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Skallord Art

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Skallord avatar Skallord
Level 62 : High Grandmaster Architect
This is going to serve as an archive of past hand-drawn and digital art I have made for various things, mostly my Minecraft spaceships and related projects. It will also include screenshots of some builds which I will never end up posting as their own projects. I will periodically add to this blog as I do more interesting things with my renders, or if I ever draw more ships (although the latter is pretty unlikely at this point).

The majority of images in this blog, at least at the beginning, will be pictures of old sketches of spaceship designs. I've tried to get as high quality pictures as I could, but the pencil used wasn't being picked up in scans so I had to use the good ol' phone camera. It's perfectly clear for the most part, just not as nice as I would have liked.

I originally joined Planetminecraft because of a build group named Celestial Chaos, consisting of various other PMC members such as Foxy, OTB, AirshipsEverywhere, and Kontik (formerly known as sbia, and even earlier as Iyecte). There's a lot of history behind Celestial Chaos, but in summary everyone involved was working together to create a sort of board game in which players would lead spacefaring civilizations in war against each other. Before I joined I already was very into sci-fi and Minecraft, and I would occasionally sketch designs for spaceships that I could build in Minecraft. AirshipsEverywhere, who was in the same Boy Scout troop as me, actually noticed my sketches at an event back in 2014 and invited me to the group. I ended up producing several dozen schematics for future spaceship designs from 2014 to about 2016, before the build group ended up falling apart due to members not having time. Celestial Chaos has evolved into Celestial Diplomacy, a role-playing game I have been continually developing for several years, but all of those sketches have been sitting in a drawer by my desk untouched for the better part of a decade. I have wanted to create an art blog for a long time, like the one created by AirshipsEverywhere, but I kept forgetting to do so. Until now, that is.

Spaceship Sketches
These are a whole bunch of sketches I did in middle school during math class of spaceship designs. Almost none of these ended up being built, partially because, as you will see, I was not very good at designing aesthetically-pleasing spaceships. I pretty quickly moved on to better, more reasonable designs. Nonetheless, they do show some of how my general aesthetic, skill, and approach to ship design evolved in my early years.

I will be presenting the following sketches in roughly chronological order of creation, both because quality of design and drawing noticeably increases as I gain more experience, but also because I think seeing how my style changes is particularly interesting. I will note that the exact order of some of these is difficult to determine, as it has been at least six years since the last was drawn. There are, however, some characteristics which help narrow down the time frame of specific sketches.

Starting things off, I present... unnamed dreadnought #1!
Skallord Art
What should be immediately apparent is that, like most, my early designs were not particularly good. Part of that is the demands of Celestial Chaos, which was going to have each faction fighting battles in a Minecraft server with their ships. A lot of my early designs, which fortunately have been mostly purged from my account, have long rows of turrets as a way of keeping many loaded at the same time in a server. This design does show off my personal preference for Star Wars Imperial-style warships, with a triangular hull and aft fins reminiscent of the Vengeance-class. This also shows how right from the beginning I was always thinking bigger. Although many of the "dreadnoughts" I designed around this time ended up being dwarfed by simple carriers like the Sepzinak, my projects were on the larger side for Celestial Chaos members, and the ever increasing scale outpaced even my imagination.

Next up, the Balkon-class frigate!
Skallord Art
This is one of the few ships I drew that actually ended up being built. I designed the Balkon frigate before I even built my first capital ship, the Balkon-class patrol frigate, a smaller version of the original Balkon design. Some trends emerge when comparing this with the previous drawing: commonality of weapons, bridge structures, and also the way I was drawing these schematics. I actually drew curves and angled lines with a staircase pattern as it would appear in Minecraft. I don't remember why I went that route, but I would continue to have the jagged edges for the majority of my original drawings.

Also, for a time I would add text descriptions of certain features and a little stats box at the corner of the page. The stats are nonsensical even when compared to the actual drawings, often being outright wrong when counting turrets, but it is fun to see hints of what would later become fairly technical descriptions, albeit with quite a bit of made up names and technologies.

Continuing on, unnamed dreadnought #2!
Skallord Art
A very interesting design. The complex curved shape of the bow armor is representative of my very early design style, with ships like the Balkon line, Zenia, Zenlan, and some parts of the Velnian-class. Pretty quickly I lost interest in curved shapes on a larger scale as they can be difficult to do right, and I really didn't (and still don't) have the patience. A lot of broadside-only weapons, which was quite common for CC ships, as they weren't expected to move at all and so would concentrate firing arcs either broadside or frontal. Like unnamed dreadnought #1, this ship was quite large for a CC warship but ended up being dwarfed by my later projects. Also you can tell this was drawn when I was like 14 because I spelled devastator as "devestator." I'm cringing as I type this paragraph.

