Floating City · Imaging and Data Visualisation

Floating City – Second Concept

As a team we came together to discuss and finalise an overall motif for our world in order to create more concepts for our floating city, this being the idea of creating a city that looks like a safe haven at first, but is suffering under the hands of a possible corrupted government. With Belfast being the main theme of our floating city concept, we wanted to play on the idea of the segregation in society as a cause of the ‘Troubles’, which of course has shown immediate progress over the years. However due to some extensive research into statistics in Belfast, there is quite a problem regarding violence and crime within society today, something that can’t simply be ignored.

We wanted our city to be well informed by the statistics we researched more so than have them as just an extension of our concept with no real meaning behind the numbers. For example the saddening rise of domestic abuse in Northern Ireland for both males and females or the rise of the population within our prisons. There was also the idea of including famous landmarks from Belfast within our concepts, that way we could gain first hand imagery of these objects to help us gain some reference when developing our city in Maya.

In playing on our idea of corrupt city I wanted to design a city based on the trope ‘a city under surveillance,’ hence why the initial design I created was based on the anatomy of the human eye. I wanted to attempt some research as to how the eye works so I could figure out how to incorporate these ideals into my designs and how to animate it. Mainly because with my lack of experience in animating, an eyeball seems like a fun model to attempt.

Image – http://www.physicsclassroom.com/class/refrn/Lesson-6/The-Anatomy-of-the-Eye

One interesting aspect I found out about the eye was how the pupil opening can be adjusted by the dilation of the iris and in correlation with the lighting. If we decide to go with the idea of making our floating city resemble an eyeball, this would mean we could include an animation of the pupils growing and shrinking depending on the environment. (Classroom, 1996)

This was the inspiration for one of the first concepts I had roughed up with the idea that if you changed the camera’s perspective on the city, it would appear as a giant eyeball. Still playing on the ‘city under surveillance’ motif.


Image – Initial concepts in my sketchbook

This relates back to my initial research on the planet of “Solaris” (1972), and how the planet kept constant watch of the scientists on earth before making contact with those who were sent to investigate the planet’s existence. The idea of even making the floating city sentient also played in the back of my mind, much like how to eyeball is an organic feature of the human body, another sentient life form.

Image – Solaris (1972) – http://static.rogerebert.com/uploads/movie/movie_poster/solaris-1972/large_zi5yDhFHZunAlv6bVo6NbmL3xp.jpg

I really liked the idea of using designs that reflect the sci-fi genre of the 1970’s in homage to my main inspiration “Solaris” (1972) especially regarding the eye catching colour schemes and great attention to detail. For example the breath taking works of artist Bob Layzell I felt fit the idea of a design that looks beautiful on the outside, but is surrounded by decay, a possible metaphor for our corrupted city.

The City Crumbles by Bob Layzell Illustration by Bob Layzell:

( Left – The City Crumbles – Bob Layzell -http://sciencefictiongallery.tumblr.com/post/31689515930/the-city-crumbles-by-bob-layzell

Right – Spacecraft 2000 to 2100 AD – Bob Layzell – https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/89/41/b6/8941b66b422eb47d642f7f71cfc843a4.jpg )

Another artist who’s works I fell in love that inspired my designs and ideas in a similar fashion to Bob Layzell was, Angus McKie. He is a very well known figure as a colourist in the comic industry and creates highly detailed and structured designs under the back drop of bright colours in order to create a surrealist effect.

Left – Angus McKie – http://www.gavinrothery.com/my-blog/2012/6/27/angus-mckie.html

Right – Angus McKie- Heavy Metal (1981) https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/e1/79/27/e179273a885c675fbf898b588fe5e6ba.jpg

From these inspirations I created my own concept based on the works of these artists and from the designs I had developed in my sketchbook, one of the main influences I gained from looking at the previous artists was their strong use of colour. Not only do we want the floating city to stand out as a structure all on it’s own, but colour can really help us set the mood for what type of dystopian environment we want it to be. Referring back to Molly’s research into wind turbines and renewable energy, I attempted to incorporate these mechanics into my initial design. Much like how propellers were a key feature in the research I had done for the “City in the Sky” – The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (2006).

floating city 2.png

However, the more I looked at my initial design, the more unhappy I felt about it’s final outcome, something about the drawing didn’t feel up to standard. This is why I attempted to make another rough concept based on a more improved version of the design, focusing a little more on making the world seem believable. This time I tried using composition to try and make my design look less flat, however my biggest lament was not focusing as much on the perspective of the image as I would have liked. Colour I feel is still an important aspect to the visual impact of our floating city, that was why I did my best to transfer these ideals into my next attempt at a design.

In regards to incorporating moving tentacles into our model to support our orb, we found difficulty in Maya to try and create them, especially in the time frame we had left. So for simplicity I had the idea of replacing the tentacles with solar powered engines, tying in with our research on renewable energy and manufacturing within Northern Ireland.

floating city concept 3.png

city concept.png

Images – My Second Floating World Concepts

Molly had this amazing idea, relating back to the theme of eyes, in which the beacon of hope statue would hold up an eye shaped mechanical system, that when it blinked, the weather and the environment for the city could be manipulated and changed.


Image – Artwork by Molly


Image – Molly’s Floating City Concept

Image – Viola’s Floating City Concepts

Images – Charlotte’s floating city designs

We also roughed up a quick idea for a plot regarding our now finalised designs which we had further developed upon during the process of building on Maya.

The orb was manufactured to be able to manipulate its gravitational field, with other controls such as the ability to adjust weather conditions in the dome. As for the story of our city, inspired by Bioshock Infinite, it follows along the lines of segregation and discrimination, a problem still visible in Belfast today and something we wanted to address. We had a city that on the surface, looks ideal with the perfected vision of how civilisation should present itself, but as we delve into its implicit meanings, all isn’t what it seems.

For example, the large eye in the centre of the dome that Molly had made is a method of surveillance on the city for the corrupted government. Residents must live and act a certain way in accordance to rules the government had set as to not be imprisoned in the other, less pleasant, half of the city below. With a more dystopian approach on the Titanic quarter that Viola had made, it resembles a prison for those who were banished from the idealistic top half, for committing crimes or opposing the government. Fitting in along the lines of discrimination, civilians who do not follow the status quo are also segregated and isolated from the upper society, for example if you look and act in a way that is not uniform to the government.


Classroom, T.P. (1996) The anatomy of the eye. Available at: http://www.physicsclassroom.com/class/refrn/Lesson-6/The-Anatomy-of-the-Eye (Accessed: 21 February 2017).

Group Credit

Molly – http://shepaintedher.weebly.com/

Charlotte – https://charlottebryansart.wordpress.com/

Viola -https://blog.schantalls.net/


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