Learning Photoshop: Asteroids

Sometimes, you’re just in the mood to destroy all life on a planet.  Now, you could go with a bomb, you could go with a plague, but let’s face it.  Nothing quite satisfies the urge like a classic ‘rocks fall, everyone dies’.  So, I’m using this tutorial.

My results?


I could stand to clean up my dust trails a bit, and maybe add some fire on the front.  Or duct tape a little screaming person on the front, that works too.


Bringal System

The Bringal system is unusual.  Unusual enough that some suspect the system to have been manufactured in some way.

A massive gas giant orbits near the sun, known as a ‘hot Jupiter’.  This itself isn’t what makes the system unusual.  The first thing that makes the system unusual is that the gas giant is inhabited.  The inhabitants, known colloquially as ‘star whales’ are massive, semi-draconic life forms.  Little is known about them save that they are clearly of high intelligence and appear to have several life stages.  During at least one of their life stages, they are capable of not just surviving but actively thriving in vacuum.  From time to time ships encounter them swimming in the far reaches of space.

It is possible Bringal is not their home system, but merely a colony.  If that is the case, then their origins are entirely unknown.  They are, however, not the only odd thing about the Bringal system.  The gas giant itself hosts no fewer than four inhabitable moons.  Additionally, on the other edge of the habitable zone are two more habitable planets, with the smaller one orbiting the larger.

Furthermore, examination of the life forms found on these planets would indicate that they are not native to the system themselves.  It is theorized that for reasons of their own, the star whales built the system and used it to house life forms collected from other worlds.  Some think that the Bringal system is the star whale equivalent of a zoo, while others think that the star whales may have been collecting species that would otherwise have died out or been destroyed.

Thus far, the star whales have not shown overt signs of hostility.  However, if threatened, they have proved capable of destroying warships with very little effort.  They seem willing to allow ships into the system as long as the ships do not engage in hostility themselves.  As such, the Bringal system serves as an effective neutral zone.  Unfortunately, it also serves pirates as a safe haven, though it is worth noting that particularly vicious pirates that try to use the system as a refuge often simply vanish.  Perhaps the star whales handle the matter themselves?

Photoshop: Back into Space

Being that my upcoming NaNoWriMo project is science fiction, I decided to head back into outer space for a while.  This time, I went with this tutorial.

My results?

I have to say, that is probably the best nebula I’ve created thus far.  Not overly pleased with the lens flare, but eh, good enough and easily adjustable.  I didn’t use the texture provided in the tutorial, as it didn’t suit the desert planet look I was going for.  This will be the world of Laatstehoop, one of the lost human colonies.  The Dutch pilot who managed the barely controlled landing of the colony ship on this world dubbed it their ‘final hope’.

A Habitable, Terrestrial World

The dominant race is going to arise with the S-type star system I created earlier.   The planet in question will be a bit larger than Earth, and possess a higher but still human-tolerable gravity.  It’s less dense than earth, however, which implies that it either has less iron or more water / ice in its makeup.

It will be orbiting the primary star of the system, and as I calculated earlier, it will be orbiting a star 1.2 times the mass of ours at 1.59 AU.  That puts it at the fifth rock from the sun, assuming I decide to use all the orbits.

Property Calculation Full Calculation Unit
Radius 1.49 9,492.790 Kilometers
Mass 3 1.792E+25 Kilograms
Gravity 1.351 13.252 Meters/Second^2
Density 0.907 4.671 Grams/Centimeter^3
Escape Velocity 1.419 15.892 Kilometers/Second
Circumference 9.362 59,644.959 Kilometers
Surface Area 27.899 1.13E+09 Kilometers^2
Volume 13.856 3.58E+12 Kilometers^3

As you can see, that 50% increase in the planet’s radius gave us a much bigger surface to work with than is possessed by Earth, even if we do dedicate a lot of that to oceans.

All we know about the planet at this point is that it’s big and wet.  Yay?  However, we can extrapolate a few things.  This is the home planet of our dominant race, thus it will have possessed resources sufficient to have developed a space-faring culture.  The world will be very highly developed, perhaps at this point in its history it is getting low on natural resources and must import.  Or perhaps the culture upon it strives to preserve its homeworld, and thus conducts most of dirty industry on bases on the neighboring planets or its moon.

