Babylon 1999

Warning: I’ve cranked the geek up to 11 for this uber-nostalgic post.

Buried Shadow (1999)

Buried Shadow (1999)

Recently I was reunited with a computer-generated image I created back in 1999 of a crashed Shadow ship from Babylon 5. I had submitted it as a cover image for the second issue of on online fan publication called Beyond Babylon. It wasn’t used on the cover, but it did get featured in the gallery. At some point I lost my original, so it was nice to be contacted out of the blue by someone who had a copy.

I have fond memories from those days of hanging out at the (now defunct) Babylon 5 Modellers Guild [b5mg.com] and the LightWave Group [lwg3d.org] (which evolved into the still-active Foundation 3D forums). Scifi-Art.com was another great community — I remember really liking their site design.

All this nostalgia got me digging around my old hard drives for more retro LightWave renders of mine.

Babylon 5 images

You can click on the small images below for a closer look. Not that I didn’t create any of these models myself, but the compositions, lighting and backgrounds were all my own work. Also, if you zoom in on that shot of Starfuries engaged in combat, you’ll see some of my own wing art designs. (Yes, that is Daffy Duck!)

Sadly I don’t remember with any certainty who created all of these models. I’m pretty sure the Whitestar was by Kier Darby [ap3d.com], who wrote a very popular step-by-step tutorial revealing how it was made, textures and all. That’s how I — and many others — learned how to use splines to make these tricky organic shapes.

The Narn cruiser was probably by Mark Kane, and perhaps the Starfuries are too, but not the Thunderbolt. I forget who made that, but it was very nicely rigged. The Centauri Primus was the work of Fabio Passaro (who may also have built the Starfuries). The Centauri Palace was by Joe Riddle. The Shadow ship is probably by Nadab Göksu, who was one of my favourite modellers. He had some wonderful non-canon Narn designs and a fun website [eon3d.com].

This long-haul cargo ship was one of my own designs, in the style of Babylon 5. It remains an unfinished masterpiece to this very day.

And here’s a larger look at my ‘lost’ Shadow image. I think all the textures may be procedural. I spent a lot of time tweaking those settings and waiting for renders.

Original works

The pictures above were all my own work. The triangular UFOs were no doubt inspired by The X-Files, and the big rocketships were closely modelled after a Chris Foss paperback cover.

Star Trek Wars

And finally, here’s the Millenium Falcon and the Enterprise escaping big explodey things. Those ring explosions were all the rage in those days.

When the mood takes me, I still like to fire up LightWave and create sci-fi images and animations. For I time I did architectural visualisation professionally, but I really enjoy it more as a stress-free hobby.

Nostalgia links:

  • The Lurker’s Guide to Babylon 5 – This was the reference for B5! (Note the “Preload your image cache here.” link. Wow! I remember that being a great feature on image ‘heavy’ sites.)
  • JMS News – J. Michael Straczynski is the creator of Babylon 5, and was very active in newsgroups [rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated] back in the day. He’s kept an archive of his contributions here.
  • The Lost Files of G’Kane looks exactly like the site I remember.
  • Fabio Passaro’s Meshweaver is still updated. It looks almost exactly how it used to back in the day.
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