About halfway through A Lion on Heaven there is a scene on an island on the Olympus Stanford Torus in which our heroes and heroines are the victims of a stoutly repulsed tactical assault, carried out using a pair of MH12 Dropships, stolen from Olympus Security.
After writing that scene I found myself wondering if I could translate the clear image of that craft that I had in my mind's eye into a concept image. To that end, I made a sketch, and then went on to produce this:
The MH12 is a transatmospheric spacecraft, intended for police work and for tactical drops from orbit into atmosphere, where it behaves like a VTOL craft. It basically serves the same purpose in the futuristic world of The Glimpse as both the UH-60 Blackhawk utility helicopter and the A-10 Thunderbolt Close Support Aircraft. It has two big variable geometry hybrid engines (rockets which aspirate when in atmosphere) and a complex system of RCS (reaction control system) thrusters for maneuvering both in and out of atmosphere. Yes, it's a spaceship, but it has wings because when it's on a planet it has to be aerodynamic. It's basically a military spaceplane, in contrast to the civilian liner at the beginning of the book.
The basic process of this image is as follows. I've simplified a few stages--especially the overpainting, which took forever.
First, the pencil sketch:
This was drawn quickly on an 8X11 piece of printer paper. It was heavily influenced by the Marine Dropship from Aliens, the Alien Dropship from District 9, the V-22 Osprey, and this vehicle called the Storm Class, which I've been working on for a TV project for a friend:
The next stage was to create areas of dark and light. This was as simple as blocking them out in photoshop over the scanned sketch:
From there, I knew I wanted a digital camouflage scheme, so, using the 'distort' tool, I laid out a digicam pattern roughly over the surfaces of the ship:
Then, I used the 'multiply' layer setting to assign some values to the digicam:
Hours and hours of overpainting with my tablet later, I had this, the final product: