Vintage steampunk posters

Here’s a couple of posters I designed for a client some time back, both of them are vintage, Victorian-inspired steampunk styled efforts.

The first is a poster for a fictional airship race over the streets of Paris. “La Grande Course d’air de Paris!” I spent a long time trying to match up google Earth data with old photos of the city to get as realistic impression of the city in 1986. The design even features an old version of the Eiffel tower with it’s original top and it’s briefly-featured yellow ochre paint job.

Below are the thumbnails I presented to the client with the possible options for the finished illustration. I often think that some do a much better job of selling the idea than others and I’m often surprised by what gets chosen.

The second poster is a handbill advertisement for a lecture by the Great Detective himself- Mr Sherlock Holmes. This one features a purely typographical approach, with hand-drawn decoration similar to some period examples.

There’s a whole world of Victorian typography and hand-drawn lettering out there that’s really incredible. Despite it’s imperfections, hand-drawn lettering has a lot more charm than a digital font. It’s definitely something I’d like to explore further in future.

The Dragon Dentists

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a dragon in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a dentist.

You see- for all their bluster and burning- roaring and devouring- dragons have yet to invent the electric toothbrush- and consequently have very poor oral hygiene. One point to the humans I say. Indeed it’s a common theory that serious toothache is what makes dragons so narked off all the time. Thus it makes good sense to help them out with their gnashers just to ensure they don’t get all agitated and torch a primary school.

Dragon dentistry however- is not something for the faint of heart, nor the flammable of composition. It takes a special kind of expertise to look death in the mouth- and then fix his teeth with big tweezers. This is the job of Dr Earnest Pimm & Sons professional dragon dentists. Est. 1813

Dragon dentists remove a rotten tooth

Here we see routine operation to remove a rotten tooth.  Dr Pimm directs proceedings while second son Toby dons the asbestos suit (for safety) and operates the no 4 drill. Eldest son Arthur operates the saliva pump while 3rd son Anthony controls the nozzle. Of course the best way to placate a dragon while operating is to use sock puppets- a job which falls to the youngest Pimm- Maggie- who isn’t technically a son but isn’t worth changing all the branded stationary for either.

Airships of Oberon box art

Airships of Oberon v2b

This is the brand spanking new box art for the relaunch of Reboot Games steampunk flavoured board game- Airships of Oberon.

If steampunk or boardgames are your thing then keep an eye out for the launch of the kickstarter in March 2016!

You can find out more about it via the official site here:

How to fly a steampunk airship

I’ve had a number of engineering students write to me lately to assert the absurd proposition that none of my airships will ever fly- furthermore- that they are impractical and contrary to good engineering sense. Humbug, I say to them. poohpooh. Etc. So I’ve decided that I obviously need to explain how the damn things operate- in order to get these pedants off my back and to prove that it is indeed feasible technology.*

Behold, a labelled diagram of a steampunk airship. I shall now proceed to address the points of most importance concerning it’s proper operation.

Airship diagram
Click to enlarge.

Elevation (Vertical motion)
Altitude is increased by increasing the buoyancy of the gas filled lift cells in the balloon (1)- these respond to heat energy from the boiler (12) by decreasing in density and therefore gaining lift.

To make the craft descend; lift is reduced by allowing the cells to cool- which is controlled by means of the air intakes ((8) or in emergencies by venting excess gas directly from the cells.)

Lift gas is replenished and generated on-board the vessel via the algae tanks (not visible).

Horizontal motion:
Combined action of the chain driven Lateral propellers (6) drives the craft forward or backwards when equal power is delivered to both sides of the craft. Yaw is achieved by increasing the relative amount of power (via gear transmission) to one side of the craft at a time: Higher power to the right propeller turns the ship to the left and higher power to the left propeller turns the ship right.

The ship also possesses a central “main propeller” which provides less thrust than than the lateral propellers while in the air but is adapted to work well when submerged- allowing the craft to move efficiently on water.

In situations where the ship is required to rapidly lose velocity the airbrake (10) can be deployed: releasing tension on the brake lines allows the brake to fold out from the tail like a fan- increasing air resistance and slowing the craft. Conversely- the airbrake can also be used as a sail to increase the speed of the craft and conserve fuel when sailing along the wind.

Piloting & Navigation
The pilot flies the ship from the front cockpit (13)- with assistance of the crew. A periscope (4) allows the pilot to see directly beneath the ship at all times- even when resting on water. Orders are received from the captain and transmitted to the crew via speaking pipes (airships are obviously very loud). The pilot’s job is to control the  speed and direction of the craft while the engineers ensure the engines, pumps gears and other apparatus are working correctly.

