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Painting Steampunk Environments - Chapter 1

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Date Added: 17th September 2012
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The Horseless Carriage - HC

So, let us consider the Carriage (Fig.01)


From a visual artistic development point of view, one should initially consider its method of propulsion. Assume, for a moment that transport had reached a state whereby, the steam engines were sufficiently compact enough to be partly integrated within a carriage.

Visually, this has positive ramifications and immediately allows us to develop a personal one to two seater transport that can be supplied with a discreet steam engine attached, including various attachments and paraphernalia to various gears/ pistons and belts to power itself.

Next, to consider the functional aesthetics and overall form.

With reference to the (Fig.01), the designer has considered approaching the HC design with a tri wheeled and duo wheeled approach. For access, the operator would enter via a frontal hatchway system which self folds/unfurls ingeniously using slats and hinged joints to provide good reliable access into the HC transport.

The final aspect, would be to combine the elements that best fit a working design of both, and subsequently experiment using this composite clean-up design as a base.

HC - Schematics

Once a clean-line base design is decided upon, the next aspect is to consider how the HC transport design would appear from various angles. These can be achieved via a set of plan drawings - featuring commonly the orthographic front and side views (Fig.02).

Fig. 02

During this stage, various opportunities to explore the inner mechanics/workings of a steam engine are worked out. This can range from exploring different wheeled spokes, the application of a small fly wheel/gear belt pulley system or even a partial exposure of a miniature boiler/engine system. In addition, exposure of a simple (fishbone) suspension system can help lend towards its functionality.

Additional Details to consider:
? Hand Crank: Once the general shapes are determined, it is the tiny attention to details such as the use of a detachable hand crank, to help start ignition of a external pressurised starter motor, that would subsequently release a burst of highly pressurised gas into the compact steam boilers.
? Luggage Rack: Further thought went into consideration of a foldaway luggage rack system. Initially, this was located towards the rear of the overall apparatus where the external boiler and exhaust pipes are housed. Upon the 3rd and 4th trial, it was felt that a roof based rack system, would adhere better towards an overall vertical design.
? Alarm/Lighting Rig: To further reflect an unconventional bolted on look, it was felt that a combo Klaxon-Lantern amalgamation mounted asymetrically towards the side of the HC apparatus would fit well (as opposed to conventional forward mounted lamps)

The Steampunk Look

The thing to appreciate is, a steampunk look works best when there are two or more layered pieces joined together by bolts & rivets. Elements of brass, copper and wood are a marked difference from worked aluminium and steel. Even the type of rivets determine greatly the overall final look.

Eg. Up to the 1950s, great seaships of the Admiralty utilized "clench bolts", whereas a set of flushed rivets (vs normal solid bolts) - such as those seen on a WW2 Supermarine Spitfire required skilled training & advanced production techniques such as that used for mass production of cars, to fit onto elliptical wings (another advanced design that resulted in such slow production results, it almost resulted in cancellation of this 60 year old legendary fighter).

In contrast, a modern streamline look would feature a more minimalist art direction and aesthetic in consideration.

HC - Motion

Once a set of orthographic plans are produced, the next aspect is to imagine the HC transport in a more 3-Dimensional representation within a 2D drawing i.e via a 3/4 perspective view (Fig.03). In this instance, the HC apparatus in motion is likened to a self-propelled rickshaw, and thus would only work if there were gyroscopic elements factored into the equation. In contrast, one should also consider how this transport would appear at rest - perhaps a 3rd rear wheels pops out, or the forward aspect of the transport detaches and provides some rudimentary support/stabilization.


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