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About Traditional Art / Hobbyist Premium Member Emily Holland24/Female/United States Group :iconhuman-spaceflight: Human-Spaceflight
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Emily Holland
Artist | Hobbyist | Traditional Art
United States
UC Davis - Animal Science
Media: pencil, sculpture, watercolor, oils, acrylic, diorama, pen
Subjects: scifi, nature, worldbuilding, fanart

I write science fiction on the side:


Beagle by Malicious-Monkey

“When Gregor van der Berg and his team tapped into a natural gas reserve on Mars in 2057, the world collectively scrambled to find the source of this unexpected find. Over the next two decades, the International Martian Research Station was established and manned in the Hypanis Vallis region. It wasn’t long before IMRS unearthed fossilized microbial life. The discovery of extinct extraterrestrials precipitated a renewed interest in the search for life outside the Solar System.

“Six space agencies and two private companies cooperated to send out high-velocity interstellar probes to twelve nearby terrestrial planets, each one a promising candidate for life. Three of the Beagle probes, as they were called, went silent before reaching their destinations. Each of the remaining nine zoomed past their assigned planets, furiously gathering data all the while. As the 21st century came to a close, the first messages from the Barnard system reached Earth.

“The discoveries were astounding! The first satellite images from Barnard’s fourth planet revealed oceans and continents, dusted red-violet with flourishing plant life. The atmosphere was toxic to humans but rich in gasses common to Earth. The planet’s natural features, along with its tidally locked state, engendered an array of familiar biomes: tundra, rainforest, desert, and prairie among them, along with a few that didn’t fit the profile of any know biomes. Strong currents in the air and the seas moderated the climate and, most importantly, prevented the atmosphere from freezing on the dark side. The planet was given the proper name Ilion after the ancient city of Troy. In keeping with the ancient civilization theme, the other planets became Avaris, Tel Kabri, Ur, Vaishali, Heracleion Yingchang, Pompeii, and Cahokia.” 

– Excerpt from The Other Red Planet: A history of the Odyssey program by Raya Andiyar-Mistry, Sergei Dotsenko,, and Johan R. Boscaro

From smallest to largest:

Size (Earth radii)
Mass (Earth masses)
Surface gravity (g)

Tel Kabri
Beagle 1
0.5 r(E)
0.2 m(E)
0.8 g
Beagle 1 vanished shortly before the flyby but managed to capture several blurry photos of Tel Kabri and collect some preliminary data. Tel Kabri is tantalizingly Earthlike though much smaller, and many theorize that the probe was shot down.

(full resolution)

Beagle 8
0.6 r(E)
0.3 m(E)
1.6 g
Little was known about Ur at the time the probes were disseminated. As exoplanet detection technologies improved, it became clear that Ur had experienced a runaway greenhouse effect and was uninhabitable. Oblivious, Beagle 8 soldiered on.

Beagle 3
0.8 r(E)
0.9 m(E)
1.4 g
Beagle 3 reached its target only to find that Cahokia was little more than a rock. The team’s astrobiologists were disappointed. The astrogeologists were not. The probes were programmed to position themselves between the planet and its star, but Beagle 3 suffered an anomaly that forced it to veer off course.

Beagle 11
1.0 r(E)
0.9 m(E)
0.9 g
Probes 11 and 12 journeyed together to Barnard’s Star, where two promising planets had been detected. Beagle 11 split off from its sister and changed course to fly past Avaris, which turned out to be a dud.

Beagle 6
1.0 r(E)
1.1 m(E)
1.1 g
Avaris was not the only Earth-sized planet to fail to pan out. Vaishali, like Ilion, is tidally locked and rimmed with ice. The ice, however, is not made of water but frozen gasses, and the planet is much too cold to support life.

For comparison

Beagle 12
1.3 r(E)
2.0 m(E)
1.2 g
As one of the last to reach its destination, Beagle 12 was under a good deal of pressure to find life. And find life, it did. The probes were outfitted with instruments sensitive to biosignatures, but Beagle 12 didn’t need these. Ilion’s biosphere was out in the open, visible to the naked eye from Beagle 12’s (very short-lived) vantage point.

Beagle 4
1.4 r(E)
2.7 m(E)
1.4 g
Beagle 4 was the only probe to successfully sample its planet’s atmosphere. Pompeii’s air is thick with volcanic gasses and the world was deemed habitable to extremophilic life, though no biological activity was confirmed.

Beagle 10
1.6 r(E)
4.0 m(E)
1.6 g
The super-Earth Yingchang was a long shot, but since so little was known about it, it was voted to be included in the program. Yingchang turned out to be a rocky planet with a tenuous atmosphere, not the water world many expected.

Beagle 5
2.2 r(E)
8.9 m(E)
1.8 g
Heracleion was the water world everyone expected. Its mass and radius were measured from Earth, and from that information planetary scientists deduced that it must have an ocean – and a deep one at that. Beagle 5 gathered copious amounts of data but found no biosignatures.

The planets I made in Photoshop using various techniques, mostly spherizing textures and playing around with layer styles and gradients. The textures are sourced from NASA and my own photos of physical objects, including some of my dioramas. Some elements are hand painted, including, I believe, the entirety of Yingchang. I made that one a long time ago so I'm not a hundred percent sure.

