Tuesday, July 20, 2021

The Kickstarter Is Done!

Wow! The average kickstarter usually sees a spike in sales on the last day, but we made a surprising 10% of our money in those final 24 hours, only beaten by getting 20% of our sales in the first 24 hours. The final tally, 503% funded, and almost 1000 books sold! Thank you so much to everyone for all the support, the kickstarter was a tremendous success, and is now fully funded and finished. I'm excited to move onto the next stage: getting the books out!

For those of you who pledged, I'll be sending out regular updates on the current stage of the process. And I'll drop a few photos and tidbits on my other social media platforms for all to see as well, stuff like the printed proofs and the postcards and other rewards as they get manufactured. Thanks again to all!

Megastructures Undersea Habitat 1


An Underwater Habitat would be a below-water structure where humans could live for extended periods of time and perform everyday activities such as eating, sleeping, and working. Today’s Underwater Habitats are generally meant for short-term visits by scientists, but in the future we could potentially create entire cities where residents could remain for their entire lives.

The habitat would likely be a set of smaller, interconnected modules made from steel, glass, and cement, rather than a single giant glass bubble. This would help prevent some of the dangers that could be caused by a single bubble breaking under sea pressure. It would also allow for easy habitat expansion, and should a leak occur, it would be easier to isolate and then repair the affected area. Units could potentially be built on the surface and then sunk, since construction would be easier on the surface. 

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Megastructures Space Farm 2

One of the main needs of a space habitat’s population would be food. While many habitats could reserve internal areas for farming, farmlands could also be attached to the habitats in connected structures. Other options would include internal food production such as vertical farming, or creating exterior movable platforms, like floating farms in space.

Zero-g plants would be placed on the platforms, with enclosures to retain atmosphere. A highly controlled environment would mean factors such as temperature, humidity, soil, light, and atmospheric gases could be customized specifically to achieve the highest crop yield, which would be harder to achieve in a mixed-use situation where crops and human populations coexisted inside a single habitat.

Lighting could be artificial inside the platforms, or a set of mirrors could be used that would reflect real sunlight, creating a fake day/night cycle. Seasons could be simulated as well.

As a population grew, more of these floating islands would be created and added to the cluster. Giant tug robots could move the islands to new locations, or even bring one back to the space station for repair, or at harvest time to unload its yield. The farms could be entirely automated with robot gardeners, or have a small population of humans looking after the crops. 

And if you like this sort of artwork, please check out my new book project "Megastructures: The Visual Encyclopedia" here: 

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/artofsoulburn/megastructures-the-visual-encyclopedia-book-project

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Week #4 Of Megastructures Kickstarter

This week we surpassed Stretch Goal #5, which unlocked a pdf reward tier for the project. We're almost at 400% funded, which will unlock Stretch Goal #6, and with less than a week to go, I think we're going to just make it :) 

Thank you everyone for all the support so far, and if you haven't pledged yet and find this project at all interesting, now's the time. While there may be a couple of extra books for online sale after the kickstarter is done, I'm basically going to print enough copies for the kickstarter folk and a few for conventions and that's it, so if you want the book, now's the time to reserve your copy!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/artofsoulburn/megastructures-the-visual-encyclopedia-book-project

Thanks again, you guys rock! 

Megastructures Worldhouse Roof 2

A Worldhouse Roof would involve the construction of a habitable enclosure which would grow until it covered an entire planet.

The enclosure would be a thin, strong, flexible, and transparent roof, or membrane, held up at least 1 km above the planet’s surface. Its purpose would be to allow sunlight in and keep the atmosphere from leaking out.

Once constructed, the interior of the membrane would then be pressurized with a breathable atmosphere, allowing you to terraform almost any planet or asteroid. At smaller sizes, this could also be thought of as a domed city. The membrane would be held up by towers and cables spaced regularly along the planet’s surface, or could potentially be held up using atmospheric pressure.

