also search for some more direct inspirations. For instance I go to DeviantArt and type “spaceship” click and set the “Newest” filter, click and check them all out. 3DAD: Ah, yes, DeviantArt is great. So is that your favourite on-line resources related to

digital art? Or are there others? A forum, model sites or other resources? MP: Oh, DeviantArt and the Concept Ships site — those are two for sure. 3DAD: I wonder, do you try to create small fictional back-stories for each of the artwork pieces you create? MP: I do, when I am drawing them up or when

I am building them up. I do imagine millions of stories. I used to never shut up, inside, you know — inside my head I was bursting with stories to tell… these days I am bit calmer and my head is less noisy. Well, call it crazy but I love and live by the words of Picasso: ''Everything you imagine is real''. Once the ideas, by which I mean the story and design, are complete then I can strip away the

Pictures: Mehmet Pinarci, “Stardrive Engine Concepts, Main Drive Units”. Blender.


narratives and all of the emotional bonds, so that the resulting model can just be a ship, a vessel, a product for the viewer to imagine all that they want to. 3DAD: That sounds like an interesting approach. Can you describe your typical workflow? What are the steps you go through when creating a new space ship?


MP: That’s a great question. First I start with the propulsion drives. Basically, I have four standard drive types: inner planetary, solar, interstellar and wild exotic. Whatever the topic is, from the very tiny seed of that first inspiration, I always begin by thinking of mass and distance. Let’s say we need to travel the Milky Way… safely... so we need to build some fast exotic drives where we need to fold light,


Pictures: Mehmet Pinarci, “Katana Class Jumpdrive”. Blender.



Pictures: Mehmet Pinarci, from top, clockwise: “Civilian Transport”; “Ethux Interceptor”; “Sendercorp Science Vessel”; “Sydeeal”; “Sketch for the Ravee Royal Shuttle”. All 3D pictures made in Blender.


couple of thousand times to couple of hundred thousand times — so we can do this trip comfortably in one or two years. Until that point I play with ideas of manipulating space and time. I often like to call it folddrive, maybe it does sound a bit better to the ear. That drive you don’t get to see. It is always somewhere inside the ship. A very basic shape, yet loaded with ideas of how it manipulates space. After that I draw or build that Newtonian, hotly desired look of thrusters done in many exotic colors, which match my ideas about exotic fuels. Once the thrusters are ready I do the hull, wings and details.

3DAD: Fantastic. So you start with the heart of the ship, its engine and then build up the layers around it, based on the purpose the ship is built for? I ask because I noticed, when looking at your DeviantArt gallery a few sketches, labeled with descriptions of the

purpose of the relevant parts of the ship. Do you normally start with a rough sketch, before you fire up Blender? MP: Good question. I used to sketch everything before… I had a better relationship with pencil. Now I am faster and better just using Blender. 3DAD: What are the strengths of Blender? MP: Blender is just like a real good friend. Kind of hard to get used to in the beginning, yet it has become a lifelong friend. I feel Blender and I do build most together. Now that to some that is a weakness, I do except that. But I’d say Blender and I are the best of friends. We have quite a relaxed relationship, I guess. I am really good at going with the flow... 3DAD: Wow, that’s an awesome comparison. I’m glad you and the software are working together so well. I’m sure many of our readers have applications that feel like an old friend,


while others behave more like bucking broncos in their hands. You said learning Blender was hard at first, what were some of your initial challenges in creating digital art and how did you overcome these challenges? MP: Oh, it is always a challenge: it is not like pencil and paper at all. It is a computer, a totally different world. To master each tool individually eats up a lot of time. Some of that is rewarding and sometimes it is simply a waste of time and effort. 3DAD: But back to your work. Can you tell readers why you take the time in mapping out the functions of each part of your spaceships?

MP: Oh lovely question… it is not because I feel I have to define it all, and what each item is... pulse lasers, range finders, field generators and amplifiers, and all the rest. It really comes down to the question you asked

before. I do imagine whole bunch of other things while building spaceships, and often I can’t find nice words that fit the ship. So, as I go on alone, I make up some words. At that point I feel I have to name that part, that object … also you know it is a good discipline in 3D to name all your objects. 3DAD: I suppose it is, it keeps things nice and neat. When and how do you decide on the colours your models will finally have? Do you know them when you start modelling? To me they are all black unless they are Elite or Royal class. Then they are gold and shiny, exotic, glossy materials that I try to come up with. MP: I know... I feel the answer to this question could become an endless ocean of words… but I will give a few key pointers. The Star Trek Romulan ships — the Deridex class — are green, like their blood; the

Pictures: Mehmet Pinarci, “Sketch for Gom Battle Cruiser”, and “Tulipael Heavy Gunship”. 3D picture made in Blender.


