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A HOUSE ON THERRA
Huddleston does stuff.
Hey everyone, Mike Huddleston here. One of the things that excited me about this new format was the ability to share process info pretty much in real time. So with that in mind I wanted to do a walk-through on how the design of the family home came together.
Here we go...
The initial description of the house was that it was home to our family of adventurers, it was remote, and we needed to see it in two different time periods.
Also the owner of this house is a man of science and extreme rationality.
Anytime you're designing a concept you're telling a story, and this house has a few things it needs to do:
1) The house needs to reflect the character of whoever lives there. 2) It needs to show how the occupant's fortunes have changed over time, and...
3) As the first image shown of this new world, it needs to be both welcoming and intriguing for readers.
Eventually I settled on the idea of the house being built inside a huge meteor, set on a desert lake.
A desert lake is remote, and easily sets up the changes we want in the environment: one era the house is set in a lush oasis, another, a lifeless desert.
The other thing I try to do when creating concepts is visually suggest as many story ideas as I can, and this is something I hoped to do with the meteor. Why is this house built here? Where is this meteor from? Does the meteoric rock have any special properties? Suggest a compound built throughout the rock, as well as large alien looking caves and hopefully you've made something that inspires new story ideas.
STRUCTURE + STYLE
The house itself is based on Mid-century modern architecture. If I imagine a scientist having a remote hideout I immediately think of 60's Bond villains or Dr. Quest from Johnny Quest and that era's architecture is integral to that imagery.
I think the geometric structure also helps communicate the rationality of the inhabitants and even though this is an alien world, hopefully it feels familiar enough for the reader to imagine themselves in this location.
This wasn't part of the description but I imagined our hero scientist could have a small campus of desert buildings to conduct his covert science.
So I added a tram connecting the house to an observatory, a launch platform and a mysterious laboratory. They could be constructed from material excavated from the meteor. Who knows? I also thought as our hero's experiments become more exotic you see the geometry in those structures become more complicated and fractured.
These locations may never make it into a story but hopefully they suggest a history and narrative just by being there.
Once the team approved of this direction it was time to start fleshing this out visually.
A second pass had a better level of finish and mood but the design felt too flat. Yes it was a house built into a rock but it didn't make a statement of any kind. I think I was trying to normalize this location too much and not leaning into the idea that it was our gateway to an exciting alien world.
After a conversation with the guys, I revamped the meteor. I added more details and alien shapes and stuff I just thought looked cool.
That pass seemed to do the trick and here we've finally arrived at the family's desert home.
All right, that’s a look at how we got from idea to finished design. I’d love to hear your comments below and I’m happy to answer any process questions you might have.