Vehicle Timeline Concepts
An upcoming MAG-100 tale focuses on a vehicle traveling through the plains of Scamander. I had not really vested much time into the design of vehicles beyond where I had started, as I focused my attention on spacecraft evolution which had taken quite a turn. With the need to do some images for the tale, I realised that I needed to have a concept design direction for what was going to appear; the time span of MAG-100 meant that there was a lot of room for design evolution and variation but there needed to be a starting point.
Where I had left things vehicle wise was the BOX (above). The advancements in terms of thinking for what was going on in the universe meant that this design ideology was a good starting point for a particular period but in no way was representative of how things were panning out. On a whim I sketched out a little timeline and put dates next to the three turning points, now that I had developed a dated timeline to work with…
The three points clearly define design periods of mankind’s time on Scamander – it’s nice to think that point I had been stuck on for so long still has a place in what MAG-100 has evolved into, so I guess all that sketch work I had done was not in vain!
This is the starting point, when the companies hit the surface and started exploration. I have not deviated from the angular and geometric language I started with the BOX design a year ago, but my thinking for this period had has evolved and I now see that these vehicles were constructed en-route to Scamander on ‘assembly ships’. Constructed in zero-g, ‘packaged’ and then soft dropped to the surface once the teams arrived, the construction method is a combination of pre-fab components and an assembly of composite sheet printing; it reflects the utility mentality of a mining company – in field swap-out repair and replace, modifications, etc., affording minimum downtime for the crews. As a result, nothing is complex in form or construction.
I gained some inspiration for these designs from WWII German armoured cars that had a very slab sided, utilitarian yet purposeful, aesthetic feeling to their designs; I have always loved the design language through a range of Wermacht vehicle design…
If you’re so interested: Sd.Kfz 222 | Leichter Panzerspähwagen
From 2430, things change radically. A new method of construction called ‘Mineral Hull’ comes into play and redefines everything. Gone are the slab sides and modularity and in their place comes an organic, almost abstract design language.
I started to play around with these ideas which sent me on a very different design tangent, and led to writing this post. I am not going to give away the back story for the Mineral Hull but it has become a keystone in a lot of the design I am doing. The catch is being so fluid and strange, it’s easy to get carried away, so I have had to work on elements that show a continuity and it’s not some sort of strange alien thing.
One of the distinctive features I decided to carry over are the wheel pods; the continuity from design to design helps tie them together, giving a central focal point to the design ideology. I came up with the idea of large spherical wheels as a solution that could handle all manner of terrain, as a sphere is one large contact point. The wheels are then driven by units that also make up the suspension arms, so there are no driveshafts to break, almost like engine pods you find on large ocean faring ships today.
One hundred years since the first vehicles came down Scamander’s gravity well and things have properly changed. Mineral Hull construction is 70 years old and other discoveries have lead to an almost alien looking technology. The design continuity for the wheels is still there but almost everything else is different and unrecognisable. The vehicles are now also much larger, towering up over the terrain which would suggest either a change in a way of thinking or that things have happened that demand a certain amount of clearance from the ground.
It’s also the first time I have introduced the power plant design aesthetic I have been developing for space craft, into the vehicles. Unlike most science fiction design, where everything is enclosed, ‘neat and tidy’, I am exploring an alternative concept where fusion power plants produce hot gasses that need to be vented, while at the same time are also harnessed, like a turbo. As a result, from early on in the MAG-100 universe there have been big exhaust chambers, pipes and ‘exhaust cans’ that spiral rearwards on most vehicles. While I started this design idea ages ago, I really started to play with it for 2019’s March of Robots Instagram challenge, which led to the creation of the AUTONOMOUS MECHANICS archive. I am not ashamed to say that the thinking behind this stems from my motorcycle design days, where the two stroke 500cc ‘Big bang’ engines ruled the GP paddocks.
Gerard Thomas, Illustrator
After graduating Art Center College of Design as an Industrial Designer with an analogue skillset, Gerard went on to work for Ducati Motorcycles in Italy, experiential marketing agencies, head of design for Californian based Mountaincycles and ran his own architectural 3D visualisation studio. . . amongst other things.
The one thing all his roles have had in common was the need to visually communicate ideas, concepts and designs; sketching, drawing and illustrating has always been part of 'the job'.
Today, based in Sydney, Gerard concentrates on illustration and concept design, using his diverse background and over active imagination to conceive and visualise a broad range of subject matter.