Sunday, September 19, 2010


Defining a Futuristic World...

Intergalactic trade and starship travel between terraformed planets and space colonies have always been popular themes utilized when defining sci fi environments. And the presence of alien species [presented as either allies or enemies, and having familiar or unfamiliar phenotypes] are also quite common in sci fi movies and literature. Yet these issues, despite their standardized relevance, are merely the crest of the iceberg.

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There are other notable things that assist in helping to define futuristic worlds, which are worth considering carefully. One key signature element of sci if is the fact that it stretches the imagination. When drafted conceptual worlds are considered, its commonly the little things flawlessly intertwined into the art that presents the tangible depth of the image; and this depth helps to dictate futuristic themes. For instance, a panoramic image showcasing a serene countryside with valleys and rising plateaus covered in grass and scattered shrubbery illuminated by the rays of the mid-day sun really has nothing to do with sci fi. But once you throw in a spaceship docking port or a giant hovercraft construction yard into the same background, you have adamantly stepped over rigid genre boundaries, crossing the line between reality and fiction.

Consider the two images below, sourced from a book by Ballistic Publishing called Matte Painting 2:

The first digital pic is from Star Wars: Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith, I think. And if you look at it carefully, you can tell that the sense of depth and height that the buildings are established upon are punctuated by the prevalent fog/smog encountered at that altitude. Plus, the radiance reflected upon the durable alloyed building panels from the sun indicate their nearness to the sky as the hours of dusk approach. The seemingly tiny hover transports zooming about also immediately yield a sense of the scale of the skytowers, as these buildings are truly massive. Yes, the structures are massive, because if you look carefully... you can't even see the street below, and neither can you distinctly make out the window panels of the buildings.

In the second digital pic, an outdoor garden terrace is showcased. And per the layout of the scenery, this garden is established at least 10,000 feet above the ground. The painted vicinity illustrates a stretched mountain range, and above this mountain range, the resident sentient species have transformed barren highlands into a flourishing environment. This could easily be a fantasy world [fantasy as a genre is different from sci fi, hopefully we'll get into that distinction in the future]. Yet the presence of a hovercraft towards the left of the image, floating above a building establishment, instantly pushes the pic into the sci fi genre - per the futuristic technology that would be needed to contrive such a vehicle.

Additionally, the tall habitable structures may have been carved out of hard stone and solid rock faces, or they may have been contrived by the hands of droids given construction protocols by their creators to carefully follow. Only the artist who drew the image would be able to fully describe what he had in mind when he tilted his graphite pen to the digital canvas. But regardless of the foundational elements of the buildings or the elevated garden, this image still presents an intriguing sci fi world to behold.

It is noteworthy to consider that the mountainous establishment may actually be covered with an energy dome - creating an engineered habitable environment - which would probably be visible if you zoomed out to behold the entire elevated city. The reason for such an addition would be due to the fact that the availability of oxygen at extreme elevations is strikingly low. In fact, at mountain peaks here on earth, you won't find gardens... you'll find frost, blanketing the spiky peaks. And you won't find butterflies or bunnies scuffling playfully about at those towering frigid locations, since they would have no established constant food source.

That sort of descriptive ecological balance is what I strive to personally consider when I write sci fi stories, and you can constantly see that balance in the DSNG CHRONICLES e-book Trilogy available now at The dynamic tale is a fusion of action, adventure and romance, set in an alternate galaxy. As a graphic designer, I also write and draw the characters along with their futuristic environments/vehicles. That way, little is left to the imagination, and the audience can see the presented conceptual world in a tangible light.

If you look close enough, you can probably pick out more visual punctuations in the two images above that help to highlight the fact that sci fi worlds are definitely unique environments, worthy of a second look.

And check out book#1 of the completed DSNG CHRONICLES PENTALOGY [6 ebooks], available now:

And check out this cool music video by Linkin Park from their 2002 album titled Reanimation. The name of the song is titled "Pts. of. Athrty" [or Points of Authority] and it has sci fi themes engrafted into it.

Linkin Park - Pts.OF.Athrty [Animated]
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