And if you like this sort of artwork, please check out my new book project "Megastructures: The Visual Encyclopedia" here: 

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/artofsoulburn/megastructures-the-visual-encyclopedia-book-project

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Megastructures Fusion Candle 7

A Fusion Candle would be a giant engine that could potentially be used to move a gas giant planet to a new location. The engine would be placed deep inside the clouds of the gas giant. Intakes would inhale the gases (presumably hydrogen), funneling them to a giant fusion reactor, then light up the engine on both ends (a candle burning at both ends). One end would point toward the gas giant. The second would point out toward space. If kept in perfect balance, the end pointing toward the planet would keep the engine floating in the atmosphere, and the end pointing toward space would push the planet forward.

And if you like this sort of artwork, please check out my new book project "Megastructures: The Visual Encyclopedia" here: 

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/artofsoulburn/megastructures-the-visual-encyclopedia-book-project

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Week #3 Of Megastructures Kickstarter

This week we surpassed Stretch Goal #4, and now every book will include a Megastructures postcard (1 random design of a possible 6). Only 2 weeks left to go, at its current rate, I suspect we may reach as much as 400% funded, which is a dream come true. Thank you everyone for all the support!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/artofsoulburn/megastructures-the-visual-encyclopedia-book-project

And here's two new Megastructure pieces from the guest artists, the first is a Ceiling City by the amazing Andy Proctor https://www.artstation.com/andyp, and the second a planet scaled city Ecumenopolis by Ken Fairclough https://www.artstation.com/kenfairclough



Monday, July 5, 2021

Megastructures Hoopworld 1


The Hoopworld is right on the edge of the possible, but according to my research the science isn't pure fantasy.

A Hoopworld would be a structure that would place humans on the outside surface of a giant spinning torus, or donut. A Hoopworld could potentially have many different shapes, depending on the length of the revolution axis and the radius of the circle being revolved. Different-shaped tori would also affect gravity, the day-and-night cycle, and weather conditions.

The hoop would be spun along the axis of revolution to produce gravity and stabilization, and to provide night and day to different areas on the torus. Gravity would first depend on the amount of mass on the interior of the hoop, and would likely require an active support structure. Second, since the hoop would be spinning, centrifugal force would cause stronger gravity on the inner equator, since you’d be pulled toward the outside of the hoop in the direction of the ground. The outer equator would have less gravity, since you’d be pulled toward the outside of the hoop in the direction of the sky.

Tipping the torus toward or away from the sun would create seasons, affect weather, and could create a wide variety of climates over different parts of the torus’ surface.

And if you like this sort of artwork, please check out my new book project "Megastructures: The Visual Encyclopedia" here: 

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/artofsoulburn/megastructures-the-visual-encyclopedia-book-project

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Megastructures Topopolis 1

A Topopolis would be a tube-shaped space habitat that would loop into a ring with a star at its centroid, or could be looped several times around the star to create a “Torus Knot.” Inhabitants would live on the inside of the structure, with gravity provided by the tube rotating along its radius, instead of rotating around its centroid like in a Ringworld. Another way to imagine a Topopolis is as a set of thousands of O’Neill Cylinders formed into a chain. Bend the chain to form a circle around the star, and the individual cylinders would rotate the same way a standard O’Neill Cylinder would to create gravity.

If the Topopolis’ inhabitants looked along the axis of revolution, they would see what appeared to be a cylinder going off into infinity. In fact, the cylinder would gently curve as it traveled farther from the viewer, but the size would be so massive that you wouldn’t be able to notice the curve. A train traveling in a full hundred-million-kilometer circle could be set into the middle of the land.

And if you like this sort of artwork, please check out my new book project "Megastructures: The Visual Encyclopedia" here:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/artofsoulburn/megastructures-the-visual-encyclopedia-book-project

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Week 2 of the Megastructures Kickstarter

So we just finished week 2 of the Megastructures kickstarter, and we passed a bunch more goals. 

We surpassed stretch goal #2 ($20,000) and so everyone who buys a book now gets a free pdf copy with their order as well. 

