Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Old Concepts from way back Part 2

PART 2 Miscellaneous

Gothic "cathedral" ships. It was something different to do.


A character for another story that went no where as fast as it could. Pallas.

The story was called Gravity: the Dark City, about the fate of a generation ship, perhaps lost in space and careening through the void. The ship was a small moon with a partitioned torus carved out of it so that it had a subterranean "world" about the size of a coast to coast swath of the U.S. Each pole had a single tower that reached up to the sky and connected to the upper surface installations. The generation ship passes by a neutron star and the resultant tidal forces sends the north tower and the elements for the artificial sky crashing to the ground, leaving the north hemisphere in darkness. Palla was a young girl when this happened and lost her arm in the catastrophe. Their civilization collapses and Pallas grows to be a formidable warrior. This gets her tasked by the leader to venture to the southern hemisphere for assistance. But once Pallas arrived in the south and sees the paradise before her, she has no plans to leave. I had the idea the north had regressed through the centuries and treated science as some kind of arcane magic, while the south technically progressed. I can't recall if I had a good reason why they had become secluded from one another. Maybe war. I don't know.

In the 2000s I was beginning to feel that my art was getting trapped in the same design box. I re-invented myself as Opacity for a month or two and did a few unCargile like things. This is one of them that Ive been able to find. I wanted to strike out more into art than schematics.

While the Necronomicon is a work of fiction, Marduk may have been a real Sumerian. This played into that whole Ancient Aliens thing which I DO NOT believe.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Old concepts from way back, Part 1

Back in the late 90s, the internet was in its infancy, a place of forums and personal websites when users had to know a little bit about writing HTML. No Facebook, Photobucket, Twitter, or Blogs.  At that time I was heavy into Star Trek as TNG ran its course and DP9 was soon to end. 3D modeling had come onto the scene and there was the art of the Wolfpack, and Sci-Fi Arts was one of the first forums to showcase 3D art, mostly Trek related.

But I wasn't a modeler, and honestly had a jaundiced eye toward it as I felt it "cheated" conventional art methods. I was, however, a pencil and pen conceptualizer, but there was no place to post my art at SFA other than the general discussion or 3D art subforums. So I asked Tachy to make a place for me and he added the 2D art section, which is now a default part of many science fiction art forums--my little contribution to their history.

I posted designs, and had a website of my own, which back in those days of FTP uploading adding new material was a lengthy process when you had to write the coding yourself. Thus the website didn't grow as fast as my drawing did, and drinking beer certainly got in way. I did manage to get a few things up on the web. However, moving and needing new computers meant the old scanned drawings didn't always get transferred to the new computers. And as time wore on, the websites got neglected, and eventually died in in the beginning of the 2000s. I'd say the old design website never really took off.

It had its fans though.

I truly don't know what to feel about having fans. Undeserving perhaps, because I always feel the final product isn't quite good enough, that it can always be a little bit better, a little less sloppy, a little more thought out, and on and on.

Sometimes out of the blue, I'll get a mention on a forum I don't visit, or visit often, or an email about some old concepts and the old website. And the conversation usually starts with "Do you still have. . ."

Yes. Yes I do, yellowing in boxes.

So I went looking through my collection, going down memory lane, and I've bored you enough so on to the concepts if you haven't skipped all this.

PART 1 The "Beyond Now" Series

Most of my work, or at least my series work, had an epic sci-fi tale with it that never got anywhere. "Beyond Now" was a place holder name for when I came up with a better one, which I never did.

 Of course there is some obvious Aliens inspiration, but the real secret to this design is to take a regular cargo ship and turn it upside down. I was also thinking that if the Space Shuttle orbited with its back to the Earth, then followed suit that he cargo bays on these ships would be on the "bottom" as far as the side view orientation went. They also thrusted for gravity so "down" pointed toward the engines.

This looks like one of the earliest concepts, before the upside ship began to influence me.

I began to play with different engine types. I believe this used magnetic fields to direct plasma thrust, inspired by the natural forces of the sun. And I always hated the requirement of turning around to slow down. I saw it as a combat weakness. So I added retro-engines.

The letter codes for this combat ship are:
a) Sensors, comm, radar, and telescopes, plus special sensor booms, and a fwd antigravity unit.
b) armory and hydraulic gun.
c) payload bay
d) auxiliary solar panel array (stowed)
e) Upper defensive laser
f) star trackers and nav sensors
g) offensive laser
h) superstructure w/ bridge and docking tubes
i) aft sensor boom and arrays
j) FTL comm
k) aft hydraulic guns and antigrav
l) power reactor and negative energy generator
m) main engines and fuel tankage

This oddity was when I first started thinking about wormhole travel. The caveat here was that the process killed the pilot, so he or she had to be revived.
These designs are 15 years old, but they look timeless. Odd that when I did get into 3D modeling, I never thought to look back over these and model them. I guess I figured they run their course.

