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Defending The Future military science fiction anthology series




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By Other Means, master cover shot

By Other Means is book III in the award-winning Defending The Future series, currently published by Dark Quest Books, due for release in late 2010 AD.


As with the other covers in the series (pictured above, with a link to the books' homepage), we have the action in this scene (an atomic blast) reflected in the character's visor, set against a star-filled sky, on a lunar background.


Here we see the finished cover image plate--the green box is just for display and represents the intended cover image--the master shot is rendered at 10.5x10.5 inches to allow for trim and bleeds (those bits of the images that fall outside the final shot, but are needed for the trimming process).

Due to time restraints, I only finished what was needed for this shot, which is why both the shoulders straps and "Y" adjuster end just outside of frame and the detonator is not connected to the firing cable.


Mockup for the cover of DTFIII By Other MeansMockup of the final cover of DTFIII By Other Means

Being able to visualize the overall project allows me to cut back on unnecessary work, after all if it doesn't fit in the box, or isn't seen in the reflection, then I don't need to do it. This quickly adds up to hours of saved time, which usually end up getting eaten by some other issue.


On the left is me in a motorcycle helmet holding a stapler as proof of concepts for the design. On the right is a mockup of the current cover.


Taylor Partail Pressure Helmet

I'm a strong believer in the "fact to fiction (not usually fantasy)" concept for creating science fiction. So this time around I needed an environmental helmet which looked like something that would be worn by the rank-and-file Starman.


[Left] The "Taylor" Partial Pressure Helmet used by the RAF. One of its key features is the frontal hinged flap (seen in red), used to deal with eating, drinking, and--if need be--vomiting. If it looks familiar, that's because a variation of this was seen in the movie Alien. They were behind the flight seats on the bridge, and had the reflection of the display's readouts running across them.


Engineer's Pressure HelmetVisor MechanismDTFIII Engineer's Pressure Glove

Bits, everything is made up of bits. [Left] A two-view of the helmet. Note all the black rubber fittings and gaskets. [Middle] The visor  adjustment mechanism, with its chromed screws and rivets. [Right] The Engineer's pressure suit glove was based on a NASA design. The wrist coupling and item tag didn't make it into the final shot.


M107 Electrical Detonator, DTFIIIMockup of the M107Mockup of the M57 detonator

The Detonator is inspired by the US M57 electrical detonator which was typically used for the Claymore anti-personnel mine. I thought it would be fun to set off an atomic blast with one. [Left] My version, the M107, (know as the "stapler", since I was holding one in the cover mockup) this shot tested the OD Green Shader, as well as the black rubber cap w/band and grips. [Middle] A mechanical and parts alignment test. [Right] A mechanical mockup of the M57, with a TM reference image insert.


DTFIII background testNASA lunar imageDTFIII denatured lunar background plate

The background proved a new set of problems. [Left] The foreground character (the Engineer) is semi-photo realistic (due to the limitations of the software, and/or the user) so he and the real-world NASA Apollo Lunar image [Middle], didn't quite mesh together. Note, the image has a slight red tint from the explosion out of frame. So I ran the image through CorelTrace and turned it into a synthetic color image [Right] and added a starfield. Once again, all master plates are rendered in 10.5x10.5 at 300dpi so that they can be composited.


DTFIII blast reflection testDTFIII enhanced blastAtomic Fireball

The concept seemed straight forward, "have an atomic blast reflected in the character's visor", which meant having to modify the reflected image so as to keep as much of the trademarked mushroom cloud recognizable against the distortion effect of the curved visor. [Left] Originally the reflection was to be seen straight-on to the viewer, but as happens, I was moving the model and forgot to move the camera, resulting in a side-on shot, which solved most of my problems. [Middle] The enhanced version of the blast, based on the test with the visor. [Right] The real world nuclear test image.


DTFIII M107 DecalsDTFIII buckle and webbingPressure glove and coupling test

Here are a few odds and ends [Left] A view of the decals on the M107. The lot number is the date the image was originally rendered. [Middle] The buckle and shoulder webbing [Right] One of the early glove test using a modified Poser hand covered in the same Shader used for the web belts. This one was still too form-fitting in comparison to the rest of the Engineer's pressure suit to be used.



The software used on this project: Ray Dream Studio 5.5 (3D modeling and rendering), CorelDraw Suite 9 (2D vector linework, decals, and shaders), Adobe Photoshop (post production), Poser 3 (character placement only, was not used for any portion of the final rendering), and a FujiFilm 6.3 mega pixel camera (for concept development).






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