Then we blew past stretch goal #3 yesterday ($25,000), and so now everyone who contributes to the kickstarter will get their name in a special thanks section at the end of the book.

And we're well on our way to stretch goal #4, which will be a megastructures postcard included with every book, a random 1 of 6 possible.

Thanks to all who have pledged so far, and for those who haven't, feel free to check the book out here!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/artofsoulburn/megastructures-the-visual-encyclopedia-book-project

- Neil

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Megastructures Shell World 1

 

A Shellworld would be an artificial planet made up of nested spheres, like a Russian Matryoshka doll. Each sphere would be called a shell, or level, like a floor in an enormous skyscraper. Shellworlds could have a single layer, or dozens of layers.

The shells would be held up by enormous towers, which could also serve as elevators for movement between levels, and could pump out waste heat to the upper layer.

Each shell could be set up to have a completely different environment and atmosphere in order to accommodate different lifeforms on the different levels.

And if you like this sort of artwork, please check out my new book project "Megastructures: The Visual Encyclopedia" here:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/artofsoulburn/megastructures-the-visual-encyclopedia-book-project

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Week 1 of the Megastructures Kickstarter

So a lot has happened in the week since we started the kickstarter for "Megastructures: The Visual Encyclopedia". First off, we fully funded ($10,000) in a day, which we couldn't be happier about! Then we blew past our first stretch goal ($15,000), and are well on our way towards stretch goal #2 ($20,000).

For those of you who have already pledged, thank you so much for making this possible! For those who haven't pledged, this is your chance to pre-order the book. While we will likely have a couple of extra books for conventions after the kickstarter is done, stock is going to be super limited. So basically, if you want to be sure to get a copy, join us in the kickstarter!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/artofsoulburn/megastructures-the-visual-encyclopedia-book-project

Here's a bunch of never before seen artwork from the book, and a few other odds and ends you may find interesting. Thanks again to all who pledge, you completely rock!







Tuesday, June 15, 2021

The Megastructure Kickstarter is Live!

The Kickstarter is LIVE! The definitive visual guide to scifi Megastructures, Hardcover, 120 pages, 9"x12". Thanks for the support, and please share this with anyone who would love the book too!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/artofsoulburn/megastructures-the-visual-encyclopedia-book-project

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Announcing the Megastructures Kickstarter

The decision has been made, and rather than going the publisher route, we're going to self publish and kickstart the book next Tuesday, June 15th 2021!

"Megastructures: The Visual Encyclopedia" will be hardcover, 120 pages, and will be a larger format at 9"x12". It will come in both Regular and Premium Editions, and kickstarter rewards will include megastructure prints, one of a kind spaceship sketches, and many other tiers for you to check out.

The first book, "The Story of Inc" was a big kickstarter success, and we're going with basically the same team for this book. The book is fully written, illustrated, laid out and edited, so all we need are the funds to have the printer pull the lever and get it printed. Expect a ton more details next week when the kickstarter goes live, and I'd be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Thanks again for everyone's patience making our decision on how to best get you the book, and I hope you'll join us next week and help make this project a reality!

For more info, visit:

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Heart Of The Giant Executive Office 1

An executive office in an orbiting space station. For the "Heart Of The Giant" book project, trying to balance the right level of corporate opulence and brutalist architecture, scifi and modern elements, faceless corporation vs mad genius.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Ship Jumper Starship Hallway 3

Another hallway concept test, just for fun.

