There are quite a few insanely talented artist out there who are creating images of spacecraft designed with some scientific accuracy. This section is a showcase of their work. Click on the images for a larger version.
Varus Argo is an illustrator of some renown.
DataPacRat (Daniel Eliot Boese) commissioned Varus to illustrate his vision of a superfreighter. As you can see from the link, DataPacRat has done his homework. Which should come as no surprise coming from the man dubbed the 'Star Lord' by the developers of Master of Orion 3. Please note how the heat radiators are cut at an angle so they stay within the cone of protection cast by the anti-radiation shadow shield on the drive.
Mike Billard is an engineer who is learning the art of 3D CGI graphics. The YF-19A Saber is a hypothetical outgrowth of the 1960's Dyna Soar project. Of course, the engineering detail are meticulous. He can be found on the SciFi Meshes forum under the handle Mikey-B.
In the last four images below, the black X-20 mesh was created by an artist named Burncycle for the space simulation Orbiter.
Mr. Billard is currently working on images for his fictional "Wild Blue Industries" rocket company. He says "Think Space X meets Bigelow Aerospace." He has done a bit of research into rocket science to define the performance parameters of the Appaloosa with Charger engines.
These are space craft and missions that might have been: For every crewed mission that has flown there are hundreds of conceptual designs and mission plans that never reached the hardware stage. I wanted to capture and depict in as realistic a manner as possible how these systems would have looked, and, where possible, I have included for comparison NASA artist conceptual drawings and diagrams.
William Black is a native of the Midwest, born January 15, 1964. Now retired after a professional career in the printing industry, currently William Black is working with coauthor Darrell Wollert in the production of a three volume science fiction future history. The Orion's Arm stories tell the tale of human kind's expansion through this arm of the galaxy and are centered on a solar system wide civilization based on spacecraft propulsion technology with its origins in Orion style pulsed plasma atomic rockets.
All images created using Bryce 6 and Poser 7, post-production work in Photoshop.
Today 5apr2011 Artist Black gifted me with a new selection of his artwork. As you can see he has only gotten better with time.
Born shortly before Alan Shepard became America’s first man in space, Rob Caswell grew up saturated in enticing visions of the “coming space age”. His imagination was fueled not only by the real world astronautic happenings, but also by the art and fiction of the time, with shows like Space Angel, Fireball XL-5, Thunderbirds, and later, Star Trek. He was inclined towards pursuing art, but the educational establishment of the time devalued that in favor of science and engineering careers. This led him to a degree in physics and astronomy, though once he had paper in hand the art world called him back. So his SF art has always been guided by real world engineering concerns.
His professional art career began in the RPG field, most notably doing illustrations for Traveller. He was also on the editorial staff at Digest Group Publications, creator of licensed Traveller products. He worked on many other games in the 80’s and early 90’s including West End’s “Star Wars” and FASA’s “Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual”.
Currently he works as a digital printing professional and periodically creates interior tech illustrations for SF novels, most notably in works by Allen Steele and Rob Sawyer. In 2006 he fell into the digital medium and has created a vast catalog of imagery based primarily on pre-existing model designs. He has contributed a number of podcasts to 3D Art Direct.
Visit Rob Caswell's website here.
Artist Juho Kesälä is a long time fan of this website, and uses it ensure the reality of the artwork.
My scifi setting originated and still serves as a vehicle for storytelling, art and gaming, but I've also found worldbuilding in on itself an enjoyable pursuit. One of the things I like to do is design spacecraft with some level of realism. I strive to keep things at least physically plausible with the fairly significant exception of faster-than-light travel. Call it hard scifi space opera, if that's not too much of an oxymoron. Much of my inspiration for these designs comes from setting myself design constraints and then coming up with ideas to satisfy them.
In terms of artistic influence I'd have to mention Homeworld.
Currently all this stuff exists mostly in my head, a few story and gaming related projects, and a folder on my computer. Though the worldbuilding isn't collected anywhere online I do have a Tumblr and a DeviantArt account where I'll post my artwork.
Geir Lanesskog is the second person to win both the Illustrators of the Future and Writers of the Future contests, and the first to win them in that order. He uses his art to help inspire his writing. Most of his creative efforts are targeted at a future history that he's been continually revising for the past thirty years.
You can find Mr. Lanesskog gallery here. He does his work using Bryce 6.3, importing human figures from Poser or DAZ Studio, and using Paint Shop Pro for post-production.
Michael McGuire is a master model-maker. For Starship Modeler's 2002 contest "Space Racer", Mr. McGuire was inspired by Lester del Rey's short story "Habit" (1939), about a rocket race from Mars to close Jupiter fly-by and back. Needless to say Mr. McGuire won the modeling contest.
I love how he caught that rocketpunk aesthetic. The spacecraft looks like a cross between Star Wars and a World War 2 bomber. The hatches revealing the engine were a nice touch, and the cockpit is a work of art.
Daniel McIlvaney's impressive artwork can be found on SciFi Meshes, where he goes by the handle "TheUnlogicalOne". The first set of images are of a patrol ship, and second is of a destroyer. Mr. McIlvaney hastens to add that these are all works-in-progress, not finished works.
A good visual science fiction story can be both engaging and firmly rooted in realism and realistic extrapolation about the technology and visual style of future hardware. You don't have to choose between the two.
Visit Tom Peters' website here.
Charles Oines is an emergency stunt artist who has been producing game-related digital artwork since 1990 for a variety of high-profile game companies. Do go check out his portfolio. The artwork displayed below was created for the game Attack Vector: Tactical.
The spherical mesh is a species of fusion drive, the spikes are propulsion system heat radiators. The rectangular vanes are the power reactor and weapon system heat radiators. The forward part of the propulsion system is a lead and concrete radiation shadow shield.
Recently, Mr. Oines has mastered the art of creating 3D meshes suitable for rapid prototyping. He now offers a selection of starship miniatures suitable for starship wargames from his print-on-demand ship.
He also has a paper-and-cardboard starship wargame that offers valuable lessons in maneuvering spacecraft under Newtonian physics.
Rhys Taylor is a scientist who is also a master of the 3D modeling package Blender. His animation of a launching Orion drive spacecraft is quite famous, and has been seen by most people who type "Orion" into Google. His more recent project is a battle between US and Russian Orion drive ships out around Jupiter, and a rendition of the proposed Orion Discovery from preproduction of 2001 A Space Odyssey.
Jort van Welbergen is a freelance concept artist and illustrator.
As his graduation project he design and provided concepts for a hypothetical virtual reality game. The player is put in charge of a huge logistic ship delivering payload to a Jupiter space station. The ship and related designs were researched by Mr. van Welbergen using NASA technical documents.