The next ship is the Barracudan-class destroyer!

This one actually holds up decently well. This little guy was going to be a real glass cannon, lots of guns but not a whole lot of armor. I may end up building this someday as I think it has a good overall shape, although that tailfin would need some work. Something that may not have been apparent is that almost all of my ships have hangar bays. In many of these sketches they are on the ventral surface, which makes it difficult to see when there are only side or top views, but I've always placed a pretty big emphasis on strike craft as a part of my fictional military doctrine. The hangar on this destroyer is too small for my current lineup, but could have fit a wing of T-17s, which were my primary light starfighter at the time.

Now, unnamed cruiser #1:

I really don't like this ship. I experimented a lot with different shapes and styles in my early sketches, and this one was pretty immediately out of the question. It's actually supposed to be flying vertically, which is even worse since I generally hate ships which are taller than they are long. Also a ton of its weapons are stuck firing aft, which makes sense in a more hard sci-fi setting but here it's just bizarre. Overall glad this one never made it off the paper.

And now, for unnamed dreadnought #3!!!!

Yeah, you might be sensing a theme here. I like big ships, and especially big triangular hull ships. This one is actually quite an improvement over the previous iterations. It has a nice unique bridge and better detailing. That said, it still is atrocious, with mindless weapons placement, more "devestator" cannons (bleghh... I can't even-) and I really don't like how some of the engines are way out back and the rest are in these notches farther forward. Also all the fins are kind of silly in my opinion. I always find it hilarious that I considered, for a time, a ship only 382 meters long to be a dreadnought. It only took a couple years to build a carrier almost double that in length.

Next up, the orb-type:

The lack of an exclamation mark for the introduction shows how I feel about this ship. I literally called it orb-type. I'm sure some might think, "didn't you build that with the Kex" but the important thing to remember is the Kex has a big open section in the middle with all sorts of detailing. This ship was literally a complete sphere. It does have a full 360 degree bridge at the top, which I guess could have been cool, but overall this is a pretty uninspired design and I'm glad I was able to do at least a little bit better with the Kex.

My next ship is the Zegonia-class strike cruiser!

I actually quite like this one. It has a very slim profile and, barring the two engines way out back like on unnamed dreadnought #3, the placement of features like weapons and the bridge make sense. Already you can see me narrowing in on my preferred design style, and also see how my sense of scale was evolving. Only two drawings before a ~400 meter ship was a dreadnought, and now this 288 meter ship is a strike cruiser. This does have a Balkon-like bridge, which I stuck on a surprising number of designs before I began doing a unique bridge design for every ship. Another interesting thing of note: the sequence of small circles with a line connecting them was meant to represent greebled surfaces, and is seen in a number of early sketches. This is one way which I narrowed down the order of some of these drawings, as many share the same shape for weapons, engines, and other elements.

Next up, unnamed command ship #1!

There are a lot of interesting elements to this design. Many of the weapons are sheltered under overhanging armor panels, as can be seen by comparing the side and top views. It also has a dorsal hangar, something which I've never actually built up to this point. There's a dedicated area for sensors at the bow, which isn't something I tended to put much thought into early on, and it also has a dual bridge setup like the Star Wars Venator-class, with a command bridge and a secondary fleet control center. This is also one of a small number of ships with a visible reactor bulge, like the Imperator-class from Star Wars. The Inzixia is the only ship I've ever built with a reactor bulge.

Moving on, the Rejuvenation-class cruiser!

This is the closest to an Imperator-class ripoff I've ever drawn, and thank god I didn't build it. I actually really like the ventral surface with its steep angle, but there's nothing else interesting about this design and I pretty quickly forgot about it.

And now, presenting... unnamed dreadnought #4!!!

This ship represents a pretty major shift in scale and my drawing style. Because I was trying to fit my sketches onto a single page, I had to got from each grid square being 11x11 blocks to being 22x22 blocks, doubling in length. From this point on the standard ball turrets seen on previous ships are shown as squares drawn with pen, while "devestator" cannons (I still hate it I hate it I hate-) are drawn with the same shape as the old standard turrets. The super big turrets would have been a really powerful weapon. This ship is another evolution of the original unnamed dreadnought #1 design, continuing to grow larger, more heavily armed, and, in my opinion, more silly. The extended aft section keeps getting worse, now with two sets of wings. I doubled up the long rows of turrets down the spine, and overall this design is really starting to overstay its welcome.

There's also a side view of unnamed dreadnought #4, although one corner got cut out at some point. Fortunately it's the corner with the aft section, which saves me the pain of having to look at whatever godawful shape I chose for the thrusters and surrounding structure.

