Comic Talk, Tips and Tricks

Designing a Spacecraft
El Cid at 7:24AM, March 6, 2010
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I'm modeling a spacecraft for a new sci-fi comic I'm working on. It's not complete yet; I still need to add a lander craft, which I probably won't bother modeling myself. Also, because it's a freighter, I figured it would pull cargo boxes behind it much like a present day freight train, though I need to figure out some kind of appropriate rigging to hold them safely in place.

Anyway, before I get too tangled up in this, I figured I should post this and see what you peoples think. Any suggestions for stuff I need to add on? Know any cool sites where I can find references to work off of?

Here's the model so far:

last edited on July 14, 2011 12:20PM
cartoonprofessor at 3:48PM, March 6, 2010
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Looking good El Cid.

Any reason the habitats are so far from the body of the ship? At that angle with three ‘spokes’ it looks to me like some kind of heavy caliber weapon, maybe adding some more spokes or bringing them in closer will avoid that look (if you want to avoid that look).

The only suggestion I can make (without knowing the story of your comic) is the ‘feeling’ you are trying to get across from your ship…
Is it a ‘bad guy’s' ship, good guys, etc? There are some simple tricks you can pull to make your ship look ominous, etc.
Oh yeah, and make sure before you settle on the design, that it looks good from all angles, far away, close up, etc. It sounds simple, but your readers need to be able to know ‘which way is up’ (or which direction it is facing) from any view or angle.
If you bring the habitats in closer you may be able to achieve this easier… let's say you are concentrating your reader's attention on one of the habitats with a carefully positioned speech bubble… zooming in on the habitat at the moment may disorientate a reader (where am I in relation to the rest of the ship? which direction is forwards?)

Dark Horse Star Wars comics make great reference materials for this type of thing.

Hope this helps.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:36AM
El Cid at 5:32PM, March 6, 2010
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Yeah, that helps. I didn't even think about the speech bubbles thing and you're right, that's going to be an issue. The ship doesn't have a very traditional look to it, so it could be confusing to readers. It's supposed to be a freighter operated by the main protagonist.

I was trying to model something based on designs I've seen for “speculative” future spacecraft, because it just didn't feel right to me that in a distant-future setting people would be zipping around through space in something that looks like a souped-up fighter jet or space shuttle. But just to make my life simple, I may end up going that route instead.

I guess I should go check out those Star Wars pics…
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:20PM
wyatt1048 at 12:50PM, March 9, 2010
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Did somebody say rocket design? Then prepare to loose an afternoon or so: http://www.projectrho.com/rocketstub.html

That site is utterly fascinating, and gives you some great pre-worked maths for calcualting how your ship should behave.

On your ship design: I could see straight away that this is from a civilisation without gravity control; it spins, simulating g in the habitats, right? I would have put the direction of travel in the opposite direction, though - that looks as though mass is ejected from the dish. Unless it's a ram scoop, in which case that's fine. I'd put the power near to the propulsion system, keeping all the rad sources in the same location. Of course, you'll need a handwavium sheild if this thing is going to hit a decent percentage of c.
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:52PM
El Cid at 4:52PM, March 9, 2010
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You nailed it, Wyatt. Technologically, I was aiming for something midway between Neil Armstrong and Captain Kirk, so there's no artificial gravity on this puppy. And it does make a heckuva lot more sense putting the power source closer to the propulsion system so the astronauts aren't perpetually stuck in the crossfire. Don't know what I was thinking when I did that.

Sadly though, I've canned this project in favor of another, much better one. It wasn't just because designing a believable space world is hard (and it is), but because the story wasn't coming together like I thought it was. Just not enough funny. So I'm going with something completely different… which is also not very funny… but at least this one isn't supposed to be!
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:20PM
El Cid at 4:54PM, March 9, 2010
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posts: 973
joined: 5-4-2009
Oh and yeah I've already checked out the Atomic Rocket page. Great stuff. I'd also highly recommend it!
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:20PM

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