a gallery of computer-generated images



This image was inspired by a scene from Mick Farren’s science-fiction novel “Protectorate”. This was one of the few science-fiction books in my collection to survive the great pogrom which banished most of the collection to the attic to make space on my shelves for ‘real’ books. “Protectorate” isn’t a great work of literature - it’s best described as capably-written pulp, but it is full of striking visual images (the overall style of the work has been described as ‘Gothic hippie’), it has some genuinely alien aliens, and its morality is shaded in grey rather than merely black and white as in most science-fiction. The character of the Protector, who assumes the powers of an absolute tyrant in order to protect the remnants of humanity from the alien Wasps, is particularly interesting.

In making these image, I experimented with various new (to me) tools and techniques. The Wasps’ heads were modelled using the powerful but intimidating free form modeller from Ray Dream Studio 5, the first time I’ve used this in a scene. Their bodies are actually human figures from Poser 2.0, extensively distorted to make them appear alien. The slightly unnatural posture adds to the impression of alienness.

This is also the first ‘crowd scene’ I’ve made. Standing in the background are about sixty of Marshall Heizen’s Killers, drawn up in ranks. If I’d modelled them all in Poser and dropped the models into the scene, my scene file would probably have finished by taking up rather more than 50MB on disk and render times would have gone transfinite. To get them all in there, I rendered one figure in Poser (equipped with a machine gun from the Poser props library, and a modified helmet from the collection of models that ships with Ray Dream Studio), then imported the rendered image to Bryce as a PICT and duplicated repeatedly. Figures created this way don’t stand up to close inspection, but from a distance they look fine, and they’re very much cheaper than importing Poser models.

There are only five actual Poser models in the scene; the two Wasps (actually duplicates, the second one flipped on the X axis), Protector Trenhyass, and the two legates, Horfon and Androx, standing to the right of the Protector. I used the ‘non-detailed’ models to keep the scene file size down. This has the disadvantage that visual artifacts tend to creep in when the model is smoothed, and I had to touch-up the image with Photoshop after rendering to remove these artifacts. I passed the models through Ray Dream Studio 5 in order to ensure that they ungrouped properly, and then assigned texture to the separate body parts to clothe them properly (Horfon and Androx are based on nude models, the Protector on the ‘male business’ model).

I used Photoshop to create the bump map for the material used on the Wasps’ flyer. I used one of the basic KPT 3 Texture Explorer presets to make a ribbed effect, then converted it to greyscale, imported it as a 2D picture and assigned it to the bump channel for a slightly-specular, purplish material.

The columns and roofbeams of the hall are a fairly sketchy bit of object grouping and Boolean carving. To make the image better, I should probably rework this. They’re textured with a modified marble, based on a texture by Eric Wenger.

For a newer take on the same scene, see this image.


KPT Bryce 2.1
Poser 2
Fractal Design
Ray Dream Studio 5
Photoshop 5.0.2