Deridex class is my most respected ship design ever. For good guys I use cream tones, close to white. Bad guys are red and black. Everything else is in the human spectrum. Now, if I am really into the ship then… I’ll go all the way back to the very starting point of the planet where she came from. I first imagine the star and the planet, then the organic life forms, their colours and appearance… and so arrive at

a very cool creature, like a bird. After that point I jump a few thousand years forward in time, and build a ship that reflects all of these elements. 3DAD: Wow, that is quite a unique way of working and it really pays off. A lot of your cruisers have beautiful silhouettes and I can see the idea of organic live and animals

Pictures: Mehmet Pinarci, “Neptune R005”, and “Super Yacht Senn”. Blender.


influencing those shapes. I especially love one of your yachts, which we show below, it really showed that nautical heritage and the marriage between sea and sky. Well, thank you so much for taking the time and sharing with us your creative process, Mehmet. We wish you all the best and look forward to more of your creations in the future.


MP: Thank you.

Mehmet Pinarci is online at: He also sells 3D models via Turbosquid.

INDEX Background: Detail from underside sketch render of Star Trek “Starship U.S.S. Avantine” by Mark Rademaker, 2009.

Issue 51

● ● Sixus 1

Issue 34

● Mark Rademaker

● ● Dan Alvaro

● William Black

● Adrian Mann

H.P. Lovecraft gallery

● Ryan Bliss

● Mehmet Pinarci * The art of NASA

● Mary William Issue 26

● ● Juan Roderiguez Issue 42

Issue 33

● Melissa Krauss

● ● Angel Alonso

● ● Sebastien Hue

● Artur Rosa

Issue 50

● ● ● Neil Thacker

● ● Jeff Wal

● Alexander Nikolaev

● Artur Rosa

* John Scoleri on the

+ Alie Ries

● Warren Turner

● ● Bjorn Malmberg and

artwork of Ralph McQuarrie

+ ● ● ● Scott Richard

● Kerem Gogus

Ryan Malone on Extra Solar ● Frank Picini

● Lewis Morrcroft Issue 41

Issue 32

● J. F. Leisenbor

● Suzanne Krings | ’BadSue’

Issue 25

Issue 49

● Graham Symmons

● Richard Fraser

● Arthur Dorety

} Stefan Kraus

● Tutorial: DEM into Vue

● Cody Paschal

● Ron Miller

● Finnian MacManus

● ● Dragos Jieanu

● Dax Pandhi

Issue 31

Issue 24

Issue 48

● Joe Vintol | Orbital

● Sylvain Chevallier

● Oshyan Green

● Oyshan Greene

● Laticis

● ● Tarik Keskin

● Ulco Glimmerveen

● Andy Welder

● Jan Walter Schielp

● Jesse-lee Lang ● Britta Jacobs

Issue 40

● Ulco Glimmerman ● Frank Basinski

Issue 38/39

and Frank Basinski

● ● S. Martinez | Xurge

Issue 30

Issue 46-47

● ● Chris Hecker | Tigear

● ● Ian Grainger

Issue 23

} ● ● Reality 4

● ● ● George Krallis

● Hannes Janetzko

● AlfA SeeD

● Thierry Cravatte

● ● Nancho Riesco

● Jani Peltola

● Benoit Petterlini

● ● Aeon Soul

● James Webb

● Pierre Chartier

● Drea Horvath

● ● Hermino Nieves * 3D overpaint tutorial

● Michel Rongberg Issue 37

Issue 29

● ● Tobias Roetsch

● Mavrosh Stratiotis

Issue 22

Issue 45

● Dave De Kerf

● ● Vladimir Yaremchuk

● Erich Mestriner

~ TheHunter videogame

● ● ● Kim Schneider

● ● ● Paul Gibson

● ● Clint Hawkins

● ~ Shaun Williams

● ● ● Deedee Davies

~ Unique Landscapes ~ Richard Whitelock Issue 44 ● Mark J. Brady ● Jan Van de Klooster ● Hans-Rudolf Wernli Issue 43 ● ● Runtime DNA

Issue 36

● Danny Gordon

● Matthew Attard

Issue 28

+ Tobias Richter

● Don Webster

Issue 21

● Oshyan Greene

● Cynthia Decker

● Eliane Neck

● Edson Moraes

● ● ● Jens Reinhart

Issue 35

● Rob Caswell

● ● Maxime des Touches

Issue 27

● John Haverkamp

● ● ● Kim Schneider

Issue 20

● Massimo Verona

● Matthew Attard


DIRE T ● ● Tim Haaksma of

Brian Christensen


● Peter Rex

● 3ds Max

Issue 12

● ● Melissa Krauss

● Blender

● Jeeni Sjoberg

Dynda Yaroslav

● Bryce

Renderosity ● ● ● Patrick Turner

● Jacob Charles Dietz

Issue 19

~ Chuck Carter (Myst)

