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Art Biography

As I start to write this section, I've been raytracing scenes and images for twenty years (as of August 2013). I can remember quite clearly how I got started; I had been writing picture demos on the now defunct Atari ST for a while and I wanted a way to create some new images that I could add to the demos. On a previous issue of ST Format magazine, there was a copy of QRT (Quick RayTracer) so I set it up on a couple of blank floppies and rendered the example images. Very nice I thought... but I wanted to do more. The next issue of ST Format provided the answer - a copy of POV-Ray for the ST along with a competition for the best images and a prize. This provided sufficient inspiration for me to learn the POV 1.0 language and start 'tracing. I sent an entry for the competion and though it didn't win, my image was still published in ST Format.

Over the following years I've won another competition in Atari World magazine, came highly ranked in some of the early IRTC competitions (top 12%) and created artwork for two audio CD's which have been published. My main focus these days is a little bit less on the surreal side of scenes and more on the spacecraft modeling (around the TTA background that can be found in other areas of the website) and producing artwork for Traveller RPG books for small publishers.

Digital Waterfalls

Digital Waterfalls (or DW for short) came about when I met up with an old college friend Dave Bennett and introduced him to raytracing in the summer of 1993. Between us after a year, we started to knock out some images and needed somewhere to show them off. At the time, I was registered on a BBS called Raytech and various people and groups showed off their scenes created with a variety of programs such as POV, QRT, Vivid and Lightwave. We needed a name for our little 'group' so I came up with 'Digital Waterfalls'. After Dave had asked me what drugs I had been taking (none, I should add!) to come up with such a title, we abandoned Raytech after a while when we finally got access to the internet and set up the first DW gallery in the summer of 1996.

Our galleries went through various incarnations until Dave decided to get his own domain name (2Surreal.com) and focus more on the web design side of things as a showcase for his images, whereas I stuck with plain 'old simple HTML and more on producing raytraced images. The two websites (2S and DW) are still linked as you will no doubt see and Dave and I still collaborate on projects, but the change in emphasis with the two sites allows us to concentrate on our preferred methods of displaying our galleries.

The Terran Trade Authority

Like other people who are fans and have obtained these books, I was bought the first in the series 'Spacecraft 2000-2100AD' when I was about nine years old by my parents. The books were colourful and had a compelling background to the scenes. My brother and I spent hours re-drawing the images from the books and designing our own and gained further inspiration from the next books in the series; 'Great Space Battles' and 'SpaceWreck', of which I still have, though the first book is looking a little worn now! My brother had the fourth book 'Starliners' bought him - I eventually tracked my own copy down around twenty-five years later which cost about 10 times the original price! The books and artwork have provided a constant inspiration for designing spacecraft and futuristic scenes of my own. As my raytracing skills have got better, I've turned them more towards re-creating and expanding the original content of the TTA books which I hope to continue to so in the future. A number of books, the 'Galactic Encounters' series by Steven Caldwell (aka Stewart Cowley) also provide some expanded background to the TTA books but the quality of artwork isn't as consistently good as the original TTA books. However, I would still recommend obtaining these books if you wish to complete your collection.

Traveller RPG
I'd also been into the Traveller RPG game off and on over the years (starting with collecting the Citadel Miniatures boxed sets with the fantastic Jim Burns artwork on the lid in August 1983) and have started to utilise a lot of the models I've made for the TTA side, in my Traveller scenes. A number of models I've also produced exclusively for the Traveller RPG side, which have been used by Gypsy Knights Games.

Hardware and Software

I originally started on an Atari ST, using Cyber Sculpt and conversion utilities to get the models into POVRay. Over the years I've gone through lots of diffrent hardware such as a 1Mb Atart ST, through a 386SX 20MHz and Pentium PC's, to arrive at my current setup:-

2.2GHz Intel Core i5 laptop, 16Gb RAM, 500Gb hard disk.

1.6GHz Intel Atom N450 netbook, 2Gb RAM, 160Gb hard disk.

1GHz BeagleBone Black SOC computer, 512Mb RAM, 32Gb MicroSD card.

Software - POV-Ray v3.7, DAZ Bryce 7.1, AC3D 7.011, Lunar Cell Pro, Ultrafractal 2.05, Spiraliser 1.2, BioWin 1.0, LParser 4, Photoshop 5.5 and Paint Shop Pro 4.1 and various conversion utilities I've collected over the years.

Inspirations

I'm a big fan of the work by Peter Elson - his artwork in the TTA books 'Great Space Battles, Starliners and SpaceWreck' along with his collaboration with Chris Moore in 'Parallel Lines' really kicked off my interest in sci-fi artwork and there haven't really been any books published like them since the late 1970's and early 1980's. I also admire the work by Chris Moore, Tony Roberts, Bob Layzell, Angus McKie, Chris Foss and Fred Gambino - links to some of these artists can be found in the 'Links' section. My art style is largely based on the colourful designs of Peter Elson and I'm always looking up Peters official site for new, previously unseen images for additional inspiration.

Where to now?

I'm continuing to develop my skills in AC3D and Bryce and building more into the TTA background that is used for some of my scenes and producing more artwork for the Traveller RPG. I've finally fulfilled an ambition by producing some artwork for Gypsy Knights Games and Zozer Games (see the links page for more info) which I'm thoroughly enjoying doing and getting it into print (see image below). Though I don't get to work on my digital art as much as I used to (real-world commitments), I still try and maintain the website and upload new images as and when I can. I've also got a Traveller RPG blog which is regulary updated, at 'Alegis Downport' where I review products, write some ideas to do with Traveller RPG gaming and other related news. This is gradually gaining popularity and is creating more art commission opportunities for me.

Thanks for visiting, hope you've found it worthwhile... Steve, May 2014


Last updated December 2015
All images © S. Attwood / Digital Waterfalls
Book covers are © their respective owners
Images may not be reproduced without permission