1. Masterspeler
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    Masterspeler Active Member

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    Illustrations yay or nay

    Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by Masterspeler, Nov 17, 2015.

    Hey everyone. I am curious on what everyone things on the idea of illustrations in a sci-fi novel.

    I'm not concerned with cost since I will be designing my own cover as well as doing all pictures myself. They wont be drawings (which I can do but I want a sharper more precise look) so I will be going with 3d renderings, and even isometric schematics (which sometimes can look more impressive than the final render of the ship)

    So is this something that will be seen as tacky or cool? Im not 100% sold on the idea since I dont know how this will affect actual publishing, both in print and the digital formals (I dont even know what they come in, pdf?)

    Also will they have to be b/w or could they be color? Like textbooks with pages inserted. The idea would be to give the reader a more intimate knowledge with the vessels in my novel, since I designed them myself. Who knows (I maybe thinking way too far ahead with this) if my work is good and becomes a hit, I could think of "encyclopedia" style books from a purely technical stand point, detailing the starships or the support craft from fighters to shuttles etc.

    I wish I could post images (I dont know if I can/cant or allowed/not allowed) I would like to show to give an idea that while I dont know where I stand with my writing, I am very VERY good with 3d engineering and modeling.

    I look forward to hear your thoughts.
    AB
     
  2. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Click the 'Upload a File' button at the bottom of the post editor and find the images on your PC.
     
  3. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Are you self-publishing this book or going the trade publishing route?
     
  4. Masterspeler
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    Masterspeler Active Member

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    I'm not sure yet. I'm fairly broke, so I think self publishing outside of the ebooks might be out of the question at least as far as the first edition is concerned.
    The details like name and designation of these vessels is irrelevant at this point (I have them, with probably way too much attention to naming conventions ie after battles, heroes and so on). This particular version doesn't appear in the novel, at least the first one, but the non law enforcement version does appear in the novel. The world is very similar to our own world.
    141720802.jpg
    This is a variant of one of the ships that appears in the novel. Yes there will be similarities between Star Trek and these as far as engine nacelles and deflector dishes. Those principles are fairly standard when it comes to any sort of FTL where space time is "warped". Even bussard collectors must be present but not for the reason mention in Star Trek. They are actually mandatory, without them a ship would self destruct and take out the destination. The vessels aren't designed to look pretty, and are as utilitarian as possible. I will be getting a new computer soon, and while its not top of the line its far better than my 10 year old machine on which these images were rendered. So better ones would be used in the novel, if I decide to use them. I do feel they would give the book an extra layer seeing as how it wouldn't be something done by an artist. It's my "baby" so to speak, so the novel and the books all came from the same ole noodle, so there wouldn't be any lack of continuity as far as descriptions of deck layouts or corridors etc. 1820140701.jpg

    So at the very least Im hoping that people will like the purdy pitures, but I am very curious to see and read your input.
    Thanks,
    AB
     
  5. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    I wouldn't put these illustrations in the text, I think they're too detailed. I would put them--full color--in a center insert. I think putting them in line, in a "hey, this is the thing I'm talking about" denigrates your skill as a writer. But allowing the reader to have a little magazine insert could be pretty cool.

    I would definitely avoid iso unless you actually making a schematic. Outside of that context the reader is going to think that something is wrong with your pictures, even if they don't know what. That space ship up above for instance, needs to be a perspective shot from a wide angle in order to match the earth in the background. Right now it looks just a little...off.

    If you are going to go with your renders, I would suggest getting very creative with your shots. The 3d tool allows for very dynamic and inventive perspectives and it should be used as such. Don't be afraid to use shots that don't give an accurate sense of the model. Your reader already has an idea in their head, so a very specific and detailed image is going to destroy that.

    Instead do renders of tiny details, worm-eye views, fish eye apertures, etc.
    ***my wife just looked over my shoulder and said "that's iso makes it look really bad, it needs to be in perspective"***
    Let your art side out, and do impressions and representations. Your goal here is to augment the readers concepts, not replace them.
     
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  6. Masterspeler
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    Masterspeler Active Member

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    Ill let my argumentative side come out for a brief moment. It's not really an isometric there, but I do understand what you are saying and yes, you are correct. I do have some close-ups, as in views of a shuttle lets say coming in for docking maneuvers. One I am keeping under wraps until the book will be published, partly because the name of the novel is the name of a maneuver in world.

    As far as looking "right" there are many issues I've had with renders using backdrops. I don't use something that is well known for its rendering abilities and more for a level or precision and capability of handling vast amounts of data. Rest assure though that any renders would be at the highest level of scrutiny. Again thank you, because I do take notes and this is one that just got underlined...twice.

    I will bite down and seriously consider your suggestion as far as avoiding inline vs centerfold or at the end, either same page size or actual fold outs. I did start with 3d design well before writing, so I hold this work very close to my heart, a fairly mechanical and analytical one at that lol. I was 12 or so when I started playing with CAD. Here are some to give an idea of the level I normally work at. Everything used in the drawing was created by me, from buildings to poles to cable fixtures. These are existing bus models, and anyone can tell you recreating something that already exists without having detailed blue prints can be tough.

    Anyway. Back to the topic, I am starting to go towards the fish eye view unless I can render an entire scene like those below, where I do not rely on photoshop for the background. I know readers like to imagine their own scenes, but this may be a hard pill for me to swallow. I was going to have the characters on the cover but I scratched that idea, barring maybe a chiaroscuro with eyes light up. Expressions to draw attention and it maybe help with the dirty business of the business aspect of writing, as in moving books off the shelf.

    So I can't wait to get my new computer (Im doubling RAM and getting an SSD drive that will help with the paging file, plus a faster processor) that will not only cut down on the hour long render times (like the ones below, average of about 45 minutes) but also enable me to render things that caused errors. A mile long starship with every chair, toilet and light bulb can be insane on detail, even after deleting details such as interior fixtures. I would really love to render the starship with a shuttle in transit with a full scale sphere in the background. Actually I just had an idea, of using the wire frame as the photoshop skeleton upon which I could past layers, one being the starship in question.

    Thank you all that have contributed. I may be arrogant with my CAD work, but I am learning very much as far as writing, as the art and as the logistical and business aspect. And please excuse my maybe need for some bragging. We all have moments when we need an attaboy. Plus it helps with healing after a nasty surgery!

    AB

    5005.jpeg 5005b.jpeg 5005c.jpeg 5002n2.jpeg
     
  7. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    I think the best advice I could give you about the whole thing is this: If they're in line they need to be black and white, and have no border.
    I have a bunch of novels that do this, Bellairs The Face in the Frost has illustrations by the author at times, but they're very simple, and are fit on the page. I realize that the technical aspect is important to you, but I don't want to pause my reading to examine a diagram.
     
  8. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    Also: can you settle a bet? My wife say you're using 3d CAD, but I'm pretty sure you're using Max.

    Edited to add: If it turns out you're using Solidworks we both loose.
     
  9. Masterspeler
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    Masterspeler Active Member

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    Looks like the wife wins. I use CAD. I need to look into the licensing. I have 2002 licensed but these images are in 2013. I could save them in 2002 format and see how that will render them. Or I could "pay" a friend of mine to render them since he has the license for the newer versions.

    In case anyone not familiar AutoCAD grants perennial free licenses to educators and students. So posting them here is fine. I also am not (generally or in practice by posting) breaking any piracy laws.

    Back to the topic. The cost would be too high to have inserted pages that are color and you bring up a good point, of braking the readers flow.

    I'm starting to lean towards doing the cover alone for now and IF the novel is a commercial success then I could have a second edition, or a collector's edition that would include renders and/or diagrams and schematics at the end.

    AB
     
  10. Inks
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    Inks Contributing Member

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    Couple of filters in photoshop and removing the background and poof - you got a decent product for inclusion as a side page or something for when you need it. I'd keep it limited and use the sketch function to highlight up to three of the most important works.

    After all, if your story takes place entirely on a single starship or something - I want to see it in some form. Not asking for a blueprint or quarters layout, but something fetching at least.
     
  11. Gisella_M
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    Gisella_M Member

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    You could always launch a blog when the book comes out with these images on...
     
  12. Masterspeler
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    Masterspeler Active Member

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    @Inks I'm confused, so you mean removing any backgrounds? I mean that's not an issue since rendering comes with black backgrounds as it is. This is definitely one of those situations where my artistic side (which does exist) clashes with my analytical side. It's why I'm seeing advice so I don't let one thing overpower the other since this is about the novel.

    There are more than one ship in the novel. Three, but two are of the same class, Valkyrie class. There might be more since I do have blueprints for several more, Mercury class, Chuck Yeager class, Lauri Torni class, Magellan class and the Resolute class is in the works. I tend to write based on something real in my head, so it may be a while for the last one since these ships take a year to design, maybe more.

    @Gisella_M Im not that good with the blogging or technology as a whole! But I am thinking of releasing the images at a later date although if my book hits it bigtime (dont we all hope for that?) then Im sure this thread will give my future fans something to talk about lol.

    Hopes and delusions aside, I am still weighing the options. I want the novel to be the primary concern, with any graphics secondary.

    I was planning on posting blueprint style photos with this post, but the files are so huge that it takes forever to load. Rendering is a few hours. So Ill post now and right after Ill add the images. Maybe those will get a better response from everyone, and offer some inspiration.

