The Silent – Spacecraft Language

Dec 3, 2023


Reading Time: 2 minutes

03 Dec 2023

iagt sketchbook 13 august d

Probably every designer will tell you they have a language they fall back on, kinda like their default. In some circles that might be called a trope but I think when it comes to design, that’s not the right word as one’s ‘language’ is something that’s developed over a long time and is usually a personal thing. Design languages are also developed by teams to create themes, or a ‘look’, that gave coherence for a given market, or in a case like this, ‘universe’.

iagt sketchbook 13 august c

Working on what’s evolved into The Silent’s universe for as long as I have been, I found that the best ideas float to the top over time, which is exactly what’s been happening here. I’ve been doodling spacecraft designs for 6 odd years now and over that time I have gone through a lot of different ideas and forms. What’s become apparent is that there are a few different languages that keep repeating, effectively rising to the top. Normally, this wold be an issue, as you ideally want only one, but where The Silent timeline is spread over a wide time span, a number of languages works well, as I can assign them to different time periods.

Most interestingly though, when I look back through the various pages of doodles, there is a kind of soft continuity between the languages, certain elements carry though they may seem quite different. That’s important to me, as it helps to express a thought process or a technology that might be applied at a societal level. The problem I see with a lot of current visual science fiction is often what is expressed is ‘our’ current collective thinking and not, bar the few exceptions, an attempt to represent something from a civilisation vastly different from our own. I find that disappointing and in many ways why, for example, while the execution was magnificent, Villeneuve‘s Dune is quite the let down visually.

I want the spacecraft in The Silent to be foreign and difficult to understand. That might make it challenging for some and in turn unpopular, where things that are easy to relate to are more digestible, but I want to do something that I can look at and say I did not compromise…


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