Jaunty Cat Graphics


Designing Steampunk Airship

My graphic novel features airships like a good proper Steampunk themed world would. I was explaining to Tyra how I came up with a cargo ship design and we decided it warranted a blog post.

II started out with a typical looking blimp with a deck attached to the bottom. A typical blimp you’d expect when you hear “airship.” But just to exhaust all ideas I attached the deck to the balloon, I was wondering how feasible that would be. It also doesn’t look like that deck could hold enough cargo. I wasn’t going for the look of a small dingy. When I looked at diagrams of early 20th century dirigibles, lo and behold, the Hindenburg had space for people in the ballon part. Come to think of it the ship in the Pixar movie Up that’s also the case. So I put the cargo hold on top and the rest of the deck at the bottom.

That looked pretty cool but good design means not settling on one beloved idea. So I drew a more shiplike design. The main thing that nagged at me concerning the blimp was the silhouette does not look like a cargo vessel. Looking up cargo ships they are long and boxy, a very distinctive appearance. It’s less obvious in old wooden ships, but it still looks like it can physically carry a bulk of goods. So I am going to use the steamboat looking ship as a plot-relevant cargo vessel.

But that introduced another problem. What do they do with this thing when it’s not flying? In real life, airships are mored and flying, but they can’t run forever. So it has to be inert at some point, blimps get put on the ground. But this can’t because of propellers at the bottom. In fact my first ideas had that problem as well owing to the junk at the bottoms. Going back to the drawing board came up with some more tame ideas (at the bottom) that still had a cargo vessel look and they’re okay, But since this world has fantasy technology already, I went back the the boat with propellers. The docks can have a claw or fork lift mechanism to hold ships and even be adjustable. It makes sense with the world building I’ve already done and I get to use the idea that grew on me.

Tyra Oliver