    Thanks!
    AB
     
  13. Masterspeler
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    Masterspeler Active Member

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    So here are the wireframes. First one is the isometric view (no perspective) Everything is small because the shit is big.
    valkyrie wireframe 01.jpg
    Below is off the port bow, showing Mess Hall 1, on deck 9. The main bridge is all the way at the top. The battle brdige (secondary con) is in the middle of the ship. You dont want a captain to taken out by a stray shot hitting the bridge, right? Valkyrie off port bow.jpg
    "flyby" view on the port side. You can see doorways. No furniture is showing because the drawing would be beyond anything they build today as far as computers. valkyrie wireframe 02.jpg
    Main hangar bay and vertical stabilizers. I call them that even though they don't have any aerodynamic function. They serve as high ground for a few turrets. I may add lower ones but the engine nacelles serve as lowest point. A large ship is most vulnerable close to its hull where a small vessel could carry a torpedo or blow itself up if not for the turrets that are places to take out anything the other weapons sytems can't. valkyrie wireframe 03.jpg
    So that's a lot. There is a resemblance to the XB-70 Valkyrie. It's part of the reason it has the vertical stabs. If it looks like that plane might as well add those too since it was one sleek bird. Moral counts. Crewman will want to serve aboard a "cool" looking ship over something that looks clunky (think if the space station we have now kept adding compartments until it was this size). Shape has no meaning in space, so you can design a ship to look anyway you want, so might as well have it look good.

    AB
     
  14. Inks
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    Inks Contributing Member

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    I am a fan of simple renders without a lot of clutter or fancy backdrops. Sketch-book style you could say.
     
  15. Masterspeler
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    Masterspeler Active Member

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    Well the new computer is still woefully inadequate, so it looks like I'm going to have to nix the idea of any renders. I'll be lucky if I can illustrate the cover properly. Unless I do it by hand and draw it out, which is possible, since I see the cover with my mind's eye.

    AB
     
  16. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    What kind of render times are you looking at? My cut off is 48 hours.
     
  17. Masterspeler
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    Masterspeler Active Member

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    Right now all my images have rendered in 2 hours or less. All other files try to render but I get memory errors. (3D oject does not exist) a typical paging file and/or RAM insufficiency. There MIGHT be an issue with graphics cards and their memory. I would like to get a work station graphics card, but those are about 5k or so. Not cheap at all.
     
  18. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    I don't know how 3d CAD works, but every graphics program I use render's with the processor, not the vid card.
     
  19. Masterspeler
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    Masterspeler Active Member

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    CAD uses the graphics card and processor. The processor isn't as important. Well, it is, but up until recent versions only two cores could be used. The computer Id like to build for this would be over 10k with me putting it together and without other fancy stuff like sound cards, but there is a domino effect, that leads to liquid cooling, huge power supplies, ECC RAM and so on...
     
  20. Masterspeler
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    Masterspeler Active Member

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    Well, the decision was made for me...No illustrations. I lost all my work. It seems that the only reliable computer stuff is the really ancient stuff, so ill use paint...

    Im starting to think that Im better of typing my writing with an actual typewriter and swearing off electronics altogether...nothing but misery.

    AB
     
  21. Inks
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    Inks Contributing Member

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    Did HDD die or something because you can pull much information off a "dead" drive if you can access it in any way. If it was anything else, rip out the HDD and connect it to another and pull everything good off. Lesson learned, back up everything important.
     
  22. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Great images no matter what you do with them. I think whether you include them depends on the age group you are targeting with your book. Kids like images interspersed in the book, adults might not. As for images in the middle, that's what one sees with movies made into books so I'd be careful with that one.

    You may need to keep it to cover art even though I can see why you might be in love with some of those and want to use them. Don't be afraid to kill your darlings when you are deciding.
     
  23. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    More likely a corrupted file. Files that size go bad pretty easily, and once they corrupt there's pretty much no hope. Of course iterant saving is the answer there, don't know if @Masterspeler does that, or how easy it is to do in 3d CAD.
     
  24. Masterspeler
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    Masterspeler Active Member

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    Well, the good news is that the computer isn't fried and the hard drive is safe, but the program that runs my CAD work is toast and I cannot get the newer versions to run, and the older versions cant handle the size of these files, so that's on standby...

    But I will limit things to just cover art, for the basic reason of not having the few grand artists want.

    @GingerCoffee what did you mean about "As for images in the middle, that's what one sees with movies made into books so I'd be careful with that one."

    Wouldn't having my book turned into a movie be a good thing? I know the script writers would butcher it, but the book would remain, and if its that good I'm sure Id have die hard fans that would do the usual "It's nothing like the book" lol. And movie deals do pay well.

    I'm still working on the stupid computers, so until I get to some status quo, my writing is on hold. Computer piss me off to high heaven, unlike anything. Being stabbed doesn't get to me as much as a stupid computer...I could use the break I guess. I was stumped on those rewrites

    AB
     
  25. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    First, remember this is just an opinion of one reader. If the movie comes after the book, of course that's great. We should all be so lucky. But if one sees the pictures and thinks the book followed some B-movie they never saw, those books are generally cheap crap. You want the person who picks up your book to look past the cover and the images in the middle might be the thing that makes them put the book down, writing it off.

    Everything in those firsts books we publish should draw the reader to them from the title to the cover art to the synopsis on the back of the book to the first line to the first couple pages. You are competing in sea of new books by new authors. Every little thing matters.

    Once an author is established you can do anything you want. I like your art. You might even consider putting a lot of that on your book's web page. That might be cool.
     

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