Speaking of which, since this is a stable, habitable planet, it needs a moon.  Rings would be cool, but rings make heading into space difficult.  A single large moon will be sufficient.  However, I’m going to make this moon different from Earth’s by messing with its makeup a bit.  It has a solid iron core, but much like it’s planet, it also has a lot of water for a moon.  Thus, it is actually slightly less dense than its host.

Composition Percent Density Calculation Unit
Silicate Rock 70% 3.25               2.28 g/cm^3
Water Ice 12% 0.93               0.11 g/cm^3
Iron 18% 7.87               1.42 g/cm^3
Total               3.80 g/cm^3

For the record, the moon has about 70% the density of Earth, and the planet about 90%.   It’s a good sized moon, bigger than our own and possessing a higher gravity.  As the moon does have a lot of water, it will also look different in the sky.  It may even have a bit of atmosphere.

Property Calculation Unit
Mass 0.020 Earth Mass
Radius 0.300 Earth Radius
Gravity 0.222

Time to figure out the orbit of our moon.   We need the sun’s mass (1.21 solar masses) and the planet’s mass (3 earth masses) as well as the semi-major axis of the planet’s orbit (1.59 AU).  With those numbers, we can calculate the Hill Sphere and the Roche Limit.  Drop in on Artifexian if you need an explanation for those numbers.

Hill Sphere 505.72
Roche Limit 2.25

So the moon must orbit between 2.25 and 505.72 planetary radii from the planet.  I’ll also need to know the inclination and the eccentricity.   I want the orbit fairly circular, so I’m going with a low eccentricity.  Since I also want the moon to stay near the equator, I’m going with a small incline.  Yes, boring.

Orbit 112 Earth Radius
Inclination 2 Degrees
Eccentricity 0.002
Orbital Period 40.11

However, this gives us fairly close to a nice, even, 40 day orbit.  Perhaps 40 is a superstitious number then, to this race.  I’m going to do some work on the planet’s orbit while I’m here.  I am leaving out some data because it isn’t as important and is somewhat arbitrary.

Property Calculation Value Notes
Mass 3.00 Solar Mass (in Solar Masses)
Semi-Major Axis 1.59
Eccentricity 0.03
Orbital Period 1.16 422.50 Earth days
Orbital Velocity 1.37 40.91 kilometers/second
Inclination 0.02
Axial Tilt 20.00
Tropic 20.00
Arctic 70.00

The eccentricity makes the orbit around the sun closer to the circular side, and the low axial tilt also serves to make the planet’s seasons stable.  These guys have it pretty good.

S-Type Binary Star System

A P-type binary star system has two stars that orbit close to each other, and the system orbits around that.  An S-type system, on the other hand, is two stars that orbit at some distance from each other, and thus may each have their own system.  I’m going to place such a system in my world, each with it’s own set of planets.

Unlike in the P-type system, where you calculate the stars as though they were one entity, in the S-type you treat them separately.  Thus, my results:

Primary Star Secondary Star
Property Calculation Calculation
Mass 1.21 0.75
Luminosity 1.95 0.37
Diameter 0.90 0.56
Surface Temperature 1.10 0.86
Lifetime 0.62 2.05
Distance to Barycenter 153.06 246.94
Eccentricity 0.40 0.50
Maximum Separation from Barycenter 560.00 600.00
Minimum Separation from Barycenter 240.00 200.00
Maximum Separation 1,160.00
Minimum Separation 440.00
Inner Limit 0.12 0.08
Outer Limit 48.40 30.00
Frost Line 6.77 2.93
Habitable Zone 1.40 0.60
Minimum Habitable Zone 1.33 0.57
Maximum Habitable Zone 1.91 0.83
Forbidden Zone Edge 146.67

The forbidden zone edge is important.  The outer limits of each system need to fall well inside the forbidden zone to prevent the stars from interfering in each other’s system.  Looks like we are good there, with stars still close enough to be significant in each other’s sky.