Moving swiftly onward, unnamed destroyer #1!

Yeah, it's a Recusant-class ripoff. I couldn't even do that well, the aft section sucks. It's way too flat, making the center hump really pronounced, and I really dislike the rows of turrets. Having some of the guns sheltered in holes along the dorsal armor is a nice touch, but that's the only redeeming quality. Also based on the drawing the thrusters are facing the wrong way, which is kind of funny.

The next ship is unnamed warship #1!

Not much to say here. I never got that far with this one. It has a drum-shaped element on top like Fractalsponge's Praetor battlecruiser, and it looks like the bridge is in front of that with the flat roof. This ship likely would have been relatively small, around 300 meters or so.

The next design is the Mantanide-class heavy cruiser!

This was inspired by the Mandator-class fanon design from Star Wars, with a dorsal superstructure from the Bellator-class. I would have probably gone insane trying to make that hull shape, but I do like this ship. It has reasonably intelligent weapon placement, and for the time good shaping on the superstructure. I don't like the Imperator-class bridge, but that just shows how I had yet to fully develop my own style at the time. A lot of my early designs took elements from Star Wars and other sci-fi properties, so much so that you can find plenty of comments on my older builds asking if I was inspired by one Star Wars ship or another.

Brace yourself... it's unnamed Star Dreadnought #1!


This is, without a doubt, the most ridiculous, dumb, nonsensical, insane ship I have ever conceived. Look at it. LOOK AT IT! At over three kilometers long, this ship is the pinnacle of my CC ship design approach: massive and covered in so many weapons I had to replace pen cartridges more than once. This design was pretty clearly inspired by the Executor-class in terms of scale, and is the final iteration of the unnamed dreadnought #1 design. It still has the aft fins, a ventral fin at the bow, a dorsal superstructure and a lot of guns, but takes these elements to the extreme. I'm sure I thought this would be cool when I was taping together pages at 15 years old, but I could never build something like this today. The next eight images will be individual pages, where I can break down some of the worst parts of this design.

Starting at the bow, I actually put little landing legs on this ship as if I expected it to land on a planet in-universe. They're comically undersized, and the ship would likely snap in half at the middle if it tried to land. This is also the first closeup look at the uninterrupted lines of turrets spanning almost the entire length of the ship. I'm embarrassed just looking at this.

This really conveys the lack of creativity in this design. It's just lines of turrets, and flat raised platforms for more lines of turrets.

And yet more turrets. I appreciate that I redrew a bunch of older designs to scale. You can see how much of the hull on this ship is completely flat, with no structural or small-scale detailing. This is something I have improved significantly on since my early projects.

I recall that instead of landing legs the aft ventral fin would have been the point of contact when landing. Which is even more ridiculous, since then it would be balancing on a single point at the back and would definitely tip over in the wind, with so much surface area. Also the communications bridge is completely blocked by the superstructure in front of it, which adds to the idiocy of this design. I also really don't like the ridiculously large ventral hangar bay.

Now for some top view pictures of the big dumb dreadnought.

Really nothing interesting to say about these. It's just all turrets. Let this be a lesson, which I learned later than I would have liked, that too much of any one element or feature will ruin a design. If I took away half of the turrets and spaced out what was left across the hull this ship would be a lot nicer to look at, although it couldn't save it from all the other shortcomings. Fortunately, I never again would return to this style of ship design, perhaps in part because I was so horrified by what I had brought into the world.

Continuing on, the Ragnaron-class heavy cruiser!
Following the general shape of the Ragnaron-class patrol cruiser, this warship would have been a fairly powerful frontline capital ship. The ship is 660 meters long, almost the same size as the Sepzinak. The classification as a heavy cruiser isn't quite accurate to its weaponry and size, as the Sepzikan-class light cruiser that has appeared in some of my renders is a similar size but significantly better armed, with various heavy weapons. This is one of the last drawing I ever did, as indicated by the switch to black pen for the weapons and significantly more effort put into portraying greebling.

Next up, the Turen-class bulk freighter!

The Turen is approximately 1300 meters long, making it one of the largest ships I have ever designed. It is meant to be an evolution of the Kex-class, with the large curved mandibles. This freighter would have numerous hangars between the mandibles and on other parts of the hull, large enough to dock with smaller freighters and capital ships. The Turen would serve as a logistics ship, primarily transporting ordnance, material for repairs, and spare strike craft to GACIAF fleets and bases. It does have several long lines of smaller weapons, which I wouldn't include if I were to build this ship, but otherwise there are not many weapons as the Turen is not meant for direct combat.

The Sepzakan-class heavy carrier!