Monday, May 24, 2021

New Lesson: Knowing Your Historical Design Styles

Art History wasn't exactly my favorite class in University, I was horrible at memorizing dates. But it turns out that what I learned there was super important in my later life as a concept artist. Not only so that when the Art Director uses a term like "Baroque" I have some clue what they're talking about, but because I could take what I learned from art history and use it to define art styles for fictional universes, whether scifi or fantasy. This lesson will go over a couple of major artistic styles from our own history, showing how they define a specific look through their shape language, and then how you can use the knowledge of that look to invent your own for your own species, world or universe.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1GmoXAl5NY 

Friday, May 21, 2021

Testudo Game Pitch

Over the last several years I've been working on an idea for a vertical scrolling Shoot 'em up (shmup) in the same vein as the games Truxton, Raiden, Ikaruga, R-Type or Gradius (although the last two were horizontal). Inspired by the classic form, this game would take advantage of the interactivity and game mechanics afforded by modern technology such as tablets and VR. Hoping to one day get it made, in the meantime, going to work on a gameplay teaser after my megastructures book goes to print. Here's some views of the spaceship, some posters and design images. 









Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Megastructures Update #7 May 2021

Welcome to the 7th official Megastructure Book Project Update, a visual encyclopedia of scifi megastructures!

May is the month of decision. We've contacted a number of publishers and have had some chats, but it's time to make the final decision on whether we'll go the traditional publishing route, or kickstart like we did with our last book and self publish. Will make the decision in a few weeks once I have the last info I need, so in June we'll make the announcement. And then we'll be moving forward again!

In the meantime, wanted to highlight some of the other artists who have contributed work to the book.

First off we have Jeremy Cook, we met back at Blur Studio in 1999, where he quickly worked his way up to a supervisor level, and then continued forward with a fantastic career at companies such as ILM, 343 and others. He was a huge help on my "The Story of Inc" book contributing tons of great artwork, and he has contributed 3 awesome paintings to this book. Check out his other artwork here: https://www.artstation.com/jeremycook

Next is Andy Proctor, who I met through a friend of a friend. He's a supervisor at ILM, does fantastic personal artwork projects, is a really great guy, and I miss our time drinking beers in SF at the Marin Brewing Company. Check out his work here: https://www.artstation.com/andyp

Col Price needs very little introduction, he's done a ton of artwork for games, tv and film, and is super prolific when it comes to his personal artwork. It was my great honor that he accepted to do some work for the book. Check him out here: https://www.artstation.com/coldesign

Ken Fairclough's work first came to my attention when he started posting his concept art for Mass Effect and Anthem. His skills at composition and lighting are just top notch, check out his great work here: https://www.artstation.com/kenfairclough

And finally Jullius Granada, who's skyhook painting on artstation grabbed my attention, so I licensed the image for the book and had him do another painting for another structure as well. Talented dude, check out his work here: https://www.artstation.com/jgranada

That's it for this update. Next update I'll reveal the final plans for the book and the path forward. Thanks for following along!

Monday, May 3, 2021

New Lesson: A Study In Greens, Variety in Your Colors

This lesson is about adding variety to your color schemes. Instead of just that single generic green, make your green a little bluer. A little more yellow. A little more brown. Variety to Hue, Saturation and Value, even in a piece that's predominantly a single color, will give it depth and visual interest. This lesson breaks down this concept and gives a number of tips and examples to help add more color variety to your own work.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_PbstlsRck

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Futuristic Cycle 2

A speeder bike concept for an interplanetary racing league.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Futuristic Rover 1

Mars Planetary Rover. I always tend to over detail my "rough" paintings, so I worked hard to keep this one as loose and painterly as possible.

Monday, April 26, 2021

Soulburn Art Lesson Page Updated Apr 26th 2021

The process of gathering reference is one of the most important things you can do when making art. But now that you have all that reference, what should you do with it, and how do you use it to communicate your intentions to a team of people? That's where Reference Boards, Design Packets and Callout Sheets come into play. In this lesson, I'll be talking about these different types of reference tools, and some tips to make yours better.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jS1Rm3wB4g

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Fan Art of my Spider Walker Series

Artist sweevee from artstation did a fan 3d model of one of my spider droid painted thumbnails (#1). Check it out, and thanks sweevee, love the Graffiti!

https://artstation.com/artwork/xJRr1X

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Futuristic Tank 3

A tank, in case you need to outfit your secret arctic military base with some serious firepower :)