We can then lay out the first system like so:

Primary System Orbit In Kilometers
Orbit 1 0.17 24928024.98
Orbit 2 0.29 44122604.21
Orbit 3 0.58 86921530.29
Orbit 4 0.86 128643864.8
Habitable Planet 1.59 237991149.9
Orbit 6 2.37 354606813.4
Orbit 7 4.53 677299013.6
Biggest Gas Giant 7.38 1103997392
Orbit 9 12.32 1843675645
Orbit 10 17.87 2673329685
Orbit 11 29.49 4410993980
Orbit 12 47.18 7057590369

And the second system as:

Secondary System Orbit In Kilometers
Orbit 1 0.10 14766732.9
Orbit 2 0.14 21559430.04
Orbit 3 0.20 30614390.66
Orbit 4 0.39 59085773.97
Habitable Planet 0.72 108126966.4
Orbit 6 1.08 161109179.9
Orbit 7 1.76 262607963.2
Biggest Gas Giant 2.93 438555298.6
Orbit 9 5.39 806941749.3
Orbit 10 8.20 1226551459
Orbit 11 16.15 2416306374
Orbit 12 25.36 3793601008

This system is actually going to form the core of the worlds controlled by the dominant system race.  While humans will exist in this setting, they will not be the dominant race and will, in fact, not be native to this section of the galaxy.  The dominant race originated on the habitable planet in the primary system, and later spread through that system and into the secondary system, where they encountered the much less developed race on the habitable planet there and promptly enslaved them.

P-Type Binary Star System

One of the systems in this little section of the universe will be a binary star system.  Why?  Because it’s cool.  Do I need really need more reason than that?  However, this does affect the calculations a bit, and there are now several other factors to consider.  The two suns combine to give off more light, and also interact with each other to create gravitational fluctuations.  There will also be the cultural considerations having twin suns will mean for the inhabitants of this system.

Again, I’m using Artifexian to provide inspiration. Continue reading P-Type Binary Star System

Creating the Universe

There is a science fiction story that has been kicking around in my head for a while.  I’ve created a rough outline, but I’d like to get some of the science part right.  Now, it’s possible none of this will actually be referenced in the book, but having it on hand helps keep me from making dumb mistakes like two planets being too close together, or a planet being outside the habitable zone, so on and so forth.  I intend to set several stories within this universe, thus it behooves me to make it as accurate as possible.  Plus, this gives me something to focus on right now and I kind of need that.

Continue reading Creating the Universe

Learning Photoshop: Day 19 – Progress report

Today is a day to throw everything together and see what we get.  I’ve done a little bit of compositing, focusing on the foreground to make three different images color match and blend together.  To do so, I used layer masks, the clone tool, and a bunch of other shit I’ve picked up from the tutorials thus far.

The background comes from some stuff I did with the space things I learned, but as you can see, I still need to work on learning about lighting and shadows.


Stock from deviant art –


Jurassic Valley

Heaven is a place on earth

Castle Stock 12

And the planet is mine.

Learning Photoshop: Day 7 – Circuit Board

Tried something different, going for more futuristic effects, but avoiding venturing into space again.  Goal was to create a sort of circuit board effect.  I used this tutorial.

Starting image:


My results?


Sort of fun, and I can see some potential there in terms of backgrounds and readouts and the like for use within other images.  At some point, I will apply this technique to a dick pic and insert it into the background of some other work, because I am apparently eight years old.

Silverfish: Chapter 16

Mateo looked surprised to find Anson in his office.  “Anson?”  He frowned.  “Something wrong?”

“I don’t know.”  Anson exhaled.  “Back on Triton, Doc offered to let me leave him and run, then when the tables turned he refused to do the same.  He kept his head in a firefight, and kept his nerve during the escape.”

“Anson…?”  Mateo raised an eyebrow.

“If he’d wanted to betray us, he could have.  He could have left me to the Alliance and returned to the ship with Velik and Adan and you’d never have been the wiser.  He didn’t, and…”  He shrugged.  “And I can’t quite figure that guy out.”

“Explain.”  Mateo folded his arms.

“He clearly doesn’t want to be here, but he’s not making noise about leaving.  He doesn’t do much mingling unless his husband or I drag him into it, yet he seems a friendly enough guy.  He doesn’t like violence or confrontation, but when he decides to stand his ground he doesn’t budge an inch.  He was scared shitless down there and he pushed it aside in a heartbeat when I got hit.  He walked us through heavily armed PeaceKeepers without losing his cool and Captain…”  Anson inhaled.  “I don’t know if he had anything to lose by being caught.”


“Sir, either he is an ice-cold balls of steel liar with an exquisite gift for mimicry and physical deception…”  Anson gave a slow shake of his head.  “Or whoever he used to be, I doubt there is the slightest chance the PeaceKeepers would have dared to lay a hand after establishing his ID.”