The Sepzakan would be the largest carrier in the Sepzak line, with the same distinctive deep notch at the bow housing launch bays for strike craft. Unlike the Sepzak and Sepzinak, this carrier would not have a sensor and comms tower, instead maintaining a flat and sleek profile. Although equipped with a small number of heavy capital-grade weapons and various smaller turrets, most of the Sepzakan's weaponry would be point defense and anti-fighter turrets. This design is the basis for several notable warships in my role play's story, but may never be built as there are other ships which take priority.

The next ship on the list is unnamed carrier #1!

This design was inspired by some artwork by Adamkop on Deviantart. My idea for this ship was for the large flat base to be a prefabricated garrison module which could be disconnected and left on the surface of a planet during an invasion. The garrison would have space for aircraft, armor, defensive weapons, and all the facilities needed for thousands of infantry. The rest of the ship would contain additional hangar space for strike craft which could support the garrison from orbit, as well as light weaponry to defend against hostile warships. I quite like the shape, but it's unlikely I'll ever build this. The use of proper lines instead of the staircase method when drawing diagonal edges indicates that this drawing was one of the last major schematics I ever created.

The last big sketch, the Cosserale-class heavy carrier!

The Cosserale was obviously inspired by the Venator-class star destroyer, with a very similar shape minus the tail and twin bridges. The bridge design was inspired by Fractal's Victory-class, and I ended up doing something similar with the Sepzikan. I had imagined the Cosserale as having a long hangar bay on the ventral surface instead of the dorsal surface, allowing for the top side to be covered in weapons and armor. None of the heavy weapons have been placed on the ship, as I never found the time to complete the drawing. This is the last large warship schematic I created during my early years on PMC. There are still many small and quick sketches I will show, but after the Cosserale I had mostly developed my own aesthetic and was experienced enough that I didn't have any need for schematics.

One last big sketch!

This is the beginning of a massive warship, dwarfing unnamed star dreadnought #1. It would have been a star dreadnought used by Director Skallord in my role play as the flagship of his armada, and other major naval units under the GACIAF Department of Intelligence. I was never able to find sufficient motivation to complete this drawing, as it would have likely been six pages long at least and I will likely never build something close to this ship, so it wasn't worth the time and effort.

The next set of sketches were done some time after most of the original set. I believe some might have been made between unnamed star dreadnought #1 based on various factors but it's impossible to know for certain. All of these sketches are small, mostly coming from the corners of notes and from a large pad of paper in which I would create random designs in my free time.

First, a small boarding craft. This little guy was inspired by the droid boarding craft from Star Wars: The Clone Wars. It has big long spikes to penetrate and anchor itself to a hostile warship's hull, and would have a cutting tool to open a path into the ship for a boarding team.

Next up, a small freighter. I never liked the angles of the bow on this one, but maybe I could make it work in Minecraft.

This is a small Astachez warship. It has the distinctive block shape of an Astachez ship. A couple weapons at the aft.

A moderately-sized freighter. I recall initially imagining this as a sort of battering ram ship, but dropped that idea since it doesn't fit into the established technology and tactics in my fictional universe. I changed its function in my mind to a freighter, since it doesn't have any weapons. I tend to default to freighter for unarmed or lightly armed ships.

A much larger version of the droid boarding craft. I like this one less than the earlier sketch, since it's not as long compared to its width. I think it loses that sharp impression that the other gives, despite having more knife-like blades at the front. Also it's less original.

A Balkon-class warship. Its class is obvious from the curved bow armor, the raised bridge, and the staircase section underneath the bow. This drawing is the main reason I stated above that I'm not sure when these smaller sketches were all made. This one has the dot and line greebling markers of very early schematics, but doesn't have the staircase approach to curved surfaces. The vertical strips along the back end of the ship are actually circular rings, on which weapons are mounted at 90 degree angles. Could have been an interesting design but it doesn't really fit with my aesthetic, and I think I've done enough Balkon-class warships by this point.

This one is somewhere between a corvette and a frigate in terms of size. Has a curved shape inspired by some ships from the game Dreadnought, as well as stereotypical alien and high-tech sci-fi spacecraft. I definitely would not build this one. As I've mentioned before, curved surfaces are not my thing. I also don't really like the circular cutout on the ventral surface, since it leaves a lot of open space and my visual style generally doesn't allow for significant sections of empty or open space in a silhouette.

Another Astachez warship. This one is pretty similar to the Inzixia, with its block raised bridge, large bow, and aft side modules.

Honestly, I have no idea what this is.

This is a little defense satellite. It's got a bunch of weapons on each side and would have some maneuvering thrusters to reorient and maintain orbit. I do plan on building stuff like this in the future, although this design is a bit basic and uninteresting for my tastes.