Monday, April 19, 2021

Soulburn Art Lesson Page Updated Apr 19th 2021

This discussion is about an important thing every commercial artist should consider, how to organize their art making process. As with many artists, I suffer from blank canvas syndrome, and when presented with a huge project with tons of different parts, I can find myself procrastinating and doing everything except the project because it's just too big to wrap my head around. So I've found that breaking it into bitesized pieces allows me to not only get to work, but also lets me schedule the project in a much more accurate way. Watch this short video to see how I go about applying this mindset to my 2d and 3d art projects!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U_ivKqr2k50

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Robot 57

A rough painting of a security droid. Just for fun :)

Monday, April 12, 2021

Soulburn Art Lesson Page Updated Apr 12th 2021

In this Layers Breakdown, I go through the various steps I did to make up my Megastructures painting Bernal Sphere 3. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNERSqykymc 

Monday, April 5, 2021

Soulburn Art Lesson Page Updated Apr 5th 2021

This video tutorial discusses a number of things you should consider when clumping details together (also called "Grouping"). Clumping can take an otherwise boring image and make it more dynamic.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zYwfWcAAdIE

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Some New Megastructure Images

The original Bernal Sphere (proposed by John Desmond Bernal in 1929) is a space colony that would serve as a residential area for a space manufacturing plant. The residents would be found within the spherical portion of the hollow orbiting space station. The outside of the shell would be dense enough to shield the people from cosmic rays and other sources of radiation. The inner sphere rotates to provide gravity via centrifugal force, with dwellings built on the inside surface. The poles of the sphere would have far less gravity than the equator, and hence would be the location of spaceship docking ports and zero gravity manufacturing. Recreational activities such as low-gravity swimming could also be held in this area. Farms could be placed in stacked rings on the outside of the sphere, or could be scattered in with the residential areas as part of a mixed-use development program. 


Updated an older piece of artwork for inclusion in my Megastructures book project. A Matrioshka Brain would be a type of Dyson Sphere whose purpose was to power an enormous supercomputer. The concept was invented by Robert Bradbury in the anthology Year Million: Science at the Far Edge of Knowledge. The name comes from the Matryoshka doll, a type of wooden nesting doll made in Russia. 

And another updated older piece of artwork. A gas giant refinery is a series of structures that would be suspended in the atmosphere of any gas giant such as Jupiter or Saturn, their purpose would be to harvest large amount of hydrogen / helium or other gases from the planet to prepare the raw elements for transportation elsewhere. 

Monday, March 29, 2021

Soulburn Art Lesson Page Updated Mar 29th 2021

When making 2d or 3d environments, or a figure in an environment, having a solid foreground, midground and background is key to leading the eye through the frame, and to the focal point of the piece. This tutorial discusses a little bit about the different ways to go about lighting these environments from a high level compositional perspective. Most lighting schemes can be broken down into a few different types, and choosing the right type can really change the feel of the image.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RG83v_oQ4DY

Thursday, March 25, 2021

RIP Soulburnscripts for 3dsmax: The Time Has Come


The day has finally come, and here is the final version of the SoulburnScripts, compatible with Max 2022. Get them here:

http://www.neilblevins.com/art_assets/scripts/soulburnscripts_for_3dsmax.htm

With this version of 3dsmax, maintenance is now gone, and the only way to get 3dsmax is rental only, a software scheme that I disagree with, see this article for a deeper explanation why:

http://www.neilblevins.com/art_lessons/rental_only_software/rental_only_software.htm

Therefor, Max 2022 will be my last copy of max. I'll be using it for the foreseeable future, and may move to something else such as blender one day if my computer breaks down and I can no longer authorize this last copy of max on a new one. The Soulburnscripts will likely continue to be usable in future copies of max, at least until Autodesk changes something in the software that breaks compatibility. I'll be keeping them on my website frozen in time, but they will receive no more updates from myself.