“You think he’s an actual noble?”  Mateo nodded, then played back the previous conversation he’d had with the doctor.  The man was young for the amount of skill he showed in the infirmary.  The upper crust got access to the best education and training.  Anson’s conclusion fit, and…  “He didn’t exactly deny that when I spoke to him.”

“Captain…”  Anson rubbed the back of his neck.  “There is a risk if we take him back with us and someone does run a proper ID on him, he’d be in more danger from our side than he was from those PeaceKeepers.”

“Yeah…”  Mateo slowly nodded.  And yet he still couldn’t afford to let the man go safely about his way.  “Yea, I see your point.  Can you fix that?”

“Yes.”  Anson shrugged.  “Sir, it would be easier if we made him part of the crew officially.  That way anyone inclined to take a casual look would assume he’s already been vetted.”

“Let me think about it.”  Mateo nodded.

Continue reading Silverfish: Chapter 16

Silverfish: Chapter 15

The chronometer chimed a third time before Kyle finally let him out of the bed.  Julian staggered a bit as he rose, and had to catch himself on the wall.  Kyle’s ‘discipline’ of the previous evening had left deep bruises.  He exhaled before reaching for his small healing kit.  “What are you doing?”  Julian froze at the sound of Kyle’s voice.

“I have a shift in the infirmary today, Kyle.”  He turned toward the man.  “I will need to be functional to undertake my duties.”

“Yeah, alright.”  Kyle nodded before climbing out of the bed.  “You can uh…” He gestured to the healing kit before catching Julian by the back of the neck and pulling him forward for a kiss.  “I love you.  I don’t want anything bad to happen to you.”

“I know, Kyle.”  He made himself smile and stroke his fingers through Kyle’s hair.  “I love you too.  I am sorry I did not tell you earlier.”

“It’s alright, Jakob.  Just be more careful.”  Kyle smiled at him.  “I can’t protect you if you don’t do what I tell you.”

“Yes, Kyle.”  Julian nodded before turning and injecting himself with the nanites.  It was strange to realize it had been almost a month since the last time he’d used them.  Still, they did the trick.  A few moments later, the dull throb from the beating had faded.

He headed into the refresher unit, only for Kyle to follow him.  The big man pressed him back against the wall, kissing him as the hot water poured over them both.  Julian put his arms around Kyle’s neck, letting the other man lift him slightly before shifting to put his legs around Kyle’s waist.  Kyle groaned as he claimed Julian’s body again, lowering his head to nuzzle Julian’s neck and shoulder.  Knowing what Kyle liked and expected, Julian moaned in response, arching his back to allow Kyle to drive deeper into him.

Kyle braced himself on the wall so as not to stumble when he came a few minutes later.  He set Julian down before pressing another kiss to him.  “CSO wants me to run through some simulations after my shift, fix some of the holes in my training.  Shouldn’t take me more than a couple hours.”

“I will see you then.”  Julian stood up on tiptoes to kiss him again before going to get dressed.

Continue reading Silverfish: Chapter 15

Silverfish: Chapter 14

“We don’t have a choice.”  Mateo sighed.  “Without fuel and supplies, we won’t make it past the blockade.  Triton is probably our best bet.  It’s a neutral planet, with enough clout that the Alliance at least pays lip service to respecting its stance.”

“Which is exactly why the Alliance will be looking hard at it, watching all traffic in and out.  They’d be waiting…”  Anson trailed off, then suddenly brightened.  “Actually, sir, it won’t be a problem at all.”

“You…”  Mateo blinked at him.  “Changed your mind rather quickly.”

“We have a civilian shuttle, sir, one not tied at all to the Onager.”  Anson smiled.

“The doc’s shuttle.”  Mateo nodded in realization.

“I may take Doc with me on the supply run.  I don’t know what he needs to stock up on, and I’ll have no way to radio availability back to him.”  Anson took a deep breath, then met Mateo’s eyes.  “I suggest leaving his husband behind for this mission.”

“Right.”  Mateo nodded.  “Make sure the doc actually returns with you.”

Continue reading Silverfish: Chapter 14

Silverfish: Chapter 13

The captain checked in on him midway through his first day as a Palindor medical officer.  “How are you settling in there, Doc?”

Julian looked around the infirmary.  Despite the damage the ship had suffered, the equipment was in good repair, and was of fairly good quality.  “Some of the equipment is different than I used previously, however I should be able to adapt.”  He frowned, then indicated a particular machine.  “I am concerned about your anti-viral unit.”