● Don Webster

● ● Christoph Gerber

Issue 5

● Isadore Koliavras

● Kurt Richards

● Carrara ● Cinema 4D * Classic sci-fi art

Issue 11

● Lewis Moorcroft

Issue 18

● Fredy Wenzel

● Kerem Gogus

● Daz Studio

● Ali Ries

● Richard Kitner

● Shaun Williams

~ Games CG

● Suzi Amberson

● Lenord Curry

● Barry Marshall

● Groboto

● ● ● Mirek Drozd

● Heinz Grzybowski

● Hexagon

● ● Christian Beyer

Issue 4

● Lightwave

Issue 10

● John Robertson

Issue 17

● ● Robert Nurse

● Phil Drawbridge

● Lewis Moorcroft

● ● I. L. Jackson

● Warren Turner

● Tutorial: Nebulas

● Paul Bussey

● ● Juan Rodriguez

Issue 9

Issue 3

● Poser

● ● Bjorn Malmberg ● ● Ryan Malone

● Mandelbulb ● Mojoworld + Movie & TV CG

● Photoshop comp.

● ● Luca Oleastri

● Arthur Rosa

● POV-Ray

Issue 16

● Tony Meszaros

● ● Danny Gordon

} Software author

● ● Tarik Keskin

● Arthur Dorety

● Fabrice Delage

● Terragen

● DeeDee Davies

● Dave Orchid

● Alexander Nikolaev

● Vue

● ● Neil Thacker ● Les Garner | Sixus 1

● ● Jack Tomalin Issue 8 ● Groboto 3 review

Issue 2

Issue 15

● ● Jeff Hindmarch

● Jacob Charles Dietz

* Peter Elson

● ● ● Tony Hayes

● ● Melissa Krauss

● ● Chris Hecker

● Brian Christensen

● Mark Stevenson

Issue 7

Issue 1

● ● Mark Edwards

● Ken Musgrave and his

● S. Korff-Knoblauch Issue 14 ● Bradley W. Schenck

MojoWorld software

+ Angel Alonso Garcia

Issue 6

● Chipp Walters

● ● ● Simon Beer

● Artur Rosa

● Peter Rex

● Alex Niko

● ● Juan Rodriguez

Issue 13

● Warren Turner

● Tutorial: Vue procedural

● Glenn Clovis

● ● Danny Gordon


● Rob Caswell

● ● Juan Rodriguez

● Peter Rex

● ● ● Phil Drawbridge


● Wings 3D ● Zbrush

GET ALL BACK ISSUES for just $35!

FREEBIES EACH ISSUE 3D Art Direct will boldly seek out new 3d freebies to enhance your creative works. Our freebies are almost always illustrated with our basic ’real world’ test render to show what actually exported and loaded up in the testbed software we used.

Disclaimer: We can’t promise that the Web links on this page will live forever, or that the maker won’t decide to put their freebie on sale at some point in the future. So please grab the freebies quick!

SPACESHIP SCHEMATICS HOLOGRAM TABLE This free hologram table for Blender is by Pascal Deraed, and is licensed as Creative Commons Attribution. It relies on internal Blender linked-node shaders, and so we had no luck exporting it as an .FBX or an .OBJ with its holo-effects intact. But if you know Blender well enough to switch out the ship model and re-apply the holo-textures to the new ship, then this could be a useful model for you. Seen below is a section of our mere 1400px render, which was set to chug on for another 18 hours before we abandoned it — it seems the complex lighting used greatly increases the render time. It looks very nice, but we think this is one for the render farm.



DIRECT! PLANT FACTORY ‘EXCHANGE AREA’ The very popular Plant Factory software, from the makers of Vue, is now accompanied online by a new freebies ‘Exchange Area’ on the Conucopia website. We currently count 19 free plants available there, including the rather nice ‘young fern’ seen opposite, which could be useful for the foreground of Vue scenes such as an alien/terraforming planet or dinosaur forest.

DOWNLOAD MULTI-SUNS FOR MOJOWORLD Claudia in Germany has been hard at work crafting a whole series of new template files for MojoWorld users, including one to create MojoWorld worlds with multiple suns. Also make sure to browse Claudia’s many other new MojoWorld files.



Back cover picture: Adrian Mann’s 3D recreation of the Pathfinder ship class from the Terran Trade Authority books, with permission of the series originator Stewart Cowley. Modelled and rendered in Strata Design 3D.

NEXT ISSUE JULY 2015 Interested in being interviewed in a future issue of 3D Art Direct magazine? Or offering a webinar for our conference series? Please send us the Web address of your sci-fi or fantasy website or store, and we’ll visit!


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3D Art Direct Issue 51  

3D Art Direct specialises with the stories of creativity using 3D digital art applications. SPACESHIP DESIGN SPECIAL. We love to share our i...

3D Art Direct Issue 51  

3D Art Direct specialises with the stories of creativity using 3D digital art applications. SPACESHIP DESIGN SPECIAL. We love to share our i...

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