Interesting shuttle of some kind. This may have been inspired by the F117, and other similar aircraft.

This ship was inspired by Halo designs, specifically with the large flat armor panels on either side of the engines and the long block structure. Unfortunately it's not nearly as well designed or aesthetically pleasing as Halo warships, so it remains in the scrapbook.

An evolution of the previous design, but made worse by just copying the bow and flipping it vertically. I really don't like how bulky and front heavy this design is. A common characteristic of spaceship designs I like is an aft section that is larger than the middle and bow sections.

A rendition of the Star Wars Gozanti-class. I built the Sceptilx as a more unique version of this design, and then ironically when rebuilding the ship as part of my effort to bring older designs to my current quality standard made the Sceptilx more like this design and the original Gozanti. Perhaps I should have trusted my instincts when I first built that carrier, but it ended up back at this shape eventually.

Unfinished design for a large transport. I drew this while brainstorming exteriors for a commission. Ultimately I settled on a slightly different shape, but this design is pretty interesting even in its incomplete state. There are small hangars along the side, and there would have been a large loading ramp underneath the bow for cargo transfer when landed.

Small shuttle or gunship. I ended up building the Canex-class gunship off of this sketch, but I actually like this shape more than the one I arrived at for the Canex. I'll likely revisit this design in the future with a gunboat, since gunship size wasn't quite large enough to capture the angles of the hull panels well enough. I really do like the very sharp and aggressive profile.

A larger Astachez warship, likely a frigate or light cruiser. This one has elements like the Hueveloc, which I ended up writing as a design by an Astachez team in the Roccho Republic because of the visual similarities. The side pods are underslung, with the bow sections, center, and aft module are raised. It would have had a very distinctive profile from the side. Pretty well armed but not very bulky.

Another Astachez warship. I would classify this one as a light frigate or corvette, just based on the size. I'm not a fan of its width, but I might have made it very flat to keep a sleek appearance. Not my favorite Astachez design, but not a terrible base shape.

This one has a very unique shape for me. Likely a corvette, with the limited weapons and large engine clusters.

A larger warship in the same style as the previous sketch.

A trio of recent designs. The left is a GACIAF escort cruiser which I do intend to build. It is about 450 meters long, with various light turbolasers and other capital-grade weapons. The bow notch is similar to the Sepzak but there won't be any hangars, just sensors and other detailing. The middle ship is a GACIAF destroyer, with the same bow as the Nicrax gunship. The Nicrax instantly become one of my favorite designs when I rebuilt it. The right ship is the Enao-class gunship, which I made in a day for a build contest.

Light cruiser based on an Ascendancy ship from Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion.

Don't ask.

The Balkon escort frigate, or something similar. I'm not quite sure if this is the Balkon escort, since it has only two engines and some minor differences in detailing and the shape of the aft wing panels. That said, it's so similar to the Balkon escort that I'm inclined to believe this sketch came first and any differences were the result of improvised modifications.

Astachez frigate. This ship has several broadside cannons and dorsal turrets like the Balkon-class, as well as the two pronged structure that inspired the Hueveloc-class. I do like this design, and may use it in the future with some modifications to the structure.

A large freighter with a central notch which can carry containers of various sizes.

One of a handful of heavily asymmetrical designs I've drawn. This ship has a large armored surface on one side with various weapons batteries. The other side also has various weapons, but they're more spread out and a bit more varied. I haven't ever built a ship with significant asymmetry, but there are some sketches coming up which could end up as a completed project someday.

Inspired by Sbia's Teru-class. Could be a frigate or light cruiser.

An escort cruiser. This one has a raised bridge with a large flat top, which isn't something I've ever done. Also has an interesting aft.

A second iteration of the above design. The hangar apertures are now angled with the hull, and some extra small weapons have been added. I still don't really like the shape of this design, but the cutout in the center and the bridge setup are interesting ideas.

Secutor-inspired warship, but with a single Acclamator-style bridge.

Praetor-inspired warship.

A Ragnaron-class frigate. I sketched a lot of Ragnaron-style warships at one point since I really like the design. Most of them ended up not looking that great though. Part of that is the very fat neck to the command tower, the oversized command tower, and the very short and stubby superstructure in front of the bridge. The ship is also too wide in my opinion, and comes across as poorly proportioned.

Ragnaron-class light cruiser. This design is better than the frigate above, but still has poor proportions for its superstructure. Have the bridge positioned more forward and the general shape of the base hull are much better features than the previous design, however. I think with a bit of work this could end up being a very nice addition to the GACIAF fleet structure, with good firepower in a small package.