If you are a worldbuilder or mapmaker working at a global scale, it can be helpful to have an actual globe to guide you. If your world is an alternate Earth, then you are in luck. You can go to Amazon or troll the thrift stores and garage sales for a cheap globe of the Earth. All done.

For the rest of us, the globe we need cannot be found in any thrift store. So we make our own.

Untitled by Malicious-Monkey

The above is an 8 inch desktop decorative globe I bought at a furniture store. Globes run for about $15-$30 at stores, or cheaper if you can find them used. What you want is a sturdily built globe with no raised relief.

Untitled by Malicious-Monkey

Accuracy is not important. Any out-of-date borders and countries will be slathered over with a couple coats of gesso. Gesso is a type of acrylic paint that creates a toothed surface that can be painted on. You can buy it at any art store in bulk for pretty cheap. It's a good thing to have around.

Untitled by Malicious-Monkey

Next, use a pencil to outline where your continents are going to be.

Untitled by Malicious-Monkey

Fill in the oceans with a base color. This will provide contrast between land and sea, making the next step easier.

Untitled by Malicious-Monkey

For raised relief, use a heavy molding/modeling paste. This is where you will be defining your coastline and texturing the landscape. I would recommend making your coastlines more fractal than this, as mine are too smooth, but it's too late to change that now. Refer to this Cartographer's Guild tutorial for creating realistic coastlines.

Untitled by Malicious-Monkey

Mountains. They can be raised with a touch of the finger, keeping in mind that the paste will shrink as it dries. Exaggerate your peaks and use water to smooth out plains, deserts, and valleys.

Untitled by Malicious-Monkey

After the paste dries, paint the continents with acrylics. My planet has red and black plants, hence the color, but the technique is the same. Refer to tutorials on painting landscapes for getting a realistic color into your lands. Take advantage of the texturing you created earlier. Lightly dry-brush a light gray (not pure white) onto your mountains to add a dusting of snow to the peaks. Dry-brushing is a technique used by modelers to create weathering effects and make things look "dusty." To dry-brush, dip a dry brush in thick paint and wipe off most of it on a towel. With what remains, lightly drag your brush across the raised surface of your mountains in multiple directions. This should be your last step, after you've added all other layers of color.

A wash is sort of the opposite of dry-brushing. Dilute a dark color in water and let it sink into the nooks and crannies of your textured surface. Wipe off the excess with a towel. Dry-brushing makes highlights; washes make shadows.

Untitled by Malicious-Monkey

Now that you have your mountains, decide where your lakes and rivers are going to go. Keep in mind that most rivers won't be visible on the global scale, unless your globe is very large. In the above image you can see that I used natural depressions in the texture to make my lakes. Refer to this tutorial on realistic placement of rivers.

Untitled by Malicious-Monkey

Lastly, paint the ocean. Look at pictures of the Earth from space to get an idea of the range of colors you will be using. Shallows tend to be lighter and greener, while areas with red seaweed and red algae will be brownish. The reddish swirl at the center of my globe represents a thick layer of vegetation, "plantbergs" of sorts, in case you were wondering.

Sea Ice by Malicious-Monkey

Sea ice. It's bluer than snowpacked land, which I exaggerated here to make the continents more visible. Most of you will be placing the ice at the poles, obviously. This is a tidally locked planet, so an entire side is hidden away from the sun and therefore very cold. Determine your world's weather patterns and sea currents before painting in the ice.

That's it! A globe is very handy to reference when making maps of your world. Plus, it'll look nice on your desk.

Ilion: A Global Perspective by Malicious-Monkey
  • Listening to: Eluveitie
  • Reading: Red Mars
  • Watching: Star Trek TNG
  • Eating: Two watermelons a week. It's hot!
  • Drinking: Who needs to drink when you have watermelon?
Here's the final result of my glacial ice effect experiment. Since I've got multiple pics and don't feel like making a montage, I decided to just make a journal instead.

Looks kinda "meh" from above

Untitled by Malicious-Monkey

But put some light behind it and

Untitled by Malicious-Monkey

Yinyang by Malicious-Monkey

With Man by Malicious-Monkey

Untitled by Malicious-Monkey

Untitled by Malicious-Monkey

...Yeah, I like this.

Time to go buy 10 pounds of wax.


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AlexanderCrW Featured By Owner Jun 6, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Gratitude for the fav!
d-slim Featured By Owner May 7, 2015
Thanks for favoriting Samus!

Check out the latest on my cosplay work on my FB!
MarSchons Featured By Owner Apr 14, 2015  Student Traditional Artist
Thanks for the watch, I'm so honored!
WillWorks Featured By Owner Mar 21, 2015   General Artist
Thanks for the :+devwatch:
Rodlox Featured By Owner Mar 21, 2015
a very happy birthday to you!
ZoPteryx Featured By Owner Mar 20, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Happy Birthday! I am a dummy! 
Dragontunders Featured By Owner Mar 20, 2015  Hobbyist
happy birthday 1st Emoticon: Happy Birthday 
WTek79 Featured By Owner Mar 20, 2015  Hobbyist Photographer
An excellent birthday to you !! :dummy:
Jakeukalane Featured By Owner Mar 20, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
happy birthday! :) (Smile)
WatcherInThePuddle Featured By Owner Mar 20, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Happy Birthday you amazing person you :ihavecaek: 
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