Thursday, August 6, 2009

Skimmer Chassis

Yesterday Eric Colquhoun of Toronto asked to see the sketch I was doing in the previous post.

I should explain that I’m writing and illustrating an article on concept art for Imagine FX magazine, and I thought I'd give you a sneak peak. You'll definitely want to pick up a copy when it comes out in a few months. I’ll be sharing 25 tips showing how to design a “lived-in” future—a science fiction universe with a believable past.


One of the tips deals with vehicle design. We’ve all seen plenty of renderings of sleek, new vehicles, such as this ground effect skimmer. But how often do you see the rusty hulk of a futuristic vehicle?

I thought it would be a cool exercise to take this skimmer about forty years forward in time and rip off the outer body, leaving only the chassis and the fore and aft stabilizers.

As I sat on the sidewalk sipping my BJ Joe, I stared at the real Blazer chassis and imagined discovering this hulk in the desert, with the antigravity generator still working. Even though it’s rusted out and dented and stripped down, it’s still hovering a foot or so off the ground.

Jeanette didn’t want to draw an old chassis, so she used the 90 degree rule and faced across the street. She drew the scene in ballpoint and watercolor, incorporating a construction worker that she had drawn earlier in the day.
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Thanks to Kevin, the mechanic at Bob's Automotive for your helpful advice on chassis design, and thanks,Eric!

16 comments:

Erik Bongers said...

GPS? MPH? Ft/G?
Not only is James Gurney a great artist, he is also quite fluent in techno babble.

About a year ago I came across this concept ships site that I immediately bookmarked in my browser because I felt these examples were 'inspirational'.

However, that view has changed a bit. Since that first moment of enlightening, I haven't really seen anything new. It's the same style over and over again. Only the artist's signature is different.
I still keep that link up...as a library of cliches to avoid if I ever decide on doing a SF story.

Eagerly awaiting the 'different view' from GJ in the magazine.

(p.s. my word verification was "bachble")

Steve said...

Stilgoe Skimmer? So on top of his other pursuits, John Stilgoe designs anti-gravity craft? Or is this vehicle something that, after all its dilapidation, still goes? Either way, loved both sketches. I don't know how he does it, but tell Jeanette that flagman manages to work in our county in Michigan, too. Probably drives a Skimmer. Finally, I'm lacking cultural literacy again...BJ Joe?

p.s. my word verification was "triter." Nuff said.

James Gurney said...

Steve: Oh, sorry, I meant to say BK Joe, you know...the coffee from the Burger King next door to Bob's Automotive.

The "Stilgoe" name is a tribute to John Stilgoe's contribution to raising awareness of the built environment and the worn-out urban infrastructure. If you haven't read his book "Outside Lies Magic," check it out!

And Erik, thanks for that interesting link and even more interesting insight about vehicle cliches.

i, me said...

James, do you know about the mueller flying car?
http://www.moller.com/

it was a big deal in the 90s insusrance was the main thing holding him back, i believe.

Drew said...

Ah, the moller flying vehicle...

I remember a few years back I was having lunch with a friend of mine and I was talking about the flying vehicle (I think I saw it in a Popular Science mag earlier that day.) He listened for a few minutes before responding:
"You know, we'll never have flying cars."
"Why not?"
"Well, think about this -- a normal car breaks down on the road, you just pull it to the side, call AAA or whatever. A flying car breaks down? You crash."

When he mentioned that, I really didn't have any rebuttal, since all I could think about was how often cars DO break down...

Erik, I remember finding that website not too long ago...I know it's a collection of artists that the guy finds to be great ship designers, but is it just me, or do they all start to feel like Star Wars concepts? A lot of them have the Feng Zhu/Ryan Church aesthetics to them...

i, me said...

"A flying car breaks down? You crash.""
well, the same with a helicopter or small plane. I don't think even Moller envisioned them taking the place of the auto, but rather, becoming a specialized vehicle- i think for example search and rescue was going to be one of the first 'clients'.
That said, I *think* that the car included a chute big enough to land safetyl if the engines failed.

Andrew Wales said...

Really neat drawings and I enjoyed seeing Jeannette's sketch!

Dan Gurney said...

One would wonder what sort of mpg flying cars would achieve. Something like 1, I would guess. With global warming and peak oil, one would hope the environmental costs would do more to hold these back than insurance.

I love it when you feature Jeanette's work. Sublime talent in your household.

jeff jordan said...

Why would there be an altitude limit?

James Gurney said...

Jeff: I suppose the FAA would have to regulate skimmer traffic pretty tightly and keep them into a low altitude zone to keep them from competing with real aircraft.

Dan: yes, the problem with any hovercraft is the huge fuel costs of VTOL. That's why someone needs to come up with antigrav. The other big problem for any vehicle that's not in contact with the road is steering and dealing with wind.

I,me: thanks for the cool links to the Moller vehicles. Hadn't seen those.

Drew: yes, the crash problem. I imagine any small company with exotic vehicle systems would be open to lawsuit headaches if anything went wrong, which makes me wonder how likely we are to see these vaunted hands-off navigation systems.

GooGoo Supreme said...

speaking of the future, i thought i would bring somthing up that i have been thinking about for a few months.

people who are not artists, who "cant even draw a stick figure" are able to render people and buildings in there dreams with almost perfect accuracy from thousands of different angles, and lighting conditions, to such a perfect degree that there mind thinks it is reality and not a dream.

i wonder if in the near future artists will be able to tap into this part of the brain and be able to create photo real portraits or images using no reference photo or any reference at all other then what is already in there mind from day to day living? and then able to add onto that and create photo real fantasy art?

the future holds exciting times!

Drew said...

Speaking of hands-off navigation systems...

I always rather liked the idea of the way vehicle traffic was handled in Minority Report. The idea of automobiles being controlled by a larger traffic control infrastructure is pretty interesting, especially when you consider some possible benefits from such a system: Controlled speeds and distances from car to car, a lane automatically slowing down if it needs to divert traffic from one lane to another, all of which could improve efficiency and cut down on vehicular accidents...of course, there would still be a manual option if you ventured outside the city, where such a system would be too cost-prohibitive to be feasible...

Jon Hrubesch said...

I can't wait to see the article in Imagine FX. I just became a subscriber a couple months ago.

Joe Sutphin said...

this is a fantastic little painting Jim! I cant wait to see the article.

Moai said...

I will definitely be on the look out for that issue of IFX, James. I love your mechanical design work, and I don't think we get to see enough of it.:)

frontblog said...

Hey! That's great. I'm IFX subscriber and this is so great to find out, that next release will contain your drawings and tips...