This Ragnaron-class cruiser goes too far in the other direction, with a very elongated superstructure and a backwards angle to the front of the command tower which doesn't really suit the design. It's also a bit sparse on structure and detailing between the from of the superstructure and the command tower, with a large section of flat hull. Otherwise, the shape is okay but it's rather poorly armed for a cruiser. Additionally, this ship is far too small to be a cruiser but large for a frigate. Not that good of a Ragnaron-style design.

The Rejuvion-class assault cruiser. I really like this one. It would have had a very flat dorsal surface with a more steep slope to the ventral hull, as well as a bridge set into the hull instead of protruding higher above. The overall design would have been very sleek, and the rows of turrets aren't too large or too uniform to be repetitive. I may revisit this design one day.

The Dunev-class heavy cruiser. Ironically smaller than the Dunov despite being designated as a heavy cruiser at a time when the Dunov was considered a standard cruiser. This design, much like the original Dunov, goes too far in the turret row direction. I also think the notches along the brim trench are too deep and take up too much of the length of the hull. There isn't much interesting about this ship.

The Revol'mis-class military transport. This one is a big of a mix between a Venator, an Acclamator, and some ships Fractal designed. The raised section along the spine would have looked really good, merging with a short superstructure in the center and a long tail like on the Sepzinak. There would have been a lot of hangar bays on the ventral surface, as well as landing gear and loading ramps to settle on a planet's surface for cargo and material transfer. Pretty lightly armed but well enough to fight off smaller capital ships. I definitely want to build something like this design in the future, once I get into logistical ships.

The Balkon-class heavy cruiser. If I do ever revisit the Balkon-class, I'll likely do this design. Over three times as long as the Balkon-class frigate, this warship carries a lot of laser cannons, ion cannons, missile launchers, and point defense. The bridge would have actually laid flat and parallel with the raised spinal structure where various turrets are mounted, making the whole ship feel very solid and bulky compared to the smaller Balkon ships. This was also conveyed by have the bow armor plating extend further out to the sides to line up with the flared aft armor, again giving it a very bulky look. I like this shape as an evolution of the Balkon line.

Another Dunov-inspired warship. I actually really like this one. The various angles of the raised hull panels, with a trench between the two aft panels and the larger panels which cover a good two thirds of the hull would have a lot of great greebling, and there is a good balance of flat space and weapon batteries. This is one of my highest priorities for an eventual build if I do end up using these old sketches for inspiration.

One of three ships inspired by Terran capital ships from Sins of a Solar Empire:Rebellion. Very asymmetrical.

The second Terran Sins of a Solar Empire inspired ship.

The third Terran Sins of a Solar Empire inspired ship. Like the first this one has some asymmetry. There would have been a hangar on the right side and a command center on the left. There's also another bridge at the bow on top. This ship is definitely meant for broadsides, and a good number of its weapons can't fire forward due to the forward armored prow blocking their firing arcs.

Other Sketches
This is all the other hand-drawn artwork I have made. Included are a couple space stations I drew to illustrate locations in my role-play, some planning documents which show how I prepare for particularly large projects, and even a couple spaceship sketches which I felt weren't large or complete enough to showcase in the main spaceship collection.

More sketches!
Although not nearly as numerous as spaceships, I have done some artwork of other topics. First up, unnamed walker #1!

This is a very large quadrupedal walker intended to provide anti-orbital, fighting off capital ships in low orbit and atmosphere. It is armed with twelve standard size laser cannons on the flat top, with an additional eight below to fire on heavy armor. Functionally this walker doesn't make much sense, as it would be much better to fight capital ships with other capital ships, but the shape is nice and I might make a smaller version as a mobile anti-aircraft platform at some point. With a small umbrella shield to protect surrounding ground forces and a more reasonable set of weapons, this could end up being a very nice support vehicle.

Next up: writing!

This is an example of me planning out a hangar system for a future fleet carrier. I don't normally do much planning for my builds these days, but in the case of particularly large projects I will figure out major dimensions and constraints before starting the build so I don't have to delete or redo sections when things don't line up. You can see calculations for hangar capacity and various lengths all documented so if I ever tackle this project I known how large major interior components need to be.

On the topic of planning, early Cazasex rework sketches!

Before I began work on the new Cazasex battlecruiser, I plotted out where major raised hull panels would be, their elevation relative to the base hull, and the position and spacing of major weapons batteries and notches along the brim trench. These were all things I wanted to know before starting so I could finish the base hull without any significant reworks. Ultimately I still ended up making major edits to the base hull, and there were some things like the height of the ship which weren't planned and fortunately ended up looking good, but this planning was for the most part very helpful in the initial phases of construction.

