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Painting Steampunk Environments - Chapter 1

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Date Added: 17th September 2012
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Welcome to these series of workshops, encompassing the Five Ages of SteamPunk within the alternate Realm of "Steam PanGloria Globus the 3rd" (SteamWorld for short).

Over the course of the next few chapters, our tour will encompass different eras and themes within the five interconnected districts of SteamWorld (D'Inginis, D'Vinci, D'Metronomus, D'Automobilis & Diesel). The central hub of D'Machinis serves as both the administrative sector & self machine engines of the Steamworld, and it's through here that the various travels between the five districts/transitions occurs, via the convenient and yet unrealised Automobilis publik-transport featuring steam trains & various automaton.

Thus, let us begin our tour of the arts, science & practical application of the sub genre of steampunk, via the exploration of the brilliant inventions, and great feats of engineering this realm, has to offer (and where all things though improbable, are possible).

D'Automobilis: Essence of Victorian Steampunk

Our first stop of the tour, we will be taking a glimpse at the basic transportation manufacture & design at the heart of the various districts of the Realm. In essence, the main thrust of the SteamWorld transport is inspired by the discovery, utilization and subsequent daily use of steam technology epitomised by the scientific and global influence of the Neo-Victorians, Britannica. For here, at the D'Automobilis TCEECT Workshops: (The Centre for Extraordinary & Everyday Conventional Transport), we can freely share in the basic principles of steampunk transport design.

Victorian England 19th Century represented the height of a technological, cultural, worldwide revolution that helped herald society into the modern age. Amongst one of the technological advancements, was the refinement and advancement of steampower in all sort of mechanical, industrial & scientific endeavours, that improved the quality of their overall life.

But first, let us look briefly into the history of the steam engine.

Steam Engine

Hero (Heron) of Alexandria (10-70AD), invented the first known steam (Hero's) engine recorded as the Aeoliphile (Reaction Steam turbine) i.e a steam pressurised sphere/vessel with opposing curved nozzles that spins on its axis due to opposing perpendicular jet streams. He also invented, the first force pump (fire engine), first windmill machine (powering an organ), the syringe, vending machine and wrote books on Pneumatics, Mechanics & Automatons.

Two millenia later, in the 16 to 17th century, steam power was initially utilized to help pump water from flooded mines as the main priority. Thomas Savery, was the first to commercially produced a practical steam pump for continous use to help pump water up to 20 feet. However lack of a safety valve meant at high pressure it was frequently unsafe and tended to explode.

Subsequently, Thomas Newcomen & James Watt developed and iterated upon their atmospheric engines which utilized a weighted piston to create vacuum & thus condense steam. Watts, improved on Newcomen's engine via a separate condenser & applied rotary motion, to thus build the first commercial successful/patented steam engine.

However, it was not till 1799 when Richard Trevithick refined and built his "high pressure" steam engines that meant one could do away with a condenser, and thus build smaller compact engines for everyday use. Thus in 1804, Trevithick accomplished the worlds first locomotive journey in an unnamed full scale locomotive near the Penydarren Ironworks, Wales.

Atmospheric Pressure & Gas Laws

One has to appreciate, that to finally reach this breakthrough various scientific and technological advances would have had to be achieved. Namely:
1. Understanding Boyles Law
2. Development of materials able to withstand high pressures of steam
3. Understanding of Vaccum & Atmospheric Pressure

Crucially, the appreciation of the effects of Atmopsheric pressure & vacuum (Boyle's Law) led to the fundamental development of the modern steam engine.

Boyles Law states the volume of a given mass of gas (V) varies inversely with its pressure (p) when its temperature remains constant.

pV = k where:
p denotes the pressure of the system.
V is the volume of the gas.
k is a constant value representative of the pressure and volume of the system.

Design & Sketching your own Steam Transport (Visual Art Direction)

Now that we have had a brief look at the history of the steam engine, let us consider modifications and improvements upon the conventional horse bound carriage.

A good way to approach this is a "mash" approach as a primer towards thinking/exploring about the design aspects of the horseless carriage. On one hand, over analyzing/thinking the design may produce a stilted design without much exploration and in contrast, sometimes it is worth exploring the existing design & its variations without worrying about the technical (eg. technological limitations - gameplay, texture budget, VFX budget) aspects of it all.

After all, the main end objective would be to reach your "high concept" design and then adjust/tailor accordingly towards the required situation.

Thus, in that regards, one should look at the steampunk genre as a unlimited delightful exercise at realization of the realms imaginative, and unbounded.

continued on next page >

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