by PatrickGibbs on 18 May 2021 for Rookie Awards 2021

This is my portfolio project module produced for my final semester of uni, created in parallel alongside my character design module. As an extension of my IP, I wanted this project to showcase my love for sci fi and fantasy as well as environmental worldbuilding, design and illustration.

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Set several millenia after a gruelling interstellar crusade, very few worlds stand to occupy the cosmic frontier. This final design of the starmap is depicts a grandiose space opera through contemporary, worn material. A tired universe falling victim to entropy.

Early visual development for the starmap. One variation was to be in colour and depict what the map would look like as if it appeared as in-game UI, with colours and textures inspired by a Byzantine tapestry mixed with futuristic interfaces.

These are colour palettes representing the aesthetics of each of the major worlds. For this project, I had enough time to visually develop at least 2 of these worlds, to which Senhera & Karlut were selected.


The alien wasteland of Karlut was the former home planet of the Rysar -- an advanced, spacefaring civilisation that harvested Karlut to the point of near extinction. After colonising beyond the stars, the Rysar would abandon Karlut to initiate their interstellar campaign against rival empires that sought to ascend the cosmic food chain. Thousands of years since their total annihilation at the hands of the Pilandrim, the Rysar would reappear in the universe with no memory of their history.

They returned to Karlut, not knowing it to be their home. Since their depature, the world had completely terraformed to which the orbital ammonites and the subtarranean leviathans were the apex lifeforms of Karlut. After uncovering the ruins of their former cities buried below the hollow innards of the planet, the Rysar formed a pact with the leviathans and reinitiated their aims to storm the stars once more.

There is much variation to the world's landscapes besides frozen tundra, for there is an abundance of verdant forests, sprawling cavern networks and coral reefs that expanded for miles. My intent for Karlut was to make it feel alien to the point of discomfort. It's terrain is constantly reshaped by huge leviathans that pounce from the surface into orbit where they feed on space ammonites. The process of this results in them bringing rich materials to the surface in which ecosystems develop around their agate-inspired blast craters.

The aesthetics of the Rysar should completely contrast that of Karlut. Their hard-surface, neo-futuristic sheen should stand out from the overtly organic landforms they navigate and terraform for their own gain. This key art showcases a Rysar fighter cruising during a leviathan storm, to which in response to the beast's resurgence, the surrounding area is blotted and shadowed by elemental storms.

To emphasise the speed and aggression of the Rysar, the weapons and engines build the bulk of the fighter's silhouettes. Rysar sacrifice versatility for overwhelming firepower, focusing their strengths on frontal assaults and hit & run tactics. Compared to before, the Rysar are far fewer in numbers and must fight smartly, but the ferocity of their technology remains unchanged.

Rysar fighter thumbnails. The desired design conveyed a silhouette akin to that of a wobbegong, which are known for prowling the seafloor the same way Rysar's fly low to the surface. The core theme to the design language of Karlut is based on oceanic life and landforms as they are the most unknown, alien aspect of Earth's ecosystems. Karlut, by extension, is that alien aspect applied to an entire planet.

Despite their newly developed role as 'space vikings', the Rysar are ironically one of the most sophisticated races in terms of technology. They rule from a lineage of failed emperors and have repurposed their fleets for covert operations since their initial defeat at the hands of the Pilandrim.

The Rysar of old were porcelain and perfect. The new Rysar are patchwork and prude. In defiance of their old ways, they substitute huge cities for low-rise encampments, the panels of their ships are adorned in scorch marks and tatters, and the shells of their armour are patchwork and often missing parts.

They are extremely focused around practicality to which the designs of their headquarters (above, middle) suggest the function as a global supercomputer to define their communes. The Rysar have a history of wars with AI they designed that are now forever prohibited from usage.

The idea for the Rysar were Lanky, humanoid dogs with huge backpacks to manifest their technology was a favoured direction. The technology they wore were the focal point of their design and were to be seen as more than just an extension of their abilities. The naming conventions for their ranks are based on pirate nomenclature.


A derelict, labyrinthian world starved of light and abandoned by its creators, Senhera, unlike Karlut, is an artificial table world meaning it was created by beings of extraordinary power. During many of the grand cosmic wars, the creators left this world to its people, who are forced to pick up the pieces and finish what their gods could not.

The first key art produced based off the following work. This was to convey the general atmosphere and mood of the world whilst testing the combination of the unfinished terrain and the Senheran architecture all in one frame.

These are the 3d assets I produced (with a little 2d paintover) for a lot of the architectural visualisation of Senhera's cities and natural terrain. The focus is on contrasting the harsh, simple geometry of the unfinished terrain with the elegant and refined architecture of the Senheran locals. A lot of these assets also have a focus on showing the 'inbetween' process where aspects of the blocky terrain undergo terraformation.

Callout for potential floor plans of the Senheran communes utilising light motifs and pillar designs from the previous work. Water or an essence of sort run throughout these structures to potentially power their machines (or saunas :D)

Early during the development phase I intended for this to be a 'table world', where instead of assuming the form of a globe, Senhera is instead a flattened plain as it is a metaphorical workbench for the creators to terraform as they see fit. A combination of bismuth and circuitry were used as visual guidelines for sketching the general terrain

Simple, geometric shapes represent unfinished terrain. These are actually moulds for what would have become vast mountain ranges but never passed the blockout stage, characterised by an underlying crystalline structure and orange, ferrous sand.

Despite being a flat world, there is a lot of verticality to Senhera, which characterises the design language of the native settlements, which take the form of pillar cities. Birdhouses were a consistent visual throughline.

Senhera banners! The sigil represents an eclipse as a metaphor for their world, for it is in a constant sense of gloom.

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