Moving on, Starport Resplendent!

This is a major setting in the CD role play I run. Resplendent is a civilian spaceport in the Malaer system of the Roccho Republic, in low orbit over the capital planet of the system. Resplendent serves as a connection for flights into and out of the system and to the planet's surface, as well as hosting secondary administrative and commercial centers for the system. The large curved wings and general shape are meant to vaguely evoke sea animals such as manta rays, as the Roccho are heavily influenced by their history as aquatic animals.

And last but certainly not least, Stykeer Station!

Stykeer Station is a major industrial hub and the largest shipyard in the Rodain Sector of the Ivesceel galaxy. It is owned by various corporations of the Roccho Republic and neighboring civilizations, and has been under construction for thousands of years. The station is continually expanded, and is intended to eventually form a complete ring around the ocean planet Jefitik which it orbits.

I had a lot of fun drawing Stykeer Station. I tried to convey its patchwork metal surface through various lines and shading of different sections, giving it that distinctive industrial look. There's a lot of fine detail around the edges, representing all the little modules and hangar bays and other features which line the station. I also drew a little Starport Resplendent to scale at the bottom.

Lost Projects
Back in 2016 or 2017 I believe, I got a virus on my computer which forced me to do a factory reset. Although a lot of my projects and worlds were backed up in the cloud, a number of smaller things and one very large build (my Cazasex-class battlecruiser) were lost forever. I have been able to track down screenshots from Discord of a number of those lost projects. It isn't much, but still fun to talk about.

Lost builds!
First on the list, unnamed fighter #1!

This is one of the few times I've used color in a build. I don't general have colored blocks, not because I don't like color but because most of my ships have surfaces which use stairs and slabs to create a smoother transition between levels, and in order to do color I would need to replace those with full blocks. It disrupts the surface and I prefer maintaining my hull shapes over adding color. On small ships like this fighter though, I can manage since the shapes aren't too large or complex.

Next up, unnamed fighter #2!

Same style as the previous lost project. This one is smaller and has a bit of an odd cockpit. I likely would never have released this ship because of that. It doesn't quite fit my aesthetic. I'm also not a fan of the light gray carpet, as I have never liked the warmer texture.

Last of the fighters, unnamed fighter #3!

This was actually an attempt at a sort of organic starfighter. It has a red shell-like structure on one side, with the other side being more traditionally mechanical with a beam cannon and a missile launcher. I didn't really like the ship overall, although the red shell turned out nice and I may end up making something with a similar block pallet someday in the future.

Getting a bit bigger, unnamed dropship #1!

This is the very beginnings of a large dropship for deploying heavy armor and other ground forces on a planet. The only parts ever built were these three deployment bays with lifts to load and unload vehicles and cargo. The ship itself would have been very similar in shape to the Pralox drone, and in fact I believe I built the Pralox with this ship in mind.

And now, the one and only Skallord boat!

This is my only attempt at building a boat. The visual design is taken from Planetary Annihilation, which I had a lot of fun with back when it came out and I really liked the art style. This makes no functional sense as a boat meant to operate in water, and is also ridiculously large, but it was still fun to put together. None of the hull texturing or fine detail was every finished, but the base hull is complete.

Render History
This section is meant to showcase how the programs and techniques I use for my ship renders has changed over the eight years I have been making them. I have gathered a collection of renders from various points in my PMC career, and I'll pair them with commentary on how I was doing renders at the time of their creation.

Mmm renders
I can't recall if I ever posted normal screenshots from Minecraft of the exteriors of my ships, but very early on I started rendering my ships with Chunky, a free bit of software for rendering Minecraft worlds. I don't know what Chunky is like now, but back then it was pretty simple. Here is a render of the Sepzak with the basic sky background enabled. I actually had to get this image off of a random website where someone had posted my builds for Pocket Edition, since I don't have any of these original renders anymore.

Pretty quickly I started rendering the backgrounds as transparent, and then pasting the ships onto various space backgrounds I downloaded from Google image searches. I would rotate the ships a bit and try to get the scene lighting to match any light sources in the background image, but they would still turn out a little awkward in execution.

As you may be able to see, the colors and light levels don't quite match up. It was also difficult to do anything with multiple ships. Renders of strike craft back then usually just had the same ship pasted multiple times and rotated at different angles to try and hide the similarity.

In 2017 I moved over to Blender, which I discovered and immediately recognized the potential. Of course, my first renders in Blender were actually worse than Chunky renders. I hadn't figured out things like compositing, how to properly set up scene lights, or that the Cycles engine was able to produce the kind of softer and more realistic lighting than the standard Blender render. That left early renders looking very dark, with some strange sun directions.