More to come . . .

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Problem with BSG Aircraft Vipers

Any browsing through a dedicated science fiction art forum, website, or social media page will have concepts of fantastic air- or spacecraft that are obviously designed with "Cool" in mind over any physics adherence. Which isn't a problem if you know you are chucking the science out the window to favor heavily in the fiction. I've done that too. The problem I have is when a body of science fiction mixes the hard with the fantasy. I certainly understand that for movies and television, budget requirements always mean artificial gravity, such as seen on the Battlestar Galactica, but if a production decides to ground a show in fact to present a more realistic and relatable world, then they shouldn't make one element plausible, and another similar element not.

shipschematics.net Used for reference.
The Viper fighter doesn't stretch the imagination too far to be a believable craft. While I don't particularly like the fixed fan blades in the intakes of the engines (what is it ingesting for space operation?) and question the noise and vibration in the cockpit being butted against the engines, its design makes sense for a space fighter--and a space fighter only!

It's not hard to image where most of the mass (weight) of the Viper is, it's aft heavy with the nose shifting the center of gravity to right under the cockpit. That's where you want the CG for a space fighter because that puts the pilot under the least amount of forces during maneuvering. If you ever been on a school yard playground, you might recall that less centripetal force is felt in the center of a merry-go-round, than is felt on the outside. If the cockpit were at the nose, the Viper pilot would experience greater g forces, which in turn would limit the maneuverability the pilot could handle.
The wings themselves, while not meant to generate lift in space, of course, can act as booms for the reaction control thrusters, following the law of levers which means less force is needed to pivot around the lateral axis (wingtip to wingtip) than would be required if the thrusters where closer to the fuselage. But in the show, I don't think they actually do that. They may (and it is something I'll have to look out for) but we usually see thrusters firing from the engine pods. The difference in needed thrust wouldn't be that much anyway as the wingtips aren't that far from the fuselage.

The downward force on the horizontal stabilizer keeps the nose from dropping.
The tail also follows the rule of levers allowing for a smaller wing surface
to produce the force necessary to counteract the weight of the engine.

The Viper makes a poor aircraft because with the CG so close to the engines, the tail will have a tendency to drop causing a pitch up condition and a stall. The nose of the Viper will have to produce a force to keep the nose down, whether it be from airfoils or thrust. Is it feasible for airborne Vipers to continuously fire their nose pitch down thrusters for atmospheric flight? It is something we wouldn't necessarily see in the show, but the absence of airfoils implies it must, although it demands the suspension of disbelief for fuel consumption, even if we are talking about high density tylium. A reasonable people would not design such waste into their machines if a less energy costly solution can be applied. Science fiction seems to violate this rule at every opportunity.

You might ask, "But what if the nose is heavy to balance the Viper?" The problem with that is that while air- and spacecraft are being used, they lose weight/mass through the consumption of fuels, oxidizers, life-support gases, servicing fluids, and ammunition, so the CG will move as the craft is flown. It is easier to use an airfoil that can be trimmed by the pilot to counteract the shifting CG when needed, than to have a complex system system of tanks and pumps to move consumed fluids around. Modern aircraft do this will fuel, and trimming is still needed. (Trimming is slightly deflecting either the whole flight control surface or a smaller tab set into the surface to maintain straight and level flight.)

Typically science fiction conceptual artist ignore the parts that make aircraft fly in attempts to make something seem more futuristic. As if ignoring physics is futuristic. A BSG aircraft should then look like an aircraft. Not like this design seen from Caprica.

I understand why it looks this way. There seems to be an unwritten (or maybe it is written) rule that any fighter or ship in science fiction must have obvious lineage design or the viewers will become confused. As if we are stupid. This is like saying that the F-22 must have some semblance to the P-51.

 A BSG aircraft wouldn't have to look anything like a Viper and fit into the design style of the show for the viewing audience to know that such aircraft were Colonial. After all, we see a vast diversity of spacecraft designs in the Rag Tag Fleet.

As super cool awesome as it looks, the Caprica Viper has the same problem with the spaceborne Viper pretending to be an airplane: there is nothing keeping the nose down.

This Viper also has a natural tendency to point its butt at the ground and stop being an airplane.

Again, what is keeping that nose down? No thrusters on these old Iron Birds. Notice how the Japanese got it right in WW2 with the Shendin?

Note the nose horizontal stabilizer. That small added detail would make all the difference in the world in making the Viper-like aircraft more believable.

Generation 6 fighter doodles, and more

Just kicking around some chined, kite planforms.

More on the BSG atmospheric fighter later.