“Yeah, it’s pretty much a relic.”  Captain Mateo sighed.  “We’re mostly operating on prayer when it comes to that.”

“Actually, it is a decent unit, it has simply been misaligned.”  Julian gestured to the display.  It hadn’t taken long to figure out the problem.  School lab equipment often had similar issues, as things were broken and jury-rigged until they could be replaced.  Some such repairs, however, were better than others.  “The control unit was meant for a different model, and cannot calibrate the current unit correctly without modification.”  He looked up at the Captain.  “Does this ship have an agricultural scanner?”

“Yeah, I think.”  He frowned.  “You’d have to check with Dougal to be sure.  Why?”

“I can use the sensory unit from that to communicate the feedback correctly to the control unit.  That should take care of the issue until the opportunity to get the correct model presents itself.”  He shrugged, and pointed at where a woman was organizing items for him.  “One of your crew, Jenna, performed admirably as an assistant during the previous crisis.  With your permission, I would like to provide her with additional training to facilitate her ability to function as an emergency medic.

“Doc…”  Captain Mateo chuckled, then clapped his shoulder again.  Since he’d seen the movement coming, he managed to cringe away from the touch.  “Tell your husband to give you a big kiss from me, alright?”

Continue reading Silverfish: Chapter 13

Silverfish: Chapter 12

Julian leaned against the wall, and took a deep breath.  He felt a hand on his shoulder and opened his eyes expecting to see Kyle.  Captain Mateo stood there instead.  The captain’s green eyes were looking at him with concern.  “You alright there, Doctor Narel?”

“I believe everyone is either stable or…”  He glanced at where three men were laying near the back.  He wasn’t sure how the captain was going to take the news he was about to give, but lying would be a worse option.  Better to offer no hope than to rip hope away.  A lesson he was learning all too well.  “I am sorry, Captain.  They received lethal doses.  Even if we had a full medical facility, all we could do would be make them comfortable.”

Mateo swallowed, then nodded.  “How long?”

“I would estimate no more than a couple hours.”  Julian observed the captain.  The man’s eyes were wet as he looked at his dying crewmembers.

“Time enough for them to say some goodbyes.”  He sighed.

“Several of the patients still need considerable medical care.”  Julian glanced down at the datapad.  “They are stable for now, and you should have time to get them to a medical facility.”

“And if I can’t?”  Mateo’s voice was quiet.

“Pardon?”  Julian raised an eyebrow.

“Guessing you haven’t looked at the newscasts recently.”  Mateo sighed.  “We got hit, bad, and we are currently on the wrong side of a blockade.  We can’t fight our way through, so we either have to hold tight while our people send reinforcements to retake the territory, or take the long way to get past the Alliance ships.”

He was…  “That is…”  He was in Alliance space.  Right now, at this moment, he was in Alliance space.  Surrounded by Alliance forces.  On a Palindor warship.  “Unfortunate.”


Revealing his identity would give Mateo a bargaining chip to get his injured people to safety.  And yet he had no idea what kind of man Mateo was, nor what could happen if he put himself at the captain’s mercy.  The man had just lost a considerable number of his crew to Alliance forces, and was about to lose three more.  He wasn’t sure that was the kind of thing anybody took well.  He swallowed.  “Your equipment can be modified to handle cybernetics, though I will require assistance from those more skilled at engineering.  Delicate work must wait, however we should have sufficient resources to solve the life-threatening matters.  I…”  He caught himself stifling a yawn.  “May need some sleep before I can begin.”

“Right.”  Mateo nodded before patting his shoulder.  “I had quarters arranged.  I’ll grab your husband and he can take you.”

His… Oh.  Kyle.

Continue reading Silverfish: Chapter 12

Silverfish: Chapter 11

Kyle looked over the inventory list.  Maelon wouldn’t have the best price for the stolen items, but they could stop at Halivar first.  He should be able to get a good deal there, and then they could hit Maelon in style.  The ident cards he’d acquired would hold up under most scrutiny, especially since the newscasts were reporting the destruction of the Silverfish.  Nobody would be looking for Julian anymore, and it wasn’t like anybody actually had an accurate roster of the crew anyway.  They were safe and free.

He was settling back with a smile when an alarm in the cockpit started beeping.  “Oh.”  He stared at it.  “Shit.”

Continue reading Silverfish: Chapter 11