Engine Power
Engine power is achieved via modern steam turbine engines using liquid fuel- this frees up space versus traditional gas fuels and weight versus solid fuels.  The engines and fuel tanks (not visible) are located towards the bottom and centre of the ship to help maintain the correct centre of gravity. The engines drive the lateral and main propeller via chain drive trains. The chain drive method allows the Lateral propellers (6) to be folded up and out of the way when the airship docks.

  • Landing
    This airship is designed to land on water. Water intakes on the drive train (3) also allow the boilers and algae tanks to be conveniently refilled while the ship is at rest.

    Other stuff:
  • 16. Cloud Lantern– Anti collision lighting designed to be visible as the ship rises through cloud
  • 7. Life boats– Self explanatory! Standard fold out glider type
  • 4. Anchor– To anchor the ship- when a hangar isn’t available.
  • 9. Overpressure chimney– Automatic pressure release chimney for situations where boiler/gas cells exceed the safe pressure limits
  • 18. Nests- These are used to ensure visibility around the craft at all times- the lookouts communicate with the crew in the gondola via speaking tube.

*I am not responsible for any injuries deaths etc. resulting from attempting to put this technology into practice. Always seek professional help when piloting steampunk airships.

The pirate ship “Dryad”

The pirate ship "Dryad"

This photograph of the pirate ship “Dryad” was taken by a travelling photographer in the Northern reaches of the ravine province- confirming reports that pirates have been operating in the area. Dryad- Formerly HMS Swallow- was captured by pirates last Autumn while returning from a routine reconnaissance mission. Our sources in the intelligence service claim there’s rumours that the recent piracy “epidemic” in the Northern provinces are sponsored by foreign nation states.

Military forces have been deployed to the North including anti-airship missile batteries on-route from Edwinton. It is believed to be only a matter of time before Dryad is either sunk or back in Union hands.

The Great Race

Here’s a little step-through of a new image I’ve just completed and added to my gallery- I like to save little jpg versions of my work every time I finish a painting session so that when it’s finally complete I can look back and have the pleasure of seeing the image develop in front of me.
Looks like I didn’t change my mind too much with this one.

You can see a (ever so slightly) larger version here in my gallery:

Eidolon illustrations

Here’s a few paintings I recently completed for the Eidolon project which you can find out more about here:

If you’d like to help get this project off the ground and support all the people who’ve contributed to it you can donate to the indiegogo fundraiser here :

Airships of Oberon

I recently completed some work for a lovely chap who’s putting together a new Steampunk-themed board game called “Airships of Oberon”.

I was originally commissioned to complete the above six card illustrations, which each represent an individual element in the game, from left to right: Autumn, Animal, Wind, Water, Metal and Grass.

After that, I was given the job of producing the box cover art for the game, based on a pretty complex brief. It had to include:

  • A happy couple in a steampunk Edwardian street
  • Airships flying overhead.
  • A steam-powered car or two
  • Clockwork dragons circling a tower in the distance.
  • Bright, happy colours. 

I’m still getting to grips with the best way to compose these complicated fantasy images with so much stuff going on, but myself and the client were both happy with how it turned out. Now, back to the last stretch of university work.

Tales from the wasteland- Airship sketches

A couple of early sketches done during the early stages of my work for band Smokey Bastard:


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Tales from the wasteland – The Airship Docks

Today I’m uploading another brief walk-through of how I approached one of the images I produced for Smokey Bastard.

This time it’s an image of a steampunk airship dock, port of origin for the crew of the “Widow Garret” which you can see docked in the bottom left of the images.

The brief was very clear as to what the band wanted, I had to show them as they are inthe cover image painting, stood on front of their airship with the bustling industrial docks behind them. Initially I didn’t know how to approach such a complex image so to get the image under way I started with a rough pencil sketch on paper to try and get the image worked out in my head (the sketch below is actually the 3rd I think). At that stage I still wasn’t ready to approach the final image so I made a very rough google sketchup model to give me a solid understanding of all the perspective involved. I then exported the model  into photoshop and painted over it until I had the beginnings of my final image.The next stage was simply adding more detail to the already blocked out image You can see I messed about with the colour scheme a bit. It was looking a bit too serene in the second image.The final stages of an image are often the most enjoyable, and by the time I was up to the images below I had the fun job of simply adding little details and correcting small problems. The sky colour got changed once again to look more oppressive and industrial, and a handful of airships got added to the sky. along with the crowds below.The finished image:You can buy the album here, which you should because it looks lovely and you can get a limited edition poster that I also did for the band (as well as a poster of the image above)
… Also, the music is very good.

Listen to some of the Tracks
Buy the album