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 World-building by visual artists
Here's a few other world-building efforts by artists, designers, and filmmakers to show off hard science fiction alien or future worlds in a way that appeals to a general audience. What's interesting is how most of the projects can use the exciting new ideas used in the science fiction setting to educate the audience and illuminate specific scientific concepts.


Birrin by Abiogenesis

Dinotopia by James Gurney (not hard sf at all, but it's got beautiful illustrations of dinosaurs as part of a society)

The Epona Project

The Future is Wild (BBC)

Alien Planet
and the concept artist, Wayne Douglas Barlow
I love the Birrin illustrations, and the world that Abiogenesis has created for them

Believably non-humanoid aliens with a rich culture.
I wonder if he's made a map of this world yet...
Snaiad is fantastic, and his illustrations are exemplary. The whole biosphere and its evolutionary past has been worked out in great detail.

And there is a map;
[Image: Sndmapbiomess.png]
There is also Furaha, by Gert van Dijk (who was in the OA worldbuilding group for a spell)

Gert has carefully worked out the mechanics of his creatures, and his conclusions are intriguing.
Here's a relatively new one, but it is worked out in satisfying detail;
Project Nereus
The Dinotopia project has considerable relevance to the OA scenario; we have a major empire in Cygnus (the Archosaurians) which includes lazurogened and provolved dinosaurs. The society in the Archosaurian Empire would presumably be more hi-tech than the Dinotopia worlds, but there is no reason why it would be any less decorative to look at.

Incidentally, I've noticed a curious coincidence;
here's one of James Gurney's magnificent illustrations of Dinotopia;
[Image: Archway-Scene-copy.sm_.png]

and here's a 18th century painting of a bridge in my home town
[Image: Ouse-bridge.jpg]
one wonders if he used that image as a reference...

One way that these expostion-heavy stories like Dinotopia, Furhura, or abiogenesis' really work is by telling their diagrams as part of an explorer's notebook or a nature documentary. They keep their illustrations prominent and make the worldbuilding documentation solidly embedded within the story of the expedition.

It's also interesting to see Avatar's Pandora broken down into a wikipedia group.

...and the planets of the star wars universe
The Illustrated Star Wars Universe by Ralph Mcquarrie

Wayne Douglas Barlowe's Hell might be relevant to the queen of pain.

As well as his great book, Barlowe's Guide to Extraterrestrials, which illustrates a variety of extraterrestrials from Classic Science Fiction

Also, there's the Mongoliad- which, while historical, is still a cool group worldbuilding project- mostly text based- by Greg Bear, Neal Stephenson, and others. I think the process of recreating a world from the past is very similar to creating a hard sci-fi world, so this is great to look at. wouldn't surprise me if James Gurney, on a trip through britain, had sketched the painting then used it as a reference to build his models for lighting purposes.
Looking at all these wonderful illustrations and worlds, I find myself wondering if we should look at significantly modifying the look of our Galactography pages when we finally do the site redesign. This might be a two-fold effort, both developing a common 'look' for the pages, as well as creating a 'template' for new worlds that somewhat lays out what subjects should be considered (with the option of using them or not, we want to let people be creative and flexible) when designing a new system in OA.

As far as the 'look' of a worlds page, what I find myself visualizing is an image of the world from space with a number of floating 'windows' and icons around it that provide different bits of information, either in their own right or when clicked or moused over. Maps, data tables, text, images from the surface (or interior for habs and megastructures), etc.

For an example of the sort of thing I'm thinking of, I would refer you to this image here:

Just some thoughts,

I think this is possible; we could make an image with labelled 'call-outs', which could probably include hypertext links as well. The Clickable Maps are an example of this, but they can probably be improved upon a lot.

I doubt that the CMS could handle this directly, but we can use almost any normal html script in the article if we wish (it just takes a bit more work).
Here's a few "speculative biology" artists (some of whom may have already been mentioned elsewhere on the forum)

This is a small matter, I think, but one of the biggest differences between regular creature design, where individual creatures can look possible, even if a bit fantastical,
and a more 'hard sci fi' approach is the treatment of organisms as part of a complex ecosystem with a history. It might seem like a minor matter (or very obvious?), but makes a big difference when trying to make a very realistic presentation of a speculative organism. Showing off related species, variations, and other creatures of the surrounding environment, and showing how they interact, really help convince the viewer/reader of the realism. This is might be why Nemo Ramjet and Fuhura succeed so well in making their creatures seem real.

Although we might not have quite the same concrete theories about ecosystems that we do with macro-level physics, i suspect that biology/ecology gets placed less frequently under the umbrella of 'hard science fiction' in quite the same way that space travel does. Just a thought.
(Reccomended: The Color of Distance by Amy Thomson.)

Alex Ries
(His deviant art account is in other posts)

Furhura blog (good to check in every now and again)
Good post on gas giant balloon animals, among other things

Analysis of Dune's Sandworm
why aliens will evolve eyes

"All Yesterdays" by Darren Naish (from Tetrapod Zoology), Mehmet Kosemen (from Snaiad), and John Conway (paleoartist)
a book about speculation inherent in Paleo art

Fictional Plants

The Red Valley by Brynn Methany

The New Dinosaurs Dougal Dixon
Man after Man by Dougal Dixon
After Man: a zoology of the future By Dougal Dixon

101 Alien Lifeforms: Volume 1 by Mr Fernando Palma

Two more book recommendations for creating worlds visually...
-"Imaginative Realism: how to paint what doesn't exist" by James Gurney
This is a bible for anyone who wants to do science fiction/ fantasy illustration

-"Exodyssey: visual development of an epic adventure" by Steambot Studios (or almost any other book from Designstudio press)
This independent sci fi worldbuilding project by 4-5 concept artists got them hired to do the design for Disney's Tron: Legacy

(04-02-2013, 09:38 AM)stevebowers. Wrote: Incidentally, I've noticed a curious coincidence;
here's one of James Gurney's magnificent illustrations of Dinotopia;
[Image: Archway-Scene-copy.sm_.png]

and here's a 18th century painting of a bridge in my home town
[Image: Ouse-bridge.jpg]
one wonders if he used that image as a reference...

for your interest, Steve, i noticed that the bridge in this painting is based off one of Gurney's sketches from Pulteney bridge in Bath, England (Pg 144 of Imaginative Realism: how to paint what doesn't exist by James Gurney)

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