It also took a while for me to figure out how to adjust the sun color and other scene parameters so I wouldn't get these orange and green tints to my renders. That still happens sometimes when I forget to change those things, but fortunately I am pretty used to adjusting settings so the ships end up with either colors that match the background scene or a clean white light.

Another technique I started applying to my renders in mid 2017 was the use of compositing and indirect light to make engines and window lights glow. Up to this point any engine bloom or glow was done in Paint.net, using the brush tool to literally paint on the glow effect. It worked, but I couldn't do anything other than circular engines well and didn't solve the problem of surrounding surfaces not being illuminated by the engines and windows. With indirect lighting in Blender and the use of compositing nodes for blur and glare effects, I could start doing engine glows and a subtle bloom on window lights in the render instead of in post.

The following sensor station render is a good example of me playing around with my compositing node tree to make different colored glows. I didn't end up making use of this again for quite some time, but it was a fun experiment and shows my slow improvement. This was also one of the first times I used custom materials, so the texture of the glowing elements was a pure white instead of the end rod or skull textures. I have since used custom materials for all window lights to replace the sea lantern texture.

By 2020, I had developed a good set of techniques for making nice ship renders. As you can see in the Eerie-class render below, I refined my compositing node tree for engine glow effects significantly, and also had more knowledge about settings like the background color and light intensity, which let me create renders without harsh black shadows if I wanted to. I was, however, generally limited by the standard Blender render engine, and also not particularly motivated to improve since I was getting good renders for every project.

The catalyst for improving my render quality and techniques was the Maianete, a collab project between me and Kontik. I wanted to go all out for the exterior renders of the ship, and so I looked into the Cycles render engine. One of my ideas was to make certain blocks glow without any loss of clarity of the base texture. I didn't know how to do that in the Blender render engine, so I started learning the differences between it and cycles. You can see below a screenshot I shared with friends while I was testing material nodes in Cycles.

I also started getting a lot more stylistic with my shot composition. Most of my renders up to this point used basic starfield and nebula, with few planet backgrounds or more complex scenes. This was because I didn't like how planet backgrounds forced a specific direction of sunlight, as not matching the angle of sunlight in the background would make the ships in the render feel out of place. I ended up embracing that limitation for the Maianete renders, with shots such as this:

Following the Maianete collab project I continued to refine my Cycles node trees and techniques. My renders after the Maianete are notably higher in quality, with brighter and better positioned lighting that better matches background images.

The Ascelion-class render above is one of my favorites, with much of the ship in total darkness. The way the ship seamlessly blends into the dark side of the planet and the black of the starfield is really great, as well as how the sun catches the edges of the ship and its escorting strike craft. I am really happy with the colors and lighting, and I am always looking for more opportunities for renders like this.

Looking forward, I'm slowly learning the skills needed to create my own render backgrounds. I found a number of great nebula generators which use Blender's noise textures and volumetrics to create awesome nebula clouds and better starfields. I'm also looking into texturing planets, so I can finally get planet backgrounds which perfect lighting. I still intend to use my many space backgrounds from Google, since I really like the painted look and there are some things that just need a skilled artist's touch to make perfect, but hopefully in the near future you'll get to see a new level of environments behind my ships.


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06/22/2022 3:13 pm
Level 1 : New Explorer
Totalitarianism_ avatar
Love it! The world building aspect of your designs is the most interesting part, with the builds just being a physical representation of it. I’m sure this is just a hobby outside of school or work, but it’s really interesting to see what you come up with. Hope to see more!
06/22/2022 9:08 pm
Level 62 : High Grandmaster Architect
Skallord avatar
Hopefully you'll like the stuff I've been working on over the last year. I have a ton of things I couldn't upload or finish since college was super busy, but I'm getting started on renders and descriptions and everything else needed before I can show it. Also hoping to do more blogs next month about all my processes.
06/17/2022 12:15 pm
Level 27 : Expert Miner
Blackthorne avatar
This is a good read. Lots of interesting information and helpful tips. Shame about the lost models but hopefully some can be recreated off your screenshots. Your builds are always so fantastic and to see the planning that goes in with those sketches is just great. It's a pleasure to explore the interiors and really lend to a bit of immersive gameplay for sci-fi settings. Thanks for all the builds.
06/17/2022 2:23 pm
Level 62 : High Grandmaster Architect
Skallord avatar
Thanks. I haven't looked at these in years so it was fun to go back through them, even if a lot of them do make me cringe. Sometime within the next month or so I'm planning on doing a breakdown of my build process with a bunch of progress screenshots and renders I have for a large project I'll be releasing soon. I think that would be a lot more representative of my approach to building things.
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