Breakfast in the ruins
In every way the desert knows.
It swallows roads and rivers whole
And all our hopes and manifestos too they go.
The starting point for the image was a terrain created in PhotoShop based on blurred and 'crystallized' noise. The terrain is just about invisible in the final scene - it provides the bumps in the foreground ground areas - but experimenting with it led to a 'desert' look.
The desert reminded me of an illustration by SF artist Angus McKie which featured a crashed spaceship looming out of the haze. I built a hull from a hollow cylinder (cylinder with a smaller negative cylinder inside), and used terrains set to Boolean intersect to carve it up raggedly. A second cylinder, using a modified Steel Cage texture (the hull uses the Urban Dwelling texture) was made in the same way, tweaked slightly and then inserted inside the hull to provide the ribs of the wrecked ship. Incidentally, the Bryce FAQ says not to use Booleans with terrains. What can I say? Works for me.
Attempts to add a skeleton in a spacesuit (as in the McKie image) were not successful, and none of my other experiments - a scrap collector pulling a handcart made out of primitives - really worked. I started thinking of the spaceship as a fallen tower, added more 'buildings' to create a ruined city, then removed them one by one until I was left only with the cylinder and a pyramid. The pyramid was created in the same way - hollowed out, and then carved up by an intersecting terrain.
To fill the empty space in the foreground, I added two small figures, made in Poser. The figures have terrains for hair and weapons - spear, and bow and arrow - made from primitives. Once again, I could probably have reduced the size of the scene file and the render time by rendering the figures separately and inserting them as a picture.
The final effect is one of these 'fall of civilisation' images much-loved by SF artists. The Latin Quarter citation lends itself well enough to this theme (although the desert referred to in the sand is probably, uh, symbolic rather than actual).
31 Dec 1996