This new reality has given me a chance to reflect on the scripts, and the max community in general. I first joined the 3dsdos community on Compuserve back in the mid 90s, the forum was filled with so many helpful people that gave me advice, critiques, and support as I learned the software. I remember fondly the day that there was mention of some custom plugins written by Blur Studios that would be given away for free, and Tim Miller, the head of Blur, offering me a sneak peak, as he was interested in potentially hiring me once I finished my schooling. Those plugins were written by Steve Blackmon and Scott Kirvan, makers of the Brazil Rendering System, and life long friends to this day.

I graduated and moved to California to work at Blur summer of 1999, and along with the plugins developed by Steve and Scott, I started writing maxscripts to help automate my process (and a bit later Brandon Davis joined in the fun). Following in the footsteps of blurbeta, we released these scripts for free on the net to help out other members of the community, and the BlurScripts were born!

3 years later, when I left Blur and moved to San Francisco to work at Pixar, I couldn't continue to work on the blurscripts, so I took the opportunity to take the scripts I used the most and rewrite them from scratch, adding features and producing much cleaner code, and the SoulburnScripts were first released May 8th 2005, once again free to the public. The first pack contained 11 scripts, and eventually grew to a total of 86. I was never a particularly good coder, but I prided myself on writing scripts that would save people valuable time, time best spent on the more artistic aspect of cg, instead of doing the same boring tasks over and over again. Along the way, I've received so many emails from people who've used the scripts to speed up their workflow, people asking for new features, even the odd donation for the time I spent writing and maintaining the scripts, and to each and every one of you who interacted with me in any way over the years I give you my eternal thanks.

Change is inevitable. I know it's standard for old people to say "Things used to be better in the old days", but the truth is more nuanced. The max community has had many ups and downs, times when I felt the software was moving forward, and times when the software was going backwards. There were probably more good times towards the beginning, but at that time the computer graphics industry was new and anything was possible, so that excitement of course would lead to more good days. Just 5 years ago I feel max had another resurgence with the developers being given a chance to push forward, and really getting us some awesome tools. But the rental only thing that has been mandated from corporate has really put a dark cloud over the project, at least in my opinion. I know many of the current developers, and they are good people, talented people, creative people, and people who want to do what's right for the community. Creatives are supposed to be kept in check by the business side of things, but sometimes the business side gets too strong and instead of being a force of balance, they become an impediment. Wish it wasn't the case, but I've seen it time and again.

Being a part of the 3dsmax community has been one of my greatest joys, I've made so many amazing friends and had fantastic times at Siggraph and Autodesk University. It's all about the people. And it has been my privilege to offer all of you, the users of my scripts, what help I could to make your workflow a little cleaner and faster for the last 20 years.

I'll still be around of course, I'll be posting new artwork on artstation: https://www.artstation.com/ArtOfSoulburn I'll be posting new art lessons on composition theory and other art topics on my youtube: https://www.youtube.com/artofsoulburn, and I have a book I hope to release later this year of scifi megastructures: http://www.neilblevins.com/megastructures/megastructures.htm So hopefully you'll still follow along. But it's finally time to say goodbye to my old friend. 

Rest In Peace Soulburnscripts!

This is Neil Blevins (Soulburn), signing off.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Soulburn Art Lesson Page Updated Mar 22nd 2021

So for years now people have used photobashing techniques to add detail to their concept images. Why paint every leaf of a tree when you can take a photo of a tree and fit it into your painting? But while photobashing is a valuable tool for the modern artist, it can be used for evil instead of good. Case in point, if I am mixing multiple photos in the same painting, I need to make sure that the lighting direction is the same for all images I bring together. I mean, if you're just doing a super quick sketch that you plan on just showing a couple of people on your team to give them the general idea, this extra step is likely not necessary. But if you're going to include photobashed elements in your portfolio, or in a final painting for a client, consistent lighting direction is a must.

So in this tutorial I'm going to do a quick photobash, show you the problem, and then present a few different solutions to fix the problem.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fx54jJudzIg